Politics as Usual Candidate Design Contest

Contest? Did Someone Mention a Contest?

One Small Step Games is offering you the opportunity to scratch your name onto one of its products. At some point, in some medium, we would like to publish an Election 2016 expansion for Politics as Usual.

To that end, we are looking for the best special powers for a group of mostly 2016 Presidential candidates, and we’re holding a contest for the best designs of Special Power and Favor combos.

If you love Politics as Usual, our fast-playing card game of Presidential campaigning (and who doesn’t?), then download this PDF file and complete the fields for the candidates of your choice.

Each named Candidate Card (such as Donald Trump) has three fields or five fields for an unnamed Candidate (such as Marco Rubio). Complete all of the fields for each candidate you wish. Send all completed files to submissions@ossgames.com.

If you have a problem opening the file, please report the issue to the email address, above, and we’ll see what we can do.

Contest Rules

Rules. Of course there are rules.

The contest starts today. The contest runs through the end of the year. We will evaluate the winners in January 2016.

If we like your submission for a candidate so much that we wish to publish it, we’ll pay you $50 per candidate.

If two people submit identical (or so similar that we feel there is no significant difference) candidates or candidate powers, and we decide that design is a winner, we will award a prize to the person whose submission we first received.

We aren’t responsible if the internet eats your submission. Don’t ask us to check to see if we received your submission. We’re busy. The process normally works pretty well. Have a bit of confidence. Just don’t get cocky, kid.

The file contains three blank candidate sheets. You can fill in your own candidates if you wish, but they must be US politicians or a celebrity (such as Howard Stern) who may discuss running for office from time to time.

You can submit more than one file, but the file is huge, so limit your submissions to one file per email.

We may award more than one winner for a single candidate.

If we give you an award, your design becomes ours forever and ever. Bahahahahahahahaha! We will credit you with the design in a fashion appropriate to whatever method(s) we choose to publish it.

Important! Here is How to Have Your Submission Disqualified!

We will reject any candidate submission that meets any of the following criteria:

  • The submission does not follow the rules of the game. If you don’t play the game, go buy a copy. Why would you not already have a copy? The game is guaranteed to start a fight when played.
  • The submission includes material we deem vulgar, obscene, or otherwise overly offensive. Obnoxious is OK. These are politicians, so slapping them around a bit is par for the course.
  • Your design follows closely any of the designs we’ve already published.
  • Your design misses some of the fields on the card. Please provide a complete design. Don’t worry about art — we’ll add that later.

So get cracking! You have about 60 days but two holidays shoot that time full of holes!

One Small Step Games approves this message.


A Favor to Ask

We at One Small Step (OSS) greatly appreciate our customers and the fans of our products. We’re very grateful to all who have taken a chance on us and participated in our pre-order projects and Kickstarter campaigns, and are grateful to those who will participate in our future endeavors.

We would like to ask you a favor.

Two disparate events have recently occurred that, on the one hand, we appreciate the vigilance, but on the other, we wish would have been handled differently. In each case, a complaint was filed with a blog or commerce host reporting an alleged infringement of OSS’s Intellectual Property (IP). In one of the events, the IP at issue did not even belong to us.

OSS is not a litigious company, and we prefer partnership to conflict where such things are possible. We choose to believe that such acts as may occur with our products reflect enthusiasm rather than malice, and we prefer to seek beneficial relationships rather than contentious outcomes.

Therefore we ask that should you see what you believe to be a questionable act regarding OSS IP, please simply contact us (rules@ossgames.com) with the information and allow us to handle it. Although we greatly appreciate the intentions of the person or persons who acted on our behalf, we would have preferred to simply have been notified and no further action taken.

Sorry for the long-winded post, but now that this has happened twice, we felt we needed to explicit state our policy publicly. Thank you for your attention.

The OSS Team

Is It Time to Change Army Culture?


“Our Army’s penchant for overdetailed, hyperscripted planning procedures—resulting in operations orders that are hundreds of pages long—is for dull, unimaginative people who are good at slavishly following a cookbook recipe. It is not for people who possess the spark of combat creativity. It is an American penchant that makes some allied armies laugh at us. It is a gem of military history that great German generals, with two or three key staff officers at their side, wrote operations orders in minutes, using the hood of their personal vehicle as a desk.”

Maj. Stephen W. Richey, U.S. Army retired, describes observed critical weaknesses in U.S. Army command selection and priorities, and proposes a few solutions.

Read More

Chess is not an RPG: The Illusion of Game Balance

In John Wick’s most recent blog post, he laments the state of many current RPG designs.

the-presidio-thumb3So, I’d like to begin by asking you a question. You’re playing a science fiction roleplaying game and your character is about to face Vin Diesel’s character, Riddick, in a fight and you get to choose which weapon he uses.

Do you pick sword, gun, hammer…

How about “tea cup?”’

OSS Strike Teams

If you plan to attend a gaming or science fiction convention with 1000 or more in attendance, apply for the One Small Step Games Strike Team! We can cover your registration cost, and can provide you with a cool T-shirt, great incentives, and a convention kit to help us promote OSS games and Ares Magazine.

As a Strike Team Member, you’ll help spread the word about OSS Games and Ares Magazine by distributing promotional material and conducting several raffles featuring OSS Game giveaways—leaving you more than enough time to enjoy the convention attractions and events! For more information or to apply, contact Mike Anderson at rules@ossgames.com.

What the Heck is Bated Breath, Anyway?

