Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Historical kind of tournament at Playscape.

Sunday 12 of June. 2011. 11:00AM

Me and John "Robomarine" stand outside Doukisis Plakentias Metro station, this station is quite on the other side of Athens, quite an hour away from Kalithea, we were dressed for the summer climate that our part of the city had so when we reached the surface again we weren't prepared for the worst possible weather that awaited us, the rain outside was so tense that we had to retreat back to the station, nonetheless we contacted John, our host for the day from Playscape shop to come and try to find a way to pick us up with his car.

We were going to the tournament, even if we were to get completely soaked wet.

John was already on his way with his car to the Metro and parked quite close to one of the stations exits, we evaded a lot of rain because of that (John's knowledge of the stations exits was a big advantage) and got on the car, a bit later we were outside Playscape shop where many players from the Greek Boardgame Guild were waiting.

A small run (charge) from the car to the shop and then back again to pick up the camera and the bags got us pretty soaked wet but we did it and soon Robomarine, John, me and several other players were inside the shop and started organizing the event.

To start about this tournament instead of taking you millenia ahead as we do with warhammer we will just take you some years back to 1944 when the largest armada of ships, troops and aircraft was assembled from the allied forces of the United States, Britain, Canada, Free French and their allies and was storming the nazi occupied europe.

On D-Day, ten thousand allied soldiers lost their lives assaulting the beaches of Normandy trying to form a beachead for the thousands of allied troops still on the armada, another five thousand to nine thousand soldiers from the axis died trying to stop them. Many people, mostly young people were lost in the sensless violence that is war.

The story of those troops and the battles that happened that day and in the months that followed inspired movie makers, story writters and even poets, many movies were made, stories written again and again, and least but not last, several games have tried to simulate in just a fraction the tensity and risks the officers and soldiers had to take in those fatefull days.

One of those games is multiple award winner Memoir 44 designed from Richard Borg and published from Days of Wonder, the game was the subject of the tournament itself at would also be the first Memoir 44 tournament in Greece, organized throught the Boardgamegeek website and mostly from the Greek Boardgamegeek Guild (say that ten times fast).

But lets see more about the game itself.

Memoir 44 is a boardgame for two players but another copy of the game can be added for a four player version of the game, one player takes the role of the allied commander while the other player takes the role of the axis commander.

Each game is a recreation of a historical mission, the basic game comes supplied with 16 missions from the D-Day landings to the liberation of France, adding to that there are many expansions for the game that include all the theaters of world war two, from the Pacific theater  where US marines face the Japanese army to the Eastern front with operation Barbarossa to the hot deserts of Africa with Rommel's africa corps against the stubborn english of Montgomery. Other expansions include more units, terrain pieces, battle maps for winter and desert battles and even more detailed rules for aircraft.

The hexagonal tiled map is seperated in 3 sections, center, right and left flank, and this is where the fun begins, in each round players select one card from their hand of "command cards" to order move and attack with one or more units in one two or three sections of the map, after they do so their turn ends and they replenish the card they used with a random command card from the deck of command cards.

So a player not only has to plan his strategy on what units he has avaliable and where and where his opponent units are but also on the deck of his command cards, this is the most important catch of the game since at times you will find that your strongest part of your army (or the better possitioned) might be on a battlefield section where you dont have any cards to order them!.

Those are three command cards of the many provided within the game, the first if played will let you command one unit in the center but after using it you will draw 2 cards and pick the one that you prefer (a good choice if you are running out of cards in the sections with the most action) the other card lets you command two units in each flank for a total of four units, and the third card, Armor assault lets you command four tank units in any section of the battlefield.

There are three types of units in the game those are Infantry Armor and Artillery, and their various specializations, each unit is composed of several models, so a infantry unit is made up from 4 infantry models, a tank unit is made up from 3 tank models and an artillery unit is made up from 2 artillery models.

Each unit moves and "battles" in a different way, infantry can move 1 hex and fight up to 3 hexes away but with each hex range further they lose in strenght (battle dice), or they can move 2 hexes and not fight at all, armor units can move up to 3 hexes and fight up to 3 hexes away with no loss to their strengh but their effectiveness will be greatly reduced if they fire on a unit in cover like woods or city

Artillery units can fire up to 6 hexes away, without line of sight to their target and ignoring any terrain penalties to their attack strenght, althought artillery loses attack strenght the further away it fires.

The landing on Omaha beach, the bloodiest part of the D-Day landings, presented in the film "Saving private ryan" is included in the basic game, if you think capt. Miller could do better you just have to go pick the game and find someone to try it out. 

To win the game a player needs to collect victory medals, he gains one medal for each unit he totally eliminates - removes all its models from the game - and one medal for an objective point if there is one or more in the mission for his side to claim.

