IanTheCool's Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

Memoir ’44 – Pacific Theater: Missing in Action

A Japanese soldier on a beach.

Memoir ’44 is one of those games which has grown far beyond the basic game box it was first released in. The Memoir series, based on the battles and campaigns of WWII, has expanded into a massive franchise with new additions representing the different fronts of the war, tons of new battle scenarios, and even a backpack to keep all the boxes together! This expansion sees the game explore the island-hopping fights of the pacific front.
I like the idea of expansions which will explore the different locations of the largest war in human history, and so of course the pacific theater was a must buy. But now that I have the expansion I must ask myself, does it add anything to the game other than a wider thematic scope? The answer I found was disappointing.

Additions

With Pacific Theater, we are given eight new scenarios, a set of tan-coloured Japanese figures, and some new badges and terrain tiles. The figurines look great, once again. I appreciate how each army has their own distinctive look, and with the Japanese it is the anti-aircraft guns which stand out the most here.
The terrain tiles include jungles, mountains, rice paddies, medical tents, and a few other new types of terrain. However what the set does not include, which it really should have, are reference cards for the new types of terrain similar to what the base game uses. This way players don’t have to always thumb through the instructions while trying to keep all of these new terrains straight in their heads.

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Critique

This critique may devolve into a rant, so first I’m going to start off outlining some of the neat stuff Pacific Theater includes. First, I like the HQ Supply, where your opponent can reduce your card hand if they occupy it, and Medical Tent tiles, where you can recuperate a unit’s loses. Those are a couple very thematic additions.
This expansion also includes a Night Board for nighttime fighting, which reduces the distance you can fight depending on the amount of daylight available. Another neat idea, which becomes even more thematic if you have a dimmer switch in your games room! Also included are battleships which can target inland units from the sea, another idea which works well for the Pacific, since most people associate this part of the war with battleships.
However, my problem with the expansion lies in the usage of these neat new features. The scenarios included use these to the bare minimum. Sure, the rice paddies and jungles, which don’t really add much new to the experience, are used a lot, but the really different stuff like the battleships, the night board, and the HQ and medical tents are hardly used at all, perhaps only one or two scenarios.
The worst offenders of this in the pack are the battleships and aircraft carriers. The battleships are in only one scenario, the Peleliu Landings, which you can only play IF you have the terrain pack expansion AND a second copy of the game! Come on. And the aircraft carriers which are included don’t show up in any scenario at all! So basically the navy features, which I was quite excited about considering this is an expansion based on the fighting in the pacific, are just a big tease.
I understand that Memoir ’44 is a little different than most board games, as it is centered around people playing many different scenarios and perhaps some who create their own scenarios. However for a gamer like me who doesn’t want to obsess over one game in particular, an expansion like this shouldn’t require me to have to be that obsessive. I like the new additions, but I want to be able to actually use them in the scenarios provided me. This is why I have to confess myself disappointed at Memoir ‘44’s Pacific Theater.

Expansion –
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.

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