I’m a big Lock ‘n Load fan and I especially enjoy their squad-based games that always do a good job of giving a movie-like feel to historical skirmishes from World War II up to modern conflicts. Today I’m going to talk about my three favorite scenarios from the LnL games and why they’re especially worth your time. LnL has produced a lot of different scenarios and expansions for these games so it’s very likely that other players might strongly disagree with me but to quote The Dude’s famous comeback, “Well, that’s just like, your opinion, man.”
1.) Medal of Honor – Band of Heroes
In this scenario from Band of Heroes, LnL’s western front WWII squad-based game, the Germans start out with six squads on set up and the Americans get ONE guy. Yep, you get one ass-kickin’ dude to go around and take out an entire map board of Germans. And the best part is that this is based on an event that actually happened. The scenario attempts to recreate the June 6,1944 American attack on the XYZ complex, which was essentially a group of farmhouses where a German artillery battalion had been billeted. On that fateful morning, S/Sgt Harrison Summers, leading by example, single-handedly started an attack on the complex. Summers, who was later joined with PFC John Camien and Private William Burt, ran through the complex like a wildfire, kicking in doors and killing German soldiers.
|There you go, American player. Your setup is done!|
Medal of Honor is one of those scenarios you only play a couple of times but that’s okay because you actually get the sense of what actually happened on that day in that place and just how brave or nuts (sometimes it’s hard to distinguish) these guys were. I won’t spoil too much here but when I got to the end of the scenario and read the Epilogue, my jaw bounced on the floor.
2.) Down Time – Heroes of the Gap
Heroes of the Gap is an incredible game of squad-based combat in a hypothetical WWIII in Europe in 1985. Every single scenario takes place on the same day and, if you’re completely insane, you could actually play them in order over the course of a day. Don’t try it – you’ll go blind.
In any case, Down Time is a great scenario with lots of tension and carefully built-in events and rules.
First off, the Americans start off with a hero and a LAW sitting right in the open in the middle of a very small battlefield. Before you even start the scenario off, there’s this obvious tension because the Americans have a wildcard but it’s sitting out in the open and the Soviet player feels like he should shoot at him in the first impulse but, on the other hand, maybe it’s a better idea to shoot at all those other angry U.S. soldiers in the surrounding buildings.
Secondly, you start to get an idea of how carefully the designer thought about the scenario. It would have been so easy just to declare who starts off with initiative or just do the whole “roll and go”. However, the rules state that both players roll to see who goes first but ties go to the American player. This is a very subtle rule that gives the US player a very small advantage, especially considering that one of his units is sitting out in the open at setup.
Lastly, with such a small map space available for the fighting and with random events that kick in after one side captures a building, you really do get a feeling that anything can happen. In my last play of Down Time, I was playing as the Soviets and doing fairly well at it but when I entered a building and a squad of Germans with a machine gun was put on the board, I honestly didn’t know how things would turn out and my clever plans for the next few impulses were completely shattered.
3.) Phoney War – Heroes of the Blitzkrieg
You know, at first, I really didn’t like Heroes of the Blitzkrieg, LnL’s game of early WW2 squad-based combat between Germany and France along with the Low Countries. The weapons seemed underpowered. Squads in buildings seemed impossible to shake. Vehicles were wimpy and could be taken out quite easily if you concentrated your firepower on them. Felt bad, man.
I’m an academic so I’m not very swift in the first place. It wasn’t until I played through quite a few scenarios that it dawned on me that this was the whole point of the game. Early WW2 vehicles and weapons kind of sucked for the most part. The French were using weapons from WW1 and sometimes from the 19th century and the Germans had not yet completely perfected blitzkrieg. Tank warfare was still in its adolescence and there weren’t any Tigers or Panthers in sight for four or five more years.
|Early WWII tanks: Not so great. Just ask this guy.|
Phoney War brings us back to very early war between French and Germans when the conflict was still quite fresh in 1939 and before the Allies and Axis went fully toe-to-toe. In this infantry-only scenario, the Germans have to cross a no-man’s land to assault a house that the French are using for an observation post. The Germans have to make clever use of cover to snip through the barbed wire and advance through minefields and foxholes just to get to the house.
This scenario really does give you a WW1 feeling and you can sense that the two armies were still playing at trench warfare in the early part of the war. As the German, I kept thinking, “Wouldn’t it be better to just go AROUND the house?”