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Reviews - Memoir '44: Disaster at Dieppe
 
by Daron Patton


Disaster at Dieppe expansion packDisaster at Dieppe (Battle Map #4 for Memoir '44)
Published by Days of Wonder
Contents: 1 large white envelope holding a large double-sided paper fold-up map; rules for newly introduced units (loose leaf, double-sided summaries in both English and French); 4 bonus scenarios featuring North Africa and European battlefields; 6 'Willys MB' jeeps (white plastic); 6 half-tracks modeled after German Sd.Kfz 250 vehicles (white plastic)
$18

Disaster at Dieppe is Days of Wonder's fourth installment in their Battle Map series for Memoir '44. As the name of the series implies, the centerpiece here is a large double-sided map intended for Overlord missions. You'll need an extra base game and/or the Overlord expansion to play with everything as specified. As in previous battle map expansions, this map is a fairly sturdy paper stock instead of a hard-backed board. Each side presents a 9 long x 26 wide hex playing field complete with terrain features pre-printed on the appropriate hexes.

Mission briefings
Mission specific rules such as British forces, the new patrol car (jeep) rules and pertinent reminders are summarized in card-style printings along the base for each team's reference. Overlord tends to be team play but can be two player if you're ambitious. Set up the board with the appropriate plastic playing pieces – terrain tiles are unnecessary since it's all preprinted on the map – and you're ready to fight a monster fight.

Disaster at Dieppe expansion mapMission 1 is the Disaster at Dieppe, depicting an Allied (Canadians, played using British in-game rules) beach landing to secure the German-held Dieppe, France. The historical landing did not go well for the Allies, who had to retreat with approximately 60 percent losses in wounded, killed and captured. The landing is cited as one of the worst battles in Canadian military history. Allied players can take some consolation in the waiting challenge, knowing they get to field the new jeep pieces as patrol cars against the well-placed German defenses.

Mission 2 is the Capture of Tobruk, again pitting the UK against Germans, this time in North Africa. Rommel's forces are on the attack and intend to take Tobruk from the Brits, who are on the defensive with anti-tank weapon specialists and minefields in place. To counter those preparations, the Germans are fielding their usual heavy mix of tanks with the addition of engineers and the new (for Memoir '44 – not historically) half-track units. Engineers are great at breaching wire and minefields, and the half-tracks have some tricks of their own that will prove useful to the German advance. Both Overlord battles feature a good assortment of terrain, featuring obstacles to negotiate including minefields and seawalls and generally offering more maneuver room than you get on the standard playing board. Overlord fans will be especially pleased to field the new units in their large scale scenarios.

As a more casual Memoir player, I was actually just as pleased to find four "bonus" missions that use the standard maps. The Overlord missions are great when you've got the time, players and table space to actually play them; when you don't, the standard missions let you get in a game or two in an hour or two. Like the Overlord missions, these standard missions also let you field half tracks and jeeps/patrol cars.

Mission 3, Rommel's Right Hook (Battle of Gazala), is set in North Africa. North African Desert rules, which make tanks more mobile, are in effect. The Brits have some tanks, infantry, a couple of artillery batteries and a lone engineer unit in a relatively open terrain fight. The Germans field a couple of panzer units, several infantry including two units of elite troops and one infantry unit with anti-tank weaponry. They also have two one-car units of patrol cars and an artillery battery.

Raid on Barce is Mission 4. Another North African scenario, this mission pits an entire force of Brits (representing New Zealanders this time) in one-piece patrol car units against Axis (Italian) infantry and a solo tank unit holding real estate including two airfields and two supply depots. The one-man patrol cars are fast, nasty in offensive power but extremely fragile. In a mission with only four medals for a win, the patrol cars have their work cut out for them.

Disaster at Dieppe map - TobrukMission 5 is another North African scenario set in Tunisia called Panzers in the Atlas. This fight has Germans opposing US troops. Both sides have some infantry and artillery but field primarily armored forces. Both armies also get to field the new half tracks, which add a twist to the game with the resupply option that I'll discuss a little later on. The victory conditions also have a little twist: Allied units can win medals by exiting through the Axis lines, not just by destroying enemy units. The road to that exit lies along fairly open country, and the Germans begin set up in strong defense of that area.

