Getting Started with Lock ‘n Load Tactical

Getting Started with Lock ‘n Load Tactical

Getting Started is a series of articles that will explain the steps and materials you need to start playing one of Lock ‘n Load Publishing’s board games. This article will present what you need to start playing Lock ‘n Load Tactical either at the table with an opponent, virtually using Vassal and Tabletop Simulator or digitally on your Mac or PC with the Steam version of the game.

What is Lock ‘n Load Tactical?

Lock ‘n Load Tactical is a two-player game of squad level combat that covers the era from WWII to Modern conflicts such as the Falklands conflict. There is even a title, Heroes against the Red Star, that covers a hypothetical invasion of western Europe by the Soviet Union.

Lock ‘n Load Tactical is a squad-level game with counters representing squads, half squads, weapon teams and individual vehicles. Each hex on the game’s maps represents approximately 50 metres.

The series includes battles in North Africa, the invasion of France and even Vietnam.

All of the Lock ‘n Load Tactical games that have the word ‘Hero’ in their title are standalone games that require no other purchases to play. They all include a copy of the rules, dice, maps and all of the charts and tables required. And if you click on the Resources tab in the Lock ‘n Load Publishing store’s page for a game you will find links to all of the digital resources available for that title.

Getting Started

At Lock ‘n Load Publishing we play the same sort of games that you do and so we know that you often want to look at the rules and maybe even play a scenario or two before committing to a purchase. There is probably no other tactical game on the market that has the same number of learning resources available for it. We have done several things to help you make an informed, and happy, purchase of our games. The first is that the rules and charts for our games are available for free download from the Lock ‘n Load Publishing Library.

The Lock ‘n Load Publishing online library

You don’t need to sign up for an account and you can view the documents online in the web-based reader or download them and read them on your computer or tablet. .

Give me ten minutes

A quick way to explore the basics of the Lock ‘n Load Tactical game system is to read the Lock ‘n Load Tactical In 10 Minutes PDF. You can learn about the turn structure, the type of units in the game, what information is on the counters as well as explore some of the main game concepts.


Bootcamp videos

If you are a more visual learner then Lock ‘n Load Publishing has also created a series of short videos that show you the game system in action. There are more than 60 videos, each only dealing with a specific subject, which are only a few minutes long making it easy to watch them when you have a few free moments as well as allowing you to target a specific video to refresh your knowledge. Just remember that the videos aren’t a replacement for the rules and are meant to enhance your learning process.

We know that reading the rules, or watching videos, isn’t the same as playing the actual game but we also have a solution for that as well.

Starter Kit

If you want an easy entry into playing the Lock ‘n Load Tactical game system there are several options available for you. Lock ‘n Load Publishing produces a Starter Kit which has two Modern scenarios (set in Vietnam) and two WWII scenarios (in Normandy in ’44)that you can play:

Vietnam scenarios

  • A Friend in Need
  • The Weapons Cache

Normandy scenarios

  • Assault on Vierville
  • Rejoining the Regiment

The free Starter Kit PDF, available from the Lock ‘n Load Publishing Library, contains all the rules, charts and tables you need to play the included scenarios. And to make it even easier to get started there are several different ways you can play the scenarios that are in the Starter Kit PDF.


You can play the scenarios in the Start Kit virtually. You can download the Starter Kit Vassal module from the Vassal website. The Tabletop Simulator module is available for download from the Steam store.

The TTS environment

The Tabletop Simulator module has the charts and scenarios included in the file. The Vassal module does not so you can play the TTS module without any other PDFs or products. The Vassal module will require you to have a copy of the free Starter Kit PDF from the Lock ‘n Load Publishing Library.

A Vassal game ready to go


The Lock ‘n Load Tactical Starter Kit is also available on Steam. The Steam version is called Lock ‘n Load Tactical Digital: Core Game as it is the base module you need to purchase to play any of the DLC available on Steam. It has the same scenarios as the other versions of the Starter Kit and you can either play solo versus a computer opponent or find an opponent online to play. You can even play both sides of each scenario yourself to see how the game looks from both sides of the table.

Lock ‘n Load Tactical Digital


The Starter Kit is also available as a printed game on the LnLP online store. It has all of the counters and maps that you need to play the four scenarios. In order to keep the price, and shipping costs, down the physical version of the Starter Kit requires that you download the free PDF version of the Starter Kit in order to have the rules, charts and tables necessary to play. The entire Starter Kit is also available in the Lock ‘n Load Tactical Core Rules Officer Edition which is available from the Lock ‘n Load Publishing online library.

