Memoir ’44

5 - 5 - Strike Thro

4 - 5

Number of Players: 2

Year of Publication: 2004

Creator(s): Richard Borg (designer), Cyrille DaujeanJulien DelvalDon Perrin and Claude Rica (artists)

Right. Well. I think we played that wrong….

We should really include that in all the titles/opening paragraphs for this blog, since I can’t immediately think of any game that we haven’t played wrong at least once. Memoir ’44as has been stated at least once now, is a fantastic game. I don’t think we’re likely to ever get bored of it. Based on real scenarios from the Second World War it’s not only interesting for its historical accuracy, but also as a strategic game.

What’s In The Box:

The Stuff


Countryside side of the board
Countryside side of the board
The board beach side
Beach side
The Rules
The Rules
  1. 14 Special Forces Badges
  2. 3 Blue and 3 Green Command Card Holders
  3. 44 Double-Sided Terrain Hex Pieces
  4. 60 Command Cards
  5. 1 Double-Sided Obstacle Summary Card and 1 Double-Sided Unit Summary Card
  6. 7 Terrain Cards
  7. 8 Battle Dice
  8. 2 Sets of Army Miniatures; Green = Allied Forces, Blue-Grey = German/Axis Forces
  9. 4 Double-Sided Bunker and Bridge Tiles
  10. 10 Double-Sided Victory Medals
  11. 1 Double-Sided Battlefield Board Map
  12. 1 Rules and Scenario Booklet

Playing The Game:

Objective: To fulfill the scenario’s victory conditions before your opponent and score more points after you’ve switched sides.

When you read the rules for this game you’ll see that the first scenario it recommends you play uses only the Infantry Units available to each side. This is very good, as the game builds you up to a thorough understanding of each of the different types of unit available to you in different scenarios by introducing them one at a time into gameplay.

You start by setting up the board, as directed in the instructions for the scenario you’re playing. You change the look and layout of the board by using the terrain hexes to put in woods, hills, villages, rivers etc.

The starting set up of the first scenario in the rulebook
The starting set up of the first scenario in the rule book

Once you’ve set the board up for the scenario you then decide who’s playing as who. In the rule book the scenario instructions will tell you which side plays first, and how many Command Cards each player is dealt to begin with.  Players then take turns. There will be a preset condition for victory in each scenario.

The Command Cards contain an array of  things a player can do on their turn, standard orders or special commands. These mostly look like this:

an example of the Command Cards most commonly in play
an example of the Command Cards most commonly in play

The special command cards look like this, but are all different:

A special command card
A special command card

Winning The Game:

There is no time limit to the scenarios, players continue taking turns until someone manages to destroy enough enemy units to fulfill the victory conditions for the scenario. Then the board is reset and players switch sides. A note is kept of the score from the first round, for example, if the victory condition was that someone needed to have completely destroyed 4 of their enemy units and the other player had destroyed 2 when this happened you would then make a note, and at the end of the following round the victorious players score would have to be the highest total number of units destroyed.


We realized fairly early into the playing stages of this that the scenarios are usually relatively heavily weighted towards one player, they may have an advantage in the number of Command Cards they have, or in having bunkers or sandbags. But despite this, if you play reasonably tactically, all the scenarios we’ve played so far could go either way.

We started out just playing the most obviously useful card we had in our hand at the start of each turn, and seeing where it got us. Because the destruction of a unit is determined by a combination of the card you played, the position of your units, the terrain around you and the rolling of battle dice it can be unreasonably hard, on occasion, to annihilate a unit that should have been wiped out the first time you attack it. This is both true to the slightly unpredictable nature of a battle, and completely inaccurate as an Armour unit fighting Infantry at what is more or less to be considered point-blank range should not somehow manage to miss all of them. But that aside, it is possible, tactically, surround and destroy units, using terrain disadvantages to your advantage.

There is a lot to be said about strategy on this game, but we’ve decided that in the interest of keeping you interested, we’ll go into much more detail on tactics and strategy, as well as historical overview and other exciting things like that as we write about each scenario individually.

History and Interesting Things:

  1. The game was designed to commemorate the men and women of WW2 and the sacrifices they made.
  2. It was published in collaboration with the Mission for the 60th Anniversary of the D-day Landings and Liberation of France.
  3. In 2004 it was awarded the International Gamers Award for the General Strategy: 2-Player category.
  4. There are eleven expansions for this game, all of them require the original to play.
  5. The game can be played with up to six people, playing in teams of three, each commanding a different section of the board.

