LEGAL TRICKS IN UP FRONT
Alan R. Arvold
In 2001, the article "DIRTY TRICKS IN UP FRONT" was posted on the Internet and almost immediately caused a backlash of anger and resentment. The article exposed the dirty tricks that unscrupulous players would use, exploiting rules loopholes that have existed in the game since its creation, to win games especially against new players to the game. These unscrupulous players, better known as Elitists, thankfully comprise only a small percentage of the total number of UP FRONT players. Yet despite their small numbers, these Elitists have wielded a great amount of influence in the hobby, so much that they have kept the rules loopholes in the game from being corrected for years, if not decades. Still since the posting of last year's article, the reported incidence of these dirty tricks being used in games and tournaments has gone down substantially. But does this mean that the Elitists has seen the light and have mended their ways? No, quite the contrary, it means that they have simply changed their tactics.
When it comes to satisfying their appetite for cheap easy victories, the Elitists have always targeted the new players to the game. These new players, usually in need of someone to teach them the game, have always proven easy prey for them. However now that even new players are on the watch for their old dirty tricks, the Elitists rarely if ever use them anymore. So the Elitists have taken a more subtle approach. They teach new players the rules but not the tactics to the game. These the newcomers can learn on their own through their defeats. After three or four games as the new players are beginning to learn the tactics of the game, the Elitists dump them in search of other easy prey. Of course before they go, they will make sure that their ill-gotten victories are properly recorded in the various rating systems that they are listed in.
This article, the sequel to last years DIRTY TRICKS, will introduce the beginner to some of the commonly used legal tricks that an Elitist will use on them to give them an edge in the game. These legal tricks (or game tactics) are ones which the beginner will gradually realize after being the victim of them in his first games and will start to use them himself as he becomes more proficient. Rather than letting the beginner play at a disadvantage in his first games, this article should help level the playing field between the beginner and the Elitist.
1. THE CROSS FIRE TACTIC
This tactic is the first one learned by the new gamer, most often in their very first game. It is essentially multiple fire attacks on the same enemy group during a player turn. The basic premise of the tactic is the greater likely hood of overall casualties that will be inflicted on the targeted group, usually in the form of Panic Kills in the second attack on men who were pinned in the first attack. In addition, the enemy player will not have a chance to rally any of his men, barring of course, the use of a Hero Card. Beginners use this tactic when they get in close to the enemy, usually Relative Range 3 or closer, where the multiple attacks by high powered Fire Cards will have devastating effects. Expert players more often start to use this tactic at longer distances such as Relative Ranges 1 or 2. Granted, the Fire Cards that can be used are weaker, but when used at the right time can be just as effective. For example, groups that are moving or sitting in open ground or -1 terrain, make prime targets for the Cross Fire tactic at long range. Beginners at long ranges, tend to either concentrate their Fire Cards with their fire group while moving with their maneuver group (fire & movement) or have each friendly group fire at a different enemy
group. Concentrating one's Fire Cards is good if the target group is on -2 terrain or better or if indeed you are performing fire and maneuver with your two groups. Spreading your fires out among the different enemy groups in order to keep them pinned at long range is desirable if you want to keep them at arm's length, especially if you are the defender in Scenarios D, L, and Q. But if you want to weaken the enemy early in the game so that he can not use those big Fire Cards when he gets in close then the Cross Fire tactic is the way to go.
When using the Cross Fire tactic, it is usually best to attack with the weaker Fire Card first. There are two purposes for this. The first being to draw out a Concealment Card so that the stronger Fire Card has less chance of being reduced when played. The second purpose is that if the first Fire Card causes no Pins, the player has the option of not playing the second one and then doing something else with his other group.
In conclusion, when you get to Relative Range 1 (or 2 if your Russian, Italian, or Japanese), start using the Cross Fire tactic on your opponent. It will whittle him down so when you close the range later he will not be able to readily generate high firepower attacks as he normally would with a full squad.
2. FLANKING FIRE
As a beginner, why is it every time you play one of those rare Flank Cards in order to get Flanking Fire on one of the Elitist's groups, that he always seems to wiggle his way out of it before you get a chance to fire? Furthermore, why when he does it to one of your groups, you always seemed to be locked in place and your group gets decimated? The answers to these questions are in the process of setting up an enemy group for Flanking Fire.
