Memoir ’44 – 03 – Sword Beach

Winner: David

Full Scenario

History:

The set up!
The set up!

Morning. June 6th. 1944. The 8th Brigade Group of the 3rd British Division, supported by Commandos of the 1st Special Service Brigade and the Sherman tanks of the 13th and 18th Hussars make up the first wave of Allied forces to land on “Sword” beach, near the mouth of the Orne River.

The objective of the day was for the Allied forces to retake the city of Caen, and although the French troops captured the Casino at River Bella, the Allies failed in this objective. The sea was difficult that day, the tanks were supposed to land first and engage the enemy before the infantry landed, however, tanks and infantry ended up landing together. This coupled with the German resistance meant that the inland advance was seriously delayed. The failure to retake Caen was one of the biggest set-backs of D-Day and the consequences were still felt well into July of that year.

Strategy and Tactics:

Axis:

You have a defensive advantage in this scenario. Not only are the Allied forces advancing from the sea, which initially gives them a terrain disadvantage, but some of your forces are also already holed up in bunkers. Bunkers are useful as they give a -2 to tanks and a -1 to infantry when being attacked. You also possess the only artillery unit in this scenario. This is, if you manage to prevent its destruction, probably your most useful unit, as it has the longest attack range.

Despite these advantages you also have fewer troops than your opponent, and your only tank unit starts in a useless position, from which you have to order it twice to get it within attacking range of the Allied forces. You also have one less command card, and move second.

Okay, so that aside, tactically we found that arranging your troops towards the back of the board and then waiting for the Allied forces to come to you was a fairly sound way of playing the scenario. Though it’s definitely worth dragging your tank unit out of the corner early on. I would also generally say that it’s worth keeping the units that are already in the bunkers in them, unless for some dire reason you have to retreat or lose that unit.

Because wood hexes provide a -1 for attacking a unit in the woods it’s also worth trying to position your in Lion Sur Mer in the most forward of the two woods hexes next to it, this moves you closer to the fighting action whilst giving the unit a decent terrain advantage and enabling it to be close enough to try and prevent Allied forces taking the town and claiming the medal there, that contributes to their victory points.

Other than that, I would say, try not to let yourself get surrounded by the Allies, because they’ve got a lot more firepower than you, and also, if possible, knock out their tank units first, as these move further and have a fighting advantage over infantry units as well as needing less hits to destroy a unit.

Allied:

Although you start in the sea, you have an advantage in number units and number of command cards, as well as being the side that starts the scenario. Not only do you have three tank units to the one that your opponent possesses you also have three special forces units available to you, these are able to move up to two hexes and still battle, where regular infantry can either move one and battle, or two and do nothing.

Your first task is to get your units out of the sea, this is slow going because of the terrain restrictions that the sea imposes, but we found that it was tempting just to move either one block of your units out, maybe just from, say, the left flank, or to maybe move one unit from each section of the board, depending on your command cards. This is however, not a good idea. If you move one unit from each section too far from its comrades you make it an easy target, remember that you’re at a disadvantage with the bunkers, not to mention the hedgehogs and barbed wire that’s between you and the Axis forces.  And if you only move one block and ignore the others you also make those units targets because if they’re in the sea and they get attacked a retreat roll on the battle dice counts as a hit because you cannot retreat and so must sacrifice one member of your unit for every retreat rolled.

If you start out with any command cards that enable you to annihilate your opponents artillery unit this is a big score early in the game, it levels the playing field a lot. Not only does it have only two pieces to a unit, making it the easiest to destroy in terms of dice rolls needed, but it also makes it much harder for the Axis player to just sit and wait for you, as they can no longer pick off your units from such a distance.

Surrounding bunkers is a good way of destroying a unit completely, if you attack a bunker with three units instead of just one, you’re less effected by the defensive advantage they give to the Axis player.

Lastly, don’t forget about the medals in the three towns at the back of the board. Each one of these counts for one of the five victory points you need to win the scenario if you capture, and hold, the town. They’re worth going after because they mean you need to physically destroy less enemy units.

