Memoir '44 is a WWII board game using miniatures of infantry, tanks and artillery. The base game is a light introduction to war gaming, however the numerous expansions (available separately) significantly add scale, depth and detail to the game.
The base game, for 2 players, includes American and German armies and a double sided board, one side for beach invasions and the other for countryside combat. Each side of the board is divided into three areas, the left flank, the centre and the right flank which come into play when issuing orders to units. The board is thick and good quality, however it is large, so care is needed to prevent the board from tearing along the multiple creases when unfolding. The armies are in different colours of molded plastic. It can be time consuming to set up a game, placing the appropriate number of figures on the correct hexagons on the board, following the diagram in the rulebook, but once the game begins It is nice to move models around the board rather than counters.
At the beginning of each game, a scenario is chosen and set up using the rulebook. Each scenario is a real battle from WWII, brought to life as accurately as possible using terrain 'hexes', which mark forests, rivers, towns and other environmental features on the board. These features each have different effects on movement and combat when moving units around the board.
Orders to move and fight with your army are given through cards. Each turn a player selects one card from his hand which allows him to move and fight with a certain number of units in part or all of the board. Once he has moved, he resolves attacks on the enemy by rolling special 6-sided dice which tell whether he hit, missed or forced a retreat. The cards and dice are the most random aspect of the game and, however strong your tactics, you may struggle if you are repeatedly dealt inappropriate cards and roll poorly. I still quite like this aspect of the game as I imagine in real warfare you would be limited to a certain number of choices and would not necessarily be able to predict the outcome of a firefight.
Winning the game depends on the game scenario chosen, but the goal is usually to reach a certain number of victory points by defeating enemy units, and capturing and holding enemy positions. As few battles were completely fair in WWII, once the game is finished, players can swap sides and play the same battle using the opposing force. This means that even if the same nation wins twice, the winning player is he who gains the most victory points over the two battles.
Overall Memoir '44 is an excellent WWII themed board game, in which the complexity can be set with the range of available expansions. These include different armies and terrain, and even the option to play epic 8-player battles using the Overlord expansion.