In my opinion, Memoir ’44 has to be one of the best board games ever made.  I’ve been playing it pretty much every day for over two years now.  I carpool with a co-worker of mine, and he comes by early in the morning for a bit of game and coffee.  We’ve played pretty much every official scenario from every expansion, and a whole ton of unofficial scenarios from the online collection of user generated scenarios at Days of Wonder.  In fact, I have another blog all about Memoir – Memoir ’44 Fanatic.

However, for the last week we’ve switched things up a bit.  As I mentioned earlier, I got the Ogre Designers Edition a little while ago, and I’ve been trying it out.  Here are few impressions.

Ogre is only marginally more complicated than Memoir ’44, and most of that comes from the “All of mine move and shoot, then all of yours move and shoot” structure of Ogre.  Card-based wargames had not been invented in 1977.  Very few modern board game mechanics had been, in fact, which makes the ease and playability of Ogre rather remarkable.  An advantage of the Designers Edition is that the counters are absolutely enormous.  They can be rotated to designate having moved, and rotated back to show that they’ve fired, and they’re hard to knock  around on the board.

Just explaining the numbers on the counters, I realized I’d explained the game well enough to start playing.  That’s how simple it was.

The simpler scenarios play out in 20-30 minutes, just about as long as a longer battle in Memoir ’44.  That’s a definite positive as well.

One thing that is very different is the setup.  The thing that gives Memoir ’44 so much replay value is flexible map setup, with little overlay hexes for terrain that can be combined to create different battlefields.  Ogre has a number of set maps, the same as before – but they’ve made concessions to the modern gaming scene with a HUGE number of overlay ties.  Unfortunately there’s not much support for them at the moment. Then there is the unit setup.  Ogre scenarios typically give more or less flexible numbers of Armor Units to the player, which he/she can deploy in a fairly flexible manner.  Memoir specifically designates each unit’s starting position on the map.  In Memoir, given the smaller board sizes, the exact positioning of units on startup can really matter, and is critical to the balance of the map.  A few hexes here or there can make a big difference.  I don’t know if such precision in setup would make much of a difference for Ogre.

The Designer’s Edition has a very “do it yourself” feel to it, which goes with the design aesthetic of the original games.  Choose your own armies, and set them up how you will.  Play around with terrain overlays, or don’t – it’s up to you.

I’ll write more as we dig into the GEV maps and the more complicated scenarios.