Friday, September 8, 2023

French Campaign 1940 for MEM44

 World War Two wargaming is immensely popular to state the obvious. My friends and I started WW2 gaming way back in the late 1960s. We used 1\72 Airfix figures and Roco Minitanks. That lasted quite a while but then 1\285 micro armor came out.

I dropped out of gaming around the time micro armor replaced Roco Minitanks but my two friends stuck with it, each adding large numbers of vehicles and infantry to their respective collections.

My WW2 gaming became MEM44 with my son when MEM came out.

When I got back into miniature gaming in 2014 and reconnected with my two friends I introduced them to MEM.

One of the friends (MS) built his wargaming table in the late 80's for micro armor out of the GHQ hexes that GHQ still produces.

It was not long before he decided to adapt those beautiful hexes to MEM; which my friend did by constructing a dedicated MEM board for use with micro armor.

Recently we have been playing the Normandy Campaign from MEM44 Campaign Book #1. My friend MS had everything necessary to play the game including all the varieties of tanks and infantry that mattered in a more detailed set of rules than MEM. The variety of equipment and infantry does not matter in MEM but it sure adds to the game for a history geek.

Our other friend (JZ) is recovering from a heart attack and has been slow to get back into gaming. His micro armor is extensive as well but is early war oriented. As JZ recovered he watched me and MS play the Normandy game and indicated that he would like to give it a try with his !940 collection of both Germans and French. The game would mark his return to gaming as he has recovered enough. 

Micro armor is not all that easy to photograph with an iPad or iPhone but I gave it shot since France 1940 in MEM is unique and JZ's collection is off the later war WW2 beaten path.

The combination of great terrain and great models in 1\285 is impressive.

French H35's

French S35's

German Pz IIIe, Pz 1, Pz II

 Foreign Legion, part of Group 97

German sig 150 SPGs

French GRDI with AMR and Laffly

French 155 GPF guns

German Infantry

Table overview before the units were placed

French GRDI elements

French GRDI with AMR and Panhard

For those unfamiliar with MEM44 it is a Richard Borg game that is similar to other Borg type games such as the Command and Colors series.

The game is card based which each player getting up to six cards depending on the scenario. It this scenario the French player received 4 cards and the German player received 5 cards. The cards are used, one per turn, forcing the player to make the best decision he can given the cards he has. Obviously, drawing a card after playing a card has a lot to do with Fog of War, or luck of the draw.

Combat is resolved with a dedicated set of MEM dice that indicate hits or misses. Each unit can take four hits if armor or infantry, two if artillery. Terrain matters and some units have more abilities than others.

Attrition is the primary way of determining winners although in some scenarios occupying key terrain hexes add to the numbers of medals needed to win. Six medals seems to be the standard victory conditions.

MEM44 is a fast game once the rules are digested. It was intended to be fast and that gave the players the opportunity to switch sides after the first game was played. It's an interesting concept because if you have play both sides you cannot complain about bias or being set up. You have to play that cards the best you can and the dice always provide surprises. 

For the scenario played here the Germans won the first game 6-4. In MEM that is a very close game with the French coming close to winning. In the second game after switching sides the the French won 6-3 and given the advantage in cards that the Germans had it was a more significant victory and not as close as the first game.

One of the strengths of MEM, at least within the official scenarios is play balance. This was certainly in evidence in this game because on paper it looked like the Germans would just bash their way through; yet the French came close to a win in the first game and did win in the second game.

MEM44's limitation is that the models do not matter. There are tanks, infantry and artillery and it does not matter what types of models represent the categories. MEM44 has expanded and later modules do include categories of anti-tank guns, heavy tanks and light armor as well as air power. Even with these additions it remains generic in nature but if you want a fast and fun game with minis it will be your cup of tea.


rross said...

Sounds like a fun game - I have played CnC a few times with figures and although it has some limitations and some odd things can happen due to getting the wrong cards, it's still enjoyable. The hex table and micro armour looks great too.

Bruce Roeder said...

Thanks for stopping by and the comment. We have played Battle Cry with 6mm units and it was a lot of fun. I think the cards and dice provide great Fog of War situations that force decisions a player might not want to make. There are limitations and odd things but as a niche rule set, most enjoyable. My friend did do a superb job on the table. Thanks again.