With the great pleasure I will be presenting today the digital implementation for one of the most known and developed wargames systems – Lock ‘n Load Tactical. Since about decade the Lock ‘n Load Publishing started to invest more and more in transferring of its great regular / analog games into the digital world – and I must say, quite successfully. Thanks to generosity of the owner, I have a possibility to test the above-mentioned series. My plan is to go module by module, initiating at the Starter Kit, analyzing what we are getting in each installment and of course – reporting my sessions!

About the system

Before jumping to the actual application, couple of words about the system. Lock ‘n Load Tactical is a squad-level tactical game using a quick impulse system and great immersive graphics gives you a true feeling of being there. As a Tactical Squad system special skills and leadership are all part of the base game.

Single men such as Leaders, heroes, medics, nurses and even chaplains can affect your battles by inspiring your men; leading them to feats of heroic bravery and more. Random events triggered during play causing events like ambushes, squads panic and special support to name a few. Battles so intense that stories can be written about them. It’s all here in Lock ‘n Load Tactical.

About the Digital Starter Kit

Now, the Lock ’n Load Tactical Digital is a dynamic squad-level tactical combat computer game based on the award-winning board games of the same name. LnLT series centered on infantry combat from the 1930s to the present. You can read more about the system and the whole series here: Lock ‘n Load Tactical Game Series

The Starter Kit is kind of the demo, which provides you with four scenarios played on two maps – two skirmishes during the 1944 in Normandy and two during the Vietnam War. While minimalist in size and scope, that gives a good taste what one can expect from the system.

Main game screen, which immediately allows you for an online play, continuation of last game, jumping into tutorials (recommended) or Achievements Log (I am sucker for Steam Achievements so of course I am trying to get them!)
The screen for the new game is very intuitive – at the top you have all the purchased / available modules and you choose one. As you can see above, Starter Kit allows for play of 4 pre-defined scenarios, but also Random Battle. You can choose human / AI Player for each side, Scenario balance, Fog of War and Opportunity Fire modes. Cool!

Starter Kit session reports

Now, to show how the application looks like during the actual play – and as I love to report my games, giving some historical background – I decided to describe all 4 scenarios available in this module. You will get historical background, victory conditions (important for understanding the game dynamics) as well picture-rich report!

Scenario #1 – Rejoining the Regiment

Historical Background: During the initial hours of the Allied invasion, widely scattered German forces confusedly rushed to consolidate and defend key positions. They often encountered advancing Allied troops or airborne units along the way. Often these “German” troops weren’t German at all, but Russians and other POWs pressed into military service. In this scenario, the fleeing remnants of an infantry platoon of the 795th Ost Battalion must break through a roadblock set up by a detachment of the 506th PIR to rejoin their parent regiment, before American reinforcements arrive.

Victory Conditions: The German player must exit at least two full squad-equivalents and one leader from hex H8 by the end of turn 5. Any other result is an American victory.

  • In my first attempt I played as Americans, trying to prevent Germans from getting to EXIT hex. My minimal forces were occupying two buildings, waiting for enemy approaching from North.
  • The two-prong German attack failed; first, I won melee in the building and then used opportunity fire against stack of leader and squad.
  • Then I initiated my own melee, but as it was not going to well - I withdrew (successfully, unlocking achievement!)
  • This is screen showing how the calculation for Melee fights is being done; Almost 59% of success is not a bad thing (love that app shows this!)
  • Yup, in the end I won the last melee, completely destroying German units.
  • Summary screen for just won by me scenario; another achievement plus info on distribution of dice rolls; on top of it, some more stats regarding rallies, heroes, melee, etc. Cool!

That was great, small, introductory scenario which taught me important mechanics of morale checks, fire, opportunity fire as well as melee. Definitely you should start here your journey with LnL Tactical.

Scenario #2 – Assault on Vierville

Historical Background: The French village of Vierville straddled the road from Utah Beach to St. Come du Mont a location key to the Americans and Germans alike. The Yanks captured Vierville on June 6th, 1944, but on June 7th, most of the 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment vacated the town, leaving only a small holding force from the 1st Battalion to guard the village. It was then the Germans decided to mount a counterattack. The battle was a wild free-for-all as first one side and then the other sent reinforcements; and although the Germans briefly recaptured most of Vierville, by the end of the day the American paratroopers had driven them out.

Victory Conditions: To win, a side must control four or more of the marked victory hexes at the end of the scenario. Any other result is a draw.

