Just in case you didn’t notice the earthquake that shook the (wargame) world today, here are a few words on that.
Valley Games, a small game company that also has a few wargames in their portfolio today announced on Board Game Geek that they will publish a reprint of one of the all time classics of our hobby: Up Front – The Squad Leader Card Game
The game was published 1983 and till this day is one of the favorite games of probably the majority of wargamers. Its brilliant design, innovative aspects, simulation value and smooth gameplay was the reason that it won so many friends. The licence was given to MMP by Hasbro (holding the rights to Avalon Hill games) years ago and the well known ASL publisher tried for years to get a reprint done - without success. It was said that although they got the licence to republish it, Hasbro still had the rights and obviously had different ideas what to do with the game – fact is despite a project Up Front 2000, which was the supposed date for publishing the reprint, this name became sort of a placeholder even after the year 2000 and now the time for a possible reprint by MMP is over. So it seems that the licence is given to Valley Games now and this company says they want to do a kick starter project to finance the reprint.
Valley Games is very excited to announce that we have been offered the opportunity to produce Up Front. In association with the original designer, Courtney Allen, we will reproduce this classic title with improved and enhanced rules, new artwork and new graphic design. We will use Kickstarter to fund the project with a planned launch date of December 2012. More information to come as we get closer to the launch date. (Rik Falch)
After all these years when we thought the reprint is actually never gonna happen and after a big name in the wargaming world failed to get it done for whatever licence or contract reasons and problems with Hasbro, now a small company, not even really deep into wargames let alone consims, just announces ‘we will do it’. But it’s not news that is to be found on their official website, which is kinda strange, just a thread on the BGG forum – that you can find here
It sounds unbelievable but of course we also hope that this is true and that a new Up Front will be for sale in the near future. But it will depend of course what they do with this game, so we wouldn’t advice anybody to sell their copy of the classic game now as some do on the internet (‘sell the game before it will lose its value, you won’t get anything for it when the new version is out’) because even if a new version is coming, we don’t know whether it will be the same game we so love or something completely different with the same name.
‘Improved and enhanced rules’ can mean anything and of course the rules of UF are not perfect (but they are not that ‘bad’ either as some seem to think they are) so improvement is always possible and certainly desirable. What they mean with ‘enhanced’ rules we will have to see…new artwork is great because when we consider how cool for example the LCGs by FFG look then Up Front could really shine on the table if done right. Design…shouldn’t mean to redesign the game as a whole however, because it just works.
What we definitely don’t want to see is a watered down version of the game, we don’t want to play an Up Front where there is no Relative Range used anymore – a fantastic concept, but some players seem to have problems to understand how it works. Enhancing could mean to get rid of this core concept to make it ‘easier’, to attract more players. Chits could be larger and more colorful, redesigning the game so it doesn’t ‘need’ any chits anymore would be a mistake. Some cards – representing the soldiers – in Up Front get flipped when their morale breaks and then they have different combat values, so both sides are printed. In CCGs and LCGs these days cards are ‘tapped’ when something happens and we wouldn’t consider this a necessary step in a redesign, flipping is just fine, it works. Perhaps all this is not gonna happen and what they do is just polishing the game, not changing it in essential aspects, but such thoughts come up when you are a fan of this classic.
That Cortney Allen, the designer of Up Front, is part of the team doing the reprint design is of course wonderful news and hopefully this will be enough to prevent changes the fans don’t want – and the game doesn’t need. There’s probably no wargame out there that is that perfect than Up Front, it just needs a little polish here and there in the rules, streamlining of some concepts, a state of the art presentation and the base game and the expansions all done in one style to transform it into the Holy Grail of Wargaming. No game came ever that close to this, that’s what we actually think.
So lets hope that after so many years we all can indeed sell our old version of this gem of a game in the near future because the reprint is true to the innovative and brilliant design we know and love to play. But Valley Games will have to convince us with their product and so we’ll stick to the old version with all the worn out cards and play classic Up Front until we can actually see what’s up with this new Up Front – if it ever gets published.