Memoir '44: Pacific Theater
Your Price: $32.50
(Worth 3,250 Funagain Points!)
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From the jungles of Japanese-occupied Burma to the desolate slopes of long-forgotten atolls, discover this latest exciting expansion for Memoir '44! The Pacific Theater expansion introduces new units (Chindits, Japanese Giretsu Special Forces, US Marines), new weapons (Mobile Artillery, Flame throwing Tanks), new terrains and features (rope bridges, aircraft carriers, warships, caves...) and new figures (Japanese Infantry, Ha-Go Light Tanks and 75mm AA Guns), and more...
Revive some of the most ferocious battles of WWII like Iwo Jima or Okinawa! Use new rules, like the Japanese "Banzai!" war cry or the Marines' "Gung Ho" rally cry to win the battle!
I've enjoyed the first three expansions to Memoir '44, as it is a tremendous game system and one that I enjoy on many occasions. I have enjoyed the first three expansions tremendously, but I have to say that I was really looking forward to the Pacific expansion. As ground fighting in the Pacific was quite different from that in Europe, I was curious to see what the designer had changed/added in the Memoir '44: Pacific Theater (Days of Wonder, Richard Borg - 2006).
Overall I was impressed and found a lot to enjoy about the scenarios, the new terrain, and the special rules for the Japanese. While I'm not sure that I would introduce new people to the game with this expansion (I have done so), it still retains the Memoir simplicity. Yet the new features really gave the game a different feel, and some of the scenarios are downright brutal! All Memoir fans should snag this game for a more complete World War II experience.
Some comments on the game…
1.)Components: As with the other expansions, the game comes in a very lightweight box in a slipcover that I tossed away instantly. With the first four expansions and two base sets, I'm barely fitting everything into the boxes now, but it DOES fit, so I'm pleased about that. The models of the Japanese troops are very well done, although there are fewer tanks than the other armies. A pile of new terrain is added, and the artwork is well done - enough to give the game an Asian flavor.
2.) Rules: The twenty-seven page rulebook explains everything in clear detail, and players who have not seen or used the other expansions need not worry - any of the same rules are explained as if it were the first time. Most of the included missions have several special rules that have to be checked; and there is a lot of terrain on the board, so this expansion may not be the easiest for children or those learning the system for the first time. I will hasten to point out that even with all this going on, Memoir is still an incredibly easy game to start playing - it's just that it has evolved quite a bit from the basic game.
3.) Terrain: Lots of new types of terrain in this expansion, and for
good reason - some of the scenarios have more spaces that have terrain
in them than don't. For example, the Guam Counterattack scenario uses
fifty-seven terrain hexes, which really adds some flavor to that
board. Some of the more interesting features of the terrain are:
- Mountain caves: The Japanese can move their infantry from cave hex to cave hex, popping up on the battlefield in different places. The Allies can attempt to seal the caves; but if they don't, the Japanese inside are in a rather strong position, as resistant as a bunker.
- Hospitals: Infantry units on a hospital hex can roll dice, when not in battle, to bring back units for their side. These "medic" spaces are often a bit too difficult to reach in a heated battle but can also change the course of a battle, saving that one unit about to be eliminated.
- HQ & Supply: These hexes add a bit more tactics to the game; for if the enemy captures yours, you must discard one of your command cards and play with one less card until the HQ is taken back. Since the entire game revolves around command cards, having one taken away is a crippling loss, causing players to take care to defend their HQ.
- Mountains: Towering above the hills, these hexes may only be entered into by infantry, and only from an adjacent hill. They provide good defense, and artillery that are lucky enough to start the game on them have one space added to their range.
- Rice Paddies: I call these the "speed bumps" of the game, as they force any unit that moves into them (artillery is not allowed) to stop. Units moving out of a rice paddy may also only move one space. They are great for slowing down advancing tanks and really help the defending Japanese in battles.
Overall, I like the terrain and feel that all of it, especially the Rice Paddies, adds a nice Asian flair to the game, putting a focus on defensive fighting - something prevalent in the jungle hopping.
4.) Japanese Army Command Rules: The Japanese get a few advantages in battle, which help them, since most scenarios give them depleted forces. First, and most importantly, the Japanese infantry MUST ignore the first flag rolled against them; and if under defensive terrain, the first two flags! This simply means that the Japanese rarely, if ever, retreat. No longer will you be able to quickly force the enemy out of their bunkers; you'll have to go in and dig them out. Great fun if you are the Japanese (usually), and tremendously annoying as the Americans. Japanese infantry also get an extra die when making a Close Assault with a full strength unit, and may move two hexes AND battle when making a Close Assault. These rules make them great attackers, but I still find them to be best when they simply sit there and defend. Still, that occasional surprise assault on the American troops can be a nifty tactic.
5.) Marines: But the Japanese aren't the only with special rules. Marines can activate one more unit than shown on the card. This is a fantastic "Gung-Ho" ability that really allows the Americans to pour on the heat, since their troops are most likely getting ripped up as they land on the beaches. Since this rule can apply to counterattacks and most of the Command deck, it gives the Marines a powerful advantage, allowing them to sweep the field.
6.) Scenarios: Eight scenarios are included with the game, including one Overlord scenario that tends to make the D-Day invasion look like a picnic. Most of the scenarios are nitty gritty, casualty-filled games, just as their counterparts in real life were. As always, excellent historical background is included, and I learned yet some more about the war in the Pacific. As always, I wish more scenarios were included with the game; but the ones in the book are excellent, and dozens more can easily be found online.
7.) Other rules: Night attacks are added for use in some scenarios. They basically hamper visibility and range for the first few turns. I didn't find these to be too big of a deal; they mostly allow the Japanese to maneuver around to a better defense a little quicker. War Ships are also added to the game, which can bombard land and even be attacked. When bombarding, they act as "big guns", which allow them to shoot eight spaces and roll an extra die once they have "acquired the target". Usually, the Japanese player can't get close enough to attack; but if they do pull of a sinking of a ship (takes three hits - and I've never seen it), they score a victory point. Minefields, flame thrower tanks, mobile artillery, big guns, camouflage, and a few other rules are also included - each adding a simple rule change with a lot of flavor. Airfields and aircraft carrier tokens are also included but can't be utilized until the Official Carrying Case comes out in 2007, which has airplane rules.
If you're a Memoir '44 fan, chances are you already plan to pick up the expansion (which you should) and are only reading this to find out what the changes are. The changes seem to be minor on the surface, but combining them with the new scenarios adds a whole new dimension to the game. With stronger defense positions, and possibly fiercer fighting, I'm going to be enjoying Pacific for some time to come. I'm not sure I like it more than the Eastern Front, but it's awfully close; and the majority of the scenarios I play these days come from those two expansions. Days of Wonder puts out yet another piece to this wonderful system, and all enthusiasts should snag a copy.
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