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Memoir '44: Air Pack
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"Never in the field of human conflict, has so much, been owed by so many, to so few!"
Winston Churchill - August 1940
... and never before has a Memoir '44 expansion had so much to offer either!
Included in this box you will find eight painted airplanes:
- Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
- Fieseler Fi 156 Storch
- Lockheed P-38 Lightning
- Messerschmitt Bf 109
- Mitsubishi A6M Zero
- Supermarine Spitfire
- Vought F4U Corsair
- Yakovlev Yak-9
... and the air rules needed to fly them from the Battle of Britain to the Battle of Midway, from the frigid air of Kursk to the balmy skies of Malta, and deep into Nazi territory.
Also included in the pack is a complete compilation of all 64 official Memoir '44 scenarios published to date, including revisions to many of them - taking advantage of the numerous expansions now available for the game system.
The Air Pack is further rounded off with a complete 120 cards deck describing every single terrain, special rules, troop type and nation introduced since the game's launch at the 60-year anniversary of D-Day.
- 8 Painted Airplane Miniatures & their in-flight stand
- An 80 page Air rules booklet, with 64 revised scenarios
- 60 new double-sided Terrain tiles including campaign & winter airfields, desert & winter hills, gullies & trenches
- 12 Round Markers, including airplane, "exit" and bomb crater markers
- 6 new Obstacles, including 6 landing crafts, a bombed out bridge, an aircraft carrier, winter field bunkers & dragon teeth
- 120 new Helper cards, including:
- 2 Air Sortie command cards
- 4 Nation cards
- 8 Airplane summary cards
- 10 Air Pack summary cards
- 15 Troops summary cards
- 19 Battle Star summary cards
- 62 Terrain summary cards
Average Rating: 4.5 in 1 review
I've been waiting for the travel case for Memoir '44 for a while, because it's spilling and literally breaking the two boxes I have it in, forcing me to cobble together a box to keep everything in one place. The travel case was made more exciting when they announced that there would be airplanes included! I was saddened when the production was canceled, and assumed with all the fuss over BattleLore that we wouldn't see much more for Memoir. Enter Memoir 44: Air Pack (Days of Wonder, 2007 – Richard Borg), which is not a travel case but brings airplanes and more as the newest expansion to Memoir '44.
Airplanes are a neat addition to the game (especially since they are painted models!), and they add a decent change to the game without being too overpowered. But the game also includes a pile of new terrain pieces, a summary card deck, and an 80 page scenario rulebook. This takes the game above and beyond, simply adding planes, and makes it the most essential and useful expansion to date.
The expansion comes in a thin box that is slightly larger than one third the original box. Inside is a plastic insert that holds the new tiles, clear plastic stands for the airplanes, the reference cards, and the eight airplanes themselves. The planes are nicely painted plastic models, which are off in scale to the troops (but so are the tanks, so who cares?), and really look good on the table – should I paint all the miniatures? Normally I throw away Memoir expansion packaging, but this one holds up well and the planes fit in easily. My biggest problem was the cards were a little hard to get out without dumping the whole thing.
One thing that I really enjoy about BattleLore (Memoir's larger, younger cousin) is that reference cards are included for everything in the game, and players simply lay out the cards that are used by their scenario and army for easy reference. Memoir had a few reference cards in the original game but didn't add cards for each expansion and the tons of terrain involved. The Air Pack includes 118 summary cards, one for each type of terrain, the different airplanes, different troop types, nation abilities, and special actions. They are numbered for ease of finding; the scenarios point out which cards are needed – it's a fast, simple system that helps improve the game tremendously, making some of the Pacific and/or Eastern scenarios easier to teach to beginners.
The rulebook/scenario book is probably the best thing included with the book. Not only are the rules for the airplanes clearly explained, but there are lots of color pictures and illustrations. Most importantly, sixty-four scenarios are included!! Now, most (maybe all – I'm not sure) are from the original game and the expansions. However, all have been updated to include the new terrain types. For example, a scenario in the original edition used a circular river to indicate a lake, but now it uses the lake pieces included in the terrain pack expansion. The top of each scenario shows what sets the pieces come from; although really you could use any terrain type, because this set has the rules for all terrain in it! The scenarios tell what type of reference cards are needed, and it's just great to have all of them in one book! The only things I miss are the Overlord scenarios – and indeed, the airplane rules haven't been synchronized with Overlord scenarios. Players who really want to combine the two (like myself) can find rules regarding this on the website, although it would have been nice to have it in the rulebook itself.
