Nations Cards: why?!

I am a big fan of MM44 and very grateful for being introduced to it.
But, there are certain elements of it that I really don’t like. Top of the list are the Nations Cards! My basic issue is with them why should any army be considered ‘‘better’’ than another?
So, in card order (please click on each title to see the cards in Intel):

Nations 1 French Resistance
Essentially the same as other infantry, but only 3 figures and can retreat up to 3 hexes.
The latter makes sense if you consider them as locals who know the area better than the invaders. And this could be applied to partisans/resistance fighters in any campaign, not just France (but should it just be 2 rather than 3 hexes?).
But why only 3 figures? From 1944 onwards the resistance had some quite large groups operating, but they were often poorly armed. Maybe this is the reason?

Nations 2 Red Army
The Commissar chip thing…
I just don’t get this at all and ignore it!
One might have expected a rule regarding not retreating…

Nations 3 Imperial Japanese Army
Ignore flags, battle at +1 in close assault, move 2 and battle. Why?!
You retreat (i.e. a flag) because, if you don’t, you will die or be captured! Most Japanese refused to surrender, so they died in huge numbers. So why let them ignore a flag and survive?! It makes no sense and gives them a big advantage when in reality they got slaughtered. You could even argue that a flag means a hit!
And the other two rules should only be for special forces, not general infantry.
So I just ignore this card!

Nations 4 US Marine Corps
Extra units activated. Again, why? In what way are the Marines superior to, for example, US Rangers (who, in WW2, were based on the British Commandos)? It just seems like a random choice to make sure there is a Nations Card for the USA.

Nations 5 British Commonwealth Forces
Stiff upper lip = fight back
As a Brit, I’m not sure if I find this rule slightly patronising or just ridiculous. It is such a bad stereotype: ‘‘it’s only a flesh wound – carry on and keep your chin up old boy!’’. Or maybe they were thinking of the Black Knight from The Holy Grail!

Nations 6 Italian Royal Army
Lose a command card for each unit lost. Why does that apply specifically to the Italians? And what if it is a North African scenario when they are under Afrika Korps orders?
Retreat up to 3 hexes. Is this another ridiculous wartime stereotype – the Italians always running away?!
Artillery bravery. No comment!

Nations 7 French Army
Furia Francese. Again, why should this rule (fighting bravely and/or desperately) be specific to one nation?

I have also found some fan-made Nations Cards for India, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, British Army, and Belgium. Apart from the latter, they all include Stiff Upper Lip plus one or two extra rules. They are all a bit random and just seem an attempt to somehow make one country different from another.

So, in summary, I don’t see any need for Nations Cards. Individual scenarios often give Special Rules for specific units, which I find much more realistic than randomly making one whole nation special in some way. House rules and homemade scenarios are another way of introducing variety, but again surely not for a specific nation?

I’m sure some will disagree! Or maybe you haven’t used them?

They are gamey and as you did you could argue that are unbalanced and or unrealistic.

I like the flavor they introduce making each scenario special, playing into stereotypes that are well known. They add variety and new problems/tactics for the player to figure out.


I think the beauty of the game is that it is pretty simple to pick up, but can be made deeper or more immersive if you so desire. I felt similarly about the combat cards, I think they add a little flavor, but you may be better off without them. At the end of the day, its up to your playing style.
I actually like the differences between nations. I think it adds a little value and flavor.

I especially like the Japanese abilities. I took the non-retreat mechanism to mean that they stay in a vulnerable position. It is not to the advantage of the Japanese that they cannot move away from the danger by retreating. This means on their offensive turn they are still always close to being able to do their own damage. They may choose to move away from the action on their turn rather than attack, but it will be much slower than having to retreat and then moving as well. In a lot of the scenarios the Japanese are in great number (especially infantry). The Japanese player must therefore consider the potential for massive damage against them when they plan their turn. Unlike the standard infantry, the non-retreat built into the Japanese infantry plus the potential added die means they are ferocious and persistent in attack no matter the cost. That seems pretty on point from a historical point of view.

The Russian rules are a little difficult to get your head around, but as stated in the rulebook, it represents weak military leadership at the front in the Soviet Union at the time. I understand they actively killed a lot of the officer class so their positions of power would be safe. That means the Soviets were receiving orders from above and the doctrine at the time was that orders were not to be questioned. The Soviets were disorganized and chaotic, especially compared with the Germans. From a gameplay point of view, it offers an added level of difficulty in planning. It may seem a little tacked on perhaps, but I think it is fun that the armies are not all the same.

