Back in August of 2012 I wrote an op-ed about Valley Games looking to reprint the Avalon Hill classic Up Front! and why I didn’t believe we would actually see the reprint come to fruition. The post garnered a few comments here but really riled up some folks over on the forums at ComsimWorld. Since I try to run a PG-13 website I won’t repeat the more vicious comments made but suffice to say a big consensus was I’m an asshole and didn’t have a clue as to what I wrote.
We can ignore the fact I specifically indicated I was pointing out my opinion and since this is my website, I’m the editor-in-chief, and much of what is published here is flush with opinion I felt it was completely in my right to make mention I didn’t think we would see Up Front! Personally I like ConsimWorld as John Krantz is truly fine gentleman and I’ve had the pleasure to chat with him on multiple occasions at the CSW Expo in Tempe, AZ; I even interviewed him for one of the TGG Extras back in the day. Like I said John is a super nice person and I’m sure 98.9% of the folks who visit CSW to get their fill of grognard related news are too.
Yes, CSW is a great website yet I wouldn’t stroll into the CSW forums (or nearly any other forum devoted to gaming or anything else) to defend any position I may hold because A) I don’t need to since I spend my hard earned cash to actually run a website where I can post my thoughts and opinions on my own dime and B) just because someone wants to argue the movement factors of a supply truck counter in an Afrika Corps wargame (that all of seven people have purchased and four have played) doesn’t mean they know jack shit about getting a game published. I find most forums are ruined by bullies who are a bunch of blowhards all trying to spin each other around in circles to prove each knows more inane nonsense than the other.
Anyway, here I was… An asshole (and called worse on CSW, BGG, and elsewhere) because I voiced my skepticism about the announcement of an Avalon Hill game being reprinted. Keep in mind, Valley originally stated they were going to reprint the game and there was never a mention of crowd funding to get it done until a month after they’d floated the reprint idea to the public.
Jump ahead more than a year.
Following an extremely successful Kickstarter, ending on January 2nd 2013, which bilked backers out of $339,848 (hot on the heels of a successful $102,010 September 2012 Airborne in Your Pocket campaign) Rik Falch and his Canadian based Valley Games – or are they now U.S. based Radiant Games? – have provided nothing to backers of either project other than empty promises and art files which are being created by volunteers. Yep, they collected over four hundred thousand dollars and the progress of both gaming projects are in the hands of volunteers. Or, in the case of Airborne in Your Pocket, a single volunteer.
I don’t know about you but if I pulled in over a hundred thousand bucks on a KS project I’d be more invested in something I applied my name to than handing it off to some volunteer out in the internet ether.
So what happened?
Well to make a long, drawn out story short Valley borrowed a large sum of money from an investor. Or investors, as there’s conflicting information as far as just how many people Valley owes large bags of money to. Anyway, Valley took the loan, produced games which sold, decided they weren’t in the mood to pay the loan(s) back – even though they raised over $171k with D-Day Dice, and were taken to court. Judgments were made against Valley in two states (neither case contested by even sending a company representative) and Falch and his team of bandits were found to be on the hook for the money owed. These proceedings took place prior to launching the Up Front! KS project.
At no point did Valley indicate to their Up Front! Kickstarter backers there was any issue with courts ordering repayment of over a quarter of a million dollars in loans. It was at this point in time Valley Games suddenly became Radiant Games – sorry no link to a Radiant website as they only exist online as a Facebook fan page; a true measure of a company’s legitimacy. All mention of Valley being involved in Airborne or Up Front! disappeared. Truthfully you’d have been hard pressed to find any mention of Valley with the two projects once the judgments were made public as Falch and his banditos began wiping all mention of Valley from the projects. To make matters worse, since Up Front! was being prominently advertised in extremely heavy ad rotation on Board Game Geek, the powers that be at BGG decided they would give Falch front webpage space to address concerns (which honestly weren’t ever addressed) to backers while the BGG website knowingly and willfully moved the firestorm blazing through their forums to less accessible locations under the Radiant front.
Let it be known the guys running BGG are always willing to make money off what is essentially a user content driven website in which they do nothing more than count their ducats so they certainly weren’t going to be on the end user or project backers’ side. Yet that’s a story for another time.