To Conclude:

I really enjoyed this scenario from both sides. As you can see from the running score we’re keeping – I lost. But it was fairly close both ways round. It was more a lack of useful command cards than any tactical errors made. This scenario is also great because you get artillery and special forces units in play, as well as bunkers, hedgehogs and barbed wire, which adjust the way you have to think about moving around the board. This is great because by this point you’re familiar with the infantry and tank units, and then the game gives you something new to play with. It also starts to pick up the pace of play. Dave mentioned in his last post that he thought it felt a little slow, I agree with him, but I think that this scenario really cranks the game up a bit, making it much more interesting.

Running Score:

David: 8

Miriam: 4

 

Memoir ’44 – 01 – Pegasus Bridge

3 - 5

Winner: Draw

Full Scenario

History:

Set on the night of June 5th, 1944  this scenario recreates the brief battle for Pegasus Bridge. Or Bénouville Bridge, as it was known at the time, in Normandy, France. Major John Howard led the men of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in the first airborne assault of D-Day, his objective being to capture both Pegasus Bridge and Orne Bridge. At a few minutes past midnight the Horsa Gliders land in a patch of field only yards away from their objective. The men stream out of the gliders totally surprising the German forces, there’s a brief and furious fight involving a machine gun in a sandbag nest right by the Pegasus Bridge. The British forces secure the Bridge, and the Orne equally as quickly, losing only two men in the process.

Full set up

The bulk of British troops here start behind the impassable pond, meaning that they must be maneuvered around it to get involved in the battle. The Allied player has the natural advantage in this scenario; they have more men to begin with, receive more Command Cards, and play first.

Strategy and Tactics:

The Allied player here has the upper hand, but if they play badly that’s going to be completely irrelevant. In this game a certain amount of your success as a player is determined by which Command Cards you draw, as on some occasions you may need to give orders to a section of the board that you don’t have the Command Card for, and so can’t. How quickly and efficiently you kill enemy units is also determined by the roll of the battle dice. So some amount is down to luck and chance. But aside from that we’ve found so far that once you’ve found a decent defensive position (for example in a patch of trees) it’s ideal to stay there for as long as possible, all the while you can fire on your enemy from there you should stay as the woods reduce the chances that you’re going to lose men when the enemy fires on you.

In  this scenario the German forces have barbed wire and sandbags. These are inconvenient, for an Infantry unit to be able to remove them they have to move into the space that the barbed wire is in, and then remove it instead of battling. So it can be completely suicidal to remove them as you end up adjacent to you enemies units and unable to attack them. Leaving you as a clear target. It’s also important to remember that the rive does not effect line of sight. You can fire on an enemy unit across a river provided that they are within range and no other terrain restrictions that would prevent you attacking them apply.

I found, when playing as the Allied forces, that trying to take the patch of wood on the right flank of the board, by the Orne Bridge, was a strong position to be in. That bridge is under defended and so the woods is a good position from which to either attack the lone German unit at the top of the board there, or to swoosh down and take the bridge from the other German unit. The blue medals on the two bridges count as victory points if the bridges are held by British forces. Meaning that that player has to destroy less of the Axis units to win the scenario.

For Axis forces it’s tactically ideal to get you lonely unit in the top of the right flank down into the patch of woodland before anyone else can, this is a good defensive position to be in, to prevent anyone trying to take the Orne Bridge. Your second unit there could then be on the bridge, between them they’ll put up a good fight against any optimistic British forces.

When we played this scenario we left the Axis units mostly where they were in the center and on the left flank, only really moving the one in the top left corner to bring it closer to the action. On reflection it would probably have been a good idea to shift the unit in the town right next to Pegasus Bridge further down the river to attack the British, because we didn’t actually use it that much.

To Conclude:

This is the starter scenario, so it’s been simplified from the original battle. The Germans has a machine gun in their sandbag nest by Pegasus Bridge that’s been replaced with regular Infantry in this one. But as starters go it’s very good, it’s an easy board to navigate, and the use of only one type of unit allows you to completely get to grips with how they move and battle. It would’ve rated higher, but that it’s been deliberately simplified for learning purposes, so the scenario doesn’t have as much going for it as some of the later, more complex ones do. It’s well designed as an introduction though, and sets you up in good stead for future scenarios.

Running Score:

David: 2

Miriam: 2