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Subject: Open Letter to Valley Games rss

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Rob Rob
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VG,

You are such a promising game company. You have reprinted some great games (Die Macher, Hannibal, etc...) and are in the process of reprinting more (Titan, etc...). Please, please, please won't you consider buying the rights to reprint Avalon Hill's classic 'Up Front' from Multi-Man Publishing?

For nearly a decade, MMP has sat on the rights to this game. Surely they'd sell them go for a song to a company that actually intends to publish the game.

Thank you,

Robrob
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Todd Pytel
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I doubt very much that MMP has any right to sell those rights even if they wanted to (which they don't). The rights to ASL, Up Front, GCACW, and any other AH-era games that MMP prints are owned by Hasbro and only licensed to MMP.
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Tom Grant
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I'm sure this is not an insurmountable problem. If they worked out how to publish Titan, surely some creative thinking could apply here.

Rob Rob, I second that emotion. Enough already. Just print the goddamn game, and stop making excuses (or trying to make it into a different game).
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Kevin Reynolds
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What excuses? I haven't even seen excuses. When I saw the up front "reprint" web page forever ago, I was really psyched. What I was hoping for was an all card game without all the fiddly chits that up front has. Don't get me wrong, I love the game, but I wanted it to be less table management, and this would do it. Strangely, this was the last status update I have seen in a decade.
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Bradley Knoll
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Soldier for Up Front, but is my back to the Volga or the Spree river?
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I would love to see a reprint. MMP claims to be working on it, but we all know the truth about their dedication. I ranks 46 on the Geek after being out of print for how long already? 20+ years? The is something obviously there about this game that MMP doesn't seem to realize.
 
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Mark Humphries
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MMP will reprint UF when they're ready. I'm sure you can find another game to spend your money on in the meantime.
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Scott Smith
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presence wrote:
What I was hoping for was an all card game without all the fiddly chits that up front has.
I agree that most of the chits only served as a reminder of an action that has already occurred, but how can you get rid of all the chits in the game (Im thinking Range Chits at a minimum here.)

I would love a reprint soon as well. Not so much to get another copy (although I would purchase one), but just for the influx of new players that it would bring.
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Tom Grant
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presence wrote:
What excuses? I haven't even seen excuses.


Over the last decade, we've heard...

It's too expensive to reprint. Sure, if you follow their plan to reprint the contents of the original game, plus supplements, it's going to be pricey. And yes, even stripped down to the original game contents, you'll be printing a lot of cards and counters. But significantly more than Combat Commander, one of the hottest-selling wargames of the last few years? Is that a rhetorical question?

The game should be updated. The collectible idea was a non-starter. However, even a rulebook re-write is a nice-to-have. Somehow, a lot of people who are fans of the game figured out how to play it, even if the rulebook isn't the best ever.

We have too many other games on the docket. How many years does it take to get one of the top-rated wargames into the schedule, versus some new games with a much smaller market?

This is why Rob Rob's suggestion makes a lot of sense: Valley Games has figured out how to bring out-of-print games to market, despite hurdles. Sales have been brisk, to say the least. Perhaps MMP and Hasbro would be open to a buy-out of MMP's license, so that (1) Hasbro gets some royalties, and (2) a game publisher gets the remaining revenue from Up Front.

[My interest in this? I want more Up Front players in my area!]
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Todd Pytel
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MMP has recently stated that they have artists already working on a new Up Front. Granted, at their typical pace that could still mean a reprint is years away. But I can assure you from comments I've read that they consider Up Front theirs - it's part and parcel of SL/ASL. There is no way in holy hell they're going to agree to anybody else printing it. And there's no way Hasbro is going to get itself involved in hostile takeovers.

I'm entirely in agreement with you that the game deserved to be reprinted long, long ago. But there's simply no way VG is going to get their hands on this one.
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Scott Smith
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Kingdaddy wrote:
[My interest in this? I want more Up Front players in my area!]
Agree completely.
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Rob Rob
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Quote:
MMP has recently stated that they have artists already working on a new Up Front. Granted, at their typical pace that could still mean a reprint is years away.


Recently meaning a few weeks, months or years ago? cool You are right that given their level of (dis)interest in the product it will be more years (if ever) till we see the results.

