Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Game Preview: Memoir '44 Campaign Book Volume 2

I love movie previews, so much so that I refuse to buy a ticket to a film unless I know I'm going to get to see the trailers before it starts. And that's my function here today, to act as a movie trailer for the upcoming release of Memoir '44: Campaign Book Volume Two from Days of Wonder.

Previews have targeted audiences, one excellent current example being the differences between the first American trailer for
The Adventures of Tintin (which pretty much keeps Tintin hidden throughout) and the European trailer for the same film, which both has a different name (The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, which sounds like a typical Tintin graphic novel) and manages to highlight Snowy, Archibald Haddock and Dupont & Dumond (all classic Tintin characters). The people promoting the film know their jobs...

...and I know mine. Obviously, the audience for a preview of an expansion for a game system with the words "Campaign Book" and "Volume Two" in the title is going to be limited to those who already own
Memoir '44 (and some or all of the numerous expansions) – or, hopefully, some of you who are wondering whether it's worth jumping in based on this addition to the franchise.

Let's answer some questions you might have:

What is a campaign?

The Campaign Books (along with the additional web-released campaigns, The Vercors Campaign and Audie Murphy's Campaign) offer a way to chain Memoir '44 scenarios together in order to experience a series of battles or, well, a campaign. Two added game mechanisms – Reserves and Victory Rolls – combine with scenario and campaign specific effects to give a unique feel to each series of battles and reward the victor with some "spoils of war" to enhance his chances in the next battle.

Campaigns vary in length, usually consisting of 4-6 battles, but Grand Campaigns exist as well, tying together multiple campaigns to cover larger sections of World War II.

Which expansions do I need to use this book?

Obviously, you need a copy of the Memoir '44 base game. Beyond that:
  • The Island Hoppers Grand Campaign (which consists of four campaigns: Guadalcanal, Marshall Islands, Marianas & Palau Islands and Home Islands) requires a copy of the Pacific Theater expansion.
  • The Bicycle Blitzkrieg & Fall of Poland campaigns require tiles from the Terrain Pack expansion (although you could do without those in a pinch).
  • The Breakthrough Normandy Grand Campaign requires the Breakthrough map boards (which could also be the paper Breakthrough map from the Campaign Bag) as well as tiles from the Terrain Pack (in such quantity that faking your way through would be tough). Though not required, it would also be great to have a copy of the Winter Wars expansion for the Breakthrough command card deck; the extra fluidity of movement makes the Breakthrough scenarios flow better.
  • The Air Aces campaign requires the Air Pack expansion.
Wait a minute, I thought Air Pack was out of print. Why did Days of Wonder include a campaign in a new book for something that's difficult to acquire?!

DoW's Eric Hautemont explains what's going on in the Memoir '44 forums on the Days of Wonder website:
No, we have no plans to reprint the Air Pack (in this form or any other), as the costs to do so would be prohibitive.

The reason we went ahead and included this (small) Air Aces campaign at the end of Volume 2 is because the other campaigns in the book ran longer than initially planned, so we had to increase the page count in this volume from 112 pages to 128 pages (due to the way pages are bound, the page count in a book like this go up in 16 pages increments).

The Air Aces campaign was short enough to fit in the few remaining pages we had, so we added it in as a bonus for people that own the Air Pack.

For those of you that were not able to acquire the Air Pack while in print, we will post a free PDF of the Air Rules on our web site at the same time the Campaign Book Volume 2 ships.

Do I need Campaign Book Volume One in order to use this one?

Nope – the Campaign and Grand Campaign rules work the same way in both books. What you're getting is 46 new scenarios tied together into eleven different campaigns.

So, what do you think?

I'll be writing a full review for The Opinionated Gamers in the next couple of weeks, but so far we've played the first three Breakthrough Normandy scenarios – a hint based on my son's mistakes: the 82nd & 101st Airborne need to secure the area before attempting to grab objectives – and the first two Bicycle Blitzkrieg scenarios (where my younger son is trampling over my pathetic British defenses), and we're having a great time!

The scenarios are all top-notch, I love the variety of theaters of operation, and I especially appreciate the suggestions in the rules for "making do" if you don't have a particular expansion. (Example: The paratroop drop scenarios both use the Night rules, but offer an alternate way to have the same effect if you don't own the Night rules board.)

A review copy was provided by Days of Wonder to this reviewer. This preview originally appeared on BGG as a BGN article.

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