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rasmussen81
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Designer's Oath

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Breakthrough Kit Review Tue, 11 May 2010 22:32
WARNING: This review is long. It might take you a little while to read through. Enjoy! Cool

I have been blessed to receive an advance copy of the new Breakthrough Kit expansion and I am excited to share my initial thoughts with everyone. If you haven't ordered this Memoir '44 expansion yet, you're missing out on an excellent product that will provide you with hours of fun. You don't want to miss this! Very Happy

Included in this expansion are 15 scenarios that have never been in print before. I believe that only three of the battles have been seen before (though briefly) and they span all 4 of the major theaters. You will find 9 scenarios from the Western Front, 2 scenarios from the Mediterranean Theater, 3 scenarios from the Eastern Front, and 1 from the Pacific Theater. The scenarios take place throughout World War II, from May 1940 through April 1945.

The Breakthrough Kit requires many of the other Memoir '44 expansions that have been released to date. Only one scenario (one of the versions of Sword Beach by Richard Borg) can be played using only the Base game and the new Breakthrough map. For some players, the fact that so many expansions are required will be a deterrent to buying the Breakthrough Kit, but for many Memoir '44 fans this is finally an expansion that capitalizes on what they already own; everything! I believe that this expansion simply embraces the diverse expansions that are already available and is more enjoyable for it. Smile

For those players who don't yet own everything, this expansion may still be worth their money because the shear size of the boards creates a new feel for Memoir '44 and as users begin creating scenarios, there will be plenty of opportunity to use the Breakthrough maps. In addition, as players collect more expansions they will unlock even more fun! Here is the breakdown of which expansions are required:

Terrain Pack 12 scenarios use it
Air Pack 8 scenarios use it
Pacific Theater 7 scenarios use it
Eastern Front 4 scenarios use it
Mediterranean Theater 4 scenarios use it
Campaign Book 2 scenarios use it
Hedgerow Hell 2 scenarios use it
Tigers in the Snow 2 scenarios use it
Extra Base Game 2 scenarios need it
Extra Eastern Front 1 scenario needs it

More than any other expansion (except maybe the remade Air Pack scenarios), these new breakthrough battles utilize the terrain, special units, and special rules from all of the other expansions. There are sweeping minefields, extensive road systems, and sprawling armies full of specialized units. With this expansion we get battles that demonstrate beach landings, we have slugfests where units will be in constant contact but other scenarios where one side or another is making a mad dash for the baseline to escape. We get a set-piece battle in North Africa where the Allies try to rescue Tobrouk and a final-ditch effort of the Germans trying to capture Moscow; the variety scenarios in this expansion is impressive.

The breakthrough battles also showcase the different types of units that have been introduced in Memoir '44. There are snipers waiting for an invasion force, mortar and anti-tank units ready to fight, and paratroopers dropping in to attack. A new type of unit is re-included in the German Flak 88mm guns that are present in several scenarios with clear rules outlined, adding to the Axis arsenal. Flame Thrower tanks, Tigers, Mobil Artillery, Big Guns, Engineers, Elite Infantry and Armor units, Supply Trucks, and Cavalry are all present. There are even scenarios with Aircraft Carriers, Landing Craft, and Battleships, not to mention all the scenarios that can include Aircraft of different types if players choose. You might want to freshen up on all of the Unit Summary cards! Razz

Another exciting thing about this expansion is the change in the victory conditions for some of the battles. Some of the scenarios encourage players to focus on medal objectives instead of simple attrition to win. Two scenarios don't even require the Axis player to get any medals from destroying enemy units...instead they have to capture cities or exit units off the board to win! These various paths to victory make the scenarios feel fresh and exciting, though there will be some questions that arise simply because we're unfamiliar with the system. Don't worry, questions will be included in the next FAQ update! Laughing

Because Breakthrough maps are so deep, we see more Elite Infantry units and Armor, so players won't have to spend as long trying to maneuver across long open spaces. Artillery is sometimes strategically placed to reach large sections of the board, while other times you have Big Guns or Mobil Artillery, both of which allows the artillery to be more useful on such a large board.

I imagine playtime for this expansion will be somewhere between Overlord battles and normal scenarios. Some of the battles will require a lot of time to set up because there are so many tiles to place from several expansions, and because most of the troops in your sets will be on the board. The battles will also take a long time to play because they require an average of 10.73 medals to win. One scenario requires as few as 6 medals, while another one needs 15 medals! Most scenarios require 10-12 medals to win and because of that fact, the Breakthrough battles take longer to play but also allow for momentum and initiative to switch several times before the end.

Overall, the Breakthrough Kit takes Memoir '44 another step closer to being the greatest World War II board game ever made (in my clearly unbiased opinion)! Laughing If you like Memoir '44, you are sure to like this expansion. Be aware that it will take you longer to play and set up, you'll need several expansions to play all of the battles, and that you may become severely addicted to Memoir '44 if you aren't already! Like we always hear, "The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command." Make the most of it with this expansion!

