Alan R. Arvold


   As an UP FRONT player for almost 18 years I have seen just

about all the dirty little tricks unscrupulous players will use

in the game to win. The sad thing about this is that most of

these unsavory characters are not amateur players who are just

learning the game and are probably making honest mistakes. No,

these are so called expert players who have played this game for

a long time and to whom winning is everything, whether to win a

prize in a tournament, or move up the ladder in the various

player rating systems for the game. The funny thing about this

situation is that these experts do not use these tricks against

other experts due to the fact that we all know the tricks.

Instead they use them against the new players, those who are

learning and don't know much about the game. They see the

beginners as easy victories because they don't know any better.

Now this is about to change.


   This article is for the beginning player, who is just learning

the game of UP FRONT. This article will give you not only what

the tricks are but the reasons behind them, whether they are

deliberately mistinterpeted rules or the use of subtle slight of

hand tricks. It is based on years of observation by this author,

both as a player and as a gamemaster who has run UP FRONT

tournaments. This article is not meant to say that all experts

are cheaters. No, the vast majority of experts I know or have

known believe in fair play and on occasion do make unintentional

errors, myself included. No, this article is directed against

those experts who consistantly use these tricks again and again,

going from one new player to another in the quest for easy



   This article pertains to the UP FRONT game that came out in

1983 and subsequently had a Second Edition rule book published

for it, as well as the two expansions BANZAI and DESERT WAR which

followed in 1984 and 1989 respectively. It will make references

to the original errata by Avalon Hill which was published in

various issues of the GENERAL and in the Second Edition rule book

to UP FRONT, the Official Errata which is located on the UP FRONT

web site in www.grognard.com, and the Unofficial Errata which can

be found on UP FRONT section in www.grognard.com. under the

heading of "variant rules/Q&A". This article has nothing to do

with the new edition of UP FRONT that is suppose to come out in

late 2001 as this author has no knowledge of the rule changes and

reorganizations that are supposed to have occured in it.





   Perhaps the earliest trick which appeared was the playing the

Hero Card for no apparent reason. This was usually done when the

player drew cards from the Draw Pile to fill up his hand at the

end of his turn. The Hero Card can be played at anytime, even

upon drawing it, in order to unpin a man, immediately unpin a

pinned open top vehicle or buttoned up tank, temporarily cancel a

wound result, or double a man's firepower for one attack. About

half the time whenever a player draws a Hero Card, he will have

at least one personnel card pinned, thus justifying the play.

However the unscrupulous player will immediately play it upon

drawing, even when he has nobody pinned, citing the first

sentance of Rule 10.4 which states that a Hero card can be

immediately played upon drawing it, thus entitling the player to

draw another card from the Draw Pile. Unfortunately these players

never finish the sentance which states that this is done to

unpinned a man.


   So why are these people playing the Hero Card for no apparent

reason? Usually it is to increase the flow of cards through their

hand in order for them to find the card that they are looking

for. While a Hero Card can be a valuable card at times thus

insuring its retention, at other times it can be a card of

minimal value and so must be played or discarded at the earliest

convenience. Another reason occurs during the last deck of the

game if the dirty trickster is winning. By playing the Hero Card

on the draw thereby getting another draw, he is speeding up the

flow of cards in order to run out the deck and finish the game.

While running out the last deck while in the lead is a recognized

tactic and there are many legal ways to do so, the illegal play

of a Hero Card is not one of them.


   The original errata from Avalon Hill stated that one can not

play a Rally Card on a group with no unpinned men just to get it

out of their hand. However the experts got around this by

pointing out that this applied to Rally Cards in general and not

to Hero Cards which were a special case. In response to this the

Official Errata has a number rules prohibiting the illegal play

of Hero Cards, including the playing them on the draw for no

apparent reason just to get them out of one's hand. The

Unofficial Errata backs this up as well. So the next time one of

these so called experts tries to pull this trick on you, pull out

the errata and show it to him.





   Another old trick which appeared early in the game's history.

