Saturday, 10 November 2012

Memoir '44 - That's 1744 And 1944

There were two games on the Gong Garage Gamers last night. Caesar and Ralph played another game of Maurice, whilst Tim and I played Memoir '44.

I'd decided on a simple evening of Memoir '44, so stuck to scenarios from the basic set; I still haven't actually played some of them yet. I selected the attack on Toulon, and Arnhem Bridge as good possibilities (although discovered later that I'd played the Toulon one before a few years ago).

The French Prepare To Attack Toulon
 We played Toulon first, with Tim taking the German defenders and myself the attacking French. My left flank looked to be the best bet for an attack - the terrain wasn't too dense, and I had what I thought would be enough tanks and infantry to do the job. What I hadn't counted on was Tim's deadly dice-rolling; in two turns he decimated the tanks and the special-forces infantry, leaving me hiding my surviving foot-soldiers in any terrain I could find.

I switched my attack to the other flank and, against expectation, had success in pushing my tanks up and over the wooded hills, sweeping German defenders before them. This evened up the casualties, and victory medals, but left my armour stuck in a corner out of the battle. Where they were needed was the other side of the board, but there was a city full of Germans in the way. So the tanks stayed put.

Tank Attack!
The pace of the battle slowed at this point, as both of us were close to winning but also close to losing; taking a risk could bring rewards, but also lead to defeat. From his nice, safe sandbag position Tim kept up a steady fire on any of my units which exposed themselves, whilst I looked for an opening to renew the attack. It came for my isolated tanks - one card saw me able to push them across to the centre, out of the reach of most of the Germans, and then an Armour Assault card allowed me to attack the rear of one of the German positions. Unable to retreat they were wiped out, to give me the last victory medal I needed for victory. A 6-5 win for the French.

Tanks In The Rear
We then switched to the Arnhem scenario, which is notable for the rather strange 3-hex bridge that forms the centrepiece of the game. I took the Germans, and Tim the paratroopers. It was a short game; we misread the rules for shooting across the river, and thought that the restriction applied to all troops. This left the Germans in an impossible position; the British just shot them down as they crossed the bridge and they lost 5-0.
A Bridge Too Far
We played it again, properly this time, with me taking the British. This was a much closer game, with the Germans able to support an attack across the bridge, and the limited British units being slowly whittled down. Eventually a tank push across the bridge eliminated one of the British artillery units to give the Germans a 5-4 win.

It's been a few months since I'd played Memoir '44, and I really enjoyed it. It's got me nicely in the mood for Battle Cry, which is on order as my Christmas present for this year.

Meanwhile Caesar and Ralph played Maurice, introducing irregular troops into the mix. I really only watched it from afar, but Caesar sent me this report:

Battle of Die Bierhalle Ohne Bier

History is written by the victors… until today… It is my onerous duty to report that the army of the Confederation of Tea States was unable to redeem honour and recover territory lost after the Battle of Treeton, in the subsequent and recent Battle of Die Bierhalle Ohne Bier. Despite the addition of a light Grenzer brigade to the belligerents, these irregulars played little part in the drama that was about to unfold on the fringes of the Black Forest, in the newly annexed territory of Tetley.

Being sour kraut and sausage munching Teutonics, Beer was the lifeblood of the Sans Couleur troops. To deprive them of this would certainly be a savage blow to their morale, hence the objective of the counter attack was a modest yet strategic settlement built around a watering hole known as die Bierhalle Ohne Bier.

It was a masterful stratagem, or so thought the Comte de Cesare, commander-in-chief of the invading Confederation of Tea States army, to drive a wedge through the lines of the Grand Duchy of Sans Couleur and swing around to attack die Bierhalle from two fronts, supported by his artillery. In the early morning of November 8th he snapped his telescope shut with satisfaction after identifying a suitable path for his assault columns, a gap between the Black Forest and the ultimate objective, die Bierhalle.  The Confederation of Tea States was renowned on the continent for the aggressive flair of its infantry tactics A La Baionette and En Masse, and an artillery arm boasting a Professional Train. Forming no less than six crack battalions into a compact march order (well perhaps one slightly less than crack, a conscript battalion bringing up the rear), he was certain of the collapse of Sans Couleur’s reedy defence, particularly since the Tea States’ Grenadiers sported smart pink facings that were bound to intimidate the enemy. However, Sans Couleur’s forces had trained hard in musketry and were feared for their Lethal Volleys and Skirmishers.

Sure enough, the day got off to a good start as the gunners of Sans Couleur’s battery had neglected to protect their powder from the inevitable drizzle that persisted at this time of year and were unable to fire at first. This allowed the Tea States’ march columns to close with the defender’s infantry lines and form up into tightly packed En Masse assault columns unmolested. Four such columns bore down on the defending infantry, with the fifth and sixth battalions pealing off to form line and deal with the artillery battery on the flank. All did not go the attacker’s way as the defending gunners uncovered a dry barrel or two of powder and decimated the Tea States’ fifth battalion.

Surprisingly, San Couleur’s elite Browne Guards, two battalions of which spanned the gap, had succumbed to the same lassitude as their artillery brothers by not keeping their powder dry and were unable to issue a convincing first volley, allowing the dreaded assault columns of the Teas States to close with them for a thrust of cold steel. The Guards stood their ground, though shaken, and the rest of the battlefield seemed paralysed, as all eyes fixed on the titanic struggle of assault column versus line developing in the gap. 
Repulsing two charges, the Lethal Volleys of the Guards prevailed, and the attacking infantry columns were swept aside as the elated defenders served up a coup de grace counter charge. From across the battlefield the Comte lamented the demise of his prized Pink Grenadiers who stubbornly fought to the last man.

At this point the commander of the Grand Duchy of Sans Couleur, Graf Von Sparker, sent an emissary to politely remind the Comte de Cesare that the Confederation of Tea States no longer possessed any regular infantry with which to invest the objective. With his army close to breaking after the loss of six battalions, the Comte de Cesare was forced to concede and bravely embarked his coach for a very swift tour of the countryside to his battered army’s rear.

Your obedient servant,
Comte de Cesare

Here's a couple of pictures:

Caesar shows Ralph which unit he'd like to have wiped out next

Most of the dice are just used to make the combat calculations easier.

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