To begin with, the process of setting up a Flanking Fire maneuver takes three turns, one turn to play the "Flank" Movement Card, one turn to lay down the Terrain Card that the flanking group is going to be in, and the final turn to fire. This can be shortened to two turns by performing Moving Fire with the flanking group. (Note that the Fire Strength of a Fire Card is both halved and doubled in this case, thus it can used at its basic strength.) Remember that the flanking group can only get Flanking Fire on an adjacent enemy group, provided that you have a friendly group directly in front of it. So, what will the flanked enemy group most likely doing all this time? Well if it's moving, it can play a Terrain or Movement Card on itself and cancel the Flanking Fire. If it's in terrain, it can have a Movement Card played on it for any reason (except Individual Transfers) and cancel the Flanking Fire. So how can we keep them from doing this?
It is best to have the enemy group pinned in place, with at least two of its men pinned, when you start the flanking process. During the process the friendly group directly in front of flanked enemy group should keep firing it if at all possible to keep the enemy group pinned. Of course the flanking group can also fire too. Never place a Wire Card on the flanked enemy group unless they are heavily pinned and you can keep up the fire to keep them that way. They can clear it in two turns, one turn to unpin the group, and the other turn to remove the Wire with a Movement Card, which will cancel your Flanking Fire.
Flanking Fire can also be used as a bluff, at least the threat of it. You start the Flanking Fire process with no big Fire Card to use, but the enemy player won't know that and you may just bluff his group out of the good terrain that it is in. Also if you are playing the "Flank" Movement Card for some other purpose such as Lateral Movement or fording a Stream, but have no real intention of flanking, well you might as well declare it anyway if you can because you don't know what the enemy player is going to do and you just might create an opportunity that did not exist before.
Lastly is Natural Flanking Fire which occurs when the flanking group moves forward to Relative Range 4 from Relative Range 5, in other words it is behind the flanked adjacent enemy group. Although this does not require a "Flank" Movement Card to execute, it still requires a friendly group to be directly in front of the flanked enemy group. Also the enemy group can still cancel the Flanking Fire advantage in the same way as it can with normal Flanking Fire.
In conclusion prepare the enemy group to be flanked before you execute your flanking maneuver. While this does not always work, it is better than starting the process and hoping that the enemy can not do anything about it.
3. PLAYING TERRAIN CARDS AS OPEN GROUND TO DELAY THEIR ACTIVATION
In almost every scenario, there are certain Terrain Cards that are removed from the deck when they are either discarded from one's hand or as they come up in RNC/RPC draws. Most of the time these are Building Cards. It is to a player's advantage to be holding a Building Card when they become activated so they can play it on one of their groups, usually the fire base group, soon after the last Building Card is removed. Elitists know this and they usually hold on to one of the best Building Cards and try to get the required number of Building Cards legally removed from the deck as quickly as possible.
To help delay the activation of these, expert players will usually play the Building Cards as an Open Ground Terrain Card on heir moving groups. This is legal under Rule 16.1. Building cards thus played must go back into the deck for reshuffling, they can not be removed from the game when put into the Discard Pile. Players who have four card hands (Russians, Japanese, and Italians) can rarely hold onto a Building Card for very long and so this is a viable tactic for them. Players with five or six card hands can hold onto a Building Card longer but this is still a viable tactic as they would want to delay activation until they have the desired group at an ideal relative range (such as Relative Range 3) where the Building Card will do the most good.
In most cases it is best to just play any Building Card as Open Ground early in the game. It is not worth holding on to one. Once the third Building Card has been discarded then it is wise to hold on to any Building Card that comes into your hand because activation may not be far away. If one has multiple Building Cards in his hand, get rid of the weaker ones, either as Open Ground or as a Discard if this causes the remainder to become activated. Also keep an eye on those that are discarded so you know how many of each type are left upon activation.
Of course if your groups are already in good terrain and you do not need the Building Cards then just play them all as Open Ground. One word of warning, do not discard a Building Card if this will cause the rest to become activated while the opponent has a group that is moving and thus eligible to receive a Terrain Card. Chances are that he may have Building Card waiting in his hand. Also if you do purposely activate rest of the Building Cards through discard, have a good Fire Card handy that you can use while your opponent tries to move into his now legal Building Cards.
4. DISCARDING GOOD TERRAIN ON THE OPPONENT'S GROUP
Your moving a group to Relative Range 3 and you have a nice -3 Building Card to place on the group in your next player turn. Yet the Elitist discards a Brush Card on your moving group. Do you except it or not? If you do, that means you will be able to move into that Building at Relative Range 4 as soon as you get another Movement Card. If you don't, it means you will most likely be moving into it at Relative Range 2. You decide that since your opponent is being generous to except it. However as soon as you attempt to move again with that group, the Elitist unleashes a massive fire attack and pretty well destroys it. Have you been set up or what?
