House Rules

We play with several house rules.

Many house rules that I have seen add extra detail in one way or another.  In my opinion, the game does not need any extra detail.  I’m not playing Advanced Squad Leader.  These tweak the game just a bit, to discourage tactics that seem incredibly silly and to reduce player frustration.  Each rule is accompanied by an explanation of motive.

1 – More Vulnerable Artillery – Infantry attacking an Artillery unit in Close Combat hit on Stars and Grenades.

Why?  Artillery are hard to kill.  They require, on average, 12 dice to kill, more than an Infantry and a Tank unit.  That’s fine.  It’s not easy to charge cannons.  However, when you think about it, an artillery detachment should be dead meat if you can put even a little bit of small arms fire onto the gun crew.  Reason aside, tough artillery leads to odd game decisions.  We noticed that it was often a very effective tactic to lead an attack by advancing one’s artillery units, well ahead of the main battle line.  They were tough enough to kill that firing at them was a waste of time.  Mobile Artillery, in particular, were total monsters.  Further, you could make a victory location invulnerable by parking an artillery unit there.  This very simple rule deals with all of these problems cleanly.  Artillery need to be protected from Infantry, and stay away from them.  Advancing Infantry onto Artillery positions is hard, but once you do, there is a realistic reward in sight.

2 – Flexible Close Assault – Remove the Ambush card/s from the deck, and replace them with Close AssaultClose Assault cards may be played as an Ambush or a Close Assault.

Why?  Depending on the map, either of these cards may be completely useless.  Adding this level of flexibility helps ensure that these cards will always be useful, and reduces the likelihood that a player will be stuck with a truly bad hand.

3 – Flexible Dig In – Dig In may be played in 1 of 3 different ways.

  • As normal.
  • After a command card has been played and all actions and combats have been resolved, place a sandbag on two units which did not fire during that turn, whether or not they were ordered or moved.
  • After a command card has been played and all actions and combats have been resolved, place a sandbag on one unit which fired during that turn.

Why?  Dig In has its uses, but more often than not it would be deadweight that sat in your hand the whole game.  This ensures that you can, at the very least, get it out of your hand quickly.

4 – Weakened Mines – Mines hit on Stars and Grenades.

Why?  In our opinion, this strikes a nice balance between caution and recklessness.

4 – Restricted Air Power – Air Power is played with an archaic interpretation of the card – select up to 4 units that are adjacent to a single hex.  Blob okay, line no.

5 – Barrage and the Endgame – You cannot get a winning medal using the Barrage card.  If you kill an enemy unit with Barrage and it would win you the game, you do not get a medal.Why?  Last-turn Barrage wins always feel cheap and anti-climactic.

6 – Occasional Rule – When a fixed Artillery unit (immobile, in a bunker) is destroyed, remove the bunker from the map.

Why?  Gun emplacements are gun emplacements, not general purpose bunkers.  With the guns gone, they’re not much use to anyone.  Furthermore, on a lot of maps, in particular beach maps, the emptied bunkers will be re-occupied by the defending player almost immediately.  This encourages odd rushes on to the sand in an incredibly gamey manner, and it makes these maps even more punishingly difficult than they are.  However, we do not play with this rule on every map – we make the call on a map-by-map basis before play begins.

7 – Custom Deck – We use a deck that is roughly the size of a breakthrough deck, with a mix of regular and breakthrough cards, and with a special center-heavy mix.  It’s designed to make play open and interesting, and to make it less likely that a player will get hosed with a consistently bad hand.  Center card are emphasized for the simple reason that having no center cards will result in a loss on almost any map.

Recon – Breakthrough Version (1 combat move, 2 non-combat moves, draw 2 keep 1)

  • 2 Left
  • 2 Center
  • 2 Right

Probe – Normal Version, 2 combat move

  • 5 Left
  • 8 Center
  • 5 Right

Attack – Normal version, 3 combat move

  • 4 Left
  • 7 Center
  • 4 Right

Assault – Normal version, all move in a sector

  • 3 Left
  • 4 Center
  • 3 Right

Multi-Regional – Normal version

  • 2 General Advance
  • 6 Recon in Force
  • 2 Pincer Move
  • 4 Direct from HQ
  • 3 Move Out

Special Cards

  • 3 Armor Assault
  • 4 Infantry Assault
  • 2 Firefights
  • 2 Close Assault
  • 1 Behind Enemy Lines
  • 3 Counter-Attack
  • 2 Finest Hour
  • 2 Artillery Bombard
  • 2 Medics and Mechanics – Regular Version
  • 1 Medics and Mechanics – Breakthrough Version
  • 1 Air Power
  • 1 Barrage – Breakthrough Version

8 – 2-Player Overlord Rules

We play Overlord maps on occasion.  The rules, as written, are clearly designed for more than 2 players.  The enormous hands reflect this.  A 12 card hand is unwieldy.  Our rules are quite simple.

A – A player will have an opening hand size of 7, 8, or 9 cards, depending on the card count originally specified in the scenario.