As for the French Resistance, as you said, local knowledge and home advantage makes sense for them to have added movement, but that has to come at a cost. They’re not a full army. They are a group of like-minded individuals with a common goal, but they cannot be made to be stronger than the professionals they are fighting against. As i said elsewhere, the three of four figures is representative of a sliding scale of actual numbers of people, depending on the scenario. I don’t know for sure, but i think the scenarios in which they are used tell the story of pockets of resistance against small platoons of Germans who are out of their element.


So, I have made some conclusions on the Japanese retreat thing.
I still think it is nonsense that the Japanese can ignore flags, so I have some suggestions:

  1. They treat flags like any other unit;
  2. Flags are a hit (because they refuse to retreat);
  3. First flag is a retreat, any further flags are a hit;
  4. Each flag is re-thrown; re-throws are as per normal dice.
    I prefer the last one - it gives them a chance to truly ignore flags, but they are more likely to get hit or have to retreat.

Some things might be an unearned reputation or perhaps propaganda and stereotyping. But an army’s training, ethos, supply-lines, command structure, situation, etc do all play a role in how it performs. It’s not just about weapon tech and numbers. No nation has a monopoly on bravery, but not every nation is equally organised and motivated.

So a couple -
French resistance - is often used for other partisan groups already. It’s just the rule was named in the base game when all the mentioned groups happened to be French. 3 figures represents fragile morale - they run away quicker and give away medals quicker (representing them all running away and conceding the field).

Stuff upper lip - this is more about kukris, fearless officer class, reputation for close assaults, etc.

The US marine and Japanese rules are more about those specific battles. A well-organised and planned assault on a highly-motivated and heavily entrenched defence who were very much willing to sacrifice their own lives. If the US marines had fought the Japanese army on, say, Rhode Island instead, I’m sure the rules would be different - perhaps even reversed.

Previous commentary in Russian

В игре жетон олицетворяет собой присутствие комиссаров в Красной Армии.
В дальнейшем я объясню их задачи и причины необходимости решения данных задач.
Мне не до конца понятна оценка правильности их использования в игре, - то, что вкладывал в это Борг.
Я предполагаю, что Борг имел ввиду (если предположить, что он правильно понимал задачи комиссаров) повышение способности выполнять поставленные командованием задачи не только офицерским составом, но в первую очередь, рядовым составом, сложные задачи, требующие героизма.

Давайте я расскажу о ситуации в РККА (это сокращение от полного наименования “Рабоче-крестьянская Красная Армия”, короткого наименования “Красная Армия”).