One thing a beginner learns right off the bat is the value of discarding adverse terrain on the opponent. The adverse values of the Stream, Marsh, and Wire Cards are so well known that they need not be repeated here. But what is the purpose of discarding favorable terrain on an opponent. Well to begin with, in some scenarios such as B and G where the primary terrain of choice are the Building Cards, it is a safe assumption that if a group is moving it will end up in a Building. Since Building Cards have -2 or -3 defense modifiers and are the best Terrain Cards in the game, it is to a player's benefit if his opponent be denied them. Discarding other terrain will not permanently deny them to the enemy but at least delay their use. Another purpose is to take your opponent's main fire base temporarily out of action so you have more freedom of movement. A Gully card fills the bill nicely here because it keeps him from firing against all but groups at Relative Range 5 and those on Hills. Still another purpose is to delay the use of Building Card once they become activated, for once they do, you can bet your opponent has one that he is ready to use.
So what are the best favorable Terrain Cards to discard on your opponent. Well the best is the Brush Card. A -1 defense modifier is more welcome than Open Ground and the opponent will except it more often than not. The Wall Card is next, provided that the enemy group is adjacent and not directly in front of your main fire group so you may fire on it with only a -1 defense modifier instead of a -2. A Hill Card is not a Terrain Card to be discarded on an opponent. The Elevated Fire more than cancels out the low defense modifier. A Gully Card is only to be used to take out a big group capable of putting out a lot of fire. However when discarding a Gully Card it would be best to have a friendly group on a Hill capable of keeping the enemy group pinned in the Gully. Also a Wire Card would be handy to keep the enemy group in place, otherwise the enemy will use the Gully to move up free from most, if not all, friendly fire. All other favorable Terrain cards are best kept in your hand.
A few words of caution. Discarding favorable terrain on an opponent is only done when you have the Terrain Cards to spare. If you have, say, only one Brush Card in your hand and your are planning on moving yourself, it might be wise to save it for your group when it moves. Also one should only rarely discard favorable Terrain on those enemy Nationalities which have four card hands (Russian, Italian, and Japanese). These Nationalities are usually hard up for Terrain Cards and will welcome any terrain that they can get.
One last question. When is it not wise to discard a Marsh Card on an opponent? Answer, when it causes him to achieve a Victory Condition in the scenario in question. Marsh Cards do have a favorable defense modifier, though they slow a group down. Thus they should not be discarded on those enemy groups who are at the required Range Chit or Relative Range to achieve victory in the game. However when it is your group that is in the same situation, then a Marsh Card will work just as well as any other favorable terrain for you.
5. RUNNING OUT THE DECK
A favorite tactic that expert players, Elitists included, like to do is if they are winning the game by the start of the last deck, either because they are ahead in Victory Points or because their Victory Conditions are dependent on the opponent failing to achieve his Victory Conditions, is to run out the deck as fast as possible. They do this by various means, the foremost being constant discarding. Another means is by making fire attacks which, after all modifications, are so low that they have almost no chance of even pinning a single man. These fire attacks are done against the opponent's largest group. Usually players would cancel such a fire attack, but when running out the deck it is preferable to resolve them instead, if only to use up more cards. Of course players would also perform necessary actions too, to maintain the integrity of their squads. The downside to running out the deck is that frequently the player forfeits opportunities to inflict further casualties on the opponent.
So in what type of situations is the running out the deck most appropriate? Well for one thing, those scenarios where the defender must avoid the attacker's Victory Conditions in order to win, which applies to more than half of the scenarios in the game. Of course in this case the defender need not wait until the start of the last deck to start running out the deck, he should start running out the deck from the very beginning. For another thing, in those scenarios where victory goes to the player with the most Victory Points, the leading player should assess how wide the margin in Victory Points is between himself and his opponent at the start of the last deck. If the margin is great, then running out the deck would be most appropriate. If the margin is slim, then the leading player should concentrate on widening his lead before switching to running out the remainder of the deck.
