Operation Neptune – an expansion too far?

With the 10th anniversary of the release of Memoir ’44 (and, of course, the more important 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings!) Days of Wonder has announced a new expansion, Operation Neptune.

For most of you who look in on me to make sure I’m still breathing, this is old news and has already been talked about since teasers were released through various online venues.  Of course, it’s been officially announced now for a few days at the time of this writing.

While I’ve been out of touch with M’44 over the past year or so, I did have a bit of a resurgence last month (and still have something planned for fan release). As a result, I’ve been keeping an eye on the news.

My thoughts on Operation Neptune…

In a word, ‘HUGE’.  I think that while it would certainly be welcome at larger M’44 gatherings and of course, for those of you who must simply have everything that is M’44 I’m not sure this is for the community at large.

What I find missing here…and perhaps I’ve actually felt this way for awhile pushing me away from the game in general, is that, in my opinion, Memoir ’44 has totally lost it’s way.  A game that I loved for it’s simplicity has slowly but surely over the expansions, grown complex.

Sure, there are plenty of devices to help with any given expansion by way of cards etc… but complexity isn’t just in the expansions themselves but in how they are integrally linked.  This latest offering is no different.  It requires quite a bit of kit.  Besides the standard copy of Memoir ’44 (no fault there, that is a given) it ‘requires’ the Terrain pack, Equipment pack and Winter Wars!  That’s just to get one of the maps going!

Of course, there are new rules, adding further to complexity without adding much more to play if it follows the pattern established by previous expansions.

Again, it seems that this will be a delight at tournaments or if you happen to have a strong local M’44 community…but for the average M’44 player, this is really just a dust collection waiting to happen…tinged with a wistful dream of one day getting to play it in it’s entirety.

I guess over time, I’ve really just become a M’44 purist.  When I recently played again, I played just the base game…and I enjoyed it!  Why?  I asked myself that and I really think that it is because I’ve always enjoyed Memoir ’44…but over time, didn’t enjoy what it has become.

That being said…my next post will likely be my Memoir ’44 swan song.  It will be the last of any scenarios I will create.  To those, like me, who are Memoir ’44 purists, it will only involve the base game.  Until next time, Ubique!

10 thoughts on “Operation Neptune – an expansion too far?

  1. StevenE

    Hello Malcolm,

    I am in a similar boat… sort of….

    Glad to hear you are still dabbling in M’44… Sorry to hear you are considering getting out of the system. Be careful drawing your lines…. use sand or pencil (just in case) 🙂

    I think DoW became overcome with megalomania(?) starting with the Airpack… From there new rules became cumbersome or wonky. I have a feeling DoW is ignoring rules/mechanic advice from Richard.

    Operation Neptune is definitely going to be a $35 (+S&H) dust collector.
    It is sad the product won’t be available for play on June 6… (I may be incorrect on this)

    I will likely purchase it but the requirements to play the entire Operation at one time are too steep for an individual… and if postings on BGG are any indication then there are very few groups that will be able to field the required setup. I know that Strategicon in Los Angeles only has 3 copies of M’44… I think this will be another dog for DoW and not a “must buy” unless one is an avid fan or completionist.

    All I really want is the scenario editor to be updated with the new ocean and beach tiles.

  2. Brummbär Post author

    Hey Steven!

    Needless to say, I won’t be getting this one and am a little surprised that this was the big anniversary item (though, it certainly is big physically! LOL!).

    I think I’ve been out of the system for some time now…I haven’t enjoyed a lot of the expansions to be honest. I think the Mediterranean tipped the scales for me. However, I’ve discovered that I still enjoy the out of the box M’44…less is more when it comes to this system, if I want something heavier, I’ll turn to Tide of Iron.

    I’m just putting together some final details on my latest (and likely, last offering) for my M’44 friends…I think you’ll enjoy it!

  3. Philoo

    Hi Both of you !

    I must say I agree with your comments.
    I’m playing M44 less and less, on line, and prefer play with base box anf few extensions. I didn’t buy the Equipment pack and with buy the few extension.
    As the Winter box went out, I have thought that the game was completed ; nothing else is needed but good scenarios.
    I still enjoy the tournaments on boards. 🙂

  4. Tantalon

    I am really not sure why DoW will bring out this new D-Day version. DoW have not been supporting to any great extent the game for some time, other than keeping the website up and running. For that I am truly thankful because it is a great resource.