The normal accepted procedure of a Sniper attack on a group

containing multiple personnel cards has been that the PC within

the attacked group is determined first through an RPC draw, then

the attack is resolved upon that man. This order of events was

never written in the rules but was implied by the fact that the

need to make an RPC draw was written in Rule 14.2 and the

resolution of the attack was written in Rule 14.3. The vast

majority of players use this sequence and have over the years. I

have found a few players who believe that the attack resolution

comes first, then the RPC draw to determine the victim, but they

play this way consistantly. Then there are the elitist experts

who play both ways and claim that since the exact sequence of

events was never written in the rules, that either sequence is

legal. Yet when these elitists play other experts they always use

the normal accepted method, saving their sequence switching

tactic for the beginners. Why is this?


   The elitist claim that it does not make any difference which

sequence is used as the end result is still the same. This

however is not true. There are two primary reasons why which are

explained as follows:

   a. When using the normal sequence of events after the PC to be

attacked is determined, if that PC is pinned the owning player

has the opportunity to play a Hero Card to unpin him before

resolution of the attack. When using the other sequence of events

where the attack is resolved first, the owning player still has

the opportunity to play a Hero Card on a pinned PC if the result

of the attack is a pin, but he does not know whether the PC he

unpins is going the be the target of the attack or not. He can

not wait until the RPC is drawn because once it is and the pinned

PC turns out to be the target, it is automatically Panic Killed

(unless Wounded) and the Hero Card can not be played to save him

as per Rule 10.42. Thus this alternate sequence of events is used

as a ploy to draw out a Hero Card out of an opponent's hand


   b. When using the normal sequence of events, the procedure

always involves the play of two cards, one for the RPC draw and

one of the attack result. When using the alternate sequence of

events, the procedure can involve one or two cards. As the first

draw is for the attack result, if the result is a miss there is

no need to make an RPC draw and so the procedure can be dispenced

with. This will happen between 49.4% and 80.3% of the time,

depending on the Sniper Card played. Thus this alternate sequence

of events is used as one of tactics to slow down the flow of

cards through the deck.


   Now one is tempted to say "So What? What's good for the goose

is good for the gander. Not so with these elitists. During a game

against a beginner they always talk their way through the

sequence of each Sniper attack, regardless who the attacker is.

As one will observe they will switch back and forth between the

two sequences of events, using whichever one benefits them the

most at the moment. Thus as the attacker they will want to

determine the attack resolution first in order to sucker out a

Hero Card from their opponents hand. As the defender if they have

a Hero Card in their hand, they will insist on doing the RPC draw

first. In the last deck of the game if they are winning they will

insist on using the normal sequence in order to speed up the flow

of cards through the deck. If they are losing then they will

insist on using the alternate sequence in order to slow down the

flow of cards through the deck. Once the beginning player becomes

more experianced with the game and starts to insist on using both

methods to his own advantage, then the elitist will admit he made

a mistake in his teaching and that the normal sequence is the

only allowed method of Sniper Attack resolution.


   The original errata by Avalon Hill is silent about which

sequence is legal as is the Official Errata. However the

Unofficial Errata does have a rule which designates that when

resolving a Sniper Attack on a multi-personnel card group, the

RPC draw is always done first and then the attack resolution draw

is done second. The normal sequence is also the only sequence I

have seen allowed in every tournament that I have been to.






   In most scenarios there are scenario defined Cower Cards which

are removed from the game when exposed in an RNC/RPC draw or when

normally discarded by the player. Frequently these are a certain

number of Building Cards which when removed cause all further

Building Cards in the deck to become playable. As a result

players will usually try to hold on to a Building card,

preferably a -3 Building Card, to use when it becomes available.

Some players like to delay the activation of Building Card by

playing the scenario defined Cower Card as an Open Ground Card

which is legal by Rule 16.1. The unscrupulous expert has a way of

getting around this though. At the end of the first deck they

always volunteer to shuffle the deck. While suffling they remove

any Building Cards that they find, either through slight of hand,

or more often doing it openly by claiming that they had

inadvertantly discarded some Building Cards into the discard pile

when they should have been removed from the deck. In reality they

have removed every last Building Card they can find in the hopes

of making the ones in their hands the only active ones in the

game and in their possession. This puts them into a slight

advantage going into the next deck as they will play the Building

Cards at the first opportunity and leave them in play for the

duration of the game to keep the other player from getting them.


