Mark H Walker’s Lock n Load
Forgotten Heroes Vietnam
The Vietnam War has a long and troubled history. Many people associate the Vietnam War with Presidents Johnson and Nixon. However, it really began back in the 1940’s and came to a head with the rise of communist power in North Vietnam during the Cold War. It was the Cold War that pushed the United States into the conflict because we saw it as an expansion to communism. In 1955 President Eisenhower began to send military advisors to South Vietnam to aid them in their training against the communist North.
The U.S. government viewed their involvement in the conflict as a way to stop the spread of communism to the South. The North viewed the South as a puppet government of the United States which it wanted to overthrow. U.S. involvement in the conflict escalated in the early 60’s and went through a couple of troop level tripling deployments. However in 1965 the war spread across other borders with Laos and Cambodia being heavily bombed.
The philosophy of fighting between the opponents was markedly different. The U.S. and South Vietnam believed in air superiority, mass firepower, large scale bombings and masses of troops to conduct search and destroy operations involving ground forces, airstrikes and artillery. The Viet Cong, on the other hand engaged in a more conventional war. They were lightly armed and ran a guerilla war with hit and run tactics. Occasionally the North would mass a large contingent of units in battle, but not very often. For the South and U.S. forces, it was often very difficult to tell friend from foe.
The wide involvement of countries and casualty total for this war should open eyes that such a travesty will never happen again. The total casualties for the Vietnam War which occurred from November 1955 to April 1975 according to Wikipedia were;
Forgotten Heroes Vietnam is a tactical level game using a Squad based system. The units portrayed in the game represent the U.S. Army, U.S. Marines, Viet Cong, NVA Regulars, and AVRN. The size of units can vary from full squads to half squads to single man counters. Individual weapons are also supported such as 12.7mm machinegun teams, M60’s, RPGs, and M48 tanks to name a few. Individual counters are used to depict leaders, medics, heroes, advisors, chaplains and snipers, each of which can have a significant impact on game play.
The physical components of Forgotten Heroes Vietnam are very impressive. First of all, you are provided with 5 mounted geomorphic maps, each of which depicts the lushness of the Vietnam jungle. Each of these maps can be interconnected in any way to create a larger map which is often done in the scenarios. Speaking of the Scenarios, you are given 13 unique Scenarios to challenge the tactical skills of any grognard. Each of the Scenario cards is laminated which means you will get a lot of wear and tear out of them.
Next, let’s take a look at the counters. You are provided with colorful markers that allow you to keep track of the games progress. Also, there are nicely drawn single man and multi-man counters to represent the belligerents. Special weapons are displayed on the counter to illustrate the weapon that is used. The Special counters are nicely done and you can see the face of the soldier, leader, medic or hero. Finally, there was armor present on the battlefields in Vietnam and this is represented with counters showing the M-113, M-48, PT-76, M-41, Ontos and last but not least, the most recognizable piece of Vietnam equipment, the Huey. Each of these counters will be used in the Scenarios that are included with the game, or future Scenarios that will be offered.
The last 5 items to take a quick look at are the Dice, Cards, Charts & Tables, Core Rules, and Module Rules. The game comes with two 6 sided dice, one black and one white. There are also 16 cards provided and gamers are told when to pull a card. These cards add special abilities, modify die rolls, or can increase attacks. If played at the appropriate moment, a card can be a game changer.
Normally Charts and Tables are no big thing. However with Forgotten Heroes the Charts and Tables are on a 8 ½ x 17” piece of paper, folded in half and laminated. Everything is well explained on the charts, especially the terrain area where hex examples are shown. This is very well done, though I wish two of these were included with the game so that each player would have access to their own copy instead of it being passed back and forth.
Now we come to the Forgotten Heroes Core Rules. These rules are 35 pages in length and cover everything you need to know about the Lock ‘n Load game system. What you need to understand at this point is that Mark Walker has designed a series of games all of which are centered on these rules. Stating it simply, once you learn one game, you know them all which means the learning curve for any of the other titles is very short. At the moment there are over a half dozen Lock ‘n Load titles available with more on the horizon.