Переход к социалистической общественно-экономической формации привел к столкновению людей в России.
Большевики, начав создавать в 1918 г. Красную Армию, вынуждены были привлекать к командованию её частями царских офицеров и генералов, так как обученных военных кадров в РККА попросту не было. Военспецы, составлявшие в это время около 75% командного состава Красной Армии, далеко не все были надёжны и предавали Советы, переходя в период Гражданской войны на сторону белогвардейцев. Поэтому в РККА практически сразу появились комиссары – преданные советскому правительству люди. Главной функцией комиссаров был надзор за командованием, второй функцией была политическая воспитательная работа, т.е. комиссары должны были убедить командиров и красноармейцев, что перед РККА поставлены справедливые и нужные народу цели и задачи. С 1919 г. в Красной Армии появились «политические руководители» – политруки, так стали называть комиссаров в военных подразделениях: рота, взвод. Политрук – это младший командир, заместитель командира по политической части. В батальонах, полках, дивизиях политработники назывались комиссарами (батальонный комиссар, полковой комиссар и т.д.) Военный комиссар или замполит был представителем партии во вверенной ему части, наделенный огромным доверием и несущий полную ответственность наравне с командиром за боеспособность части, политическое и нравственное воспитание бойцов и командиров. 2 марта 1925 г. в тех частях, которыми командовали командиры-коммунисты, имевшие опыт партийно-политического руководства, было введено единоначалие, т.е. должность комиссара была отменена. Командир стал полностью отвечать за все стороны деятельности войск, выполняя и функции комиссара, но получил помощника по политической части. Для создания единоначалия в армии 12 августа 1940 г. комиссары были окончательно упразднены. Два начальника – один командир, а второй надзирающий за ним – размывали ответственность за исполнение боевой задачи.
В сложных условиях начального периода Великой Отечественной войны, когда наблюдалась массовая сдача командиров в плен, 16 июля 1941 г. вновь вернулись к системе военных комиссаров в РККА, которые были наделены теми же контрольными функциями, что и в 1918-1925 гг.
И здесь надо особо проговорить, что необходимость возвращения военных комиссаров была обусловлена: необходимостью укрепления боевой силы подразделений; необходимостью обеспечения стойкости офицеров. Массовый героизм солдат на поле боя в первый тяжелейший год войны во многом объясним присутствием рядом с бойцами политработников. Конечно, политработники, как и советские командиры, были разные. И комиссар мог проявить трусость, слабость и малодушие. Однако есть много примеров героического поведения политработников в боях. Важно понимать, что комиссар не сидел в штабе. Никаких особых привилегий комиссарская должность не давала. С точки зрения своей доходности она ничем не отличается от командирской – такой же оклад, такая же пенсия, такие же льготы и форма, пайки и уважение.
Вот несколько строк о политруке, в будущем дважды Герое Советского Союза, Хохрякове С.В. «Политрук сутками на ногах. Он делает все возможное для успеха подразделений в бою, осунулся и, кажется, постарел. Никто уже не скажет, что ему 25 лет. Впалые глаза горят нездоровым блеском, но он всегда на передовой. Политработник беседует с воинами, поддерживает, успокаивает и призывает.».
Ещё пример, “несколько фраз из представления на звание Героя Советского Союза Николая Васильевича Терехина от 20 июня 1942 года: «В Отечественной войне участвует с первых дней. 10 июля 1941 г. в одном из воздушных боев пулеметным огнем сбил самолет противника «Хейнкель-111». И израсходовав все боеприпасы, тараном сбил 2-й «Хейнкель-111». И уже поврежденной своей машиной вторым тараном сбил 3-й «Хейнкель-111». На 30 мая 1942 г. имеет лично сбитых самолётов противника 15 штук».
Просуществовали комиссары в РККА до 9 октября 1942 г., когда институт комиссаров был окончательно упразднен. Но одновременно была введена должность заместителя командира по политической части (замполит), функции которого ограничивались лишь пропагандой.
Оберштурмбаннфюрер СС Шмидт, ставший после войны немецким военным историком, в своем труде «Восточный фронт» осмыслил роль комиссаров так: «Хотя в начале войны роль комиссара, возможно, и была неопределенной, со времени Курской битвы он все больше и больше воспринимался бойцами и командирами как опора в борьбе с недальновидными начальниками, бестолковыми бюрократами и духом трусливого пораженчества… В действительности комиссары были политически активные и надежные солдаты, чей общий уровень образования был выше, чем у большинства советских офицеров… Он должен быть в состоянии самостоятельно решать чисто боевые задачи… политрук роты стать командиром роты, комиссар дивизии – командиром дивизии. Чтобы соответствовать такому уровню требовании, корпус политработников, естественно, должен состоять из жестких людей, преданных власти, и в первой половине войны эти люди, как правило, составляли главную движущую силу советского сопротивления и твердо следили за тем, чтобы войска сражались до последней капли крови. Они могли быть безжалостными, но в большинстве случаев они не жалели и себя”.
Вот как оценивали цели работы по воспитанию офицеров военное руководство: “Командира… надо обучать быть требовательным к подчиненным, быть властным. Тряпка-командир дисциплины держать не будет». «Но командир… должен быть справедливым отцом бойца. Не допускать незаконных репрессии, рукоприкладства, самосудов и сплошного мата… Подчинять людей, не унижая их”.

I apologize in advance for my English.

My previous post:

In the game, a token personifies the presence of commissars in the Red Army.
In the future, I will explain their tasks and the reason for the need to solve these tasks.
I am not fully understood as evaluating the correctness of their use in the game, - what put in this Borg.
I guess Borg meant (if we assume that he correctly understood the tasks of the Commissars) an increase in the ability to fulfill the task assigned to the command not only by the officer composition, but first of all, by the ordinary composition, complex tasks requiring heroism.

Let me talk about the situation in RKKA, (this is a cut from the full name of the “Worker-Peasant Red Army”, the short name “Red Army”).

