[The Gentleman Nerd is a weekly column written by Jason McMaster and is dedicated to the more discerning tastes of the refined dork. Due to Jason's extreme nature, most of his columns will be subtitled 'Why I Love...' or 'Why I Hate...' - in case you were wondering.]

Memoir 44I was never one for order and discipline. I suppose you could say that I was the kind of kid who was more interested in looking up girls' dresses and causing as much trouble as I could. I think I set a school record for demerits and suspensions, but I’m sure some ill-willed little son of a bitch will come along and break that one day. These are things that either put a young man into the army or keep him out. I was one of the latter.

Even though I never served my country, I was always infatuated with those who did. I guess my interest piqued when I was in my early twenties and my room mate was a history major specializing in World War II. Many drugs were taken while talking about Rommel, Mannstein and Patton or playing East Front II in hot seat mode. So when I saw Memoir ’44, I had to get it. I don’t do drugs anymore, so I’ve had to improvise with wave after wave of pure corn liquor buffeting my brain like a rock being swallowed by the sea. It was on one such nautical evening that I tried out my new game for the first time.

Memoir '44 is a game based on World War II and its many delightful battles. The board is hex-based and comes with different tile sets to change the layout of the terrain to suit different battles. Once the board is set, the players place their troops as indicated by the scenario and play begins. Each player takes turns using cards to move his pieces and rolls special hit dice (think the HeroQuest dice) to do battle. The amount of dice you use is based upon distance from the target and terrain modifiers. There is no defense. So, overall, it's a pretty easy game to learn.

Memoir 44Brian set up the board and read the rules while I commented on how awesome the different figurines are. Shortly afterwards, we placed units and drew our cards. This is where the complaining begins. You see, as much as I love Brian, he hates rolling dice. Well, he hates rolling dice if they don’t roll what he wants. We’ve played plenty of games of Runebound and Arkham Horror, but the dice rolls were in his favor, or at least not as cruel as they are to him in Memoir ’44.

Wait a second, I’m sorry, did I say Memoir ’44? I meant to say Random ’44. That’s what it’s referred to in our conversations. Personally, I’m quite fond of it, but you know, I always win.

I must admit, that if it were me, I’d probably be pretty upset too. You know, you can only claim that it’s your awesome strategy that’s making you win so many times before everyone starts noticing how drunk you are. That last statement isn’t only about me, it’s a universal constant. Like pi and how FOX cancels great TV shows and replaces them with crap. That’s enough philosophizing for one day. Let’s get back to the bitching.

Memoir 44The dice are only the tip of the furious iceberg; the foundation is in the card drawing. You see, you have to draw cards and use them to move your troops. Some of these cards have special abilities and different little tricks that can be used throughout the game. If you think that Brian hates dice, well you’re right, but he also hates drawing random cards… except in other games. So, basically, other than the actual board itself, the plastic figures and the container, Brian absolutely hates every part of this game.

You know what? If I had a deeper belief in the spiritual life of objects, I’d almost say that it hates him too. What if that particular copy of the game is someone Brian wronged in a past life? What if it’s a malicious spirit? Man, now I’m kind of spooked to be in the same room with it.

Oh well, I bet someone on eBay would be willing to pay top dollar for a haunted board game.

[Jason McMaster is a freelance writer who has written for Gamasutra, GameSpy and several other publications. He’s currently working on a few small projects and updating his blog, Lamethrower, as often as he can.]