When teaching the beginner, Elitists usually like to downplay the tactic of running out the deck as "unsportsmanlike behavior". They like to instill in the beginner a sense of "good sportsmanship" by allowing their opponent a chance to retrieve victory in the last deck while they do their best to maintain their victory. What they won't mention is that running out the deck is a legal means to maintain their victory, sportsmanship has nothing to do with it. Then in the last game that they will play against a beginner before moving on to another, they will most assuredly use the running out the deck tactic if they are in the lead at the start of the last deck, catching the beginner by surprise. Don't let this happen to you.
6. THE MEATGRINDER
The Meatgrinder, which was alluded to in the previous article, is more than just a particular beginning set up for one's groups. It is a specific strategy that the player commits to in playing and winning the game in question. It is also hard to switch from this strategy to another once the game has been in progress for a while. This strategy works well in some scenarios and poorly in others, yet it is a favorite among the expert players in most tournaments.
To start off with, a player using the Meatgrinder sets up his squad, usually with a very strong fire group and a weak maneuver group. The fire group will have all of the high morale men in the squad and either the Squad Leader or assistant Squad Leader as well as the squad's main automatic weapon (BAR, LMG, or even MMG). It must be able to put out at least nine factors of firepower at Relative Range 1. This usually means that it will have one or two extra men to be able to achieve this. The maneuver group will have the weaker of the two leaders and the rest of the men who will usually have the lowest Morale/Panic Values. Many times the maneuver group will not have enough men to achieve a Victory Condition of reaching a certain Relative Range or Range Counter in the game, but then that is not their purpose. Their purpose is to draw fire away from the fire group. For big squads (Italian, Russian, and Japanese) there will usually be two small maneuver groups, the second one having the men with the
weakest Morale/Panic ratings of all. The fire group will be Group B and the maneuver group(s) will be Groups A (and C).
The maneuver groups will usually move forward first to draw fire, the fire group only moving forward only when it has a good Terrain Card (-2 or better) to move into and either good Rally and/or Concealment Cards to help protect it should it draw fire. Once the fire group reaches Range Chit 2, it will no longer move forward and only move laterally to either move into better terrain or to get a Flanking Fire opportunity. The maneuver group(s) will also cease moving forward and hunker down in whatever terrain they can find. The opponent is now forced to move forward to achieve Victory and when he does, his groups will be met by withering fire from the player's fire group, with whatever fire support the maneuver group(s) can give. The fire will become especially deadly when the Relative Range is 3 or more as the friendly fire group will now be able to fire at 18+ firepower factors and can use any Fire Card in the deck and perhaps several during a single attack. The player using the Meatgrinder will usually save one Movement Card for any necessary functions, discarding the rest during play.
The main strategy of the Meatgrinder is to win by breaking the opponent's squad. It is hard to switch strategy by mid game because the fire group will usually be the only group able to win by achieving the Victory Conditions. The maneuver group(s) will usually be so reduced by this time that they will be impotent for the rest of the game. Also this tactic only works in those scenarios where both sides win by getting a certain number of men to a certain Range Chit or Relative Range. It does not work well in scenarios where the defending side wins by preventing the
attacking side's Victory Conditions because the defending side, who would be the logical choice to use this strategy, usually has too small a force to make it work. (The attacker can sometimes use it though, if the defender is locked in place.) Also in Cityfight scenarios (B and G) both sides have access to those highly defensive Building Cards from the start and these will substantially reduce the fire attacks of the Meatgrinding player. Also when both players are using the Meatgrinder, the game will quickly bog down into a long to mid range firefight and the player who makes the most effective attacks in the game will most likely be the winner.
The Elitist will use the Meatgrinder on the beginner in every game that he can. Therefore it behooves the beginner to learn the Meatgrinder fast and then use it on the Elitist in those scenarios where it works best. The Elitist will quickly go find another beginner to beat as they do not like it where both players have an equal chance to win.
7. JUNGLE AND DESERT TERRAIN
Once a beginner has learned the original UP FRONT game then the time comes to go to the expansions, BANZAI and DESERT WAR. However the Elitist likes to introduce parts of the expansions while teaching the basic game, especially the new terrain, then playing some scenarios from them in hopes that the beginner will confuse the new terrain with the regular terrain in the game. This is easy if one is using the regular Terrain Cards to represent the new Terrain presented in those expansions. There have been new BANZAI and DESERT WAR Terrain Cards made and posted on the Internet for people to download and paste up to some spare Action Cards so that these can be used in place of the regular Terrain Cards. However the Elitist will not use these when playing a beginner.