Finally we come to the Module Specific Rules. In this area any special Leaders, Units and Weapons are presented. For Lock ‘n Load Vietnam This consists of 3 pages but now gives the Core Rules their own personality for Squad sized battles during the Vietnam War.
The Scale of Forgotten Heroes Vietnam is 50 meters per hex with the Multi-man counters (MMC)representing a squad of 8 to 12 men, half-squad units, Single Man Counters (SMC) representing Leaders, Heroes, Medics, etc., Weapons Teams, or a specific Support Weapon (SW). The size of the counters varies from 5/8th” to 7/8th” depending if the unit type being represented is Infantry, a Leader, or a Vehicle. As you can see and as I mentioned before, this is a Squad Level game.
Here is where we will take a look at the Core Rules. I will endeavor to give you an idea of the Game System employed in Lock ‘n Load. I am not going to cover every rule or nuance of the game, but I will try and provide readers with an insight to game mechanics and how it fits in with the game system.
Outline of Play
The Lock ‘n Load game system uses a straight forward intuitive Sequence of Play that is very simple to remember but provides challenging games. The Sequence or Outline is;
- Rally Phase
- Operations Phase
- Administrative Phase
Simple, right? Well it is in the Outline of Plays simplicity where the challenge to the game exists.
The first thing that is accomplished in the Rally Phase is players roll a 1d6 to determine initiative. It is the high roller who has the Initiative this turn with ties reverting to who has the initiative on the last turn. What is interesting is that a player can go last on one turn and get the Initiative the next turn and can really take advantage of his opponent’s tactical situation. This brings up a different type of strategy that the player must always be aware of during his phase.
Also, it is in the Rally Phase that Shaken Units can be rallied and half-squads can be combined. This is the time that units can pick up or drop off Support Weapons. The player with the initiative rallies all his units starting with Leaders, followed by his opponent.
The Operations Phase of this game consists of innumerable impulses. During each of the impulses players take turns activating and controlling units. The player with the initiative goes first and then his opponent and so on until both players pass and then the phase is complete and the Sequence progresses to the Administrative Phase.
During an impulse, the active player can activate all the units in a hex or if there is a Leader in the hex, he can also activate units in adjacent hexes. Once a unit is activated, that unit may either Move, or Fire, not both. The exception to this is the Assault Move. Not all of the units in the same hex need to perform the same function, however they must all Fire at the same target. Finally, units that have Moved, Fired, Spotted or performed an action, have an OPS Complete marker placed on top of the unit. That is not to say that a units’ actions are complete for the turn because there are exceptions in which a unit under an OPS Complete marker can perform actions.
Once all units have either Moved or Fired, or after three consecutive passes, the Operations Phase is over and the Administrative phase begins. During this phase, all Moved, Fired, Assault Move, Stealth Move, Low Crawl, Ops Complete, Spotted Markers, and FFE (Fire For Effect) markers are removed. Finally, any Smoke 1 markers are turned over to their Smoke 2 side and any Smoke 2 markers are removed from play. Once all of this bookkeeping is completed, players start all over again by beginning anew at the Rally Phase unless Victory Conditions for that Scenario have been met.
Direct Fire Combat
Firing on enemy units must meet some specific requirements that are identical to many other games of this genre. There are only three specific requirements that the firing unit must meet and they are;
- The target must be within the range of the firing units’ weapon
- The target must be within the firing units’ Line of Sight
- The target unit must have been spotted.
If these three criteria are met by the attacker, the unit can fire. What happens next is simple addition, subtraction and luck. The Attacker adds it Firepower Number from the counter to a 1d6 die roll. To that the player adds any Leadership or Target Movement bonuses to find a total and then subtracts any modifiers because of or Degrading Terrain. The final result I will call the Unit Attack Number.
