Friday, August 19, 2011

Memoir '44

Subject: History
Category: WWII
Ages: # of players: 8 and up
Time to play: Mechanics/Game Type: Battle cards, dice rolling
Ratings (1 to 5) Educational Value: 5
Gaming value: 5
Aesthetic value: 5
Price value: 5
Ease of play: 3
Younger adaptability: 2

My comments:  Memoir '44 is an entry-level, hex-based war game based on World War II.  The basic set contains German and American army figures, including infantry, tanks, artillery, and obstacles like barbed wire and sandbags.  While the rules may seem a bit complicated, they are simple by war game standards and are well worth mastering.

The rule book is also a campaign book based on actual WWII battles.  Players decide which battle scenario they want to play, which has a description of the actual historical events.  Players then set up the board by placing a variety of terrain hexes and troops according to the scenario specifications.  In general, on your turn you play a card that allows you to activate troops.  You move them and then battle with them, using dice to determine how many if any of the enemy you eliminate.  Doing so earns you victory metals; collect the scenario-specified number of metals to win the game.  Movement and battle have various rules based on terrain, troop-types, and obstacles.

The game is made by Days of Wonder, the same company that makes Ticket to Ride.  And like Ticket to Ride, Memoir '44 comes with a variety of expansions, each with new armies (British, Italian, Russian, Japanese), campaigns, cards, terrain, and some additional rules. (See the Days of Wonder website for all the available expansion.)  Have only one war gamer in the family?  He or she can play free online (if you have a decent computer) against the computer or other live players (caution: opponents can chat live during play.)  You are given "50 gold ingots" to start but once they are used up you have to buy more to play ($8 for 200, or buy larger volumes at a discount.)

Overall this is a great introduction to war gaming, a world steeped in history and top-notch strategy.  It certainly has sparked an interest in WWII for my kids. link to this game:

Elk Fest

Subject: Category: General
Ages: # of players: 6 and up
Time to play: Mechanics/Game Type: Dexterity
Ratings (1 to 5) Educational Value: 2
Gaming value: 3 (though a fun value of 5)
Aesthetic value: 5
Price value: 5
Ease of play: 5
Younger adaptability: 5

My comments:  This simply is a fun two-player game.  Each side has 3 round, flat "stones", an island, and a moose (even though they are moose, I think it is called Elk Fest because the original German name, Elchfest.)  You place your moose on your island and the three stones next to it.  Each turn you "flick" the stone (hit the side of it with your finger much like a cue hits a pool ball) into position in order to move your moose across the table from stone to stone.  Whoever gets their moose to the opponent's island first wins.

The game can be played by anyone that can flick a stone.  Put the pieces in a bag and carry it with you for the kids to take out in times of boredom (like a restaurant.)  It's a fun, quick game to play anytime. link to this game: