Category Archives: Early War

Scenario Review – Saint Roche Station

Saint Roche Station is an early-war scenario for Memoir ’44 from the Equipment Pack‘s Additional Scenarios booklet.  You can download the bonus scenarios from the Equipment Pack page in a single PDF, but oddly they have not been entered into the scenario database.  The Equipment Pack scenarios are pretty uneven, and while this one is not the worst, it’s also got a pretty major problem.

Following some disastrous fights during the Battle of France, the British Expeditionary Force found itself cut-off from the rest of the French army and surrounded in the port-city of Dunkirk.  Remnants of the British army engaged in some desperate rear-guard battles against the German advance to help the B.E.F. evacuate by sea.  One such battle took place near Saint Roche Station, where the ad-hoc force of British rifle squads armed with HC Boys anti-tank rifles and light machine guns delayed elements of the 7th Panzer division avancing from the Somme to the Seine.  A forward anti-tank gun managed to put one of the German tank sections out of action.  Believing they faced a well-equipped enemy, the Germans slowed down and opted to pound the British positions instead of rushing them.  This bought the B.E.F. some crucial time, but by nightfall the British forces had run out of ammunition and were forced to surrender.

The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command.  The rest is history.

The scenario setup actually mirrors that situation reasonably well – the problem is that the rules of the game make this sort of historical battle not very fun.  Here’s my photo of the map.

Saint Roche Station

The Axis have an overwhelming advantage in total forces, and in mobility, and in firepower.  The British infantry are dug into positions from which there is no retreat, and in which no counter-attack is feasible.  Worse, the Axis artillery can break the British forces without an advance.

In reality, the Germans did not know the strength and composition of the British forces, and used their artillery to break an inferior force.  That describes the worst possible sort of Memoir ’44 scenario, and as laid out, this is not a battle which I can recommend.  The German armor is clustered into the corner, hedged in by an anti-tank infantry and a rail line.  The British forces can only hope to get lucky on their plinks, and unless the Germans move forward they don’t have much hope of doing 5 medals worth of damage.

I found that changing out the German artillery piece for a 2nd mortar crew improved this scenario quite a bit.  The German player had more of an incentive to move forward, and the British forward infantry had a greater chance to retreat for effect.  Still, it’s not one that I can rate highly.

Overall Evaluation – 2/5 – I’d bump this to 3/5 with the suggested fix, but it’s still not great.  The British just don’t have any options.

Balance Evaluation – strongly German favored – The Brits would need some truly spectacular luck to prevail in this one.

Plink-Fest Danger – High – With the German mortar and artillery, combined with their total superiority in the open thanks to the armor, they can win this one from range easily.

First-turn win danger – None

Scenario Review – Canal de la Haute Colme

Canal de la Haute Colme is an early-war scenario for Memoir ’44, and was published in the Equipment Pack.  Like many of the scenarios from the Equipment Pack, it has some problems.

In conjunction with an evening attack by the 11 Schützen, the SS-Regiment “Leibstandart Adolf Hitler” moved forward to try and break the French line around Dunkirk, splitting the 225th and 341th Regiments. But crossing the Canal de la Haute Colme turned out to be a nightmare: although stretched thin, French forces had deployed along all possible crossing points. The spirited German assault was blunted as night fell.

The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn and you are in Command. The rest is history.

As an official scenario, the map is not available online.  Here’s a bad photographCanal de la Haute Colme

The Germans have a distinct advantage on their right flank, where the French only have two dug-in infantry units to defend a river crossing.  If the Germans can push through at that point, then more than likely the game is over since the entire French baseline is an exit zone. However, the battle is not likely to start on that flank, as the Germans have a number of vulnerable units jammed up on the baseline on their left lank, within easy fire range of the French.

This is a very challenging map for the German player, because their force is just not quite enough to really force a crossing.  Given average cards and hands for both sides, the French should mangle the Germans on the approach and easily pick off any stragglers that make it across the river.  This doesn’t mean that a German win is impossible – it’s just really unlikely.

Many unbalanced maps are still fun.  Omaha Beach comes to mind.  I’ll play Omaha over and over as Americans, because every time you play, it feels like victory is just out of reach.  This map does not really capture that same feeling, because the nature of the obstacles and the force disposition is such that the scenario never really feels possible for the Germans.  Furthermore, the French player doesn’t really have all that much to do.  Most of his or her units can sit right where they until the end of the game, and fire upon the Germans as they advance.

It’s not broken, but it’s also not all that interesting.

General Evaluation – 2/5 – This map left both of us with a distinct feeling of meh.

Balance Evaluation – French favored – DoW Online has it at 60/40, which might be a bit generous for the Germans.

First-Turn Win Possibility – None – This is a slog map.

Plink-Fest Danger – Moderate – As crossing the canal is so dangerous for the German, he or she may be tempted to use Armor and Artillery to wear down the French before committing to the engagement.  The German player may also be tempted to pull back after a failed attempt at a crossing.  Neither of those scenarios would result in a terribly interesting game.