B – On their turn, a player may play 1, 2, or 3 cards.  Draw the same number of cards played every turn.

C – The map is divided into three sectors (Left, Right, and Center), and sector has two sub-sectors.  A sector card (ex. Attack Left) must be played in its appropriate sector.  When playing a sector card, the player must choose one sub-sector for that card.  All activations must be made from within that sub-sector.

D – No two sector cards may activate units within the same sub-sector.  Recon in Force and Pincer Attack activate units in three or two sectors, respectively, but are not exceptions to this rule in any way.  One card per-sub sector.  

E – Some cards are exceptions to the rule described in D.

  • Direct from HQ – Activate any four units, regardless of sector and sub-sector, even if another card has been played in the same sub-sector as the activated unit.  Choose whoever you want.
  • Finest Hour – Roll six dice, and interpret the results normally.  Choose the appropriate units from anywhere on the board, even if another card has been played in the same sub-sector as the activated unit.  Make sure to distinguish units activated with Finest Hour from units activated via other cards for attack die purposes.
  • Armor Assault – Activate four armor units anywhere on the map, even if another card has been played in the same sub-sector.  Make sure to distinguish units activated with Armor Assault from units activated via other cards for attack die purposes.
  • Medics and Mechanics – Select a target (or targets) for this card freely, even if another card has been played in the same sub-sector as the chosen unit.
  • Artillery Bombard – Activate all Artillery Units on the map, even if another card has been played in the same sub-sector as the chosen unit.  Each Artillery unit may fire once, or move up to three spaces.  Some Overlord maps have 5 or 6 Artillery units to a side, making this card absolutely devastating if played as written.
  • Firefight – Activate four units as normal, even if another card has been played in the same sub-sector as the chosen unit.
  • Counter-Attack – This card must be played in the same sub-sector as the original card, if applicable.

14 thoughts on “House Rules

  1. Dennis Kahlbaum

    Hi Mr. Davis:

    My long-time wargaming opponent and I really like your Memoir’44 House Rules (HR). Here are some questions/comments:

    HR#1: This is an excellent change. However, we wonder why Armor and enemy Artillery attacks are excluded. Tanks have machine guns on their chassis and turrets, and the main gun can fire HE shells. Enemy Artillery attacks would also be dangerous via their HE. We would think that these weapons would be as disruptive as Infantry and should hit on a Grenade or Star, too. Please advise.

    HR#4: Mine attacks versus Infantry should be more lethal than those against other units, which they currently are. Therefore, we think that mines should remain as-is.

    Also, we think that Engineers are too powerful against mines in that there is never a chance for accidental detonation. I’ve read too many cases where mine removal during WWII resulted in casualties. Hence, we suggest that the Engineer has to roll 1 die when removing a mine that is not a Dummy. If a grenade appears, the removal was not successful. To determine if any damage occurs to the Engineer, another die is rolled. If an Infantry or Grenade symbol appears, then a hit is recorded.

    Your feedback would be appreciated on both comments.

    HR#5: Is this change obsolete? The current Air Power card just says that the units need only be adjacent, not in a line. Please comment.

    If you have another other House Rules or suggestions, we would certainly be interested in reviewing them.

    Thanks much, and thanks for your excellent website!

    Reply
    1. Leland Davis Post author

      Hi, Dennis

      Thanks for the feedback, and thanks for the first comment on the site!

      HR#1 – This comes down to game balance. Tanks are fast, and it’s really easy to maneuver them into close combat against artillery. Artillery should never be in close combat anyway, and rewarding that seems gimmicky – I know I’d get angry if someone used an Artillery Barrage to move their gun into close combat range of my own gun, and killed it on the subsequent turn. It would just feel wrong. On the other hand, getting infantry into close combat vs artillery is really hard, and in play, it works well.

      HR#4 – With standard rules, we noticed that it was almost never worth it to walk onto mines, and thus we never did. With slightly reduced lethality, it’s always an interesting decision. Again, it’s more about game balance. Also, if you think about it, proportionally less mine damage could have a greater effect on an armor column. They have less ability to find and deal with the mines, and diverting around them is much harder. A single mine hit might cause a traffic jam.

      Regarding engineers, their super-mine-clearing ability is a necessary counter-balance to the fact that they are putting themselves into the meat grinder anytime they get into a minefield. Engineers are always priority targets, and by the time they’re actually at the minefield, they’re probably in range of several enemy units. They’re in enough danger as it is, I think.

      HR#5 is obsolete, mainly because I got tired of arguing with my regular gaming partner over it. I strongly feel that they should be cluster, and he strongly feels that they should not, but the fact is that the official interpretation via DoW Online is that they are not clustered, so I’m just going to go with it.

      Reply
    2. Leland Davis Post author

      So, I discussed things a bit with my regular opponent.

