Perry Pender
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Well, I have just finished my first Non Starter Kit Scenario of Lock 'N Load Tactical's Heroes of the Motherland and so I thought I should sit down and put a few musings/initial impressions into a small review.

I want to state from the start that I like deep, detailed games, I like games covering the Russian front 41-45 and I like good well layed out game components.

Heroes of the Motherland is not ASL or SoS 3rd Edition or any of the other Deep and detailed games out there so it should not of grabbed me as much as it has, I ordered the starter kit less than a month ago and Heroes of the Motherland arrived on my doorstep less than a week ago.......I am hooked.


Initial impressions:
Game Box:

Big and colourful, it does what it says on the tin and just screams BUY ME AND PLAY ME! it looks and is very well made, nice and deep and very sturdy, LnL have certainly nailed down how the package their products.

Upon looking inside we find a host of play aids, core Rule book and module rule book and the counters.

Play Aids:
The play aids range from TEC's to DFT's (Direct Fire Tables) OFT's and even a To hit Vehicle specific chart so you do not need to keep picking up your AFV counters to check the To Hit table they have on the back of the counter (more on this later), all are printed in glorious colour and are of a very high quality, I really like the Player aid that shows you exactly how you carry out each and every DR you may need to make during the game and also how you conduct certain procedures whilst playing, genius pure genius.

Rule Books:
Again, full colour, nice big font for old eyes and in my humble opinion very well wrote and set out. concise pictures to explain rules when needed. I would go as far to state that again IMHO this is or should be the standard, I like how MMP have done the OCS rules, nice and clear and clean looking but the LnL way just works for me and helps fill out the journey that I think my trip to LnL world is going to be.

Counters:
What can I say, Perfect, nice rounded corners, not to thick or thin, a good feel to them, they feel sturdy, well made and apart from Old School Tactical counters (which are very well done IMHO) are the best out there, Lnl have made a really nice counter set, I was impressed with the starter kit counters and HotM does not fail either, easy to punch out and mainly no trimming needed ( a few tufts here and there have been scalped off but nothing to derail the train). Counter content is simply awesome, they are all full colour and are very easy to read, they draw you in with unit symbols and small character pictures and such like and look stunning on the game map, it goes without saying that the counters add so much to the game. I like how all the ordnance firing game counters (Tanks, SPA, Stugs ATG etc) has a copy of their specific counter to hit table on the back of the counter, this is not really needed as you have a player aid with all this information as well, but it just adds a nice little touch. It seems to me that LnL have decided to make whatever they bring out the best they can, and it shows in the counters.

Maps:
If anything the maps are maybe the one area where I might possibly have a small, (Read minuscule)gripe, they are small, functional yes, and very nice to look at and very well executed apart from the size, at 8.5x11 the feel tiny and when playing a single map scenario you do notice how close in the map is/looks/feels, LnL have made a set of X maps, which are much much better and should IMHO of been in the core games as standard, however again I must stress that this is in my humble opinion such a small gripe it really does not detract from the enjoyment of the game.

Game Play:
a simple impulse system with an initial initiative DR at the start to decide who goes first unless dictated otherwise in the SSR, play moves along at a fast and easy pace with each side taking turns to activate units of stacks of units, or if activated by a leader a series of hexes of units adjacent to the leader counter. Combat when it comes is quick, easy and deadly, TEM are a must and the wise player will move his cardboard hordes with care and in covering terrain or at the least try to get some degrading terrain between them and the enemy, all the DRM are layed out in the DFT/TEC/OFT and so there is no need to trawl through the RB to find such and such a modifier and if that is not enough there is another play aid that shows you exactly HOW to conduct a Direct fire attack, of an Ordinance attack, or even an Off Board Artillery attack, the game is that user friendly, leaders are key, and you must, repeat MUST keep them protected and alive, as without them shaken units on the whole can not rally, and a shaken unit is simply dead meat if enemy units are near (they just have to move into the hex and close assault the shaken unit and they are eliminated)Tank battles are fun, each AFV has 3 possible hit areas, Front armour , side armour and rear, with each of those having a Hull and Turret Armour Value or AV, each Tank cannon etc has a cosponsoring penetration Value of PV, killing another tank or indeed an ATG killing a Tank is easy, select the unit that is going to do the deed and look at it's to hit table, roll under the number needed and you have secured a hot, depending on if the to hit number is a even or odd number determines the location I.E Hull or Turret, facing is easy to work out and then it is a matter of a dr adding the PV for the attacker and a dr adding the AV for the defender, if the total PV is greater than the total AV then you have killed your target, remove tank counter plop down a wreck counter and roll to see if the crew escape, if the totals are the same, roll to see if the Tank is shaken, if not you have not damaged the tank, move along nothing to see here, it is that simple.
most scenario are around 5/6 turns long and as the game plays very fast ( I re-read the RB again once I had punched my counters and had played the 'Prockhorovka' scenario twice all within 3 hours!) this to me shows how simple, the game is to grasp without I hasten to add being to simple, there is more than enough chrome to add flavour and make the game fun.

Is it worth it?:
Damn straight it is, LnL have made a system that is great to look at, easy to learn, and above all else fun to play, it is/will be my goto squad level game I feel for a very long time, I only own Heroes of the Motherland at the moment but I have ordered Dark July (Kursk) and Heroes of Normandy, this will be added to with more over the next few months.