So Rik Falch sets up a dummy company in Texas (Radiant Games) in an attempt to dodge the court rulings against Valley and to continue bilking backers out of money for Up Front! since the project was still live when all the debts became known to the public. I don’t know maybe Falch was slugging down too many LaBatt’s north of the border since that dodge is one of the oldest in the books and if there’s one thing our government is mighty adept at it’s tracing a money trail to dummy corporations. All in all Valley has now become, in more ways than one, a dormant entity and Radiant (or whatever the hell Rik and his cronies want to call it) is nothing more than a shell company.
I’m sure plenty of backers would ask me if Rik Falch is such a bad guy why are updates about Airborne and Up Front! still appearing on the Kickstarter pages and in backer’s email boxes? I’ll give you the simple answer… To prevent you from suing. Backers of either project have already reached the point they can’t chargeback to their credit cards or dispute the charges made to their cards. Kickstarter already states it’s a buyer beware world, since there’s no guarantee you’ll ever receive anything from a successfully funded project; Ya’s pays ya money, ya’s takes ya chances. By continuing to jerk backers off, Rik Falch is keeping the 70% of backers who are still holding onto hope they didn’t piss away one hundred, two hundred, or more bucks on either project from using the Google to track Fauch by GPS and lynch him. Or busting out what’s known as a class action lawsuit.
I’d love to know if anyone out there who demanded their money back for either Airborne in Your Pocket or Up Front! has received a refund upon request. I know there were some posts, on both projects, if any backer was unhappy with the progress being made they could ask for their money back.
I’ll give you 1000-1 odds the answer is no.
Unfortunately, at this point in time I don’t see either Airborne in Your Pocket (the only thing in any pockets is your hard earned cash in Falch’s) or Up Front! making it’s way into backers’ hands; It just isn’t going to happen. The Kickstarter funds have been frozen by the court system and, when it’s all said and done, there won’t be any cash after the settlements to produce boxes of blank paper let alone games.
Yep. Once again I’m sure folks out there will tell me I’m an asshole; I don’t know what I’m talking about; I just rouse the rabble and the haters. Nothing could be further from the truth. I pointed out more than a year ago I was all for seeing a new edition of Up Front! regardless if I had concerns that Valley actually had the rights to produce the game even if the original designer gave them the okay or not. Yet the truth is you are not going to see a print run of the game in 2014 no matter what some Radiant stoolie wants to soft soap backers with on the Kickstarter page. It is not going to happen. Ever. Period.
That said, this Kickstarter for Up Front! has been a topic of discussion with wargaming designers and myself for a few months. The first thing which had us scratching our heads is the insistence to call the game Up Front! in the first place and why Valley/Radiant wasn’t going to just use the original game as an inspiration as opposed to a straight up reprint. I know they were supposed to be making changes but for all intents and purposes Valley/Radiant/Ripoff Artists claimed this was to be Up Front! Couldn’t they make enough changes to the game to get around the copyright issues? Why not go in the direction Legion Wargames did with B-29 Superfortress – as an homage to Avalon Hill’s B-17?
When it’s all said and done, I’ve gone on the record plenty of times before you will not see Up Front! (and seemingly Airborne in Your Pocket as well) from Valley or Radiant. Rik Falch has swindled plenty of people out of hard earned cash and, as court documents clearly show, Rik and the folks involved in his business have no interest in getting a product in anyone’s hands anytime soon. Personally this makes me sick.
So I’ll finish by making a mighty bold statement…
Up Front! backers are currently being promised the game will be in their hands before June 6th, 2014 – the seventieth anniversary of the D-Day invasion. If at that time Up Front! has not been received by the 2407 backers of the project, I will personally go forward (along with my designer friends) with plans to provide the public a game very similar to the Avalon Hill classic. We will not petition crowd funding backers or ask anyone to pay a solitary penny until the game is “in the box” so to speak. We’ll pay for a small initial production run out of our own pockets.
I’ll be the first to say we won’t be able to provide the same sort of massive content promised by the Up Front! Kickstarter (and I’m sorry to say I can’t help those who backed Airborne because I haven’t a clue as to what was on the design table) but I can tell you it won’t take nearly a half million dollars and over a year and a half to get the game onto your table top. And it won’t cost you a red cent until it’s produced.
Oh, and for Rik Falch? I welcome him to publicly respond to my calling him a cheat and a thief. I’m certain he won’t because if he doesn’t have the stones to come clean with the people who’ve handed to him over $400,000 he certainly hasn’t them to take me on…
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