   While leaving a Terrain Card in play for the duration of the

game to keep the other player from getting them is legal,

removing cards while resuffling the deck is not. Rule 16.22

clearly states that any inadvertant violation of the rules are

considered to be legal play once the next player starts his turn

if it is not corrected before then. Therefore any inadvertant

discards (both real and alleged) into the discard pile of

Building Cards while they are still scenario defined Cower Cards

during the first deck of the game are considered to be legal

plays. Of course when teaching the game to a beginner, the so

called experts deliberately skip over Rule 16.22 as well as the

last sentance of Rule 16.1 which allows these scenario defined

Cower Cards to be played as Open Ground Cards. What some people

won't do to get an edge.


   Sadly, neither the original errata nor the Official Errata

address this situation. Only in the Unofficial Errata are there

rules addressing it.






   When a PC performs an Individual Transfer, where does he go in

the receiving group when he arrives? The crooked expert will tell

you that it goes in the highest available numbered position in

the group (i.e. at the end). Yet when you see him perform

Individual Transfers he will put the PC anywhere he pleases in

the group. When you question him as to why he will explain that

he made a mistake and that he taught you the old way of doing it

and that he is doing the new way. He then adds that it does not

make any difference where you put him in the group. As you watch

him sometimes he places them on the end of the group and

sometimes in the middle of the group. But does it really make any

difference where you put the PC in the group? Yes it does!


   In groups containing certain number of PCs, those PCs in

higher numbered positions within the group have less chance of

being picked in an RPC draw. These groups are those which contain

four, five, seven, eight, and ten PCs respectively. In a four

man group positions 3 and 4 have less chance of being picked. In

a five man group positions 3, 4, and 5 have less chance of being

picked. In a seven man group positions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 have

less chance of being picked. In an eight man group positions 3,

4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 have less chance of being picked. In a ten man

group positions 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 have less chance of

being picked. Granted in all cases it a .62% less chance but

these sneaky experts will take any edge that they can get. Any

experianced Up Front player will always puts his more valuable

PCs in the higher numbered positions within a group. This way

when a PC makes an Individual Transfer into the group, the owning

player can place it so all PCs to the right of it are shifted

into positions where they have less chance of being picked in an

RPC draw, assuming of course that their group has the requisite

number of PCs to allow for this.


   The question of where PCs completing an Individual Transfer go

within the receiving group has been a matter of controversy for

some time. The original errata was silent about the matter

although this author did write to Avalon Hill about the question

of where the PCs go in the receiving group back in 1989. The

answer received by this author was that the PCs go to the

highest available numbered positions in the group (i.e. if the

group had six men and two more transfered into it, they would go

to numbered positions 7 and 8). However in 1995 this was changed.

Thus the current Official Errata now allows them to be placed

anywhere in the group. The Unofficial Errata restores the

original Avalon Hill ruling. For beginning players it is best to

learn both rulings. The Official Errata always holds sway in

tournaments but either errata can be applied in private games.


(The controversy over this ruling is that this method allows a

player to alter the composition of a group in violation of Rule

4.25. Although the elitist will be quick to point out that it

does say that to attempt Individual Transfers is one of the

conditions for altering the composition of the group, this refers

to the group from which the PCs are transfering from, not going






   As one plays Up Front more they eventually get into campaigns

where players play a set number of different scenarios. Part of

the aspects of playing campaigns is the individual improvement

and promotion of the PCs on your roster. It is indeed possible

for Privates to get promoted up into the NCO ranks during the

course of a campaign. However as most campaigns last ten to

twelve scenarios, at most two, or maybe three Privates will be

promoted the NCO ranks. But these sneaky elitists, not to be

outdone, organize campaigns of thirty, forty, or even fifty

scenarios which are played over a period of several months. In

the course of these long campaigns, a lot of surviving PCs get

promoted to the NCO ranks thereby qualifying them as leaders.