If there are multiple firing units in a hex, the attacking player can choose the counter with the highest Fire Power to lead the attack and then each additional MMC Infantry unit adds ½ of its Fire Power to the total. A Hero, Machine Gun (MG) or Flame Thrower or Support Weapon adds its full Fire Power strength to the Fire Power total, which is then rounded up.
Now that we have a base number for the attacker, we need to perform a similar action for the defender. The defender rolls a 1d6 and adds the Target Modifier of the terrain that the unit is occupying. Players now compare the die rolls. If the Attackers die roll is less than or equal to the Defenders die roll, the attack is a failure.
If the Attackers die roll is greater than the Defenders, all of the defending units in a hex are attacked and must take a Damage check. The procedure for a Damage Check is straightforward, simple to remember, and all the defenders responsibility. First of all, in the previous step when we compared the Attackers die roll to the Defenders die roll, a differential amount was created. You take this differential amount and add it to a defenders die roll of 1d6 for each unit in the defending hex to determine if there should be a Damage Check. You cross reference this rolled Damage Check number to the defending units Moral Number. You then look at the Direct Fire Table and this is where you are informed of the result for that combat.
In many wargames Assault Movement would be considered similar to Melee Combat. However, in Forgotten Heroes Vietnam that is not the case. To begin an explanation of Assault Movement you need to remember that during an Impulse of an Operations Phase, Units in a hex can either Move or Fire but not both. Assault Movement is the only condition in which a Unit can Move and Fire. Now, when I first read this rule it didn’t make any sense. However, the more I analyzed this rule, and understood the game system, and remembered the period of history the core rules cover, the rule made perfect sense.
The rule basically states that a unit can assault move which means he can move half of his movement and fire during the same Impulse. This is similar to a combat unit charging ahead and firing as he runs. He will not reach his destination but he is attacking. So now let’s put this in game terms.
If a player has a unit that has a movement factor of 4 and a weapon range of 6 and he is 8 hexes distant from an enemy unit he can still attack during his impulse using Assault Move. By declaring an Assault Move he can move 2 hexes which brings him into range to fire his weapon at the target unit whereas if he moves, he will not be able to fire this impulse.
Once you begin to look at this rule and how it fits in the game system, you can see that it is very subtle and adds a new dimension to your game with all new kinds of strategies.
Melee occurs in Forgotten Heroes during the movement phase of an Impulse. When the phasing player moves his units into a hex occupied by enemy units a Melee ensues. All units that are in the hex participate in the Melee and there is only a single melee per impulse per hex.
As you would expect, Melee is handled differently than Fire Combat. In Melee all attacking units must melee. However, the attacker can choose a defender to attack if there is more than one unit in the hex. The basic procedure is that the attacking player adds all the Firepower of the attacking units and any eligible Support Weapons and chooses a defender or defenders in a hex that he is going to attack. An odds ratio is now created and all ratios are rounded down. The attacking player now rolls 2d6 and cross references the odds to see the number needed to be rolled to eliminate the defending unit. Once the attacking player has completed his attack and before any units are removed from the map, the defender of the hex now becomes the attacker and repeats the process. So, attacker and defender both have combat during a Melee. Once both combats are completed, any eliminated units are removed. If there are still friendly and enemy units in the hex, they are considered locked in combat except if one side or the other decides to break off the combat with the announcement that he is leaving the engagement.
Armor and Ordnance
Ordnance in Forgotten Heroes is any weapon that has “To-Hit” tables printed on the back of the counter. They include Support Weapons such as the Bazooka or RPG-7, Anti-Tank guns, M47’s, Helicopters and Armor. Whether a unit is mounted on a tank, a separate weapon, or a weapons team, Ordnance Weapons are fired separately from any other units in the hex. As such, they do not have to fire at the same target unit as other non-ordnance units in the hex. If a target has both vehicle and non-vehicle units in a hex, the firing unit must specify which unit will be attacked.
