One of the great things about the Lock ‘n Load squad-based tactical series is its ability to provide interesting new settings under the same ruleset. The fact that a new LnL game can be played right after you pull it out of the box keeps a lot of players coming back to the series. It also helps that Mark H. Walker has done a good job of choosing settings that are distinct enough to keep the new games fresh and interesting while at the same time keeping enough new products coming out to keep people interested in the series.
So far in the LnL series, these settings have been covered:
WW2 – western front (Heroes of the Blitzkrieg, Band of Heroes, Swift & Bold, Noville, In Defeat Defiance)
WW2 – eastern front (Dark July, Not One Step Back)
WW2 – North Africa (Mare Nostrum)
WW2 – Pacific (Heroes of the Pacific)
Vietnam War – (Forgotten Heroes: Vietnam, ANZAC attack)
Yom Kippur War – (Heroes of the Faith)
Falkland Islands War (A Ring of Hills)
1985 European War (Heroes of the Gap, Honneur et Patrie)
Somalia, 1993 – (A Day of Heroes)
I know I’m forgetting something…Anyway, it seems that the LnL series has covered a considerable number of conflicts from WW2 until 1993. Some of these conflicts, such as the Falklands and Somalia, have not been covered extensively by other game companies. What other conflicts might serve as potentially interesting settings for LnL in future releases?
1.) 1991 Gulf War: Desert Storm
Although it was a particularly one-sided affair, there is actually quite a lot of compelling historical material for LnLP to use in a squad-based game set during the 1991 Gulf War.
First off, the Battle of 73 Easting could be covered in a series of scenarios. The fierce tank battle that took place on Feb. 26, 1991, could feature a close up series of squad-level engagements between American armor and dug-in Iraqi tanks and men. Before you jump in and claim that open and flat stretches of desert and long range tank battles don’t generally make for interesting and playable scenarios, take a few minutes to research what really happened in this battle. There were sandstorms that limited visibility and range, berms, buildings, and dug-in positions along with hostile desert terrain. For more information, check out this declassified military report on computer simulations based around the battle.
The Battle of Khafji, the first ground combat of the Gulf War, was also quite interesting as it provided the first real test of Coalition ground forces versus experienced Iraqi troops. There were a nice mixture of fighting vehicles present at the battle, including the AMX-30, LAV-25, and the V-150. The Iraqis brought along T-55s, T-72s, and T-62s along with BMPs. Some of these units rubbed shoulders in Honneur et Patrie already and it made for some excellent battles so I’m sure the same would be true of a game set in a desert town instead of France.
Finally, the Battle for Kuwait International Airport is just begging to be covered by a squad-based tactical game. On 27th February, the 1st Marines fought it out with elements of the Iraqi Army for control of the airport. The fighting was fierce and, hey, an airport map would look amazing coming from LnLP, I’m sure.
2.) Carribean and Central America: 1980s
In the 1980s, the White House was using Low Intensity Conflicts (LICs) along with overt invasions (Grenada and Panama, for example) to try and bend governments in that region to their will, either to stop the spread of communism or to fight drug trafficking. Of course, the US involvement in places like Honduras and Nicaragua could be covered (Nicaragua has already been a setting for the scenario “An Act of Valor”) and the Forgotten Heroes: Vietnam maps do a nice job of substituting SE Asia for Central American jungle and heavy forest.
For those who say there were not enough notable battles fought in these wars, I would counter that there are actually so many it’s hard to choose what to cover. From the Invasion of Panama alone, the nighttime airborne assault on Fort Amador as well as the intense special forces assault on the PDF HQ in downtown Panama City (where 2 US special forces helos were shot down and another was forced to crashland in the Panama Canal) would both provide excellent material for an LnL module.
3.) Operation Iraqi Freedom; 2003
The March 2003 invasion of Iraq is recent enough to make for some interesting material for a game. The actions that took place at Najaf, Nasiriyah and in the northern part of the country with the Kurds and American special forces working together would be very interesting to examine. Of course, the huge tank battle between the British and the Iraqis near Basra could also be covered across several scenarios.
One particular scenario I would like to see would be based on the Battle of Umm Qasr, involving the Poles, the US Marines, and the Royal Marines in an amphibious landing followed by heavy fighting that lasted several days. I think LnLP could do a particularly good job with this product and really bring this recent history to life through its series.
Conclusion: I’m sure there are dozens of interesting and compelling settings provided by potential, fictional, and real conflicts where the material would be different enough to attract gamers to the series again. In this article, I’ve stuck mainly to historical settings that involved American forces but there’s no reason the LnL series wouldn’t do a terrific job of creating a popular module based on conflicts like the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union in ’39-’40 or a near-future Korean conflict. The beauty of the LnL rules are their flexibility across multiple settings and I hope to see LnLP continue to take full advantage of that in the future.