Lock 'n Load: Band of Heroes

By Brant Guillory 28 Sep 2005 0

Introduction

Lock?n?Load: Band of Heroes is the newest game from designer Mark H. Walker using the Lock?n?Load system. It is the first boardgame from Matrix Games, and the first Lock?n?Load title to tackle World War II as a subject. The two previous Lock?n?Load games covered Vietnam (Forgotten Heroes and ANZAC Attack). There is a downloadable mini-game covering the Falkland Islands titled The Last Stand, which is available from the Lock?n?Load website. There was another expansion Lock?n?Load: Elite Forces in development at one time, but it has apparently been shelved and according to Mr. Walker, and only the Falklands scenarios are projected to see the light of day. 

Lock?n?Load: Band of Heroes focuses on the actions of US Airborne forces in Normandy on, and immediately after, D-Day, June 6, 1944. Actions involving both the 82d and 101st are covered. The name of the game - Band of Heroes - should offer some allusion as to the content, given its similarity to the popular book of similar subject matter (Steven Ambrose's Band of Brothers). 

Lock?n?Load is a squad-level system, where counters represent squads, half-squads, and individual people, as well as individual vehicles and support weapons. Individual people are generally either leaders or heroes, though Lock?n?Load: Band of Heroes includes snipers, scouts, and medics, as well. Hexes are 50 meters across, which makes for some very long-range heavy weapons; turns represent 2-4 minutes.

Plot & Presentation

Ahead of the amphibious landings on D-Day, paratroopers from several Allied nations descended in the darkness to disrupt the German defenses, and seize key terrain that would be vital to the success of the invasion. Behind Utah and Omaha beaches, the 82d and 101st - the best of the American airborne divisions - landed to carry out their missions. Unfortunately for the Americans, the combination of low visibility, unpredictable winds, and German anti-aircraft fire resulted in both divisions being scattered throughout the area. In addition, the Germans had flooded many low-lying areas in an attempt to deny landing zones to either paratroopers or gliders.

The Americans were able to regroup in reasonable strength throughout their area. In some cases, squads and platoon from different divisions teamed up to assault their nearest objectives. By mid-morning, most of the paratroopers? objectives had been achieved, and the first link-ups with soldiers from the beaches were taking place.

Movies and television shows have covered these actions extensively, either on their own, or as part of a larger coverage of D-Day as a whole. The gold standard (for me, anyway) is still The Longest Day, the movie adaptation of the excellent Cornelius Ryan book, which covers D-Day as a whole, but dedicates a lot of screen time to the paratroopers.. Besides, it's hard not to enjoy watching John Wayne lead a brigade of the 82d into St. Mere Eglise. The television miniseries based on Steven Ambrose's Band of Brothers also covers these actions in great detail. Finally, Saving Private Ryan, 1998 movie about D-Day and the days after, gives some insight into the fighting through French villages and farms beyond the beachhead that the paratroopers endured in the days following D-Day.

Mr. Walker even specifically addresses several of these action in his scenarios. The final battle of Saving Private Ryan, for example, is the inspiration behind the scenario entitled The Alamo. The actions of the 506d PIR, the "Band of Brothers" are revisited in Coming Through.

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