We are now awaiting funding to transfer from Kickstarter for our successful campaign that completed a few weeks ago. Then we get send the contracts out to the selected authors by flying monkeys. We love our flying monkeys.

We engaged David Wong to draw the caricatures for War of the Worlds — the game included with Ares Magazine’s Premier Issue! Sweet!

We also engaged Robert Czarny for the cover for War of the Worlds! Why is that cool? This.

Close your mouth. You’re letting flies in.

Who’s on First?

Who cares? What matters is what’s on next?

The answer to that is on our new Projects page. The Projects page hosts all of the games we are busily working on behind the scenes. Here we offer a glimpse into what’s coming down the pike.

We’ve also added a Support page. There isn’t much on it yet. If we’re lucky, maybe it will stay that way. We moved the Product-specific downloads from the Media page to the Support page.

Our Ares Magazine Kickstarter project wraps up at midnight tonight. I think we still need to raise a few thousand dollars. If you haven’t visited Kickstarter and pledged for an issue (or a subscription), now would be a good time.

What’s on next? Star Fury Genesis. SFG is a game of tactical space fleet combat in an open science fiction universe. Units are individual ships and the time scale is a minute or so per turn. Players may play the scenarios provided or may design their own. The game has a complete ship design system with a dozen ship classes. Each ship has several ratings, including Shields, Firepower, Maneuvering, Missile Launchers, Fighter Hangars, and Utility systems. Additional technologies act as overlays to a ship design to enhance or modify the effect or use of these ratings. Players can design ships and assemble them into fleets to recreate battles from their favorite fiction.

SFG covers the first century of space combat tech. Star Fury Evolution is the next game in the series. Using the same systems, SFE provides new scenarios and technology to cover the second century of human interstellar exploration, colonization, and (gasp) empire-building.

If you aren’t into science fiction, we are looking to publish historical war games again. Our current effort is 2WW: The War in Europe. 2WW: The War in Europe is a grand-strategic game utilizing armies or army groups, air forces, and fleets. The game covers the entire conflict in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. There are two players or sides in the game. The Axis controls Germany, Italy, and all friendly minor countries. The Allied player controls France, Great Britain, the  Soviet Union, and the United States when it enters the conflict.

Dig in. Enjoy. Let us know how you like it.

Vacation? No. What Gave You That Idea?

You haven’t seen us for a couple of months. We’re not sorry. We’ve been busy.

Doing what? Well, if you’ve been paying any sort of attention, we’ve decided to hide in the laboratory to create another product. Something unique. Something amazing. The new product is called Ares Magazine.

What’s it all about? It’s 80 pages of new science fiction, with some articles, interviews, and probably some advertising. Oh, and each issue includes a complete board game. Counters, maps, rules — everything you need, short of dice and scratch paper.

The financing for this flagship is coming from, well, you. We just launched AresKickstarter project and are collecting pledges and backers as you read this.

The magazine and Add-ons are heavily discounted through Kickstarter, so now is your best time to buy. The first issue will have a cover price of $30, but through Kickstarter, you can reserve your copy for $20.

Why such a high cover price for a magazine? As we mentioned, it contains a complete game. We’re not talking about some cheesy game. We’re talking about big name designers and high production values — everything you’d expect in a box, without the box.

Right now, you can only buy the first issue from Kickstarter. Sorry. We will not offer issue #2 for sale until we meet our KS goal. That goal will provide us enough backers to support a living product in perpetuity through subscriptions. So check in with Kickstarter periodically this month. (While you’re there, you might as well make a pledge or just buy one of our way-cool t-shirts or other swag.)

We are also taking reservations for advertisement space in the first issue. The discount rate is currently 80% off final prices for early adopters. You can see the rate schedule on the Ares Magazine website here.

We do appreciate your support and patience. From our perspective, 2014 is looking great so far. We hope you a safe, productive, and happy new year. Cheers!

Ares Magazine


Ares MagazineAres was a science-fiction and fantasy-oriented game magazine published in the early 1980s by a SPI, a popular game publisher at the time. It included game, movie, and book reviews, science and science-fiction articles, game mods, and a complete game in every issue.

After a dozen issues, SPI was acquired by TSR, the then-publisher of  Dungeons and Dragons. TSR squeezed out a half dozen more Ares issues, then folded Ares into Dragonmagazine. This wasn’t a good fit for Dragon magazine, and couldn’t do the promise of Ares justice. Ultimately, TSR lost interest in maintaining Ares as a Dragon fixture, and set Ares aside. The fog of memory consumed it.

From the Ashes

One Small Step has many amazing game designs in the works. BattleChrome — Zone 17. Star FuryThe Queen’s Guard.  We felt that a magazine could do wonders to support these products, but OSS would find it difficult to provide good value for consumers with a simple house organ.

But Ares wouldn’t be a simple house organ…

Could we resurrect it?  Who owns it, if anyone? Does it have active trade value?

So we began making inquiries.

Our inquiries have now evolved into declaration. We are trying to bring Ares back, with more pages, higher quality content, and better production values.

The vision we hold is for an all-new Ares magazine, published bi-monthly, with 80 pages of fiction, 20 pages of OSS nonsense, and a complete game in every issue.

If you remember the old magazine fondly, the new edition will retain the portion of the original formula that makes sense, but provide more content and higher quality. If you don’t remember the original edition . . . well, you still get all of the delicious nutrition, but without any of the nostalgia.

There are still a hundred things that can go awry with our plan, but if we can stay on course, you should see our Kickstarter program before the end of the year.