Memoir ’44 – Eastern Front: Oh, Those Russians…
Memoir ’44 brought the battles of the western front of WWII to life on the… tabletop. If you consider bringing to life to be moving around plastic army men. But now, the makers of the Memoir series take us to the other side of the battle with the Eastern Front expansion. We now get to visit the battlefields of Russia with a few extra rules and oddities thrown in.
Memoir ’44 is one of those games which lends itself well to multiple expansions. For one thing, the variability of the game is centered around battle-based scenarios. So naturally, it makes sense to release more scenarios, so why not set those scenarios in historical battles set on the other side of Europe? Memoir is also open to new additions of terrain tiles and new troop rules, both of which Eastern Front utilizes well.
First of all, you get a whole new set of army men and tanks with this new set, representing the Russians. It would have been easy for the game producers to simply have us play with the Allied figures again, but instead they took the time to design new figures. A nice touch.
This expansion pack also comes with new terrain tiles which are amazingly decorated with the winter scenes of Russia. I love the overhead view we have of the frozen rivers and snow-covered forests. Great stuff. I really like that they made winter versions of towns and forests, even though they didn’t need to since mechanically they are no different than the original tiles of their types. The extra effort is well appreciated.
There are also a few more extras which represent new rules added to the new battle scenarios. This includes a Commissar chip which is basically a poker chip with a grumpy Russian on it, and new badges and mine tokens. The commissar, mines, and snipers add new elements to the gameplay which do a good job of representing this eastern side to the war.
But, I’ll tell you what this expansion does not have: a winter map. You either have to play with winter terrain hexes on the regular grass green board, or you have to buy the winter/desert map board separately. Which, of course, I did. But what a rip-off! As far as I’m concerned, because this expansion does not come with that winter map, it is simply an incomplete expansion as far as components go.
Eastern Front may not be revolutionary as far as expansions go, but it sure is a good one. There are a lot of new little additions which spice up the game. The snipers are particularly fun to play with. The mines however turn out to be more of an obstacle which players avoid moving on, and so lack some appeal there, like a toy in a box which is never opened.
But it’s the new scenarios which add more, especially if you have exhausted the western front scenarios from the base game. There are some particularly neat scenarios, such as the massive tank battle of Kursk and the battle of Stalingrad, which throws almost all of the new rules and units into one big shebang.
But it still feels like it could have been more complete. The fact that you have to buy the winter board separately adds to this. The package should also have included reference cards for the new terrain and obstacles added in the set. This would have been good for both continuity, since the base game had these cards, and usefulness by helping players keep all of the dice and movement restrictions straight.
Still, a very good expansion which broadens the historical scope of the original game which also provides some great artwork and neat battle scenarios.
Base Game –
Base Game & Expansion –
My Expansion Ratings
–– The expansion improves upon the original base game.
–– The expansion provides a differing experience than the base game but neither improves or detracts from the base game.
–– The expansion is effective and provides an interesting new aspect, but the base game is still preferred.
–– The expansion detracts from the base game.