When using Jungle rules, all Woods and Building Cards are considered to be Jungle Cards. These cards have a incoming fire modifier of -2 or -3, depending on the card, and all have a one column shift to the left for infiltration purposes. In addition to that all Terrain Cards, including Open Ground Cards, have an additional -1 incoming fire modifier and a one column shift to the left when infiltrating. (This reflects the greatly increased vegetation in the Jungle environment.) To the experienced player, this is not a problem. However to the beginner, it is easy to forget these additional modifiers, especially when playing with normal Terrain Cards, and this is what the Elitist betting on happening. Also Marsh Cards can not be rejected and thus can not be played on AFV Cards. One will soon find hat when using the Jungle rules, one must get closer to make effective Fire attacks because of all the modifiers and again the Elitist is betting on the beginner wasting time with making long range attacks that are largely ineffective.
When using the Desert rules, there are several changes to the Terrain Cards. Hills become Rock Outcroppings, Streams become Wadis, Marshes become Soft Sand, -2 Buildings become Escarpments, -3 Buildings become Cower Cards, Walls become Ridges, Woods become either Mirages or Oases, and Minefields are always used. Not only that, Entrenching becomes more difficult and there is a small chance of a Sandstorm prematurely ending the game. All of the above mentioned Terrain Cards, except the Wall, have some small or substantial changes to them. The ones which the beginner frequently mistake are the Wadis and the Minefields. The Wadi's advantage over the Stream is that it has a -1 Fire Modifier to incoming fire, no modifier to outgoing fire, and does not require a Fording action to leave it. Instead it only requires a Movement Card played sideways to leave. Many a beginner have played a Stream Card in a Desert scenario forgeting that it is a Wadi Card, in expectation of stopping an opposing group in adverse terrain, but instead they have just given that group rather favorable terrain. Minefields can be rejected in the Desert rules, something that beginner sometimes forgets when he plays it, and the intended target group ends up backing away instead of falling victim to the Minefield Card. There are many other changes to the Terrain Cards, too numerous to mention here, but the Wadis and the Minefields are the ones which the beginners make the most mistakes with. The Elitist knows this and almost always uses the regular Terrain Cards in the deck when playing with the Desert rules, in hopes of causing confusion in the beginner's mind.
The best way to avoid for the beginner to avoid this is to not play BANZAI or DESERT WAR until he has mastered the main game. Downloading and making the Special Terrain Cards from both expansions off of the Internet is also highly recommended. Once the Elitist sees that you have taken these steps he will be off finding another victim.
8. DIFFICULT NATIONALITIES (JAPANESE, ITALIANS, AND FRENCH)
These Nationalities come from the above mentioned expansion modules. These Nationalities take some experience to play them correctly and are not for a raw beginner. It's not that they are hard to learn, it's just that there are certain nuances about them which require careful play. And it's these nuances that the Elitist will neglect to tell the beginner in order to entice them to make mistakes when playing these Nationalities.
The Japanese have a four card hand with a two card discard, providing they take no Actions during the turn. However any Movement Card played on a group does not count as an action in terms of discard and Cower Cards may be discarded for free. They use Russian Split-Action Cards, break when their casualties equal or exceed 75%, and have an automatic one column shift to the left when attempting infiltration. All in all, a pretty potent Nationality. But what the Elitist will emphasize the most is the Japanese Banzai charge capability. This ability allows them to play a Movement Card sideways on a group containing either a SL or ASL, automatically rallying all pinned men in that group, and then charge either the directly opposing enemy group or an adjacent one. Upon reaching Relative Range 5 to the target group, on the next friendly player turn the Banzai group automatically enters into Close Combat with the target group without having to go through the infiltration process. The Elitist will tell of many successful Banzai charges that he has witnessed in the game, some of which have even started as far away as Relative Range 1. This is done to entice the beginner to see the Banzai as a game winning tactic for the Japanese. Of course he neglects to tell you the down side of the Banzai. So what are they?
For one thing, all Pinned results that the Banzai group receives counts as a Kill. Banzai groups can not play Concealment Cards to lessen the effect of incoming fire. Also once a Banzai is declared, Movement Cards must be played in order to move up to Relative Range 5 to the target group and if the charge started at Relative Range 1, it can take a long time to get there. This usually results in the Banzai group getting eliminated before it can get close enough to engage in Close Combat. To tell the truth, more Banzai charges have failed in the game than have succeeded. Expert players when they play the Japanese usually prefer to move up the good old fashioned conventional way to Relative Range 5 and then use the Japanese infiltration advantage to individually infiltrate and enter into Close Combat with individual men in the enemy group. When they do use the Banzai, they do it from Relative Range 5 and only after the target group has been thoroughly pinned, as well as other nearby enemy groups which could also fire at the Banzai group. And even when they do declare a Banzai charge, it's when all other methods have fail and the game is fast coming to an end. The Banzai charge is a game winning tactic in that it can win the game for either side. Avoid using the Banzai tactic until you have become experienced with the Japanese.