The mission specifies how many victory medals a player has to take to win, the terrain pieces, the units and where they start, how many command cards each player takes and who goes first, additionally the mission text includes a short review of what really happened in the mission back in world war two.

The game shares a version of the "command and colors" system designed also by Richard Borg, so almost the same rules can be found on the games: Battle Cry (United states civil war) Command and colors ancients (Romans, Ancient Greeks and others) Command and colors Napoleonics (That short guy who wanted to take over the world and his rivals) and Battlelore (Medieval and fantasy battles, orcs, goblins, dwarfs, knights and spells but still no elves).

Days of wonder has also made a computer version of the game and you can get it for free with a code you get when you purchace the boardgame, (its on the back of the rulebook) the PC version lets you game against the computer or with another player over the internet, sadly there is no Hot-Seat version but the pc game is a total simulation of the boardgame - see if games workshop will ever do that with warhammer ;)

See more about the game here:
Memoir 44 at Days Of Wonder!

Back to 2011. (not that we held you for too long in 1944, now did we?)

The idea about a Memoir 44 tournament started some weeks ago after i talked with a guy from Chicago over the online version of the game where he told me that he was practicing for the tournament in his city, i decided to give it a try here on Greece and so i droped the idea on Boardgamegeek on the Greek Guild quite a lot of people responded and on the day of the tournament the hosting shop was filled with Guild members ready to take on the challenge.

To our delight the majority of players knew the rules and only one or two just knew another version of the command and colors system so it was easy for them to learn the few differences Memoir 44 had.

As we waited for people to gather, dry a bit and collect themselves i found the time to do a small  photo review of the shop.

This is the entrance to Playscape, a small boardgame shrine that held the event.

John "Robomarine" checks a small part of the boardgame range presented in the shop.

And continues his "scan" towards the inner part of the shop where the shop owner's office is located and behind that the play area.


I was suprised to find "Growing hunger" (center) an expansion for Last night on earth - the zombie game, quite a rare game that usually you dont find in Greek game shops, usually the gamers obtain it only throught mail order, like i did. 

This happens when the shop owner is a truly boardgame enthousiast like John (right) many thanks go to him for his hospitality, not to mention the short - but crucial! - ride with his car.

I have no words for those guys at the Greek Boardgamegeek Guild (did you managed to say it fast ten times?), even with this rain, they came for the tournament, from left: Manos, George, Vaggelis and John (hidamiyiagi)

Mihalis takes on the rain and comes with his motorcycle for the tournament, a huge "Mepple" greets him (i think thats the name of this big red thing from the carcassone game if im not mistaken)

Some more from the shop, dont know if you guessed already what this is: parts from the new version of Crossbows and Catapults, known to Greece as Castles and Besiegers (Κάστρα και πολιορκητές).

Two contrary games to each other, we dont think that Zombies are Alive, they are just animated. Either way, i think the "It's Alive!" game is a good example of how much cool name a game can have.

Back to the tournament as it starts to get organized.

We had decided from the Guild forum to play three missions with each player playing twice each mission against the same opponent but from both sides, that is - in Memoir 44 you have to play once as the allies against the axis and once as the axis against the allies so that a fair result can be given in the end since the missions are based on historical formations and strenghts and are hardly fair for both sides.

So each player would have to play six matches of Memoir 44 in three missions: Sword Beach (a beach landing mission) Operation Cobra (a land battle with the allies attacking germans hiding in dense terrain) and Mont Mouchet (Germans attacking the french resistance fighters).

First mission is the Sword Beach, the Germans who are outnumbered but in good possitions must hold off the attacking troops and sherman tanks, the beach provides only some obstacles for cover from enemy fire and slows the tanks speed.

Mihalis (left) and Vaggelis (right) play as one player, since Vaggelis had to leave later (Mihalis would take his seat) their opponet is the blogger (me!) who successfully defended the beach in the first match against the duo but failed to conquer it when Mihalis and Vaggelis took command of the Germans!


To the left Konstantinos faces Robomarine (out of the photo), Konstantinos also commands the Allied invasion in this first game, both players had a win with 5 medals to 3 medals of their opponent, that gave them a draw as the result of the two games.

The allies storm the center of the battlefield in our first match, the shermans get their tracks filled with sand and so do the defending panzers who retaliate in the right flank.

Robomarine gets a german infantry piece as a medal, he thinks for a little to throw it to the glass of water to make it feel for a bit how it is to start on the ocean hexes.

John starts to place the terrain and units for the first mission.

Robomarine and Konstantinos after their games end find the time for a match of "Manuevre", another strategy game.