Quote:
But I can assure you from comments I've read that they consider Up Front theirs - it's part and parcel of SL/ASL. There is no way in holy hell they're going to agree to anybody else printing it.


While I don't doubt that to be true, it's a fairly silly attitude for them to hold. UF's greatest value is its fan base. Fan bases are time sensitive. The longer MMP drags its feet on the reprint, the fewer fans will be interested in the game. MMP's investment is like a carton of milk and it's not getting more valuable with age.

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I'm entirely in agreement with you that the game deserved to be reprinted long, long ago. But there's simply no way VG is going to get their hands on this one.


You are probably correct. What chaps me the most is how simple it would have been to have done a minor re-write/polish of the AH ruleset (pretty much already done by the fan base) and simply reprint it "as is" with new rotoscoped art taken from historical photos. 150 new cards could be generated in weeks rather than years.

http://www.toonyphotos.com/
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Todd Pytel
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Robrob wrote:
Recently meaning a few weeks, months or years ago?

Months - about 3 months ago on CSW, IIRC.

Quote:
While I don't doubt that to be true, it's a fairly silly attitude for them to hold. UF's greatest value is its fan base. Fan bases are time sensitive. The longer MMP drags its feet on the reprint, the fewer fans will be interested in the game. MMP's investment is like a carton of milk and it's not getting more valuable with age.

I don't think it's silly at all. Up Front is the "Squad Leader card game" after all - it's easy to see how MMP would see it as integral to their identity. And if the game has stayed popular for so long, what's another few years? It's not like war/card games are getting any less popular these days.

Quote:
You are probably correct. What chaps me the most is how simple it would have been to have done a minor re-write/polish of the AH ruleset (pretty much already done by the fan base) and simply reprint it "as is" with new rotoscoped art taken from historical photos. 150 new cards could be generated in weeks rather than years.

No real argument there. But in MMP's world, every game that isn't handed to them on a platter by Dean Essig or Adam Starkweather is a herculean task. Witness how long it takes for them to produce anything for ASL.
 
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Alex Η
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Mark_WH wrote:
MMP will reprint UF when they're ready.


But with their pace I will probably be dead by then.
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Kevin Reynolds
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Quote:
It's not like war/card games are getting any less popular these days.


I find it quite difficult to find anyone, even boardgame enthusiasts that know what up front IS, let alone want to try it out. The simple fact is, its tough to get on the board because its old, and the rules are not all that simple. This product isn't anything like ASL, as ASL has had quite a bit of support over the last 20 years. Up Front had two expansions, but they were limited production. Try to find one out there for less than $75. ASL keeps the current interested gamers interested by releasing magazine articles, modules, new scenarios, and new developments.

Quote:
No real argument there. But in MMP's world, every game that isn't handed to them on a platter by Dean Essig or Adam Starkweather is a herculean task. Witness how long it takes for them to produce anything for ASL.


I believe ASL is far more complicated, and complete that Up Front is. Sure it takes some dev, playtesting and production time, but I don't see this being any more complicated than "Valor of the Guards" was, or any other of their smaller modules. This thing could easily be completed in 18 to 24 months. They have the base game concept already, it isn't like they are throwing it together and then trying to find a theme that fits.

Don't get me wrong, I am willing to wait, if it is actually happening, but if its 5 years from now before it releases, I may have no gaming friends left to play it with.

 
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Houserule Jay
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Whatever the true reason is, it seems pretty trivial and inexusable for leaving it this long when the demand for a product is so high and guaranteed money is sitting around the corner.

I actually wrote to the Publisher back in March before I traded for a copy of the game to see if any news was pending whatsoever.

To my surprise I actually got an answer, about a month later in April.

"Its getting some artwork ready for preorder now, we hope to have it on preorder this summer. How long after that is kind of a crap-shoot depending on when/if it hits its preorder number."

This could be looked at in several ways, artwork was 'being readied' a long long time ago and hitting the preorder number if the word was out, could probably be just days and if not mere weeks.

At any rate, there you have it, might actually be soon. I doubt the preorder has been initiated on their site but then I never looked, I'm sure we would of heard something by now if it had been. Maybe more people should write to them to bug them to get the preorder started.

