Ok, I generally don’t like getting into debates about apples and oranges but I see that this topic has reared it’s ugly head again at BGG. I really don’t see a comparison with these two except for the fact that they are set in WWII.
I love them both! And see them more as appropriate in terms of scale and scope. Here, in my opinion are the strengths of each in comparison to each other.
Play Duration – Memoir ’44 wins!
It can play out in half an hour to an hour…but to be fair both sides need to be played so double the time. Tide of Iron is a longer game…but that’s not necessarily a negative. I have a games room where I can leave a game for weeks if need be. So we can always come back to it. In the end, time isn’t really a factor for me but it may be for others. The big advantage with a shorter game is that, if you are having a rough go of it, at least it will be over soon!
Game Play – Tide of Iron wins!
I (feel) have far more control over my own destiny in ToI. I decide which units to move in what combination (why didn’t I try to supress that MG before running my squad out into the open?!). While more involved, ToI isn’t so dependent on external factors like M’44 can be. There is nothing worse than needing a section to move and never getting anything to allow that. I just don’t feel like I am playing my game but rather the one dealt to me. This also strikes a major blow to my ego when I lose to players I know I can easily beat!
Tactics – Tide of Iron wins!
While not an exact simulation, ToI certainly better simulates real world tactics in comparison with M’44. Being able coordinate an attack with 3 units every time is more in keeping with how things do get done. There is a built in balance here as well. M’44 can take an unbalanced scenario and make it worse with an uneven distribution of cards (probe after probe gets met with attacks and assaults…that tips very quickly).
Unit Variation – Tide of Iron wins!
While subtle, the ToI units are at least varied. A Tiger is more powerful than a Sherman and you sense that in the game. M’44 does make up for this a little bit in some of the expansions, most notably the Pacific but visual aspects aside, M’44 gives off more of a chess piece feeling in that my rook is the same as your rook. I really like this aspect as I felt constrained in trying to incorporate some of my custom pieces into M’44…there just isn’t a lot of room to move there. Whereas, in ToI, it is fun to integrate them.
Flexibility – Tide of Iron wins!
I like the configurable board. While authoring some M’44 scenarios I found it difficult at times to make the situation fit the confines of the board. ToI allows for a variety of configurations that are more applicable to the situation on the ground. I also really like the ability to ‘bid’ for initiative, that really adds to the experience.
Historical – Memoir ’44 wins!
I’m not talking about the historical background writes ups, they are both fine. I’m talking more about the historical scope. ToI seems to be by it’s very scale confined to actions that could’ve occurred almost anywhere in WWII. Things like delaying actions, assaults, meeting engagements etc… While M’44 has that grander overview of the situation. You feel more like you are in a specific theater dealing with a particular situation.
So there you have it. My take on the comparison between the two. For me, they really more compliment each other. When I want to play a quick game that is grander in scale, nothing can beat Memoir ’44. If I want to get into the nitty gritty mechanics of battles, Tide of Iron really fits the bill (if you really want a game to compare this to, take A&A minis…ToI beats that hands down!). I look forward to continue playing both and bringing more to each of the communities!