The final new mission returns us to Europe. Germans, including a healthy mix of tanks, infantry and the new half tracks, are tasked with digging out a US force that's taken up defense in the town and surrounding area of Le-Mesnil-Adelee. In addition to securing the town and a nearby bridge, Axis forces can win medals by exiting the US forces' side via a defended road network. Again, the half track resupply rule adds a new twist to how this would play out with solely conventional forces provided in the base game.

New rules
I've taunted you enough mentioning those little plastic jeeps and half tracks and their special rules – here's the unit details you've been waiting for: The jeeps function as patrol cars in the specified scenarios. They typically run from 1-3 figures per unit as defined by the scenario. They are treated as infantry in virtually every instance but don't have all the infantry benefits. They are not as mobile in some areas such as cliffs, and they don't have the ability to remove wire. Otherwise, treat them like grunts.

Disaster at Dieppe - JeepWhat abilities the patrol cars lack compared to standard infantry are offset by overall better mobility in open terrain and a different way of improving their survivability. They can move 0-4 hexes and still battle. Like infantry, their firepower starts at 3 dice for adjacent hexes, dropping to 2 dice for two hexes away and finally only 1 die for targets up to three hexes away. They can Take Ground but don't perform Overruns like tanks can.

Opponents are required to make two successful sequential rolls to kill a patrol car. The first target roll hits a jeep/patrol car on a grenade or infantry symbol just like an infantry unit. Those successful hits then must be re-rolled, but only grenades count this time. It's a great feeling when your opponent's second roll fails; unfortunately, if you're fielding patrol cars, their typical one-figure unit size (you can field up to 3 figures but not in the scenarios provided) still makes that a tense experience, since a single hit wins a medal for your opponent.

Half tracks (HTs) are played in units of 1-3 figures, per the scenario. They are slower than tanks, moving 0-2 spaces while retaining the ability to battle with their full dice, similar to tanks. They have a maximum range of 2 hexes, and every hex they attack is a 2 dice roll, subject to the usual terrain effects such as shooting at units on hills or in woods. They can't do armor overruns, but they can take ground and remove wire, similar to infantry. They can also present a bit of a headache for your opponent by potentially denying him a medal while reinforcing your other units.

To get a medal for half track destruction, you have to collect three destroyed half tracks. You place destroyed HTs on your medal tracker until you get three on a spot to count as a complete medal. Big deal, you say? Well, what if your opponent lets you get two HTs and then uses his remaining half tracks up by resupplying his depleted units? You don't get a medal – unless you can rack up that third (or sixth, ninth, etc.) half track kill.

Resupply is an ability that half tracks get in this expansion's missions. Resupply is done in lieu of fighting with your HTs. You can park a half track adjacent to one or more (if the spacing is right) of your partially depleted units and/or move depleted units next to the HT unit. Then, instead of battling, you replace one missing figure in the depleted unit for each HT you remove from play. It's a one for one trade – one HT for a figure of the appropriate type. HTs removed via resupply do not count toward your opponent's medal count (remember, he needs 3 HTs to count for a medal). You can replenish infantry, artillery, cav, and armor this way but cannot raise a unit above its original strength; for example, you can't make a 3 gun artillery unit because artillery units comprise 2 guns when they're at maximum strength.

Conclusions
The Disaster at Dieppe expansion demonstrates once again the variety of play options that can be made just by tweaking a rule or two to produce entirely new possibilities. Both new unit types meld abilities of armor and infantry in very interesting ways. The plastic figures are nicely done, and their neutral colors plus the ever-present ability to mark units with badges makes them useful for Axis and Allied forces. The new missions showcase the half tracks and jeeps very well and, I think, will drive players to come up with novel ways of using these new units' capabilities while accounting for their limitations. Memoir '44 fans have every reason to be excited about the release of yet another quality expansion.

 

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