On the back of Ordnance counters are three ranges, each in its own little square. Below each of these ranges, is the units “To-Hit” number and below that is the weapons penetration value. Once the range to target is determined, you have to determine if the unit is hit. To determine if a target is hit, the attacking player rolls a 2d6 and cross references this number with the To-Hit number below the correct range on the Ordnance counter.
This die roll is modified by adding the Terrain Modifier of the target hex, and a number of other modifiers can apply such as degrading terrain through which the Line of Sight passes, and other factors as listed on the Ordnance Fire Table. If the resultant modified number is less than or equal to the To-Hit, the Target has been hit, anything else is a miss.
If the target is not a vehicle it is immediately attacked with the HE equivalent plus a 1d6. Now the defender rolls a 1d6 and compares the roll to the attackers die roll. If the attackers value is less than or equal to the defenders die roll the attack misses. If the attackers die roll is greater than the defenders, each defending unit in the hex must roll a separate Damage Check on the Direct Fire Table.
If the target happens to be a vehicle, we will use the penetration value of the attacking unit to determine if the vehicle is destroyed. The attacker looks at the correct Penetration value under the proper range and rolls a 1d6. The defender rolls a 1d6 and adds the armor thickness. The resultant die rolls are compared and if the modified Penetration value is more than the modified armor value the target is destroyed. If a vehicle is destroyed, a wreck marker is placed in that hex.
Now, if the modified Penetration value equals the modified Armor Penetration value, the vehicle must take a Moral Check by rolling 2d6. This action simulates a non-penetration hit. If the vehicle passes the Moral Check, the unit is only Shaken, if it fails the Moral Check the crew abandons the vehicle. An abandoned vehicle is abandoned for the remainder of the game and cannot be used by either side.
There are two types of Event Markers in Forgotten Heroes Vietnam and they are Line of Sight (LOS) and Occupied. The scenario card will tell you If there are Event Markers in play and what to do when the requirements for the Event Marker are met. If it is a LOS Event Marker, the side specified triggers the event if it can spot the hex in which the Event Marker is located. Occupied, means the side specified on the Scenario Card must occupy the hex.
The Events that are triggered are paragraphs that are on the Scenario Cards. It is recommended that you do not read these paragraphs ahead of time and wait until you are instructed to do so by the Scenario. Some of the events could introduce units to an already started game or Fire Missions to one side or the other just to name a few. The Event triggers add a new dimension of uncertainty to the game as you will see later in the example.
Forgotten Heroes Vietnam Module Specific Rules
The Module rules are specific modifications to the game to update it to the historical situation. For Vietnam there are not many changes, most of them introduce the belligerents involved and some weapons specific to this time period.
The specific rules for different fighting organizations represented in the game are;
- Viet Cong
- United States Army and Marine Corps
In these sections you are informed of any Terrain Modifiers, unit uniqueness, or Morale changes. Two new weapons systems are also introduced which are the Ontos and Claymore Mines. Here you are told either how the unit can be used or the effect of the weapon on the battlefield. The Vietnam module specific rules are only about 2 ¾ pages long but provide the changes necessary to take Lock ‘n Load Forgotten Heroes and make it specific to Vietnam.
Scenario Card Format
Each of the Scenarios provided with the game follow the same general format. At the top of the first page there is a short description of the scenario. Next is the order of battle where players are told which units they will use, and their initial deployment. On the back of the scenario card you are given a picture of the map that will be used. Underneath the Order of Battle you are informed of the Scenario Length and Victory conditions. After this, are the locations of the Event Markers. When the Event Markers are triggered, specific situations occur and players must follow the directions presented in the Paragraphs on the Scenario Card. For example, if you trigger Event A, it may tell you to read Paragraph 2 on the Scenario card and follow its directions. It is recommended that players don’t read ahead so as to leave some unknown qualities to the game.
The final item that is covered on side two of the Scenario Card are the Designers Notes. Here you gain an insight to the scenario and what the designer had in mind.