The Italians have a four card hand with a two card discard, providing that they take no Actions during the turn. They treat all Split-Action Cards as Cower Cards and break when casualties exceed 40%. Their groups can only use Fire Cards that are less than their total firepower at a given Relative Range. All in all these make the Italians sound like a mediocre Nationality. The Elitist however will extol their greatest asset, their large squads. The Italians have the largest squad in the game, with 18 men being about average and going as high as 23 men in some
scenarios. Players can easily make four groups with these large size squads, giving them a huge firepower advantage over most opponents. So why are the Italians so difficult to play?
For one thing the Italians have the lowest Morale and Panic Values in the game. Most of their men have a Panic Value one less than their Morale Value. This makes them the easiest to pin in an attack. Also the Italians have the Surrender Rule. In this rule a group that consists entirely of pinned men may not have a Rally Card played on them, not even a Hero Card. Only when an unpinned man successfully individually transfers over to the pinned group may Rally Cards be played on the group. Furthermore, if an enemy player successfully infiltrates a man into the pinned group, the whole group is taken Prisoner. Of course if the enemy fires at a pinned group, something which the Elitist will never do, then the Surrender Rule is suspended for the rest of the game and the pinned group may have Rally Cards played on it.
The Italians work best when fighting the Russians. The Panic Values of each man is increased by one, the squad breaks when it suffers more than 50% casualties, and the Surrender Rule is suspended during the whole game from the start. However when playing against other Nationalities, expert players always keep a Hero Card in their hand whenever possible. Thus in a fire attack, when a group looks like it will be entirely pinned, he can play the Hero Card on a pinned man which has already received its result in the attack to unpin him. Thus he will be able to play a Rally Card on his next player turn to unpin the rest of the group. The Italians are also vulnerable at Relative Range 1 as their Rifles still have a firepower of "O" and most of the likely opponents will have Rifles with a firepower of "1". The best way to get around this problem is to move up your groups at the same time as your opponents do, thus you can make the jump from Relative Range 0 to Relative Range 2 in one move. Avoid the
Italians until you are very experienced with the game.
The French have a six card hand with a one card discard, providing they take no Actions that turn. They use German Split- Action Cards and break when their casualties equal or exceed 50%. Their Morale values are about average and their Panic Values equal or exceed their Morale Values by one. Their main advantage is their superior firepower at Relative Range 1. With no SMGs in the French roster and a squad size that equals the Americans, the
French have marginally more firepower at that Relative Range than any other Nationality. This is the desired range that the French prefer to fight their battles and they are heavy users of the Meatgrinder tactic. With all of this going for them, why are they hard to play?
It is the one card discard that hurts the French. The other Nationalities either have multiple card discards providing they take no Actions or in the case of the Germans, can always discard regardless of what they do in a turn. It takes the French longer to find the cards that they seek and a French player may be without the card he needs for a long time. More often than not, this frequently puts the French in a bad situation that he can
not get out of and by the time he can, his squad will be unable to do anything because of multiple Pins and Kills. Expert players get around this by always playing cards on all of their groups, even if the Actions are not really needed. For example, they will move their fire group up to the desired range and keep them there to do the majority of the combat. As for their maneuver group, they are moving it as much as possible. Most of these moves will be sideways moves but some forward or reverse movement will be done too. The purpose of this is to keep up the flow of cards through your hand. This neutralizes the one card discard disadvantage for the most part. As always, Elitists will neglect to tell the beginner the disadvantages of the one card discard and encourage them to play the French like any other Nationality. If the beginner does this he will soon find his French squad in a dire situation more often than not. By following the above advice, the beginner should be able to play the French as well as the other Nationalities from the basic game.
9. MORE DIRTY TRICKS
Since the posting of last years article, I have received information of some more dirty tricks that I did not know about at that time. Here they are for your reading pleasure.