Conclusion:
Lock 'N Load Publishing have to my mind produced a fun and very well made and thought out product that delivers on all levels, some will not like it as it is not as deep as they may be used to, so be it, go play ASL (I play ASL as well) it does not intend to be that deep, but as said, what it does it does well, and as I have stated a few times it does it in a relaxed and FUN way. I can honestly say I have enjoyed what I have played so far from Heroes of the Motherland, and I can not recommend it enough, go out and grab a copy now, I do not think you will be disappointed.

Perry
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G.W.
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Great review, Perry!
This was my first LnL Tactical game and I agree with everything you said.

Re: Maps -- It should be noted that although the maps look great, none of the maps show snow or winter terrain. This was a surprise and disappointment to me, especially since many of the scenarios, and the campaign that comes with HotM, are set in wintertime.

Since I complained about this online, LnL has said they are considering making snow maps for HotM someday.

In the meantime, I modded a set of my own for all the maps used in the campaign. They're available on the VASSAL module page as a downloadable VASSAL extension (http://www.vassalengine.org/mediawiki/images/7/75/LnLP_HotM_...) so it's easy to install/remove the extension in the official HotM VASSAL module.



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Perry Pender
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Hi G.W,
I have got your maps I think for VASSAL LnL Tac, it is a shame about the maps, but as said I really do think LnL have a really superior product and game system and have really nailed it, I have just started turn 2 of Big Cats at twilight and it is proving to be a nightmare for both sides, this system is simply great and I hope LnL bring out many more modules or games to cover it, I would like to see the following as they would fill out the LnL Tac world I feel.

Game covering the British/Canadian efforts during the battle for Normandy from a normal non airborne PoV.

Game covering Axis minors.

Game covering the fall of Berlin.

Game covering Operation Bagration.

and then maybe more map/scenario packs, or indeed individual army counter sets for those of us who like big battles, so you could have a early war counter set for Whermacht, one for Brits, French, SS etc, then mid war same sort of detail with Russians etc, it would generate a lot of interest and I dare say demand, and as they now have what I would call a very high standard of counter they would look simply stunning, I would even go as far as suggesting they do unit specific counter sets.

all the best

Perry
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Jim F
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Who knew trench warfare could be such fun?
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When I played this system way back when they were a bit of a mess and fussy for what they were. Looks like new ownership has dealt with those issues. Might have to have another look.

Thanks for the review.
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Ruben Rigillo
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Perry, thanks for this review. I spread your same words since I played my first LnL game 4 years ago. (I play ASL too!!).
May I suggest you to buy Heroes in Defiance? Some of the best early war scenarios out there, involving French, Belgian, Dutch and Brits.
(actually I own the old Heroes of the Blitzkrieg and In Defeat Defiance but I think the new module should be as wonderful as the oldies)
Happy gaming!!!

P.s. And don't forget the moderns modules
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Perry Pender
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Qwirz wrote:
Perry, thanks for this review. I spread your same words since I played my first LnL game 4 years ago. (I play ASL too!!).
May I suggest you to buy Heroes in Defiance? Some of the best early war scenarios out there, involving French, Belgian, Dutch and Brits.
(actually I own the old Heroes of the Blitzkrieg and In Defeat Defiance but I think the new module should be as wonderful as the oldies)
Happy gaming!!!

P.s. And don't forget the moderns modules


The Modern stuff is on my 'to buy' list, I intend to pick up heroes in defiance early next year, I love the system, I did not touch it when it first came out so I can not comment on how the rules were, but they are certainly good now, and I can not recommend the game enough, it really is that good in my humble opinion.

all the best

Perry
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Perry Pender
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Ashiefan wrote:

When I played this system way back when they were a bit of a mess and fussy for what they were. Looks like new ownership has dealt with those issues. Might have to have another look.

Thanks for the review.


the rules are very good, I did not play the early stuff so i can not comment on them, but what we have now is IMHO very well done.
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Andrew Wallwork
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Getting back into it myself as I first bought HoN and Falklands 2 years ago and never really played them. Now using the solo module and starting to learn the game all over again. The only thing that disappoints me is the maps. I bought the X Maps for HoN but given how much these games are to begin with I do think it is a bit much to ask for even more for larger maps (which aren't cheap) that should have been included in the first place.
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Norman Smith
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I don't strictly agree with that. The small maps have to go in to be compatible with all that has gone before. I just bought the new Edition Heroes of Normandy and there are 6 thick counter sheets in there, two substantial booklets, all the maps as well as the other charts, it is a pretty full and heavy box at it's price.

I can understand re the pricing point why the X-maps don't go into the box, but, you are right, they are expensive to buy separately. I really have no idea how much they cost to make and administer, but perhaps from a 'support the buyer' point of view, they should be priced down to minimum profit, as should the Battle Generators - though don't know what retail would make of that.

In most ways, I would rather see the X-maps in the box and get rid of the small maps, but I can understand why that would be unpopular, plus the small maps do help with playing space in the larger games for those for whom space is premium.

Several of the new boxes have extra maps, because the company have decided not to use overlays (good) and also that we don't have to pretend what's on or not on the maps (i.e. ignore the hill type rule) and a few of the modules have now included as basic, what used to be an expansion. So Normandy has the British paratroopers, The Motherland has 'not one step back' and Defiance (the old Blitzkrieg) has the BEF module. Nam and Red Star likewise have included expansions.

So David Heath has already done much to give the gamer bigger bang for buck with his second editions. I don't however have any insight into production costs or profit margins, so if I am being too generous in my defence of pricing, then yes, give us those X-Maps :-)
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