Playing the Game
As a quick sample of play, we will take a look at one of the simpler Scenarios called “A Friend In Need”. This battle occurred in May 1969 in the A Shau Valley when US Army forces advanced on a village. Each side knew the other was there, but not just where.
The US player has the initiative on Turn 1. In the Scenario set-up you are told that the Viet Cong Sniper unit is to be brought in per the rules of the game. The rule concerning Snipers says that the player can place the Sniper in any hex desired at any time just as long as the hex he is placed in has a positive terrain modifier. The Viet Cong player decides to wait and see how the US units will advance before committing a unit that cannot move.
The philosophy behind the deployment of the VC is to protect the village (which means Victory Points) and create killing zones where possible. To this end, the RPD is placed with a VC unit in hex F6, which is a Level 2 height hill, and gives this unit a commanding view of the road in the center of the map all the way to the other village.
Another VC infantry is placed in hex F3. This unit can see down the road to the SW and sets -up a nice killing zone in the center of the map. The final VC infantry unit is placed in hex G1 and is there to protect the left flank should the Americans attempt a flanking move. Finally, Lt. Diem, the Charismatic leader is placed in hex F2 because of his Leadership skills. During the Rally Phase, Lt. Diem cannot only Rally units in his own hex, but because his troops revere him, he can Rally troops in adjacent hexes which means he can Rally either or both infantry units that are adjacent to him. The initial disposition of the Viet Cong below units can be seen below.
According to the Scenario set-up, the US player has the initiative on Turn 1 and begins by bringing in units from the West side of the map. He decides to split his platoons into two units of three squads, with the Medic in one group, and Lt. Jensen with the other. Since the rules state that the partial hex is in play, units must pay the terrain costs to enter the board. One set of squads with Lt. Jensen enter the map on the road in hex O5 and end their move in hex N4. The remaining squads enter as a group in hex O7 and end their move in hex N8. Neither side has any Line of Sight to the other so there nothing further will happen during Turn 1. Below are the unit dispositions for each side at the end of Turn 1.
The American platoons are moving cautiously into unknown terrain. They are on a Search mission for the Viet Cong and do not want to rush headlong into a battle. They will continue to move cautiously until contact is made.
The first thing we do for Turn 2 is to roll for initiative. The VC rolls a 3 and the Americans rolled a 4 which means that the Americans have the Initiative for turn 2. The American units in hex N4 move from the light jungle they were in, to the building in hex L3, through the huts in hex M3. When the unit moved into hex M3 it triggered a possible Opportunity Fire from the VC unit on the hill in hex F6 with the RPD. Verifying that the spotting requirements are met, the VC Unit in hex F6 Opportunity Fires at the American units that moved into the hut in L3. The VC rolls a 1 on a 1d6, adds the RPD Firepower which is a 2 and the Firepower for the VC unit which is a 1, for a total of 4. There is an additional +1 die roll modifier because the American Unit has moved and a -1 because the VC unit in hex F6 is firing through degrading terrain which is G5. The final hit total for the VC Unit is a 4.
The Americans now roll a 1d6, and adds the Terrain Modifier of the terrain the unit currently occupies to determine the total defensive value. The American player rolls a 2 on a 1d6 and adds the Terrain Modifier for the hut which is a 1 which results in the American player having a total of 3. Since the VC die roll is greater than the American die roll there is a hit, which means that all units in the target hex must undergo a Damage Check.
The first unit that must take a Damage Check according to the rules is the leader in the hex who is Lt. Jensen and he rolls a 1. To this he adds the difference found in the to-hit calculation which was a 1, for a total of 2. We compare this to Lt. Jensen’s Morale which is a 6 and find that since the modified die roll is less than Lt. Jensen’s morale there is no damage. While this may appear a bit complicated and convoluted way to determine casualties, it’s not. After only a few combats, you remember the sequence and refer to the charts to determine die roll modifiers.