  • This time I am attacking as Germans; before deploying my soldiers, I checked Line of Sight of enemy (very cool option in the app). I know where they can see me and where it is safe to move.
  • I started to approach Victory Point Locations from the West, triggering the Event in the process (Reinforcements, but chased by big group of US troops!) Will be interesting!
  • A lot of action: US Sniper just appeared and broke my reinforcements; I took two VP locations in South; US reinforcements entered from West and started to exchange fire with my troops.
  • I managed to break and disperse the US reinforcements in the North-West; at the same time I was preparing for assault for last large building under US occupation.
  • Final situation on the map - with me controlling 5 VP points!
  • Summary screen - another victory for my team!

That was much larger and intense scenario, especially due to me triggering the Reinforcements event as well as US having the sniper. The victory did not come easy but I learned a lot how to bring your troops to the map and avoid being immediately spotted 🙂

Scenario #3 – The Weapons Cache

Historical Background: Operation Cutlass was a search and destroy mission conducted by the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division near Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa Province. In this hypothetical scenario, a US platoon from A Company 1-327 Infantry has been dispatched on the second day of the operation to destroy a weapons cache in a nearby village. Unbeknownst to the Americans, the village is the logistics and resupply point for a local Viet Cong force.

Victory Conditions: The American player must find and destroy the weapons cache and control the marked hexes by the end of turn 6.

  • This time I played as Vietcong. My main forces were located inside village, while enemy was approaching from the South.
  • US troops pretty quickly stormed forward; concentrated fire of may platoon and freshly revealed Sniper started to inflict significant casualties.
  • Lt. Jenson reinforced his exposed forces, but unfortunately that did not helped much...
  • Marines also tried to charge headlong at the main weapons cache area but were repulsed.
  • A "coup de grace" - my Lt. Diem charged and decimated the remnants of US forces (gaining achievement in the process!)
  • Final result and Vietcong victory!

Another good introductory scenario – especially when playing on defense. Sniper proved to be a fantastic weapon, with its multi dice rolls. Proper weapon used in right situation does wonders!

Scenario #4 – A Friend in Need

Historical Background: U.S. Army units moved into the A Shau Valley in the opening moves of what would culminate in Hamburger Hill. Here, two platoons advanced on a small village suspected of harboring a Viet Cong contingent. The VC knew the Americans were in the area, and the Americans knew of the VC, but neither side expected a stand-up battle. Neither side, however, would be correct.

Victory Conditions: The side with the most Victory Points at the end of the scenario wins. VPs are earned for capturing marked hexes and eliminating enemy units.

  • Interesting scenario in which side controlling more VPs at the end of the game wins. I am setting up to the East, covering three critical points in the process.
  • A lot of things happened in first 3 turns. I received reinforcements (yupi!) but US troops also amassed a lot of forces and started to charge - unfortunately for them, via open terrain...
  • WOW! They managed to get to one of the "Event Chits" which resulted in artillery strike on my positions!
  • While I prudently withdrew from under artillery fire, Marines made progress in the North...
  • That is a true team work! First, weaken the stack with range fire and then charge in Melee!
  • Another victory for Vietcong - guys are keeping too strong for my taste :)

That was interesting fight, especially when all those artillery shells hit my position (killing sniper in the process). Definitely, attacking through narrow, open path was not the best choice for US Marines although they managed to hit my units considerably.

First Impressions

After multiple plays, time now to share my impressions regarding this module and also application in general.

  • Playing pretty intensively, I noticed no software issues nor rules implementation ones. One might think this obvious but believe me – I saw so many abysmal analog wargames ports to digital versions that this is worth stressing.
  • I like how AI plays – especially on higher difficulty levels; indeed, sometimes it might do something unexpected, but in general is a decent opponent.
  • What is interesting is the possibility to create and edit scenarios. Really cool feature – as you can let free your imagination or simply tweak already pre-defined set-ups.
  • You can also simply generate random battles, in which you take one side and try to achieve victory.
  • As for the aesthetically part – graphics & music / sounds – this is really great. Looks very good and at the same time is clearly readable (with pretty decent zoom possible) while not taking too much processing power.
  • At the end, couple of words about Lock ‘n Load Distribution Model. Many claim that the Starter Kit is too small, contains not enough scenarios, units, etc. Still, they forgot to mention it costs couple of bucks (literally!) and is great way to check the system, test application and answer the question whether you would like to invest more. That is not standard approach in Digital industry, true. Still, I think it works in this multi-expansion game, as you can navigate your own way through most interesting (for you!) installments.

More articles will follow, where I will be analyzing & presenting more advanced and expanded modules for the series. Stay tuned!