EDIT: I had originally said that only one battle was previously available. Apparently three had been available.

[Updated on: Wed, 12 May 2010 00:27]

      
ad79
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Major Howard

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September 2007
Re:Breakthrough Kit Review Tue, 11 May 2010 22:50
Well written review, Jesse.

Stig Morten
      
Shnik
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Kursant

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May 2008
Re:Breakthrough Kit Review Tue, 11 May 2010 23:55
rasmussen81 wrote on Tue, 11 May 2010 16:32

Included in this expansion are 15 scenarios that have never been in print before. I believe that only one of the battles has even been seen before (though briefly)


Actually, while "never before in print", 3 of the scenarios were available in the Military Archives of this site.

Cheers!
      
Sliderule
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Second Lieutenant

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November 2007
Re:Breakthrough Kit Review Wed, 12 May 2010 14:27
(oops sorry did not notice the questions thread in time)

I did not work out from the advert whether the breaktrough boards were stiff (hinged) boards or flexible (roll-up) ones. I probably did not look hard enough, can anybody with the kit set me straight?

[Updated on: Wed, 12 May 2010 14:29]

      
Achtung Panzer
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Leutnant

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Re:Breakthrough Kit Review Wed, 12 May 2010 14:44
Sliderule wrote on Wed, 12 May 2010 13:27

I did not work out from the advert whether the breaktrough boards were stiff (hinged) boards or flexible (roll-up) ones. I probably did not look hard enough, can anybody with the kit set me straight?


The boards are stiff, hinged and unfold in a very clever way. They have a gloss / smooth finish and are a beauty to behold! However you must be careful when folding / unfolding as there is no reinforcement tape to support the 'hinges'.

As the boards do not have the boarder edge (showing terrain cards) of the Breakthrough paper map, the narrower size fits much better on my table. Very Happy

      
ClanNatioy
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Cadet

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October 2009
Re:Breakthrough Kit Review Wed, 12 May 2010 21:26
breakthrough sounds fantastic. I cant wait to get mine in the mail.
I wish there was a little bit more balance in the campaigns though. I was hoping for more then 2 Mediterranean scenarios and 1 pacific scenarios. oh well its still going to be a blast to play and I'm positive DOW will be releasing more breakthrough material
      
Kaufschtick
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June 2004
Re:Breakthrough Kit Review Fri, 14 May 2010 01:25
Sounds great! Cool

After doubling up on the base game & the Eastern front & Pacific packs, I found myself having a hard time digging through all the different packs and boxes to get the propper tiles and pieces needed for some of the scenarios.

I'm glad now that I broke down, and decided to pitch all the various game tiles into the air pack box, and to condense down all the other stuff. It sure makes, and sounds like it will for the breakthrough expansion as well; finding what you need to set up a scenario much easier and quicker.

Nice review! Smile

One thing that concerns me though, my ole' M44 bag is loaded to the hilt as it is, and I mean that. That damn bag is heavy. They add too much more to this game, and I'm going to wind up having to buy a second bag to haul it all! Shocked

[Updated on: Fri, 14 May 2010 01:26]

      
sam1812
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August 2006
Re:Breakthrough Kit Review Fri, 14 May 2010 07:36
Kaufschtick, there have been a couple of threads in the past couple of years relating to people's systems for storing all their pieces.

I've seen Tank Commander's system. He actually numbers each type of tile, he keeps the tiles in numeric order, and he has a cross-indexed list of all the tiles. (For example, forest/hill is different from forest/river.) When he wants to set up a scenario, he simply pulls out the pieces he needs. While it involves some work to set the system up, it saves some memorization and searching when it's time to set up a game, which he does fairly often. You can see some photos on his User Page.
      
50th
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Armor Specialist

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October 2006
Re:Breakthrough Kit Review Fri, 14 May 2010 17:48
I also use a similar system. I have two plastic containers that hold all the expansions and their tiles. I have a typed sheet that shows how the tiles are stacked so that if I am looking for one, I don't have to go through an entire stack or multiple stacks to find it. Check out these photos:
http://i249.photobucket.com/albums/gg214/ronh51/Games/M44003.jpg
http://i249.photobucket.com/albums/gg214/ronh51/Games/M44001.jpg
      
Vulch
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Colonel

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Re:Breakthrough Kit Review Fri, 28 May 2010 17:42
Mine just arrived today.

I am complete again Very Happy
      
Achtung Panzer
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Leutnant

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December 2007
Re:Breakthrough Kit Review Fri, 28 May 2010 18:44
Vulch wrote on Fri, 28 May 2010 16:42

Mine just arrived today.

I am complete again Very Happy


Happy weekend gaming! Very Happy
      
Vulch
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Colonel

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May 2009
Re:Breakthrough Kit Review Fri, 28 May 2010 23:02
Unfortunately (or fortunately) I am at Twickenham tomorrow for the Premiership play offs.

Off Sunday and Monday though. Need to get some M44 practise in before the tournament in Birmingham next Saturday.

[Updated on: Fri, 28 May 2010 23:03]

      
    
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