Saturday, July 13, 2013

Battle of Bruyeres

I'm heading into a longish stretch at work*, so when my pal Sydney pitched the idea of an impromptu Memoir '44 game, I put the call out. We had obviously caught a number of the fraternity at a good time as we managed to get Mr E, Capability Savage, Douglas McKenzie, General Du Gourmand, Sydney and Uncle WestProg on board in relatively short order. 

As the weather had been so fine, I decided to set up outside in the garden as it would have been a mortal sin to be inside on such a day. I took the opportunity to crack open the new Memoir '44 Equipment Pack and set up one of the Overlord games. This scenario was the battle of Bruyeres in the Vosges area of France. The Germans were defending the town of Bruyeres, while the Americans tried to take it.

The German forces start quite thin on the ground and the Americans enjoy a significant edge on numbers.  Both sides have special units, though I think the Germans have a slight advantage in that respect with a Tiger tank unit on their left and some specialist artillery, though Mr E's attempt to mask the American firepower with smoke from his Nebelwerfers was rendered moot by McKenzies near laser like precision with his artillery. 

Capability Savage demonstrating his new beer opening technique.  Indeed ladies and gentlemen, that is a gardne fork. 

Douglas McKenzie's artillery obliterate Mr E Nebelwerfers
"They'll werf no more nebels, my good man!"

Now as it happened I ended up playing on the German side because Du Gourmand was late. This was actually because I'd forgotten to confirm with Du Gourmand was actually happening, once I actually called him to inquire - there was a smell of burning rubber and he arrived slightly out of breath about the same time as I had hung up, despite being, so far as I can tell on the other side of the city. 

He did mention something about having to get changed in a telephone booth, but I'm sure it was lost in translation. 

Savage's tanks continue to batter the German defenders. 

Du Gourmand takes over as the German Commander in Chief. Victory is assured. 

Though he looks sceptical as soon as Mr E points out that McKenzie appears to be rolling dice blessed by Jesus Christ himself as another unit bites the dust. It's almost as if the Germans were the bad guys or something. 

Uncle WestProg shores up the left flank while Du Gourmand declares Bruyeres a "fortress town".  I'm baffled as to how Savage managed to wear a leather jacket in this weather. 

And McKenzie annihilates Mr E's Tiger. 

McKenzie's dice continue to be amazing as Mr. E, now bereft of cards to play is reduced to "rolling his initiative" (a manoeuvre with gives him a 4/6 chance of moving a unit and nowhere near as good as having an actual card). Mr E: "Dear Leader, we're down to jazz hands out here."

The game ended rather closer than we expected with a narrow American victory.  In fact, I'm not abosolutely certain of that, which considering I can remember particular incidents from the game, but not the game itself - which I think is a sign of an engaging game. 

We kept playing after it got dark - Capability Savage is not flinching because I let a flash off in his face, but actually because he had an asbestos canape at a gallery opening before arriving and I think it was repeating on him. 

We played a second game after Uncle Westprog had to go home. I took over as the American commander and led the US forces to a defeat so crushing it will probably go down in the history as one of the blackest days of American arms. Our plan which involved me stalling in the centre, while Mr E used his artillery superiority on the right to shell the Germans out of their holes and Du Gourmand led a Patton-esque slashing charge on the left. 

Capability Savage pauses to offer homage to the Dark Gods that watch over Graphic Designers 

It's a risk with any game involving dice and cards and the agony didn't last too long as McKenzie's dice were on fire yet again, decimating Mr E's artillery and crowding him with an armoured assault. McKenzie played well as he is a skilled and aggressive player, but it's rather unusual for one player to account for over 70% of the victory points.  

To the unitiated this may appear like Savage is about to throw dice at me because I keep blinding him with a flash. Nothing could be further from the truth and this gesture is actually part of a ritual dance, common in his part of the world, the actual significance of which is lost on me.  It probably loses something without the savage idols to which it is generally offered, but I think it maybe something to do with clients supplying copy on time? 

By the end of the game, we actually had a friendly fire incident due to poor visibility. Now if only we could have one of those in one of my Napoleonic games.  I must invest in an outdoor light for the summer evenings. 

McKenzie using his phone to illuminate his troops. 

The evening was a success and I was very happy to have the chaps over. One of the advantages of having such a good group is that the clean-up is minimal and takes under ten minutes when everyone lends a hand.  All of which propitiates the Memsahib.  The Equipment Pack proved it's worth. To be honest, I bought it initially because I like to support Memoir '44, I didn't really expect to get much mileage out of the pieces, but the scenarios look good. There were a lot of special rules in this particular scenario, Uncle Westprog was joking that it almost looks like a real wargame now, but they were actually relatively easy to understand. 

A good evening. 

*The thirteen day week, even those swine in the Directorate of the French Republic stopped at ten. 


  1. That looks a good evening with good friends, you lucky chap


  2. Looks like a good evening. Would have been an interesting test of character if it had clouded over and looked like rain.

  3. The first game actually ended in a narrow German victory, despite your clearly biased reportage. During the brief lull of the resupplying of the troops (the beer and takeaway break), Generaloberst Von Gorman examined the board, and in a brief moment of lucidity saw the path to victory. As he slumped back into his customary schnapps-induced stupor, we put his plan into effect and snatched victory.

    As for the second game... truth be told, I simply couldn't compete with McKenzie's overwhelming beard superiority.

  4. Fantastic! my idea of a perfect evening ...... . good friends, plenty to drink a good laugh and a wargame. What Life is all about :-)

  5. I keep hearing good things about this game. I may have to look into it.


  6. I've now learned how to open beer bottles with garden implements. An excellent and life improving blog post!