There is more to write, but we want to look at the history of each scenario in greater detail over the course of the month, as we’re doing with our Strategy section of each post.

To Conclude:

As is evident, we love this game. We hope that over the course of the month these posts will show us gaining a better understanding of the game, and knowledge of the historical associations of each scenario. As well as actually letting us play a game more than once, which will make a nice change to our usual style of review. If you can get a copy of this game and a friend or two who might be interested, do it. Otherwise, stay tuned for our upcoming post of the first scenario of the game Pegasus Bridge!


Quick games! Well, relatively – Backgammon

5 - 5

Number of Players: 2

Year of Publication: -3000

Creator(s): Mostly unknown, but Willem Cornelisz Duyster is responsible for the design of the modern board

This is the first in a series of posts, it was initially going to just be one, but I realized that I have far too much to say about each game to make it fair on anyone reading it to put it all together. So this post is just about Backgammon, enjoy.

The games I’m about to talk about in these posts probably don’t count as all that obscure, the names being fairly well-known as far as I’m aware. However, they are games that have fallen out of common play. Which seems like a real shame to us.


Recently we’ve learnt how to play Backgammon, and we think it’s a great game. Once you’ve played it a few times it’s very easy to remember the rules and to develop your strategies and it can be played in half an hour or so, making it one of the quickest board games I’ve ever come across!

We still require pictures to set up, hence the printout.
We still require pictures to set up, hence the printout.

We had a few teething troubles with this game as the copy of the game we own didn’t come with rules. So we went on a quest to Google and learnt the rules off the internet. The only problem with that was that, aside from the two dice each player roles to determine their move, there is a fifth die involved in Backgammon called the doubling die, and the internet rules didn’t explain what this was for.


Oxfam to the rescue!
I work a few days a week in an Oxfam charity shop, and on my break I went through the board games we had in the storeroom and found a copy of Backgammon to read the rules from. Initially this copy of the rules only told me a little about the doubling die, but was enough to solve our problem temporarily. I learnt that it wasn’t originally part of the game and has been introduced in the last century or so.

I thought this interesting so I’ve been doing some research into the history of the game. General consensus is that the game may be well over 5,000 years old, along with Chess and a game called Go, which we have yet to play, and is likely to have originated from Iraq, which was Mesopotamia at the time.

There are literature and artistic references to Backgammon (although not under that name) all over the world throughout all the ages. Chaucer references it in The Canterbury Tales as Shakespeare does in Love’s Labour’s Lost. It has always been a gambling game – Emperor Nero played for roughly the equivalent of $10,000 per game! – But there was only one stake made in the game, one amount was agreed at the beginning and it is that amount that the winner claimed at the end.

However, as you’ll see in the pictures below, due to a lack of expendable money in our lives we gamble with chocolate instead, you pay less for more “chips”, and you can eat them when you’re finished!

Our horrific gambling tendencies.
Our horrific gambling tendencies.

In 1920’s America Backgammon was going out of fashion, it was too hard to bet on and took too long to play without anything exciting happening for the players. It’s at this point in history that the doubling die first appears, this element gave the game the extra boost it needed to become a popular casino game again.

Interestingly, although it is fairly easy to track the history of Backgammon in America through strategy books that were written about it, it is nigh impossible to know when it crossed the Atlantic and came to the UK.


I also learnt that Backgammon can be played with the offloading space either to the players left or their right – there is no fixed direction of play. This gave a new dimension to the game as it can give a player an advantage to be able to play the game either way around. It will also prevent confusion for them in the event that they ever have to play the game in the opposite direction to the one they are used to. For this reason we’ve started playing half and half, setting the board up differently for half the time.

If anyone’s interested my next post in this chain will be about the game Fanorona, not to confuse you but there’ll be two posts about it, one from me about game play and history, and one from my brother about how he made his own board. His is likely to be much more interesting!

Load off left!
Load off left!
Load off right!
Load off right!

And if anyone’s at all curious, I found most of the things about the history of Backgammon written here on this page.

Also if anyone wants to learn the rules of Backgammon we recommend looking here or if you’d rather learn to play by doing we recommend playing here (click ‘Play as Guest’) and use the tutorial.