      We actually have a justification for HR#1 only applying to infantry that’s beyond game balance. We are presuming that infantry figures represent larger forces, which are better able to spread out and flank fixed positions, and thus better able to get into effective small-arms range. This allows them to turn the battle into soldier vs crew, rather than gun vs group. On the other hand, a tank figure is a smaller number of tanks, which are much easier to keep track of, and much easier to suppress with artillery fire. Guns can be lowered, ala the 88 flak guns, in a manner that makes it harder for tanks to effectively engage the artillery unit.

      On your point regarding engineers, while I’m not sold on the idea of mine removal failure, we may try out a rule about engineers taking a single die whenever they remove mines, to represent the chance of mine removal mishaps.

      Reply
  2. Dennis Kahlbaum

    Hil Leland:

    Thanks for the two sets of feedback.

    Here are some more questions/comments:

    Regarding the mines and engineers: Perhaps this compromise would work best:
    HR#4 as-is,
    the Engineer always successfully removes the mine,
    the Engineer must roll for a possible mishap.

    Regarding HRs #2, 3, and 8: Do you still recommend using #2 and #3 if you can’t build the custom deck (#8), for example, when playing via VASSAL?

    Regarding HR#1: Your explanations have convinced me that it is correct as-is.

    Regarding the Air Power card. The latest version says: “Target a group of 4 or fewer enemy units adjacent to each other.” I’ve seen examples where the units can be in a cluster, in a jagged/straight line, or a combination of the two.

    Again, thanks.

    Reply
    1. Leland Davis Post author

      Hi, Dennis

      Yes, that looks about right for the mine removal rule. I’ll try and playtest this sometime soon, and depending on what we think I might update the page.

      As for the HR #2 and #3, I recommend using them even with the standard deck. I don’t actually change the distribution of dig in or close assault/ambush in my custom deck, so the presence or absence of it doesn’t matter.

      Reply
  3. Dennis Kahlbaum

    Hi Leland:

    Do you still recommend using your HR#7 (Custom Deck) when playing Breakthrough scenarios? Or should the normal Breakthrough Deck be used?

    Reply
    1. Leland Davis Post author

      Hi, sorry for the late response.

      I’ve been playing a few Breakthrough scenarios recently, and it has reaffirmed my opinion that my own custom deck is distinctly preferable to the Breakthrough deck. I’ll write up a full blog post on this issue in the near future, but it all boils down to the extra “on the move” actions granted by the probe and attack cards. They give an absolutely crushing advantage to defenders, who can use their standard activations to fire with frontline units while using their near-endless “on the move” actions to move up their units further back, creating a nearly impenetrable wall of firepower.

      Reply
  4. lambolt

    nice. but what is the point of

    “Remove the Ambush card/s from the deck, and replace them with Close Assault. Close Assault cards may be played as an Ambush or a Close Assault.”

    Why not just say that Ambush and Close Assault cards can be either/or. It’s the same thing but now people who dont have a spare deck can do it, i.e. theres no need to physically swap out the Ambush cards.

    Reply
  5. lambolt

    Now i see that you actually detailed your deck in the post, thanks! I’ve always quite liked the idea of just using a decaying command and control model so that a card activating X units can activate X-1 in an adjacent sector and X-2 in a sector 2 away, ie “3 left” can activate 3 left OR 2 centre OR 1 right. “2 centre” can activate 2 centre OR 1 in either left or right.

    I am glad to have found someone who likes to house rule and modify, I feel like Memoir 44 is basically just a big set of house rules anyway, and its silly to stick religiously to the rules as written. I don’t like how some scenarios are “zugzwang”, in that, you get your troops into ideal cover/terrain but then nothing happens until one of you comes out to launch an attack but makes themself an easier target.

    Reply
    1. Leland Davis Post author

      Memoir works best when both players commit to making it a game. Whoever is supposed to attack should attack, come what may, and not just sit and hide to draw the game out.

      Part of this can be solved by good map design. On defense maps, a single piece of artillery owned by the defender usually takes care of the problem. The attacker quickly realizes that it’s best to move up quick and knock it out, rather than sit back and take plinks. On the other hand, maps that give the attacker artillery which don’t put the attacker’s force within firing range of the enemy at start are almost always terrible. You’ll notice I put a little blurb about “plink-fest” danger at the bottom of my reviews – that’s my evaluation of how likely the map is to fall into a boring long-distance match where neither side has incentive to move.

      But again, this is a problem best dealt with by the players themselves. I know that not every player can bring him/herself to agree to play in what might be a sub-optimal manner for the sake of fun, but it helps. However, something I’ve found is that the rules tend to give solid advantages to a dedicated attacker – it’s really only on rare occasions where it’s actually the best strategy to sit and hide, despite how things might look.

      Reply
  6. Dennis Kahlbaum

    Hi Leland:

    Regarding House Rule #2 “Flexible Dig In”: When a Dig In Command Card (CC) is played after the Turn CC (to access the non-normal options), do you draw 2 replacement CCs (one for the Turn and one for the Dig In) or just 1 replacement CC?

    Thanks.

    Reply
  7. Dennis Kahlbaum

    Hi Leland:

    Just a bit concerned, since there’s been no new posts to your excellent website for some time. Hope all is OK.

    Reply

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