This crazy FTF thing the kids are doing


If you don’t mind a bit of DIY you can also print the required counters and map sections which begin on page 139 of the Starter Kit PDF and then make your own counters and maps with which to play the game.

Documents available

There are quite a number of PDFs available on the Lock ‘n Load Publishing Library. Here is a list of the files for Lock ‘n Load Tactical and what they contain.

Starter Kit PDF
The Starter Kit contains rules sections 1.0 to 13.0 as well as rules 22.1 on how to determine control of a hex. Starting on page 125 are the Terrain Charts and scenarios and on pages 139 are the counters and maps you need to play the included scenarios.

Core Rules Officer Edition
The Core Rules Officer Edition PDF contains the same rule sections as the Starter Kit but also adds sections 14.0 – 23.0 which include ordnance weapons, vehicles, indirect fire fortifications and some additional weapon and equipment rules. It also includes an Infantry Gameplay Narrative and a Vehicle and Ordnance Gameplay Narrative in which you can read though examples of play. Also included are the charts and tables and an outline of play. The Core Rules also include the scenario, counter and map sections from the Starter Kit.

Core Rules Handbook Edition
Not to be confused with the Core Rules Officer Edition , the Core Rules Handbook Edition only includes rule sections 1.0 – 13.0. It does not include the narratives or the Starter Kit pages. It is intended to be a more compact version of the rules that can be used to print a physical copy.

Player Aid Cards
The Player Aid Cards PDF contains all of the charts and tables from the Core Rules Officer Edition but without the page numbers. It includes:

  • Combat Tables
  • Weapons, ammo and targets
  • Melee Tables
  • Off Board Artillery Summary
  • Reference Tables
  • Outline of play

These have been included in their own file to make it easier to access and print

Infantry Gameplay Narrative
The Infantry Gameplay Narrative document contains an overview of the important infantry rules from Lock ‘n Load Tactical and then has an extensive game tutorial showing those rules in action. The tutorial shows which rules were used in each turn or turn segment to make it easier to look them up in the Core Rules Officer Edition.

A sample from the Infantry Narrative

Vehicle & Ordnance Gameplay Narrative
The Vehicle & Ordnance Gameplay Narrative is a 28 page document that contains a summary of the important vehicle and ordnance rules as well as tutorial section illustrating those rules in a gameplay situation. It uses the same format and structure that the Infantry Gameplay Narrative uses.

A sample from the Vehicle Narrative

National Capabilities
The National Capabilities document lists all of the counters in each Lock ‘n Load Tactical game and expansion. There is a table for each ‘side’ in a game which includes:

  • Modules the unit appears in
  • Nationality
  • Full squad stats
  • Half Squad stats
  • Any rules for Half Squad creation
  • Smoke die roll
  • Star Shell die roll
Somali stats

Scenario and Map List
As you would guess by the name, the Scenario and Map List document contains a list of all of the available Lock ‘n Load Tactical scenarios (organised by the game they are in) as well as pictures of all of the maps.

Lock ‘n Load Tactical Solo Rules
The Lock ‘n Load Tactical Solo Rules are a PDF version of the rules that are included in the Lock ‘n Load Tactical Solo boxed system.

If you are interested in playing the Steam version of Lock ‘n Load Tactical on your computer then there are two documents that you should check out in the Library.

Lock ‘n Load Digital Hot Keys
The Hot Keys document is a two page guide to all of the keyboard commands in the Lock ‘n Load Digital game.

Lock ‘n Load Digital Interface Guide
The Interface Guide is not just an explanatory look at the game interface for Lock ‘n Load Digital but also explains how to interact with your digital units in each stage of the game.

But wait, there is more

And if that wasn’t enough, all of the module rules for each of the Lock ‘n Load Tactical games are also available from the online library including the soon-to-be-released Heroes of the Bitter Harvest. The module rules only include the game-specific rules that you need to play the game but not the scenarios themselves. The scenarios, as well as charts and tables, are available in the Companion Books that are available for purchase from the Lock ‘n Load Publishing online store. The decision was made to keep the scenarios in a separate, purchasable product, so that gamers that wanted to primarily play virtually, using Vassal or Tabletop Simulator, could do so without having to purchase a full game just to get the scenarios.

And there you have it. Almost everything you need to start playing games in the Lock ‘n Load Tactical system. If you have any further questions then feel free to reach out to us, and our community of gamers, on Discord, Facebook or the Lock ‘n Load Publishing forums.

Zac Belado
Author: Zac Belado

Zac is a wargamer from Edmonton, Alberta Canada. When not trying to figure out a new set of rules or cut the corners on counters he is busy building websites.