L’n’L Heroes of the Pacific – First Look!

frontier wars 728x90 KS

What’s inside the highly-anticipated new box?  Doug fills us in ~

Doug Miller, 30 September 2015

click images to enlarge

I’ve only ever played enough of the Lock ‘N Load Publishing Tactical Series games to know that I’d really like to play more of them. For too long these games have been too difficult to get except through the aftermarket and buying from other gamers. Having said that, one of my closest gaming-related friendships (Hi Bawb!) came about primarily due to my buying a copy of Heroes of the Blitzkrieg from a fellow Grogheads gamer, so I suppose that’s not all bad.

Much to my delight Lock N’ Load is about to make all of the older games available and has started producing new games. It’s icing on the cake that the first of these Heroes of the Pacific arrived on the scene just as I’ve conceived a rekindled interest in the Pacific Theatre of WWII. Knowing the quality that Lock N’ Load has always been famous for in terms of components, I was really looking forward to getting the game in hand and taking a look. I received a copy of the Premier Support Edition to review. Here’s what I found when I opened the box.


The box cover art is nicely done and very evocative of the theatre.



The back side of the box again has some really nice art and sets out the scope of the game. This entry in the series is focused on US Marine/Army fights with the Imperial Japanese Army. I would love to see some scenarios and a counter mix also covering other Allied forces and maybe even some of the early actions versus the French and Chinese eventually. There’s more than enough game in here to keep me busy for awhile, though!

It might also seem an odd or trivial thing to mention, but the box itself very heavy duty and covered in a glossy, slick full color print. This is a really nice game box; probably one of the nicest I’ve ever seen for a wargame.



A nice touch describing the recent transition at Lock N’ Load and the new game components.



Kind of makes me wish I could keep it pristine…Nah! Games like this are made to be played!



The nicely themed art continues on the covers of the rules and scenario books.

All of the documentation is full color, printed on high quality, thick glossy stock. This is a substantial and quality set of rules. A nicely laid out table of contents greets you as soon as you open the manual.

The same high-quality printing is present in the Examples of Play/Scenario manual. Throughout both all of the illustrations are full color. The manual itself contains numerous nicely called out examples illustrating rules, which are then illustrated more comprehensively in the Examples of Play section of the scenario book. The scenario book lays out numerous scenarios in a standard way, and illustrates how to set up the board for each.

While the game manual is an actual bound softcover book, Lock N’ Load has thoughtfully only stapled the EoP/Scenario book together. This makes it easy to remove the scenario descriptions and separate them into scenario cards and then bend the staples back in place to keep the EoP documentation together.



In addition to the game documentation, full color card stock Player Aid cards of different types are included. Again, these carry the art theme of the box and manuals. The Player Aide Card itself is an 11” x 17” cardstock sheet folded into four pages. The other aid cards are double-side and cover things like Weapons, Ammo, and Targets and the Sequence of Play, saving a lot of manual flipping while playing.



The Turn Track and Skills Reference Card follow the established theme and pattern, also full-color printed on card stock.



The game comes with three sheets of Lock N’ Loads new counters. The counters are the same size as those in previous games. They are thick with a nice matte finish. The introductory letter included in this package wasn’t kidding around, either – the counters are so nicely cut that they just about fall out on their own. There’s only a single nib holding them in and already have slightly rounded corners. There’s little or no need to do any clipping or prep work to have these counters ready to play.



We’re getting a bit beyond the capabilities of my camera now, but here’s a close up of the US counters.



And similarly for the Japanese counters. I’m particularly impressed with the look of the hero status markers. The art is very evocative of period movies to my eye.



A close up of a US leader counter. Nicely rounded corners and just a small nib on the bottom edge of the counter. That nib is really barely noticeable when the counter is sitting on the map, but even that could be easily removed with a pair of nail clippers if desired.




A vehicle counter. The layout and general look should be familiar to anyone that’s played this series in the past.



Maps, maps, maps! The maps to the left of the frame are the standard maps that come with game, and are the same size as those included in other games in the series. On the right you can see one of the new X-Maps, which are over twice the size (though cover the same area) as the regular maps. The review copy I received contained the X-Maps as part of the package. Having seen them, I have to say that as nice as the regular maps are I would covet the X-Maps if I didn’t have them. Both are printed on heavy cardstock with a smooth, just slightly glossy finish. The art captures the jungle, island, and beach terrain of the theatre with a realistic and almost 3D look. The matt finished counters look very nice against the semi-glossy map surface.


I was obviously very impressed with the quality of the overall game package. I’ve paid as much as the price of this game for games from other publishers that don’t come anywhere close in terms of quality and certainly don’t have the full-color documentation and player aid materials. I applaud the move by Lock N’ Load and other publishers to move to new laser and die-cut counters that don’t need prep and clipping to get ready to play. I’m most impressed by the inclusion of the Examples of Play manual. More publishers should do the same; it dramatically speeds up the process of understanding the rules and getting to the point of being able to play your first game.

Speaking of which, that’s what I’m going to be up to now that I’ve taken the game out of the box. I’ll be back in a few days with another post covering my first experience playing Lock N’ Load’s Heroes of the Pacific!

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