Thus it is not unusual for squads to have four, five, or more

NCOs in their initial set up, not to mention how many more will

come in as reinforcements. Now one may ask, what's wrong with



   In Up Front the normal squad has two leaders, a Squad Leader

and an Assistant Squad Leader. When both of these are killed in a

scenario, the player loses one card from his hand for the rest of

the game as per Rule 15.4. In certain scenarios a squad may

receive additional NCOs, usually through reinforcements, which

may act as auxillary leaders in the squad to replace the Squad

and Assistant Squad Leaders if they are killed. These are allowed

for in the Official Errata for Rule Section 35. Thus at most,

three or maybe even four leaders will show up in a squad,

assuming reinforcements, during a course of a game although in

the majority of the scenarios a squad will have only two leaders.

But the elitist in his quest for the edge, will pack his squad

with as many leaders as he can in a deliberate attempt to

circumnavigate Rule 15.4. This is possible in these extremely

long campaigns where many of PCs called for in a scenario have

risen to the NCO ranks. The written rules of the game do not

provide a mechanism for replacing promoted leaders with Privates

except through the death of the leader and the elitists take full

advantage of this omission.


   The elitist, once he has finished teaching the game to the

beginner, will invite the player into an ongoing campaign.

Unfortunately the beginner has to start from the scratch with the

basic roster whereas the elitist will have a roster with at least

ten to twelve Privates who have been promoted to the NCO ranks

and all with high Morale and Panic values. This will ensure that

the elitist will have a virtually unbeatable squad in every game

he plays. My only advice to the beginner on this matter is that

if you are going to play in a campaign, join one that is just

beginning where all players start with a basic roster.


   The original errata by Avalon Hill does not address this

matter. The Official Errata only aggravates the matter by not

putting a limit on how many auxillary leaders a squad can have.

The Unofficial Errata does put a limit on how many NCOs in a

squad can act as leaders.





   There is one thing that I seen the elitist do against the

beginner in the first one or two of games they play, at least

until the beginner has a chance to read the rules in full by

himself. This is to count the beginner's eliminated snipers as

casualties against him in terms of Victory Conditions and/or

Victory Points. This is of course illegal as the last sentance of

Rule 14.4 specifically prohibits this. However this is a sentance

that the elitist conveniently skips over when teaching the game

to beginners. It should also be noted that the elitist will not

allow his own eliminated snipers to be counted against himself.

When the beginner does catch him in his lie, the elitist will

merely explain that he inadvertently missed that sentance during

the teaching of the rules. However the elitist will then show his

ability to split hairs by explaining that the last sentance of

Rule 14.4 only applies to Rules 16.4 and 16.42 which deal with

Victory Points and Victory Conditions and not to Rule 16.5 which

deals with a Broken Squad. In the course of the explanation he

will neglect to say that Rule 16.5 is an automatic Victory

Condition that applies to every scenario. This lasts for another

game or two until the beginner tries to use this phony ruling

against the elitist who then admits that he made another mistake

and that the last sentance of Rule 14.4 also applies to Rule 16.5

as well. Of course by then the elitist will realize by then that

he will not get any more cheap victories from this beginner and

move on the next one.


   There is no errata addressing this issue in the original or

Official Errata. But then there does not need to be. The rules

are there in Rules 14.4, 16.4, and 16.42. Even Rule 16.5 says

that if a player's squad is broken by losing more than half of

his PCs, he loses. No Snipers are mentioned in that rule. The

Unofficial Errata does prohibit the counting of Snipers towards

the limits of PCs one can receive as reinforcements.






   This is a rare event as it only happens in DYO scenarios with

Random Reinforcements. (A good example where this can happen is

"City Fight 501 in Four" in the GENERAL Vol.26, No.5) In DYO

scenarios, players can purchase a Sniper for 35 points and an

additional backup Sniper for 15 points more to replace the

original Sniper if it is eliminated in a Sniper Check. This is

called Double Sniper Capability. Random Reinforcements, which can

be purchased at 50 points per deck, have the ability to bring in

additional Snipers into the game to add to the one already in

service. When this happens a player can then make multiple Sniper

attacks with the play of one Sniper Card. This is called Dual

Sniper Capability (or Triple Sniper Capability if two Snipers

come in by Random Reinforcements). A player is allowed by Rule

48.4 to have both capabilities in a scenario.