Since all the American units in the stack are grouped for the hit, each one of them must undergo a Damage Check. I won’t go through the die rolls in detail but I will tell you that the Americans didn’t fair too well. Two of the American Units were received a shaken result, and one unit and Lt. Jensen were missed.
The American player gets a lucky break on Turn 3 with an Initiative Die Roll of 4 against the VC die roll of 3. This means that the American player has the initiative on Turn 3 and can Rally his units.
The American player rolls 2d6 and receives a result of 7. To this 7 he subtracts the Leader Modifier of Lt. Jensen which is a 1 and the Modifier of the Huts which is also a 1 for a modified total of 5. Since the Morale of the Infantry units are a 5 the unit Rallies since the outcome of the die roll is Less Than or Equal to the units Morale. The American players luck continues when rallying his second unit with a final modified result of 3, which Rallies this unit.
The squads on the South of the map move from L8 to the partial hex K8 on his was North to I7. The VC Player advises the American player that he will Op Fire the unit in L8 with the VC unit in F6 that has the RPD. The VC player decides to take this chance that he might receive some lucky rolls and stop some of the US infantry bearing down on them. I won’t bore you with a repeat of the procedure but the VC scores a hit with a +5 differential which means all units in K8 must make a Damage Check.
The outcome of the Opportunity Fire was one unit shaken, one unit with casualties, and the Medic and 1 combat unit untouched. The stack continues its movement to I7 with no additional attacks.
Meanwhile, Lt. Jensen and his squads decide to Double Time, which according to the rules allows all the units to move the same movement allowance as the Leader which is a 6. Lt. Jensen’s stack moves from the hut in to the Light Jungle hexes of K2 and J3, to take advantage of some of the cover these hexes offer. When Lt. Jensen enters hex J3 he triggered Event Marker A, as Lt. Jensen and the squads have an LOS to hex G1. Event Markers trigger special events as noted previously.
In this particular case, Event Marker A is an LOS marker and has the following effect.
The American Player must read Paragraph 1 on the Scenario Card. Paragraph 1 states that one non-medic unit must make a Moral Check and if he passes the test play proceeds to Paragraph 2 and if he fails the Moral Check, play proceeds to Paragraph 3. The American Player chooses Lt. Jensen to make the Morale Check and rolls 2d6. The resultant die roll is a 9 from which he subtracts a 2 for the Light Jungle which results in a final value of 7. Since Lt. Jensen’s morale is a 6, the result is greater than the morale, so Lt. Jensen fails his morale check, and play must proceed to Paragraph 3.
Paragraph 3 is not good for the Americans. It brings in a Lt. Van Du and two infantry units one of which has an RPD. You are told to bring these units into hexes G1 and H1 in an Assault Move. Finally, the American unit must stop movement for this turn in hex J3, which places him in Light Jungle a bit exposed.
It is now time to continue the game sequence from where we left off before the Event. You can think of an Event as an immediate interrupt that breaks game flow until the Event is satisfied. When the American squads entered J3, they could trigger an Opportunity Fire from the VC unit in hex G1, and per the rules, the new units that Assault Moved into hexes G1 and H1. The Assault Move rules allow the VC player to use the new units in either an Opportunity Fire or Direct Fire capacity. In this instance, the unit with the RPD in hex F3 and the unit in hex G1G1, will Opportunity Fire at the American units in hex J3. The outcome for the Americans doesn’t look good.
First, the group with Lt. Diem will fire out of G3. The VC player rolls a 5 on a 1d6, adds the Firepower of the RPD which is a 2, adds the Firepower of the infantry unit which is a 1, then also adds the modifier that the target units moved which is another 1, and finally, 1 must be subtracted because of the degrading terrain and the modified to-hit total is 7.