The transition to the socialist socio-economic formation led to the collision of people in Russia.
Bolsheviks, starting to create in 1918, the Red Army was forced to bring to the command of its parts of the royal officers and generals, since they simply were not trained in the RKKA. Military specialists, who were about 75% of the command composition of the Red Army at this time, were far from all were reliable and betrayed the advice, moving in the period of the civil war on the side of the White Guards. Therefore, the Commissars have almost immediately appeared in the RKKA - people loyal to the Soviet government. The main function of the Commissars was supervised by the command, the second function was political educational work, i.e. The Commissars had to convince the commanders and the Red Armyians that the fair and the objectives of the Objective and the task were supplied before RKKA. Since 1919, “Political leaders” appeared in the Red Army - political officers, so they began to call the Commissars in military units: Rota, platoon. Politruk is a junior commander, deputy commander in political part. In battalions, shelves, political workers’ divisions were called the Commissars (Battalion Commissar, Regiment Commissar, etc.) Military Commissar or Zampolit was a representative of the party in the part entrusted to him, endowed with enormous confidence and the full responsibility on par with the commander for the combat capability of the part, political and moral Raising fighters and commanders. On March 2, 1925, in those parts who were commanded by communist commanders who had the experience of party-political leadership were introduced uniqueness, i.e. The position of the Commissar was canceled. The commander began to fully respond to all parties to the activities of the troops, performing and the functions of the Commissar, but received an assistant on the political part. To create uniagnosed in the army on August 12, 1940, the Commissars were finally abolished. Two bosses are one commander, and the second oversees him - blurred responsibility for the performance of a combat.
In difficult conditions of the initial period of the Great Patriotic War, when there was a massive surrender of commanders, on July 16, 1941, they returned to the system of military commissars in the RKKK, which were endowed with the same control functions as in 1918-1925.
And here we must especially talk that the need to return the military commissars was due to: the need to strengthen the combat force of the divisions; The need to ensure the durability of officers. The mass heroism of soldiers on the battlefield in the first harder year of the war is largely explaining the presence next to the fighters of political workers. Of course, political workers, like Soviet commanders, were different. And the Commissar could show cowardice, weakness and foolishness. However, there are many examples of the heroic behavior of political workers in battles. It is important to understand that the Commissar was not sitting in the headquarters. No special privileges of the Commissar office did not give. From the point of view of his profitability, it does not differ from the commander - the same salary, the same pension, the same benefits and shape, soldering and respect.
Here are a few rows about the political officer, in the future twice Hero of the Soviet Union, Khokhryakov S.V. "Politruk for the feet. He makes everything possible for the success of the units in battle, she looked and seemed to be aged. No one will say that he is 25 years old. The eyes are burning with an unhealthy gloss, but it is always on the front line. talks with warriors, supports, soothes and calls. "
Another example, “Several phrases from the idea of the title of Hero of the Soviet Union of commisar Nikolai Vasilyevich Terekhin dated June 20, 1942:” In the Patriotic War, participates from the first days. July 10, 1941 in one of the air battles, the enemy was knocked down by the enemy aircraft “. And having spent all the ammunition, the Taran shot down the 2nd Heinkel-111. And the 3rd Heinkel-111 hit the second taran already damaged by his car. As of May 30, 1942 it has a personally shot down opponent aircraft 15 pieces.”
Commissars existed in the Red Army until October 9, 1942, when the institute of commissars was finally abolished. But at the same time introduced the position of deputy commander for the political part (depicting), whose functions were limited only to propaganda.
SS Obersturmbannführer Schmidt, who became a German military historian after the war, in his main work ‘Eastern Front’ comprehended the role of the commissar as follows: bureaucrats and the spirit of a cowardly disease … the companies became the company commander, the division commissar - the division commander. In order to meet a high degree of exactingness, the corps of political workers, of course, must consist of tough people devoted to power, and in the first half of the war these people, as a rule, respecting the main role of the Soviet resistance force and firmly watched the troops fight to the last a drop of blood . They might be ruthless, but most of the time they didn’t feel sorry for themselves.’
Here is how the military leadership assesses the goals of the work on educating officers: “The commander … must be trained to be demanding of his subordinates, to be powerful. The rag-commander will not keep discipline. “The commander… must be a fair father to a fighter. It does not allow illegal repressions, assault, lynching and complete obscenity… Subdue people without humiliating them.”


Thanks for the detailed description. Even on its own, it is an interesting story and an aspect of the War worthy of discussion.

Within the context of Memoir 44, it creates some interesting issues.

The Eastern Front Expansion states:
‘Stalin’s paranoia of any potential rivals resulted in the purge of some of the best and brightest officers in the Red Army in 1937-1938. Those who remained were timid leaders or groveling “yes-men” to their political commissars. In the heat of the most ferocious battles, soldiers were often forced into combat under the gun of their own unit’s political commissar.’’

This really doesn’t fit with the description by vspurg, nor with my own reading and understanding of what actually happened.

This is why I dislike the Commissar rule – it does not reflect reality. In fact, it just plays on our prejudices and stereotypes.
But, as Ben_Phillis states, it adds another level and it is good that not all armies are the same.
Finally, there are a number of scenarios from Barbarossa where the Germans (Italians, Romanians, Slovaks, etc.) are actually defeated by well-organised and efficient Soviet troops – the Commissar would not approve!

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Agreed. Thanks for your considered thought on this.

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Good afternoon!
I continued to reflect on the features of the Red Army in the mechanics of our game with you. If do not touch on the correctness or incorrectly using the token of the commissar, but think about what was characteristic of the Red Army due to the presence of commisars in a particular place.
It seems to me that the following rule was more real:

  • the ability to ignore the first Flag symbol;
  • re-roll the cube with ignored Flag symbol.
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I like that idea.
I would also apply re-rolling the flag to the Japanese.