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Subject: Scripted vs Player Actions rss

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Hey there, on the fencer here!

I could go into great detail to explain what I want to ask you fine folks familiar with the game already, but from the title, and given this is a typical topic to come up with games; I think you already know where I'm going with this

So... what's the proportion? Between "game playing itself" (as in, the decisions themselfs are pretty obvious and merely need the input of a random factor), and players having a decisive say in what's going on.

Thanks for your input!
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The Tak
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Your decisions always matter in up front. Granted there may be turns where your best action is to discard your hand (or as much as you can get out, depending on nationality) but that's the nature of a card driven game. And since those turns don't get you closer to victory (unless you're defending in some scenarios) its not something you will find yourself wanting to do often. Your decisions matter, absolutely. Its part of what makes Up Front such an awesome game. I've only played about three scenarios for a dozen or so total games played, but they have played radically different every time.
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Martin Gallo
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There is NO scripting in the game. The action deck has no events in the vein of a modern card driven game it only has actions (move fire, terrain etc.) although there are some cards that will affect what us happening on the table (such as a a breeze which will dissipate smoke).

Each action card does contain two sets of random numbers that are used for various purposes (randomizers for combat and random position within a group).

The player(s) decide what to do based on the cards in their hands and yes as a card game you sometimes get a bad hand. Most of the time you can ditch your hand (or part of it) and get a new hand and since each player turn is not a fixed amount of time ditching a hand can represent a few seconds or a few minutes. The big exception is the Russians who can only ditch one card a turn.

Fascinating game!
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Jeff Paul
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Well, I think this is my favorite aspect of Up Front.

There is rarely a perfect answer. There is rarely a perfect decision. Up Front is about managing the information you have, trying to maximize your odds.

Do I wait for a concealment and new terrain card before moving? Or do I move now while the enemy is partially pinned? Should I rally or keep firing?

Usually every turn you have hard decisions to make.

Get it, you won't regret it.
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Jeff Paul
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martimer wrote:
The big exception is the Russians who can only ditch one card a turn.


The Soviets can ditch their entire hand if they take no actions.

The Germans can ditch one card - but they can do this even if they take an action.

And this is is the other aspect of game I love - truly distinctive nationality characteristics.
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Martin Gallo
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Whoops, I meant Germans and typed Russians.
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Mike W
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TnT! wrote:
...truly distinctive nationality characteristics.


This might represent the only "scripting" in the game. Due to the simple mechanics concerning hand size, action/discard capability, and split action cards (for example, the Russians get to move with this card, but the Americans can only cower), each nation tends to behave as those nations actually did behave. And that is a very good thing.
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WAN CHIU
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team_bonnie wrote:
(for example, the Russians get to move with this card, but the Americans can only cower)


Grognards care to share your thoughts regarding this?
 
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jumbit
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It depends on you! You can see Up Front as an exciting game of "you never know what will happen next". Just manage your hand according to your nationality, perform what actions you can when you can, and try your utmost.

On the other hand, there are lots of people who hate Up Front. "My soldiers are right there, the enemy is right in front of them! I can't fire because I don't have a stupid fire card! This game is dumb. Pointless and unrealistic, soldiers would never not be able to fire or move. All I did was play the cards that came into my hand, there were no decisions to make."

Personally I think it's a brilliant simulation of what goes on at the squad level. Read histories and you'll see all sorts of reasons why things never happen the way they should. Someone forgot fresh batteries for the walkie-talkie, supply was interdicted and ammunition is low, that idiot Sargeant Rosov is drunk again, we just received news of a major defeat on another front and everyone is feeling low...you name it. Actually I should start a canonical list of historical reasons why soldiers didn't fire or move, to definitively answer the haters once and for all.
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Hawkeye
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chooche wrote:
team_bonnie wrote:
(for example, the Russians get to move with this card, but the Americans can only cower)


Grognards care to share your thoughts regarding this?


The national characteristics are broad brush and are a carry over from Squad Leader. You may agree with them, you may not and it's easy to make a case either way, but mostly I think they give the game a flavor of each country's characteristics. The designer's notes in the original game discussed this at length and you can probably find them online.

"Cower" cards can mean anything from actually cowering to just being indecisive or not knowing what to do. The Americans are more prone to this, but also have a bigger hand to mitigate having such cards. To offset this, they have more smoke and artillery cards to reflect their more robust supply system. Some Americans may bridle at the characterization, but it seems to work mostly out to reflect American attitudes, doctrine and capabilities. I think it works well enough. Your figures may vary.
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Rob Rob
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chooche wrote:
team_bonnie wrote:
(for example, the Russians get to move with this card, but the Americans can only cower)


Grognards care to share your thoughts regarding this?

IIRC, it's part of their national characteristics. The early US troops were well equipped but green. Soviet troops were experienced and "motivated" by their Commissars.
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Roar Stensrud
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Misterhawk wrote:
The designer's notes in the original game discussed this at length and you can probably find them online.


The designer's notes are essential for understanding why the game works the way it does and why it's such a great game. I really hope the notes will be found in the new edition also. I'm pretty sure most of the people who don't like or don't understand the game have not bothered to read the designer's notes.

R.
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John Bradshaw
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stroar wrote:
The designer's notes are essential for understanding why the game works the way it does and why it's such a great game. I really hope the notes will be found in the new edition also. I'm pretty sure most of the people who don't like or don't understand the game have not bothered to read the designer's notes.