The American player now rolls a 1d6 and the result is 4, to which the Terrain Modifier of 1 is added for a final modified total of 5. Since the VC total is higher than the American, a hit occurs on the units and each unit in the hex must roll for a Damage Check with a 1d6 and add the dice differential of 3. The modified die roll results were 8, 9, 4, and 7. Comparing 8 to Lt. Jensen’s Morale of a 6 we know that Lt. Jensen differential is greater than his Morale but less than 2 times his morale. We look on the Damage Check Chart and see that a Good Order SMC (Single Man Counter) is Shaken. This is not a good start as now Lt. Jensen cannot add his leadership bonus to the other units that are performing Damage Checks. Checking the die rolls for the remaining MMC’s (Multi Man Counters) in the hex we see that two other units are also shaken while one is left in good order.
However, we are not finished yet with our Opportunity Fire. The unit in hex G1 can also fire at the American units that were just fired upon. The rules state that the number of opportunity fires that can occur during a turn at a unit cannot exceed the unit movement points to move into the hex. Since it takes 2 Movement Points to move into a Light Jungle hex, those units can undergo two Op Fire attacks.
The VC units in hex G1 now take their turn firing at hex J3. The VC player rolls a 6 on a 1d6, adds the Firepower of the RPD which is 2, adds the Firepower of the infantry unit which is 2, adds the target moving modifier of +1, and finally adds the Leader Bonus of +1 for a grand total of 12.
The American Player responds with a die roll of 2 to which the Terrain Modifier of 1 for a final modified total of 3. The differential that will be added to the die roll for Damage Checks will be 9. Things are looking bad for those American Squads.
The die rolls for the American player with the added differential were 14, 12, 15, and 12. Since the first roll must be placed against the Leader, we see that the 14 is between 2 times to 3 times greater than the Leaders Morale of 6. He is wounded, and a wounded marker is placed on Lt. Jensen. The other three units in the hex all receive casualties. This means that all these units are reduced to half squads and one unit will stay shaken as a half squad.
Now that the Americans have completed their movement it is time for the VC player to go through his phases. Remember, the Opportunity Fire that was just conducted was done so on the American Players phase. On Turns 1 and 2 there really was not much for the VC to do. However, here on Turn 3 there are a few Direct Fire Combats that can be conducted. We will end the example here and leave the rest to your imagination, but you can predict that things are not looking good for the American Player with 5 turns remaining in the game.
I have spent a lot of time with this game. I have examined it thoroughly, discussed it in depth with another wargaming friend of mine and have come to the conclusion that Lock ‘n Load Forgotten Heroes Vietnam is a carefully designed, well thought out wargame that will surprise you with its subtleness. Just when you think you have a scenario won, a curve is thrown in to make it more difficult. You get a glimpse of what combat was truly like in the mid 60’s to mid 70’s. The game make you think and want to try different strategies to see if you can change the outcomes of some of the scenarios.
The rules may have you go back and forth a few times as you are learning the system, but no more than a standard game. The one thing you may need learn are the acronyms employed throughout the rules. However, I think that if the designer didn’t use the acronyms, the rule book would be 10 pages longer. For just a little while you will flip back and forth to the Glossary until you begin to remember what the acronyms mean.
Once you get through the rules be sure to pay special attention to the Examples of Play towards the end of the Rule Book. They are excellent examples that will explain many of the concepts you were reading about. My one minor complaint, is that there should have been more examples of play provided to illustrate the rules in action, and that the examples should have been in color. Even allowing us to download the color examples from the website would help.
Additionally, the way the rules have been rewritten you are not just learning a single game, but a whole functional game system. This system as you see is extremely flexible but yet captures the essence of the time periods being recreated. If you examine warfare during the period of the Lock n Load games, you see that the most important factors in combat have been Firepower, Terrain, and Morale. The Lock n Load game system and Forgotten Heroes Vietnam in particular captures these elements and integrates them into a combat system that is fast and accurate.
The last words I want to say about the Lock ‘n Load System that is most important of all is that it’s a fast moving game system that presents intriguing challenges to players and is most importantly, it is fun to play. What better accolade can you give a wargame designer of an historical game except to say, It’s Fun To Play Mark!!!!!