Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Political Bunker: Fallout

I usually wait a few days before posting after an election, because votes continue to come in (deadline was postmarked on Election Day), and there are usually one or two contests that are close enough to wait things out. and even in this small but important collection of contests, this has happened. So take a look.

King County Proposition No. 1 Regular Property Tax Levy Automated Fingerprint Identification System Services - Approved. Here's an interesting factoid. The tax is a LOWER percentage than the last time around, because property values have gone up. Which means they can get the same amount of money from lower rates. You're still paying more money, if you're a property owner, because the property is supposedly worth more.

United States Senator - Maria Cantwell came in with 55%of the vote. Now, in a primary, 50%+ is considered "comfortable". This is a pretty good indicator, with the fact there were 28 OTHER candidates in the race (because there were no other big state races for Goodspaceguy to run in). The Republican standard-bearer, Trump-apologist Susan Hutchinson, got 24%, which bodes ill for the GOP.

United States Representative District 9 -  Here's the one that was hanging fire, and I will admit it surprised me as well. Incumbent Adam Smith looked like he would square off against perennial opponent Doug Basler, but a late surge put progressive Sarah Smith in the number two position. So we have a situation for a US posting with .... no Republicans. I see this one as a win-win situation.

State Legislature District No. 11, positions 1 and 2 - Zack Hudgins and Steve Berquist -  but they were unopposed, so that should not be a question.

Elsewhere?

Steve Hobbs won the 44th with 55%, which is good for a incumbent, more challenging for his opponent.

US Representative District No.  8  - Dino Rossi versus Kim Schrier (likely - this one is truly hanging fire, and we may have to wait until Monday to get the final). Dino got a tepid 43% percent, which makes him vulnerable (more so as primaries do well for Republican, while the general tends to get more people, and therefore more Dems). Mr Rossi, who has traditionally depended on saying little and letting the Seattle Times do his dirty work, has his job cut out for him. Good thing he has a lot of out of state money to work with.

Actually, across the state, the Republicans have, to be kind, "underperformed". Stalwarts are getting lower numbers, and districts that have been reliably red are considered suddenly in play. The supposed "Blue Wave" seems to be alive and well in Washington, but in all things politics, it all depends on what happens between now and November.

That's it until the ballots for the general election drop. See you then.

More later,

Friday, August 03, 2018

The Gaming News

Ah, GenCon weekend. Not going this year, but when I do go, I hunt down the small companies that I have never heard of before and check out their projects. These days, with the Internets and the Amazons, the throw-weight of smaller companies is a lot greater, but the chance to actually physically check out the product before purchase has a thrill. Also, the person you're buying it from may just be the designer.

Yet with GenCon there has been a sudden wave of activities on the Kickstarters and elsewhere for new products, many of which by people I know and some of which I have actually supported. Let's take a look.

First off, Let me start off with a Humble Bundle. Humble Bundles are collections of electronic media (games, pdfs, e-books) that are offered a low, low price (though you can make it higher and get more). The proceeds go to good causes. In this case the causes are Girls Make Games and Girls Who Code, both of which work to expand gender diversity in pretty male-overwhelmed areas. The books are a huge selection of books on game design, some of which I own, and some of which I have contributed to. AND this particular bundle has new, just published material by Mike Selinker.

If you're also looking for more books about games, take a gander at Your Best Game Ever from our friends at Monte Cook Games. It not rules for playing a game, but advice on how to use those rules for, well, your best game ever. Usable both by new players and old, YBGE is already blowing up in funding. Plus, if you want rules with your tools, they are offering the revised Cypher System Rulebook, which is MCG's "universal" system. Check it out.

Also in Kickstarter (and blowing up even bigger) is The Expanse RPG. I got into The Expanse from the Lovely Bride - she tends to Tivo entire seasons and binge-watch, and my attention is collateral damage (I would walk into the room, sit down, and then cross-examine her at the commercial breaks). It's a great TV show, but it is based on books (no, really, books. With words and letters and chapter and everything). And The Expanse RPG is based on those books. It uses Green Ronin's AGE system, but sounds like it has a couple neat tweaks to it.

Also on the Kickstarter is Demon City, by Zak Smith. Call it experimental gestalt weird fantasy. Call it millennial urban horror. I really liked both the presentation and the content of Red and Pleasant Land (Alice's adventures in a D&D universe - better than the old Through the Magic Mirror), and Maze of the Blue Medusa (which neatly juggles a bunch of different subplots into one major adventure). Both readable and playable. So I expect to like this as well.

Staying with Kickstarter, but moving into the past, Steve Jackson is bringing back The Fantasy Trip, which was one of those foundational games back in the early days of D&D/ Originally micro-games with paper chips and maps, it was a hex-based combat game that simply recapitulated the nature of fantasy combat. At a time when D&D options were just starting to sprout up, it took the dungeon to the boardgame long, long before 4th Edition. I think I still have a copy or two in the basement. This looks like a faithful recreation of the original, more of an update than a complete revision.

And ALSO from Kickstarter AND with a healthy whiff of updated nostalgia, we have Over the Edge, which back in the day was a brilliant combo of mechanics and world-building. Imagine D&D if Hunter Thompson had teamed up with Gygax and Arneson, and if Bill Burroughs replaced Edgar Rice Burroughs in Appendix N. Unlike The Fantasy Trip, this is an all-new edition set on the island nation of Al Amarja, and I want to see what they've done with it.

Fine, you want some games that are already finished and available? Do you have IOs on your tablet or phone? Take a look at the Cthulhu Chronicles, which gives you solitaire adventures in the Mythos/ There are both transposed Call of Cthulhu adventures (Alone against the Flames) and original material here. The first three sanity-shattering adventures for the day are free! The classic nature of the old choose-your-own-adventure books with modern-age technology! Indulge your Lovecraftian desires!

And since I'm still talking about games, how about some fanzines? I would mention both Warlock #6 (from Kobold Press) which deals with the City of Brass and The Excellent Traveling Volume #8, a wonderful Empire of the Petal Throne 'zine. The mere fact I have articles in both of them has nothing to do with my hearty recommendation.

And finally, let me mention Dungeons & Dragons Art and Arcana: A Visual History, which is NOT out yet, will prove to be the ultimate source for art in the golden age of TSR. The authors are recognized masters in reporting the history of D&D, and, I am have been informed, the book will include several pieces of art from the Private Collection at Grubb Street. I'm really looking forward to this!

And with that, the Gaming News wraps up. More later,