Sixty terrain tiles are included with the game, but there's really nothing new; they are simply aesthetic upgrades. For example, there are now winter and desert hills, winter villages and airfields, and gullies (which are the same as the Wadis). This wasn't necessary, but now my days of having green hills on the winter board are finally over – it was driving me nuts. The game also includes some bomb craters, exit markers, and take-off markers for use with airplanes or other scenario rules. One interesting addition is the six landing crafts. These are added to most of the beach landing scenarios to help out the invaders. They don't count as vehicles; they simply upgrade the unit in them to having two movement in water and can retreat. This can conceivably make a big difference in invasions, making them slightly less devastating for the attacker.
Some of the scenarios have specific rules concerning the airplanes in combat, while others simply allow each player a plane; and players may only have one in play at any one point. Players use the model of plane that matches their army and other campaign restrictions. Planes include the Spitfire, P40, ME109, and Zero along with 6 more (although there are only eight models). Players (unless the scenario dictates otherwise) are each given an Air Sortie card that is placed face up in front of them. This card counts as if it is in their hand but does not count against their hand limit.
On any turn, the player may play the Air Sortie card (or Air Power card from the deck) to bring an airplane into the game on any table edge. A player can also use the card in conjunction with a command card, as long as it is used in the proper section of the board. Each turn after that, the player can command the airplane with any card that commands units in the section the airplane is located. If a player does not issue an order to an airplane on their turn, then the plane is removed from the board but does not award the other player a victory point.
Planes can take one action a turn, depending on the type of plane. A plane can move up to four hexes before taking the action. Actions include
- Kamikaze attacks against ships. (Japanese only)
- Strafing: the player can fly over up to three adjacent units, rolling one die to each. This is easy and effective – especially since stars count as hits – but I think this is the "too obvious" maneuver with some of the planes and not always as effective as the other actions.
- Ground Support: The plane negates terrain protection of all enemy units adjacent to the plane. This is a HUGE advantage, as it allows your units (especially tanks) to flush out those annoying entrenched units, destroying them quickly.
- Ground Interdiction: Enemy units that start their turn next to the plane cannot move, although they can battle. A clever player can use the plane to pin down opponent's tanks and men, holding them away from their own defenses.
- Recon: If the plane is next to an enemy unit, the player can draw two command cards and discard one at the end of their turn, as if they played a Recon card. Ok ability, but often more trouble than it's worth.
- Rescue: The airplane can remove a friendly infantry unit that has only one figure left from the board. This results in the airplane being removed also but awards the enemy no flag for either. This is such a powerful, cool ability, as players manage to snatch a figure from the jaws of destruction.
At the beginning of each turn, a player must make an Air check roll for their plane, rolling a number of dice that is equal to the underlying terrain's air check value (noted on the summary cards) plus one for each adjacent enemy unit. If a grenade is rolled, the plane is lost. If there was an opponent's plane adjacent, the opponent gains a flag. This keeps the player from being too cocky when flying their planes around the board, flying them into the heart of the enemy is extremely risky and often fatal.
Airplanes add more options for the player but add only a bit of complexity to the game. They look good on the board and can pull off some neat tricks that help a player's overarching strategy. Players can bring them on at the beginning for a quick first strike or wait until the opponent's units are more weakened as to better destroy them. They don't drastically change the game, and I doubt many players will quake in fear when they see an airplane appear. They ARE useful when used as a scalpel by clever players, and they can be the deciding factor in a game.
For me, the expansion is a "must-buy", as it has the wonderful scenario book and terrain cards. The extra components are a bonus, and the airplane rules do the wonderful expansion idea of adding small changes to a game simply to make it better. I personally will strive to add them to most scenarios I play, and this expansion has not only breathed new life into the game but also has taken a large step in differentiating it from BattleLore and Commands and Colors: Ancients.
"Real men play board games"