Merrill’s Marauders offers amazing play value for the cost! Game Review
Merrill’s Marauders Commandos in Burma 1943 to 1944 Board Game Review. Publisher: Decision Games Game Designer: Joseph Miranda Price $12.95
Passed Inspection: fast paced, great AI, amazing value for the money,perfect game to take on a trip
Failed Basic: rules have a few typos
Merrill’s Marauders is another World War II themed game using Decision Games’ Commando solitaire system. The last one we reviewed was the excellent North African game Long Range Desert Group. While Long Range Desert Group had you slogging through the sands of North Africa while deep behind enemy lines, Merrill’s Marauders has you slogging through the jungles of Burma fighting the Imperial Japanese Army!
Here is a handy link to the Long Range Desert Group review : http://www.armchairgeneral.com/long-range-desert-group-special-operations-against-rommel-1941-1942-game-review.htm
The game comes in a zip locked bag with a full color 11” x 17” map, 40 double sided, full color die cut counters, 18 cards and the Commando game rules plus a Merrill’s Marauders supplement rule book. The components are all first rate especially for the low price of the game. You will need several 6 sided dice in order to play the game.
The Commando rules are only 4 pages long while the Merrill’s Marauders’ supplement is 2 pages long. The rules are well laid out and very easy to learn.
The game is played in phases controlled by the Operations Points the player starts with and/or loses or adds to during the course of the game. When Operations Points are at zero, the game ends. There are 4 missions included in the game which cover operations from 1943 to 1944. Operations are playable as either the British Chindit forces or the American Merrill’s Marauders forces. Each unit represents a squad of men and is rated for movement and firepower. The map represents the Burma theater of operations.
The game is set up based upon the time period of the scenario chosen. A number of objectives are put on the map face down – each objective may either be an actual objective such as an airfield, supply convoy, headquarters, etc. or an ambush. Counters represent Imperial Japanese forces attempting to stop the player.
The player’s score is determined by objectives completed and number of units destroyed. When the player takes casualties, it subtracts from his or her victory points.
The rules, short through they are, cover a wide variety of situations – from logistics to air drops, water movement and air support. While the rules are over-all very well organized, there were a few typos but nothing major – just a little distracting.
Campaign rules are provided so that you can track your units from mission to mission.
A turn or “operation” is composed of moving, drawing an event card (which controls the solitaire flow of the game as well as encounters), combat, and finally attempting to complete the objective.
The events may help or hurt your forces. One particularly nasty event was while an element of my Chindits were trying to cross a river when a Japanese platoon ambushed them and wiped them out to the man. Other events include inclement weather, disease and gaining the help of Burmese Guerrillas. These guerrillas actually helped me win the campaign after nearly getting my forces wiped out owing to extremely aggressive Japanese forces and a bout of disease.
A full game can be played in 1 to 2 hours making it perfect for an afternoon’s gaming session.
The game AI (artificial intelligence) is extremely good – you actually get the feel that you are playing against a human. And the pace of the game is nail biting.
I must admit that before playing the game I had very limited knowledge of the Allied commando operations in Burma. After playing the game, my curiosity is stoked and I want to read all I can about this fascinating sub-theatre of operations during World War II.
I can’t remember a game which costs so little giving such a great bang for the buck! All I can say is get this game!
Armchair General Rating: 96 %
Solitaire Rating: 5 (1 to 5 with 1 being Poor and 5 being Perfect for Solo)
About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!