I broke down and traded 3 games to get a copy in the end back in March.

Jay
 
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Kevin Reynolds
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I think they will find that it will meet its order requirement almost immediately if they put Up Front up for preorder, and they don't make it cost a mint. The real unfortunate thing is that it can sit on the preorder list for a year or more before being available. If they do put it up, then I will be patient. Until then, its basically vaporware.
 
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Tom Grant
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jayjonbeach wrote:
I actually wrote to the Publisher back in March before I traded for a copy of the game to see if any news was pending whatsoever.

To my surprise I actually got an answer, about a month later in April.

"Its getting some artwork ready for preorder now, we hope to have it on preorder this summer. How long after that is kind of a crap-shoot depending on when/if it hits its preorder number.


So here, in this brief quote, are a few pieces of the sad story of MMP's ownership of the Up Front license:

Don't see the market for the game. "How long after that is kind of a crap-shoot depending on when/if it hits its preorder number." Are you kidding me? If? These guys need to get their heads out of the CSW forums and into BGG, where they might actually get a picture of how big the market is.

No sense of urgency. They hope to have it on preorder this summer? What was holding them back? Somehow, they got the gumption to put several new games on the list. None of them have the pre-packaged market that Up Front does. Crucible of Courage? New Civil War tactical game, by Berg. A Las Barricadas expansion? They're expanding a game with a tiny audience, instead of publishing a game known to have strong demand. Eisenhower's War? Apparently, they do have the ability to produce card games--just not Up Front.

No strong commitment. All caveats about the unpredictability of production schedules aside, they might have more to say about a release date. Like, say, "We know that people have been waiting for decades for the reprint of Up Front, so here's our plan on how we're going to get it published as soon after we hit the official pre-order threshold as humanly possible."

Don't get me wrong, I like a lot of the games that MMP publishes. I'm grateful for their efforts to keep ASL afloat, long after the demise of the Avalon Hill mothership. However, they act as though their target market is a small group of designers and gamers with whom they regularly communicate. Since no designer, such as Berg or Starkweather, is prodding them, there's no impetus from that side. Since their small pool of vocal fans (again, I think CSW distorts the picture) probably already have Up Front, they don't see the larger interest in the game among newer wargamers, or even people interested in making the jump from Euros to wargames via Up Front.
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Michael Novean
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+1 to what Tom said. Lets see, MMP is sitting on a top-50 game on the Geek and they don't know if they should reprint it or not? Wouldn't they get more sales from Up Front than from one of the ASL expansions?

I just don't understand their logic. I used to follow their site looking for updates but after a while I realized I was just wasting my time. So I went on ebay and bought copies of the game and expansions. So there is $200+ in somebody else's pocket.

The other thing I never understood is that MMP talked about tweaking the rules and mechanics. Just reprint the darn game. Jeez, what is it with wargame companies and their fascination with making things much harder and complex than they need to be?!?
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Davide Banchini c/o SELED
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I need to thank the man who did the new Up Front microbadge.
That's the badge I was looking for.
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Rob Rob
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It appears MMP already knows how to use rotoscope software to quickly and cheaply create powerful WWII images...

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Jonathan A.
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I started this thread - http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/101922/page/1 OVER two years ago.

I've given up on MMP reprinting this game before the Second Coming. It's just too disappointing.

That being said, Combat Commander: Europe is an amazing game. I can't compare it to Up Front because I haven't played it since the late 90's. But Combat Commander: Europe has me forgetting that I've ever wanted Up Front so badly.
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Alex Η
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If only instead of MMP UF was at the hands of GMT....shake

...or FFG for that matter devil

We are free to dream, aren't we?
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Jonathan
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It is very clear MMP has no interest in putting out Up Front. I remember actually calling their home office what must have been 3 or 4 years ago, and asking directly what the story was. The answer I got was that the art was being worked on, and it would be out soon, certainly within the year. Ha ha ha. Serves me right for believing the guy on the phone.
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David Spangler
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I think this is their standard reply: art being worked on, out this summer, etc. I've written to them two or three times over the past decade and each time I got the same response.

I think they're doing the art for one card per year....
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Chris
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Heh ... remember when this seemed like a good idea?
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