Dirty Trick #1: Predesignating Actions
I received information on this trick from a player in Witchita. In a player turn, a player has a choice of either
predesignating his actions for each of his groups or designating and resolving an action for one group before going on to the next group. When predesignating, a player plays a card on each of his groups or declines to which means no action will be taken by that group during that player turn. Then each group resolves its action one at a time. The disadvantage of this is that the actions (or lack of them) have been committed for each group and if the resolution of the first action produces an unfavorable result that can adversely affect the next group's current action, it is too late to change it. When playing and resolving the action of one group before going on the next, a player retains
his ability to decide what to do with his next group, whether to go ahead with his planned action or go ahead with an alternate action or do nothing. The advantage of this is flexibility. So what is the problem with these two ways of performing actions during a player turn?
In Rule 4.2 it states that a player need not predesignate his actions during a player turn. However it does not prohibit a player from predesignating his actions either. In friendly games between players, both players usually use both methods of playing their actions during a player turn. Predesignation is used when a player is going to play certain cards regardless of what the possible outcomes are, usually to speed up play. It is also required by Rule 49.11 when playing the game solitaire. Playing and resolving the actions of each group before going on the next
one, is used in all other cases. However in tournaments, only the latter method of playing one's actions is allowed, in order to keep play consistent and fair for all players. When playing for record in the various rating systems, the latter method is also preferred by expert players. Elitists know this so when they teach new players, they teach both methods but they down grade the method of playing and resolving each action before going on the next one as being "unsportsmanlike". They say the predesignation method is the preferred method and in the few games that they play with each new gamer, they fully encourage its use. Of course from time to time the Elitist will revert to the other method when playing his turn. When the beginner points out this error to him, the Elitist will make up some excuse and then say that was the way he was going to play his cards anyway. Of course what the beginner does not know is that the Elitist is using the other method in what he considers to be a key play in the game. After a few games, the beginner will begin to realize key plays when he sees them and also insist on using the other method also, but by that time the Elitist has already gone on to another victim.
So what is a beginner to do? The answer is to simply learn both methods and use the playing and resolving one action at a time method as the primary means of playing one's cards. Once the Elitist sees that he is not going to get his way, he will be off seeking another new player.
Dirty Trick #2: Counting 0 as Zero in the "0r" Column During
A gamer from Minneapolis sent this one to me. It seems that some Elitists like to count the 0 in the "0r" column as a zero when an RPC is drawn to determine the fate of an opposing player's Personality Card that suffers a Panic Kill. This of course puts the result in the permanently killed part of the column and awards the Elitist two Victory Points in the scenario. However when it is their Personality Card that has suffered a Panic Kill, they count the 0 in the "0r" column as a ten, which puts the result in the Rout part of the column and awards the Elitist's opponent only one Victory Point.
In Rule 14.6 it states that the "0r" column is actually "10 Rout". This means that any "0" result in the column is actually a "10". The reason that a "0" and not a "10" is printed on the playing cards is due to a lack of space on the card. The only time that the difference between a "0" and "10" would make is in the determination of the fate of a Panic Kill. Any number less than or equal to the Personality Card's Panic Value kills instead of routs the man, thus giving more Victory Points to the opponent. Now there is only about a 10% chance of the "0" coming up on an RPC draw on the "0r" column, so this does not happen all that often. However the Elitist always seems to like to talk through the resolution of any Action for either side and the beginner gets use to this. Thus when the "0" result comes up during the resolution of a Panic Kill, the Elitist will define it to whichever result benefits him the most at the moment.
So what is a beginning player to do? The answer is to simply pay attention when a Panic Kill comes up. If the result in the "0r" column is "0", remember that it means "10" which will put it in the Rout category no matter what Personality card is the victim. If the Elitist tries to pass it off as a zero, set him straight and the chances are that will be the last game he plays with you.
Dirty Trick #3: Switching Between the Second and Third Edition
Recently the working copy of the Third Edition rules for the new UP FRONT game was posted on the Internet. Although not official as the new game has not been released yet, and may not be for some time, these rules show the progress that has been made in the development of that edition. The purpose for their posting is to allow players around the country to playtest these rules on their own. Most, if not all, of the rules are set though and I do not think they are going to be changed no matter what other players may suggest. The good news is that some of the rules loopholes that I have preached against have finally been closed. On the other hand there were several rules changes (which are too numerous to list here) which will become the Official Rules once the Third Edition is released.