This can't be stressed too highly. The designer's notes for Up Front show you what a work of utter genius this game is. They MUST be included in the new version. Hopefully we will see the original script and then perhaps some further thoughts from Courtney Allen 30 years on, as his masterpiece is re-issued.

Some gamers at the time missed the point of a war game without maps. The soldier on the front line doesn't have the bird's eye view of the situation enjoyed by the wargamer looking down on the board. He can only see what's in his limited field of vision, perhaps seen from a prone position as he cowers behind a wall for cover. As the notes say "The position you think you're moving into (as represented by the terrain card in your hand) may already be occupied or blocked by the enemy, or the route you take to get there may be filled with unforeseen detours...The Buildings card in your hand which you thought would offer a safe haven, may suddenly appear out of reach when the enemy reacts to your move and forces you to vary your path or even your ultimate destination by discarding a terrain card on your group. Obviously we are not simulating the flinging of a piece of real estate in front of an enemy by a tenth level wizard...What is actually being simulated is the unexpected appearance of an enemy force which influences your moving group to alter their path."

Without the designer notes, the concept of a terrain card discarded on a squad was just too bizarre a concept to cope with! When I read the notes I just felt a tingle of excitement and awe at such a brilliantly conceived idea.

For example in answer to the point raised above :-

chooche wrote:
team_bonnie wrote:
(for example, the Russians get to move with this card, but the Americans can only cower)


Grognards care to share your thoughts regarding this?


The designer notes speaking of the Russians mention "Their unnerving disregard for human life", which allows them to "discard pinned men rather than slow an advance" in comparison to "the Americans placed a high value on human life. American troops were more easily pinned during combat (as shown by their lower average Morale), but under the proper leadership, could recover and advance with great effect (as evidenced by their higher Panic Values)"

It's this sort of attention to detail, without the burden of excessive chrome, that makes this game so true to it's subject as well as being VERY playable. The constant debate in wargames has always been "Realism vs Playability", and the assumption is that you emphasise one at the expense of the other. This game has both "realism" (at least as regards the feel of the subject) AND playability in spades. The only way I can think you could get a more realistic idea of what it was like to be a soldier on the front line in WWII would be to get into a time machine, travel back to the 1940s - and enlist!

It depends on the individual's taste as to whether they will enjoy this game or not, BUT, I can say for sure, that it's highly playable and is a MASTERPIECE of game design.
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Dave Blizzard
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Many have already said it, this is definitely not a scripted game. You must make lots of very tough decisions with limited information. You'll be biting your nails throughout this game, especially if you get into Close Combat. Every card turn will be nerve racking.

There are a lot of small rules so you have to play many times to remember all of them but it's well worth it.

 
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David Janik-Jones
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I've been playing for 29 years. There is no way this game is scripted ... every card you play or don't play is decisive, every one important. The fog of war this game creates is like no other tactical or skirmish-level WW2 game. It's the best wargame I've ever owned and in every game I play I see its genius.

Interstingly enough the team was fortunate to find some of the early typewritten playtesting notes and rules, and yes, I also hope Courtney's design notes and updated thoughts get into the new edition.

ninja
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WAN CHIU
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DaveyJJ wrote:
..and yes, I also hope Courtney's design notes and updated thoughts get into the new edition.


... in the leather bound rulebook!!!!! devil
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Martin Gallo
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DaveyJJ wrote:
I've been playing for 29 years. There is no way this game is scripted ... every card you play or don't play is decisive, every one important. The fog of war this game creates is like no other tactical or skirmish-level WW2 game. It's the best wargame I've ever owned and in every game I play I see its genius.

Interstingly enough the team was fortunate to find some of the early typewritten playtesting notes and rules, and yes, I also hope Courtney's design notes and updated thoughts get into the new edition.

ninja
In the early days I played with a guy who was convinced that the Action Cards were to be played IN NUMERICAL ORDER. That would have made the game scripted.
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chooche wrote:
DaveyJJ wrote:
..and yes, I also hope Courtney's design notes and updated thoughts get into the new edition.


... in the leather bound rulebook!!!!! devil


Signed by the man himself...Did I just come up with an additional pledge level?? whistle

-Ski
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John Sizemore
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I can't think of many games that are less scripted (as I use the term, anyway) than Up Front. There is almost never an obvious right move, and often one has to hope he's chosen the least bad of the three rotten alternatives available. Many times the choice is between sit here taking weak (but partially effective) fire that I cannot return, or advance to where I can shoot back without the benefit of smoke or concealment. Sometimes you can make the wrong choice and still win, but over the course of a few games (easily playable in a long evening), habitual bad play will be punished.

After the Designer's Notes, the best source I know of to learn about the strategies and decisions of Up Front would be the Avalon Hill General magazine devoted to it back in 1984:
The General volume 21 at AHGeneral.org
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dave Prasse
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Been playing this game since , what , '84 ...
Definitely not scripted ...

Agreed , the original designer notes are a "must have" ...

I have one set of the rules and all of the General articles in plastic in a binder ... be interesting to see how many of the different variants in the old General end up in the "theater specific" cards ...
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Thanks very much for all the input!!

Skipsizemore, special thanks for the link.
This game is going to be awesome!
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