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Valley Games to Reprint Up Front! Or Will They…?

Canadian game company Valley Games has announced they will be reprinting the Avalon Hill classic card game take on Squad Leader, Up Front. Details are sketchy at best with the only indication of the company’s plans for the title showing up as a post on BoardGameGeek.

The announcement:

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.

I’d hate to rain on anyone’s parade but this isn’t the first attempt to reprint the 1983 Avalon Hill classic and previous attempts have died on the vine. Regardless of original designer Allen’s involvement, unless Hasbro has agreed to a licensing deal or straight out sale of the rights to Up Front we won’t be seeing the game. Multi-Man Publishing (known for their massive Advanced Squad Leader library) previously had a deal in place with Hasbro but let that expire without the game being reprinted. It could be possible, as the announcement doesn’t indicate a straight reprint (outside the posting title) but a game with “improved and enhanced rules,”  a re-imagining ala FFG and Dune *ahem* Rex is in the works as Mr. Allen certainly doesn’t own the rights to Up Front. I also find it strange Valley Games has only posted on BGG and the announcement isn’t even on their own website.

Add in the fact previous Valley releases Titan, Hannibal, and Republic of Rome had production and rules issues and that doesn’t bode well for a much more complicated undertaking. I’d have a lot more faith in the project if a company with a track record of say a GMT was handling the reprint but only time will tell.

Don’t get me wrong because I’d love to see the venerable title reappear on the market as it still has a very loyal following. Yet, unless Hasbro is on board, wargamers won’t be seeing what they know as Up Front anytime in the foreseeable future regardless if the original designer is involved or not.


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Jeff McAleer

Founder/Editor-in-chief of The Gaming Gang website and host of The Gaming Gang Dispatch and other TGG media, Jeff tackles any and all sorts of games but has a special fondness for strategy, conflict sims, and roleplaying games. Plus, he's certainly never at a loss for an opinion...

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  1. Hmm. This may explain why the Kickstarter offer is slated for Dec. They may have a lot of groundwork yet to do. Thanks for the info

  2. With advances in genetic engineering maybe we’ll live long enough for the copyrights to move to the public domain:) I don’t understand why Hasbro isn’t actively licensing out some of the classic AH games.

    1. I used to mention the lack of interest Hasbro has in licensing out AH titles in the past but stopped because it was like beating a dead horse. I do think we’ve recently seen more willingness on the part of the company to revisit Avalon Hill – more than likely based on what some of the games regularly sell for on the secondary market – but I think they’re very concerned with what company is going to handle the reprint. I’ll guess if Hasbro doesn’t believe a reissue won’t sell at least 10-20k copies they’re probably just as happy to sit on their hands. Just my gut feeling though.

  3. Has anyone contacted Valley Games to see how they managed to get past that rights question that sank the MMP attempt. Or have they explained it somewhere else?

    1. I haven’t heard anything outside of the original announcement and that someone had sent a copy of the AH game so the design team could get a closer look. That last bit of info just didn’t sound right (but I did read it correctly) as you would think the company would be familiar with something they’ve announced they’re going to reprint…

  4. I wonder if they are planning on tweaking it enough that they can market it as a new game. Mechanics are not patentable so if they change the title, names, artwork and rewrite the rulebook they may be able to work around the copyright issues. (“Down in Front” anyone?). I sure hope this pans out, I promised my daughter I’d buy her a copy before she’s drafted.

    1. You’re right on the money with that one Cliff, that’s why I’m wondering if it will be a “reimagining” as opposed to straight reprint as I mentioned in the post. Sure, Valley wouldn’t be able to title the release Up Front but as long as there were enough differences from the AH game Hasbro couldn’t jump all over them.

  5. Jeff, 

    Love your show and thanks for all the work on it. But I have to say I’m a bit disappointed by this post. If all you know is what was in the announcement, and a second hand rumor, then you really don’t have any basis for this besides pessimism. I’ve been shocked by the negative posts on BGG that this announcement produced.  It’s almost like Up Front fans have been so traumatized by mmp’s broken promises that they can’t stand to hope again. 

    Whatever production problems VG has had, they DID bring multiple “grail games” from AH to print–games people thought would never see the light of day again. And think about it, after seeing what Stronghold and FFG went through, I can’t imagine VG would go forward with this without being sure of their position. 

    I think what we should all do is be a little patient (hard in this instant Internet age) and see what happens.  Projecting a lot of Fear Uncertainity and Doubt on the endeavor isn’t going to do anything.  This is a different company from mmp, and clearly AH is opening up the vault more and more frequently. I feel pretty confident I’ll be able to challenge you to a UF game at Origins next year…or GenCon at the latest. 

    1. I did shoot an email out to Valley to try and get more info but haven’t heard anything back. I have pointed out I’m behind this 100%, the only thing we know is Valley plans to bring the project to Kickstarter in December, and that I’m just sharing some thoughts about the overall context of the announcement. If there’s some sort of rumors floating around I’m not passing them around as I was simply sharing my thoughts. Yet, if a Hasbro deal was in place that would have been the lead piece of any announcement so I’m confident this wasn’t the case at the time. This isn’t to say Valley isn’t in the midst of negotiations but it wouldn’t make sense to announce a game reprint if the deal wasn’t done.

      I’m not looking to peddle fear, uncertainty, or doubt in any way but I’m also not the sort of person who’s going to ignore what may strike me as a red flag or leave me scratching my head. Up Front deserves a reprint or, if that’s not possible, at least a follow up which is fundamentally “inspired” by the original. We’ve seen this before in other titles, like Legion Games’ B-29 as an example.

      I didn’t share my thoughts because I don’t want Valley Games to reprint Up Front; I don’t have a dog in the fight. I think it would be great if Valley gets a high quality product out to the public. On the other hand, if they aren’t able to do so, I’m not going to burn them in effigy either.

    1. Last I heard, the Faulch had moved to Australia and it sounds like the same useless art updates are being posted from time to time but that’s about it. As has been rehashed in a different post, it looks like this project really is dead in the water.

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