for the people

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   Salon C

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_____ the people ...

"FOR THE PEOPLE is a game about the American Civil War: 1861-1865. Players take the role of either Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis, as they manipulate the politcal and military resources at their disposal. These resources come in the form of strategy cards and military units whose sole purpose is to defeat the strategic will of their opponent and achieve their politial objectives."

The game's designer, Mark Herman, makes two simple, but tellingly important design items the focus of this game. First, the designer's intent is that the players represent not the commanding generals but the Commander in Chief of their nation. The difference is that of perspective. It is a suble but important difference, as now players are less concerned with detailed maneuvers and more concerned with the national Strategic Will and management of commanding generals and resources. Second, each side's "command points" (represented by the cards) are randomly determined but the players are given complete freedom as to how to use those cards during the course of the turn. Often it is far more important to do something with those command points other than simply activate a general.

At the start of each turn each player draws seven cards (actually, on turns 1, 2 and 3 it is four, five and six cards respectively) from a common deck of 96 cards. Each card, with one major exception, has two pieces of information. The first is a number from 1 to 3 which is the "activation" ability of this card. All generals have an activation rating, from 1 (best, like Lee or Grant) to 3 (worst, like Bragg or McClellan). A card with a number greater than or equal to the general's activation rating can be used to activate that general. As the players alternate playing cards, they can choose to activate a general anywhere on the map simply by playing such a card. You are "merely" deciding where to play them. I put the word "merely" in quotes because before you play such a card, you have to decide how to play it, which involves that second piece of information on the card.

Each and every card contains an Event. The event represents an actual historic event or an event for which the conditions were ripe but didn't happen for one reason or another. Literally, the history of the war, politically and economically, is tied up in the cards. Most such events benefit one side but not both (and can only be played by that side). The events range from an allocation of additional reinforcements to foreign intervention, and perversely (from the player's point of view) the better the event the more valuable the card in terms of activation rating. Now you must decide between an offensive with McClellan and the Army of the Potomac towards Richmond or make an Emergency Call for Volunteers to protect Kentucky. Do you activate J. Johnston and counterattack Union aggression in Tennessee or do you add fuel to the Kentucky Anarchy fire? Suddenly, instead of pushing counters about the map resulting in indecisive battles you are making major policy decisions that affect the conduct of the war. A host of activities that influenced the war but are beyond the scope of the area represented by the map are covered in the cards. Kansas being admitted to the Union, Draft Riots in New York, naval activity in the Caribbean to gain ports for the basing of ships for the Union blockade, engagements against Confederate raiders on the high seas, and Copperheads in Ohio are all represented by card events.

Details of the tournament format for For The People can be found at my web site at:

 GM      Steven Bucey  [1st Year]   2053 Commons Road North, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068    (614) 577-1068

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