   So what happens when a player with both capabilities in a

scenario loses a Sniper to a successful Sniper Check? Does he

lose his Dual Sniper or Double Sniper Capability? The sneaky

elitist says both. If the sneaky elitist is the attacker who

eliminated a Sniper in a successful Sniper Check, he claims that

his opponent has lost his Dual Sniper Capability as the elitist

targeted the Sniper that arrived as a Random Reinforcement in his

Sniper Check. He further stipulates that the extra Sniper that

his opponent purchased at the beginning of the scenario can only

replace the original Sniper that he purchased for 35 points, not

any Sniper that has arrived as Random Reinforcements. If the

sneaky elitist is the defender who has lost a Sniper to an

opponent's successful Sniper Check, he will claim that he has

lost his Double Sniper Capability because the additional Sniper

that he purchased for 15 points at the beginning of the scenario

can replace any eliminated Sniper in his force. Obviously he will

not use both explanations in the same game, but will use

whichever one suits his purposes at the time in each game he



   So what is the correct answer to this conundrum? Both the

original and the Official Errata are silent about the matter.

However the Unofficial Errata does provide an answer. If a player

with both Dual and Double Sniper Capabilities loses a Sniper to a

successful Sniper Check, he loses his Double Sniper Capability

first and retains his Dual Sniper Capability. When he loses his

next Sniper then he loses his Dual Sniper Capabilty and is left

with just a single solitary Sniper.





   The Meatgrinder is a tactic that is mostly used in tournaments

although it can be used in private games as well. In it the

player organizes his squad with a large fire base composed of the

best PCs in his force. The rest of the PCs are deployed in one or

two weak maneuver teams which accomplish little besides burning

up Movement and weak Fire Cards. The fire team will move to

Relative Range 1 (or Relative Range 2 for the Japanese, Russians,

or Italians), preferably in the best terrain they can get, where

their massive firepower will overwhelm any enemy group that

advances towards them. The fire team will not have any Movement

Card played on them after that except to remove a Wire Card or to

get Flanking Fire should the opportunity present itself. In doing

this the player is forfeiting the chance to win by accomplishing

the Victory Conditions of the scenario and is instead

concentrating on winning by breaking the enemy squad.


   This is a legal tactic by the rules. The reason that it is

mentioned here in this article is that the elitist will use

nearly every dirty trick mentioned in the previous sections of

this article to acheive his victory when employing this tactic.

For example, in the first deck of the game he will be playing

Hero Cards for no reason to increase the flow of cards in his

hand. He will insist on resuffling the cards at the end of the

first deck in order to remove the remaining scenario defined

Cower Cards (usually Building Cards) so he can play the only

remaining Building Card on his fire team. If this is a scenario

in a campaign, rest assured that the elitist will have his squad

filled with every NCO that he has on his roster. And of course he

will switch back and forth between which procedure he will use in

the resolution of a Sniper Attack.


   So what can a beginner do in this situation? Essentially fight

fire with fire. In other words use the Meatgrinder against the

elitist. This means that the beginnner will have to learn the

optimum Meatgrinder set ups for each nationality in the game.

But it will be well worth it. If a squad uses the Meatgrinder

against an enemy squad which is also using the Meatgrider, the

elitist's advantage disappears and the scenario turns into an

even game. Whoever gets the first effective Fire Cards and uses

them will probably break the opposing squad first and win the

game. Even if the elitist still uses his dirty tricks, most of

them will aid you as well as him. Thus the elitist will either

have to trust to luck to get those Fire Cards first or else earn

his victory the good old fashion way like the rest of us.





   We have explored different tricks that the unscrupulous

elitist will use to win his games. As I mentioned earlier in the

article, these elitists comprise a very small minority of the Up

Front players in the hobby, yet in some cases their effect is

very profound. A new player when learning the game of Up Front is

well advised to to read over the rules carefully and be sure to

get all pertinent errata to the game. Armed with the rules and

errata, a beginner can challenge the elitist when ever he tries

his tricks. The elitist will soon tire of being challenged and

move on to another victim. When the new edition of UP FRONT comes

out, let us hope that the loopholes in the original rules that

allowed these dirty tricks to occur are closed.