by Daron Patton
Memoir '44 Terrain Pack (2005)
Published by Days of Wonder
Designed by Richard Borg
Art by Julien Delval
Components: 66 terrain tiles, 22 landmark tiles, 20 round markers, 16 obstacles, 28 Special Unit badges, 4 Historical scenarios, and rules (English and French).
Memoir '44 is a very visually-oriented WWII game, providing an
abstract take on various battles between the Axis and Allies. One way
of enhancing that theme is through the use of the many different
gameboards and terrain pieces published by Days of Wonder. While many
scenarios can be played on the double-sided countryside/beach assault
board included with the base game, building a collection adds a lot to
the tone of the game. The feel of playing on a snow covered board with
snow-covered forests, for example, really adds to the intensity of the
game when you're pitting Germans against Russians on the Eastern
New Fields of Battle
The Memoir '44 Terrain Pack is the first of many expansions
published to support the base game, introducing some all-new desert
terrrain options as well as more terrain choices for use on the Western
Front as new mission types develop. The expansion comes in a nice clear
plastic tray with recloseable lid that stores everything that comes in
this box. The cardboard box itself has a slip cover and serves as a
useful storage for the expansion. The contents are high quality
cardboard pieces that represent terrain, markers, landmarks, obstacles
and tokens and badges for use in the game. The box also includes a
rules booklet (two actually, one in French and the other in English)
that explains the new terrain pieces and rules and introduces four new
scenarios for the base game. If you are a new Memoir '44 fan and
looking for expansions, the Terrain Pack is an excellent first addition
and a lot of value for your money.
The desert tiles include oases, palm forests, desert villages, and
wadis. The forests and villages are treated as they would be in the
base game but provide a consistent desert background if players want to
buy the desert/winter boards expansion. The Oasis tiles can be used to
improve a unit's defense or even to recover lost infantry units in
certain scenarios (healing waters, as it were). Wadis are naturally
formed gulleys or trenches that channel movement; units can travel
through a wadi without problem, but trying to cross the wadi's steep
sloped walls is impossible for any unit.
To represent delaying tactics used by the Germans later in the war –
specifically, flooding areas to hinder armor movement – there are
Flooded Fields scenarios. In these scenarios, basic board hexes are
considered to be muddy, soggy messes caused by intentional flooding.
High Ground tiles are used to represent areas that are not quite hills
but not low enough to be flooded. Marsh tiles are also provided and
have similar effects to Flooded Fields but in more limited spaces.
Mountains, roads, railways and rivers/waterways are also provided.
Mountains are similar to hills in effect except they add another level
for game consideration by being higher. Roads grant movement bonuses,
while railroads slow down armor and are used in certain scenarios where
railroads played an important role. The rivers and waterways are
welcome additions. The lake pieces let you make a proper lake instead
of proxying lakes with rivers as you have to do if you only have the
base set; there's obviously nothing wrong with using river sections to
make a lake (as the base set rules demonstrate), but the Terrain Pack
hexes make the board look just that much nicer.
The Victoria Cross and Italian Medal for Military Valor are included to
help individualize games where British and Italian forces are in play.
Other badges help identify combat engineers and other special units from
various countries that fought in WWII. Badges are included to help
identify British, Polish, Yugoslav, Spanish, Italian, Australian, New
Zealander, Gurkha, German (including Afrika Korps), and American (101st)
troops. These nationality badges are very helpful in the more advanced
scenarios that differentiate the specific forces involved in the actual
Battle Star Tokens are round tokens with stars printed on them.
Depending on the mission, Battle Star Tokens can represent prisoners,
captured equipment, collapsible boats/rafts, sabotage targets and heroic
leaders. The boats temporarily (one use) allow infantry to navigate
waterways that might otherwise be impassible, for example. Rules for
all of these extra actions are provided in the rules booklet and apply
in missions that specify them in their write-up.
Beyond the previous terrain types, there are several landmarks provided
to enhance mission play and which tie in to the Battle Star Tokens in
many cases. Dams, power plants and factory complexes can be the targets
of sabotage. Airfields can be captured or used for landing
reinforcements. Barracks, churches, lighthouses and cemeteries provide
village-like effects along with benefits like artillery spotting
advantages (depending on mission requirements); their varied artwork can
also improve the customizability of the board's appearance. A radar
station, if owned, can impact your opponent's flexibility on playing the
Air Power card. Supply Depots, if destroyed, can reduce enemy tank unit
movements (due to fuel being harder to come by).
Field bunkers, river fords, pontoon and railroad bridges, roadblocks and
even locomotives are also included. Pontoon bridges may be erected
instead of activating units via an Attack command card (sacrificing a
potential attack for improved mobility over a river). Railroad bridges
can span terrain that railroads do not but are otherwise treated the
same, including their slowing down of armor units. Bridges aside, the
trains are kind of neat all by themselves. Depending on scenario rules,
they can function as mobile artillery platforms, sources of unit
reinforcements or objectives to be destroyed.
Artillery in some scenarios may be amped up to "Big Guns." This
represents both larger caliber artillery and improved communication by
forward observers. Big guns have increased range from regular artillery.
They are also effective at punishing hexes where they previously scored
one or more hits without wiping out all target units. A marker is
placed in such a space, and if the target unit remains in place, the Big
Gun will be able to roll an additional die. Only moving out of the
targeted hex or being destroyed remove this effect. Up to three
separate hexes can have this effect on-going from a Big Gun.
Minefield rules, which are also provided in the Eastern Front
expansion, are introduced and markers for setting them up are included.
Thanks to inverted counters, enemy units entering minefields do not know
how strong the minefield will be until they enter it. It may be a
decoy, causing no damage, or it may cause 1-4 dice to be rolled against
the affected unit. Grenades and the unit's symbol cause casualties if
rolled. Once a minefield has been triggered, it remains in play but its
strength remains visible, the token staying number side up. Friendly
units can traverse their own minefields but have to stop immediately
Scenarios included are Battle of Gazala (Knightsbridge); Market Garden
(Nijmegen Bridges); Schwammenauel Dam; and Operation Grenade (River
Roer). Gazala is a tank battle in the desert that introduces wadis and
oasis tiles to the game but is largely open desert terrain. Gazala also
presents North Africa Desert rules, which make tanks more mobile,
especially during attacks and overruns. Market Garden is chock full of
terrain, including railroads, rivers, forests and towns. Allies use
Battle Star Tokens to equip some of their infantry with collapsible
one-use boats that are helpful in crossing the river, while the Germans
have a Big Gun unit to back their largely infantry-based defense. The
Schwammenauel Dam mission pits dam-sabotaging Germans against the Allies
in a terrain dominated by forests, mountains, and the River Roer with
two dams. The final mission, Operation Grenade, features a receded
river (fordable by the Allies) and a German defense backed with by
The Memoir '44 Terrain Pack offers high-density value. You get
several nice-to-have additions such as the lake hexes and desert pieces
while expanding the types of missions that you can play in a standard
game. You get a lot of game expansion in a deceptively small package.
If you enjoyed the base game for Memoir '44, the Terrain Pack
significantly boosts your play options at a reasonable price.