But the models upon hearing that another game is played next to them run away from their board, jealeous that another game is played!

But quickly return for the second mission, Operation Cobra, when John arrives for a game against me and he restores order on the battlefield (and the miniatures)

In Operation Cobra John takes a new hand of command cards for himself and Mihalis, his opponent for this round.

Operation Cobra was an attack from the allies against german defenders in hedgerow terrain, the allies suffered a lot from the defenders in this mission but in the end they completed their objectives.

The last mission included French resistance fighters against their german attackers in the mission Mont Mouchet. the French in Memoir 44 are able to enter cities and woods and attack in the same round (something other infantry cannot do) but they lack one model from infantry units, they start with 3 infantry models in each unit.

Additionally for some weird reason the French are masters in... retreat, they can retreat 3 hexes and not 1 like other units for each "retreat" result they get in the dice.

These miniatures, as are the other painted miniatures presented in some of the photos are not the miniatures that come with the game, they are 1/72 miniatures (mostly from Itallery and Ceasar miniatures) that can be found on any modeling shop, with the addition of some cardboard for bigger bases (so that they dont topple all the time) and some paint they make ideal replacements for the nice but simple miniatures that come with the basic game.

French fighters defend their land, their woods hills and cities flat and hex shaped but its their land.

Taking command of the German troops means that you will get an appetite for beer, the shop provided the players with free drinks.

Atlast the rain stops and i can get the camera outside for a photo of the shop.

Mihalis enjoys his first victory from the matches against John, in his own way.

In my 3rd game i end up high in the rank of players and i face John Robomarine who is also on the top, i take command of the Germans in our first match and John takes the French.

The vile Germans mobilize two units of tanks, but since they are of elite status they start with 4 armor models instead of the standard armor units who start with 3. A big bonus for the Germans in this mission but they have to be careful because if the French manage to take out one such unit in this mission its 2 medals for them and you only need to win 4 medals to win in this mission!

I start the mission with 4 special cards, air power who can attack 4 adjusted hexes with 1 battle dice (strenght of attack) close assault who orders every unit who is adjusted to enemy units to attack, firefight who orders up to 4 units who aren't adjusted to enemy units to attack and armor assault who can order up to 4 tanks.

It looks like as a good hand but Too many special cards at the start of the game can be a bad thing.

John advances in the center with his French resistance.

And the Panzers reveal themselves behind the trees following...

 The other tank division who is already engaging the free French, soon to be flat French.

And while they do indeed flat out the free French in front of them they miss a hit due line of sight to the remaining French on top of that hill and so he can retaliate, attack the remaining tanks and destroy them completely in a lucky shot! reducing the axis victory to a 4-3 for medals. 

And as i lost afterwards commanding the French by 4-0 against Robomarine he wins the match and so far holds the first place of the tournament, in the table besides us Manos hunts down John's free French.

Most of the games have ended, players have defended and stormed a beach, got themselves into the densest foilage possible and assaulted enemy units inside it, they even talked French to their troops. 

Results to the tournament after 46 games of Memoir 44, all within a time frame of less than five hours, John Robomarine is the first official tournament winner of Memoir 44 in Greece but all the players are winners, won over a bad mood that the rain can bring with a good mood...

...That Boardgames bring with them, just a small square box that Memoir 44 is that can produce so much joy!.

The boardgamers from the Greek Boardgamegeek Guild (still trying to say it ten times?) gather for a group shot and promise for another such meeting where you - readers, are invited.

In case you want to play Memoir 44 (i strongly suggest it) all you have to do is buy the game, so far i know that Memoir 44 is brought in Greece by:

Playscape (obviously) Grammou 39, Vrilisia 210-6132541
At all Kaissa hobby and game stores, kaissa games
And i have also found the game on Games Corps, Agiou Georgiou 28 - Halandri - Tel: 211 700 4274

To find more about the Guild and any following events regarding quite possibly another Memoir 44 tournament in the future you should enter the Boardgamegeek site and find the Greek guild there.

Greek Boardgamegeek guild

Guild members are boardgame enthousiasts and you will surely find other players like yourselves to play with and enter the wonderful world of boardgaming, but i believe you already have by reading this far into this post.

See you on the next event, Have fun, take care.

For the Invulnerable


  1. Wow Playscape looks like a great place. Beautiful decoration!

  2. Indeed Playscape is a small but beautifull decorated place and a very good site for boardgame events.

  3. Your posts are getting longer and longer Panos, I think Blogger is going to start charging you for their service since you take up too much bandwidth :P But it was a very detailed article, a labour of love!

  4. I think that Memoir 44 and other games of the "Command and colors" system deserved that attention, thanks Antipope!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.