While the Elitists are undoubtedly unhappy about loosing some of their rules loopholes, they will certainly take advantage of some of the upcoming changes and claim that they are current, at least when they suit their purposes at the moment in some games, and deny them in other games when they don't. The new gamer will thus be bewildered with Third Edition rule changes that aren't official yet while trying to learn the Second Edition rules of
The best way to counter this is to concentrate on learning the Second Edition rules along with both the Official and Unofficial Errata to the game and keeping them with you at the game. If the Elitist tries to pass off a Third Edition change as part of the Second Edition, make him show you in the Second Edition rules and errata where it is. If he refuses or he can not find it, then you will know that he is trying to pull a fast one on you. After a few challenges, he will move on to a new player.
Once you have mastered the Second Edition rules, then go on and check out the Third Edition rules. The rules there are far better organized and easier to understand, in my opinion. Highlight the changes between the Second and Third Edition rules as you find them so you will know what they are. It is inevitable that they will become Official so when they do, you will be better prepared to make the transition. But until then, the Second Edition rules are the ones used in tournaments and for record when it comes to changing ones ranking in the various
There are a lot of articles on the game UP FRONT, both in magazines and on the Internet. Unfortunately, most of these deal with new rules variants or present new scenarios, with a couple of reviews included as well. There are few articles that deal with game strategy and tactics. This article only lightly touches on the tactics of the game. To get a greater in depth study of the game's tactics, beginners should read the following articles, mostly from the GENERAL magazine, which are listed below.
Playing Your Cards Up Front: An Old Fashioned Card Playing Lesson: Don Greenwood (GENERAL Vol.21 #1): This is the basic primer for any beginning player for UP FRONT. Covers most of the tactics mentioned here in this article. Also covers Scenario A, the Patrol scenario, which is the most played scenario in the game.
Up Front by the Numbers: An Analysis of the Odds: Jim Burnett (GENERAL Vol.21 #1): This article details the odds of the various numeric functions in the game. These would include the frequency of different RNC and RPC results, frequency of different types of cards in the Action Deck, and the value of the different Firepower and To Hit factors. There is a mistake in Table 3c, the number of Radio Cards per side are 8 for the US, 6 for the
Germans, and 4 for the Russians. Note that an abridged version of this article was printed in the BANZAI rule book, but for the complete article get the one in the GENERAL magazine.
Return to the Front: A Look at the Scenarios of Up Front and Banzai: James Burnett and Ron Whaley (GENERAL Vol.22 #2): This article deals with the BANZAI expansion module, including the Japanese and British Nationalities, the Jungle rules, and also deals with the rest of the standard scenarios in the game system.
There is a typo in the article, the section which deals with the Pillbox scenarios deals with both Scenarios C and O, not just C.
Moving Up Front: A Study in Movement Options: Rex A. Martin (GENERAL Vol.23 #2): This article explores in great detail all of the movement options and movement related functions in the game. A must read for all beginners.
Up on the Africa Front: The Desert War Expansion for the Up Front Series: Steve Harvester (GENERAL Vol.25 #6): This article deals with the DESERT WAR expansion module, including the Italian and French Nationalities, the Desert rules, and also their impact in the various standard scenarios in the game system.
The Long Campaign: Polishing Up the Up Front Campaign Game: Micheal Hall and Gradie Frederick (GENERAL Vol.26 #5): This article deals with the Campaign Game in the game system. It makes a few corrections to some of the rules and also provides game rosters for the British, Japanese, Italians, and French
Nationalities. Has some good tips on playing the Campaign game.
Extending the Long Campaign: Further Polishing of the Up Front Campaign Game: Alan R. Arvold (BOARDGAMER Vol.6 #2): This article by myself deals with several variant rules to the Campaign Game. The beginner need only concern himself with the first part of this article which corrects some mistakes that were made in the previous article.
With the GENERAL magazine out of print, it is getting harder to find the issues in question. A beginner should either try to get copies of these articles from friends or try to get the issues from Ebay or other auctions. Rest assured that the Elitist will never let you see his copies if he wants to maintain his edge in the game.
We have gone through the most commonly used legal tactics that the Elitist likes to use on the beginner. Armed with the information in this article, beginners can now take on the Elitists on a more equal footing in their games. I wish to thank the many UP FRONT players who contacted me and shared some of their bad experiences when learning the game, which in turn has led to the creation of the article. UP FRONT is a rich and fulfilling game and once you have learned it, there are a whole variety of scenarios and variants out there to try with it. Just don't let any adverse experiences with the Elitists prevent you from enjoying the game.