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If you are a wargame designer, then the subject matter provides a torrid and moral dilemma. I have absolutely no problem with the recreation of unsavoury moments of history. No likee, no buyee!! And if you've played [page scan/se=0009/sf=category/fi=stockin.asc/ml=20]Civilisation or [page scan/se=0893/sf=category/fi=stockin.asc/ml=20]History of the World, then dismount quickly from your steed "High Horse". All games of conquest require the player to ride metaphorical roughshod over a myriad of races. What, then, induces a virtuous outburst and a slight sense of unease. In my case, the "music" of Mariah Carey, but for others probably the individual aspects of war, where you may be responsible for a "Band Of Brothers" or Gladiatorial figure.
Gary Graber's Andersonville pitches you as close as it's possible to get to the squalor and degradation of war. You goal is to survive the most notorious US Civil War prison camp of the title using a card device familiar to players of High Society, but in a deprived society, the antithesis of Monte Carlo.
Gary's premise is to earn Survival chits as marked on the Action Deck and avoid the negative ratings, which are removed from your stockpile (seven to start). Each individual Bidding deck comprises cards valued from 1-10. If the Action Card is positive, the high bid takes it; if it is negative, it goes to the player whose bid was lowest. As a gamer who is not familiar with the German market, Gary was unaware that this type of bidding mechanism pops up occasionally ([page scan/se=0172/sf=category/fi=stockin.asc/ml=20]Medici, [page scan/se=0144/sf=category/fi=stockin.asc/ml=20]Adel Verpflichtet) but is right to claim some exclusivity for the wargame market.
Andersonville is concluded after three rounds (all ten Bidding cards are played by each player each phase). The unused Action cards are shuffled after each round, with two new cards introduced after phases one and two. The player with most Survival chits wins. Players whose stock is completely lost are immediately eliminated, and a "dummy" hand is then introduced to ensure parity in the card distribution. The other participants are penalised two Survival chits.
The wargame ethic is maintained by distinctive characteristics featured on each card. For example, bidding for a tool will provide a numerical bonus in later rounds. The other modifiers are Health, which can prompt the loss of Survival chits depending upon your status, although the Medicine card will provide relief, and the Roving Thugs who steal tools.
The games' imagery is by way of ink-style drawings and type face of the period and do evoke the card designation, such as Food, Hunger, Sanitation, Hope, Canvas, etc. The cardstock is sufficient, but devotees likely to give the game a belting should reinforce and laminate (oh, those wargame epithets!).