I’d like to write up a short article describing how the melee rules in the Lock ‘n Load system works. Just to be clear, this is just my own take on the rules. Others may play melee differently and that’s fine if it works better for them. This article is intended for those who are just starting with the LnL system and may have played a few games, have some familiarity with the rules, but might be a little hazy on some aspects of how melee works.
Melee occurs when two opposing units are in the same hex. Melee in LnL is an abstraction of close range combat where grenades are thrown, bayonets are fixed, and general bloody chaos occurs.
Here are some examples to illustrate how the whole process works.
Example #1 – Basic Melee
So the two American squads move into the H6 hex with two German squads. The American player can try to eliminate all of the German units in the stack or both (or even more if there are more enemy units in the hex).
The American player calculates the firepower of all his units and support weapons involved in the melee, for a total of 4 FP.
For the sake of this example,the US player selects one of the German squads to attack. The American player decides to attack only the 1-4-4 German squad, giving us a melee odds ration of 4-1 and a “kill number” of 4 or better needed to eliminate the German unit. The Americans could have just as easily (and probably more wisely) opted to try and eliminate both German units at melee odds of 4-2 (rounded down to 2-1) for a kill number of 6 or higher.
In any case, the American player goes just for the 1-4-4 squad and rolls an 8, which will eliminate the German squad. However, just as I noted before, it is not immediately removed from play.
The German player now gets a chance at attacking the Americans. We combine the firepower of the two German squads and get a 2. The Germans will attack one of the 2-5-4 American squads, resulting in 2-2 (equivalent of 1-1 ratio) odds. Checking the melee table, the Germans will require an 8 or higher to eliminate the US 2-5-4 squad. The German player rolls a 6. It is not enough to eliminate the US 2-5-4 squad.
This melee round is now over and the German 1-4-4 squad is removed from play. A melee marker is placed on top of all the units in H6.
No further melee can occur in this hex for the rest of the turn, even if other units should enter the melee hex.
On the next turn, the melee in H6 needs to occur again at some point, initiated by either player at some point during one of their impulses or the instant when a new unit enters the melee hex. Consult 8.0 for more information about continuing a melee in subsequent turns.
Example #3 – Leaders and Support Weapons
Let’s move this along with a slightly more complex example, which includes leaders and support weapons.
Above we have an American leader, Sgt. Fury with a single 2-5-4 squad that possesses a BAR support weapon. The whole shebang moves into H6 and melee begins against the single German 1-6-4 squad sitting there.
Now we calculate firepower for the Americans. Note that unlike ranged combat, the leadership rating is NOT added to the firepower value but is instead added to the dice roll for melee. So we have a firepower of 2 from the American squad with its 1 firepower BAR for a total of 3 firepower. The German firepower is 1. At 3 to 1 odds, the US player only needs a 5 in order to eliminate the Germans. The US player rolls a 2, modified by +1 due to adding in Sgt. Fury’s leadership rating. The modified total dice result is a 3, which is still not enough to eliminate the German squad.
Now the German player gets to return fire. Since leaders cannot be chosen as targets in melee, the German player must pit its 1-6-4 squad versus the American 2-5-4 with its BAR. Rolling at 1-3 odds, the German player needs to get a result of 11 or 12 to eliminate the Americans. The lucky German player gets a 12.
The American 2-5-4 squad w/ BAR is eliminated. Leaders who do not possess a support weapon (and many other SMCs such as chaplains, nurses, medics) are also eliminated in melee if they are alone in a hex or not with a good order unshaken MMC or hero. As a result, poor Sgt. Fury is also removed from play. As with all the other examples, the melee marker remains in H6 for the rest of the turn despite the fact that the Germans have won this round.
Note that the BAR support weapon is not removed from play. It will remain in hex H6 and the German squad may pick it up during the rally phase of the next turn if it is the only unit in the hex.
Example #4 – Heroes!
Heroes get a special bonus in melee, which I’ll talk about a little further down.
Here we have the almost the same units as the previous example with two exceptions – the Americans have a 2-2-6 hero (Hinshaw) with them and the Germans in H6 have an MG42 machinegun (not in its tripod position). The American player moves everyone in G5 into H6 and melee begins.
The Americans calculate their firepower. The 2-5-4 and BAR make for a firepower of 3 and the hero has a firepower of 2. The total firepower here for the US units is therefore a 5.
The Germans have a 1-6-4 squad with the MG42 for a total firepower of 3.
With 5 vs 3, we need to do a little math to work these into odds that fit into the melee table. The closest odds we can get here after reducing the ratio is 1-1. However, since we have a hero involved in the melee, the US player gets a bonus shift of one column to the right on the melee table. So the US player is now using the 3-2 column for the attack and needs a 7 or better to eliminate the German squad.
Rolling two dice, the US player gets a 6, which is modified by the US leadership rating to a 7. This means that the German squad will be eliminated. However, as with all melee, the eliminated player gets a shot back at his enemies.
The German player picks a target for his melee. He can either go for the US 2-5-4 squad or the hero. He decides to attack the American hero. The German total firepower is 3 and the US hero’s firepower is 2. Looking at the 3-2 column, the German player needs a 7 or better to eliminate Hinshaw. Note that the hero does NOT get any bonus column shift when he is the melee defender.
The German player rolls 11, which is enough to eliminate the US hero. Both Hinshaw and the German squad are removed from play and a melee marker is placed on H6 for the rest of the turn. Note that the support weapon (MG42) remains in place and can be picked up by the Americans in the hex during the rally phase of the next turn if no enemy units are present in the same hex.
Notes of Caution: One mistake I made while learning the game was to allow dropped support weapons to be picked up by units while still engaged in melee, which does not appear to be correct. I also heavily recommend consulting the Support Weapon Portage and Usage table on the reference card when calculating firepower for melee as this can be a bit tricky when still learning the game. Finally, take note that many nationality characteristics (German SS in Band of Heroes, Viet Cong in Forgotten Heroes, Belgians in Heroes of the Blitzkrieg, etc.) involve bonuses or special rules for melee, which may need to be consulted when melee occurs. When I was just learning the Lock ‘n Load rules, I often deliberately ignored the nationality characteristics until I was more comfortable with the system.
Final Thoughts: There is a lot more to melee than I’ve written here but I think this is enough to get new players started (along with a thorough reading of 8.0 in the rulebook). If anyone has noticed some errors here, please feel free to leave a comment. You can also check the BGG forums for lots of good questions and answers about the workings of melee. However, as with all rules sets, there are little grey areas. If all else fails, don’t be afraid to go with whatever makes the game enjoyable for you.