Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Memoir '44 Variant Rules: Memoir Medieval

A month or so ago my buddy and I got the chance to sit down and spend a day playing games.  We both have kids, so this basically never happens, so it was lots of fun.

Our wives both enjoy board games too, but in this case they weren't around, so we broke out the 2-player games.  One of them was Memoir '44, by Days of Wonder, which I hadn't played before.  We ran through a couple of the starting scenarios to get used to the system and ended up splitting the first 2 games.  Game 1 I won by taking a couple of bridges, game 2 Rayn won by dint of a very fortunate air-drop and my inexperience.

Rather than playing a third game, my innate desire to hack things up kicked in, and I decided I wanted to build a set of medieval/fantasy variant rules for the game.  The basic mechanics are great - play cards to move your troops, roll dice to attack - damage the enemy or force them to retreat based on the dice results.

I figured that these mechanics could be translated easily into a medieval/fantasy game, so I dug through all the other board games at Rayn's house and came up with a spread of figures that we could use to replace the existing soldiers and tanks and artillery.

We didn't bother to make up specific scenarios, so we put together some rules for quickly building maps cooperatively.  We also set up a point buy system for building armies and some basic deployment rules.

Scenario Setup:


75 points each, no giants allowed.  4 command cards each.  15 terrain cards each. 4 VP's required to win. 
The Skirmish rules are for a small engagement with quite a bit of terrain.  Point restrictions will likely mean no catapults.

100 points each.  5 command cards each.  12 terrain cards each.  5 VP to win.
The Battle rules are for a medium/normal engagement, which can include catapults and giants.  Less terrain means freer movement.

Large Battle
150 points each, 1 free commander on each side (if commanders are being used), 5 command cards each. 10 terrain cards each.  6 VP to win.  1 VP location place-able by each player.  2 VP locations placed along center line of board.
The Large Battle rules are for a big, full-scale engagement.  Player-placed VP locations must be placed within 2 hexes of the center-line of the board.  The 2 center line VP locations are placed according to mutual agreement after the terrain tiles are placed.

Side 1 150 Points, 10 terrain cards, 5 command cards.  Side 2 100 points, 15 terrain cards, 1
fortification, 3 sandbags, 5 barbed wire, 2 VP location markers, 3 command cards (draw 2 on 1st 2 rounds).  6 VP to win.
The Siege rules are designed  to simulate an attack by a larger force on a smaller, entrenched force, which starts with the VP locations. 

Terrain Placement:

Players pick the requisite number of terrain tiles blindly from a bag.  Players then alternate placing terrain tiles on the board.  They may play either side of the tile.  The first tile must be placed somewhere along the centerline of the board.  Subsequent tiles must be placed within 1 hex of an existing tile.

River tiles should be placed contiguous to other river tiles, in the direction of the closest edge of the map, unless both players agree to set the river up differently.

Unless both players agree, all tiles must be played within 3 hexes of the center line of the board.

Other terrain features, like bridges, barricades or fortifications, can be placed if both players agree.  Remember, the setup is a collaborative process designed to create an interesting map.


Once the board is set up, both players alternate deploying 1 unit at a time, until both armies are deployed.  Units cannot be moved once deployed unless both players agree.  Units must be deployed within at 2 hexes of the players map edge, unless both players agree.



Infantry Units:

4 figures. 
Move: 0/1 and battle or move 2 and no battle.   
Attack: 3.
Cost: 10 points.
Close Support:  Ignore 1 retreat flag for each friendly unit in contact.
We used the spearmen from Risk:Godstorm.

4 figures.
Move 0/1 and battle or move 2 and no battle. 
Attack 1/2/3.
Cost: 10 points.
Arcing Shot:  Can hit targets that are within range that allied units have LOS on, even if they do not.
Elusive: Count as armor for defensive purposes when in rough terrain.
We couldn't find good archers, so we used infantry units from vanilla Memoir '44.

4 figures.
Move: 3.  Can move before AND after battling.
Attack: 2  
Cost: 10
Flank:  Gain +1 combat if another unit is in close assault with target.
Pursuit:  retreat flags count as hits against infantry units.

We used cavalry from Conquest of the Empire.

Optional Cavalry type: 
Horse Archers
4 figures.
Move: 3.
Attack: 2/2.
Cost 15.

Armor Units


3 figures
Move: 0/1 and battle or move 2 and no battle.
Attack: 4
Cost: 25
Terror: Any unit taking damage from giants must retreat 1 space.
We used the Saxon and Pict figures from Shadows Over Camelot.

Heavy Cavalry (Elephants)
3 figures.
Move 2 and battle.
Attack 3.
Cost: 15.
Overrun:  If close combat destroys a unit, the heavy cavalry may move into their space and launch an additional attack.
We used the elephants from Risk:Godstorm.

Artillery Units

2 figures.
Move: 1 or attack.
Attack: 3/3/2/2/1/1 
Cost: 25 
We used the catapults from Conquest of the Empire, but the catapults from Shadows Over Camelot would work just as well.


Commanders are an optional rule that I added after the initial playtesting, so they might not work.  I thought it might be interesting to add a Commander/General type unit to the board, which would allow some additional options for issuing orders.  If both players agree, then each player secretly selects a Commander type, revealing them during setup.

I used the god tokens from Risk:Godstorm.

All Commander Units have a single figure.  They cannot take hits in combat, but any hit or retreat result counts as a retreat.  The Commander is destroyed if they are forced off the board.

Move 3, no order required.
The Warlord can issue 1 order/turn to a unit that it is adjacent to.  Units in close assault fight at +1 if the Warlord is adjacent to them.

Move 2, no order required.
If the Wizard is issued an order, the Wizard may either
Teleport to any location on the board.  If that location is adjacent to a friendly unit, the Wizard may issue an order to that unit. 
Launch a 3 attack (counts as artillery) against 1 unit within 2 squares.

Move 2, no order required.
The Cultist can issue an order to up to 3 infantry units in their current battle area each turn.  These units must move directly forward up to 2 squares and can battle.  Friendly units adjacent to the Cultist ignore the 1st retreat flag rolled when attacked.

Move 2, no order required.
The Enchantress can issue 1 order/turn to any unit in the same battle area.  If the Enchantress is issued an order, she may swap locations with another friendly unit on the board.

To download a complete PDF version of these rules, click here:  Medieval '44 Variant Rules

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