    Will I buy the new expansion? Probably because I am a completion-ist but I will probably wait til I can find it on sale.

    Malcolm, when can we expect to see your latest (& last, as you state) contribution to M’44? I just picked up your Dire Heroes and I am looking forward to giving it a try. M’44 is still my favourite game & we play it at work a couple times a week over lunch.

  5. Brummbär Post author

    I’m hoping to have something ready myself here for the D-Day anniversary. I think you’ll enjoy. Have fun with Dire Heroes and thanks for the interest…I should get back to that one of these days as well… 😉

  6. Mr Rich

    I’m quite new to M44, in fact very new, I have one core M44 box, a terrain pack and an equipment pack. I thought these would be a good mix and provide me with the essentials for a good WW2 game, then I saw online that there was a missions pack (aka Campaign Book Vol1 & 2) so I downloaded that and quickly find myself looking online for the addition packs I would ‘need’ in order to play these missions eg the Air Pack (the brighter of you will notice Ive already now mentioned two out of print DoW products).

    What im getting as here is I am agreeing that the D-Day set is going to be an expansion too far, I certainly wont buy it myself simply because the standard sized maps are plenty big enough games for my liking. I HAve historically stopped playing other games systems because theyve expanded too far and ‘required’ too many add ons for my liking. I like a game that has long term playability ie new missions and any historical war game makes for that. Sure some folks will want to play in the eastern front or japan or north afrika etc and thats fine but im already seeing M$$ (funny how the 44 changes to $$ if you leave the shift held 😀 ) getting bulky and expensive – the idea of some missions or maps needing two core sets is expensive prospect, its nearly £70 for two sets alone.

    What id like to see in new missions is more of them made so they only need a simple set of components ie the core game and may be terrain or equipment, a better 70th D-day anniversary would be (perhaps) a campaign book going back to basics of M44 – it wwould also be a chance to re-advertise the core game to increase the fanbase rather than irritating the existing fanbase. Id also like to see the original campaign book (vol 1) re-printed – its going to cost a fair whack to get my pdf vol printed into a paper and bound version – as well as the additional tokens, and the same for the air pack.

    I think its such a shame that someone who has done a lot for the M44 community and by effect DoW is in my eyes, being driven away from the game simply through the greed of the publisher – come on DoW, listen to your customers before you lose them all.

    Thank You Brumbar for everything youve done for the M44 community

  7. Brummbär Post author

    Thanks Mr. Rich, glad to be of service!

    In regard to your comment – “What id like to see in new missions is more of them made so they only need a simple set of components ie the core game and may be terrain or equipment, a better 70th D-day anniversary would be (perhaps) a campaign book going back to basics of M44”

    I whole heartedly agree. I’m more pinched for time than I thought I would be but I still am on track to release something fun for the anniversary of D-Day that is playable (time and again!) using just a basic M’44 set (interesting discovery on the m$$ btw!). I understand why DOW is making expansions…they are a business…but I’ve just come to truly enjoy M’44 in it’s pure form.

    More soon…

  8. Adam L

    Hi – thanks for this review and your comments on M44. As a relative newbie, I must say I have enjoyed the base game, and have got terrain pack and eastern front and winter/desert board. I also printed the complete scenario pdf files from BGG website – this is likely to be more than enough for me for a long time. I too enjoy the simple approach… so if you do produce some more simple scenarios, then I would love to see them!

  9. Ben

    I just stumbled over this older Mem44 website. Great. But I disagree completely about the DDay expansion.

    The DDay expansions, Overlord and Breakthrough systems are the only kind of play I like in Mem44.

    That’s because I am an old wargamer from the 70/80’s and like some historical flavor and research in my games. As such the DDay maps make sense. I combine the play of these scenarios/expansions with specific high end wargames like DDay at Omaha Beach from John Butterfield (Decision Games).

    Basic 44 is just another Monopoly game really, while the later expansions make it quite good entertainment with a lot more historical flair.

    I rate basic Mem44 a 2-3/10. DDay and many Breakthrough or Overlord scenarios can go as high as a 9.

    I play these things many times btw, so it doesn’t gather dust at all 🙂

  10. Brummbär Post author

    Thanks Ben. I’m not saying these aren’t for everyone, they just didn’t appeal to me. I started with the base M’44 and watched (as well as helped) it grow. IMO the base game was the essence of M’44, if I wanted anything more, Tide of Iron seemed better suited. Glad to hear you are enjoying them though.

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