In September, I wrote an essay called “A Wargame Designer Defines Our Four Possible Civil Wars.” I got a lot of commentary, with some thinking I’d taken a thought exercise too far. That was totally fair until today when

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We spend $900 billion a year on defense, and these guys stormed the Capitol in 20 minutes.

The first shots of a new civil war, only one day after Georgians voted to end GOP control of the Senate, ended all civil discussion in the Capitol. The legislators had gathered to commit the pro forma act of certifying the election. Some Republicans said some stupid things, some Democrats pontificated, and Rep. Jamie Raskin got a standing ovation after his…


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We spend too much of Thanksgiving glorifying the pilgrims and not enough commemorating the lives of Native Americans. Today, I’ll shift the focus a bit by telling you about a group you’ve likely never heard of. If you don’t believe the Dallas Cowboys’ marketing that they’re “America’s Team,” I’ll give you a different option, one that shines the spotlight on what “America” really means: the NFL’s 1922 Oorang Indians.

Every word of this is true.


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It’s endorsement time! Of course, I seriously considered both candidates.

I seriously considered one a con man, a sociopath, a racist, a fascist, a serial liar, a sexual predator, a tax fraud, a mass murderer, and just all around gross. I seriously considered the other one the only choice for president. (I’m not the only one of my profession to do so: 581 game designers signed a letter endorsing Biden and Harris on our site october-surprise.com.)

Just because my choice is obvious—especially after the orangutan display Trump put on at the first “debate”—that’s voting negative. I would much rather vote…


Well, that was an interesting kickoff to October Surprise Season.

“Season”? Oh, yes. The news is shockingly unstable, with new bombshells daily. Remember three months ago when Bob Woodward’s revelations of Trump’s knowledge of the virus came out? Wait, that was three weeks ago? Right. A single October Surprise won’t cut it. There will be at least ten of them, I’d guess.

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What I would call a “logical” headline. With air quotes.

In fact, this diagnosis that Trump has COVID might be the least surprising October Surprise ever. He’s flouted mask wearing and encouraged superspreader events like the GOP convention, so it’s just karma. It’s all gonna work out terribly…


If you’ve read my essays like “A Wargame Designer Defines Our Four Possible Civil Wars” over the last four years, you know I’ve used game theory to analyze Donald Trump’s actions and many other political issues. I decided to put them into a new 532-page edition of Game Theory in the Age of Chaos. For the next three weeks, you can pledge for it on Kickstarter and get a copy sent to you and one sent to a Democratic Senator or Representative.

Or you can get it for free, just by helping safeguard American democracy.

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Here’s how that works. We…


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If you believe the polls, Kamala Harris has a better than 50% chance to become the most powerful woman of color in American history. This is an unprecedented and barrier-shattering event, one that could change the lives of generations of girls and people of color. Let’s take a look at how this happened.

Throughout this piece, I’m going to stray into areas of discomfort for me as a white, Jewish male. Can’t be avoided with a candidate this far from the norm for her intended position. I’ll be discussing race, religion, and gender as political characteristics, not as deep matters…


I’m a wargame designer. I co-developed the first reboot of Axis & Allies and its D-Day edition, made a mythological Risk game called Risk Godstorm, and burned down both the Roman Empire in Gloria Mundi and medieval France in Veritas. I write about game theory learned from simulating war outcomes. Like many people, I’m stuck on this as the likely outcome of our situation:

We’re facing a civil war.

Up until yesterday, I wasn’t thinking a civil war was probable. Then Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. With her likely went the last chance the 2020 election will end…


This week: My wife and I miraculously get a week off together not long after our 25th anniversary. We hastily plan a vacation down to Oregon. There’s one worry, though: Parts of our home state of Washington are on fire, as is much of California. Oregon could start to burn too.

Let’s take the gamble, we say, and drive straight into the apocalypse.

The sky has turned orange, and the blood moon is high at 3 p.m. Walking the dog is a challenge; running with the dog is unthinkable. A million acres of land near us are currently burning. …


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Look, Trump, he’s taking a knee!

Joe Biden knows football. He was a star running back at Archmere Academy, and at the University of Delaware, he was one of the Blue Hens’ stalwart defensive backs. As a defensive back, he assuredly knows what a prevent defense is. He assuredly knows why you might use it, and why you might not.

A prevent defense is the defense you employ when you are winning a football game in the fourth quarter. You take out your blitzing rushers who were getting you sacks and run stops, and send in seven or eight speedy defensive backs to cover all the…


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A screenshot from a video the Trump campaign tweeted out. Both FEAR and LOVE get you seven points.

“A question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with….”—Machiavelli

I’ll let Machiavelli host this column because I’m too busy watching Portland. On the streets of Rip City last week, President Trump’s unbadged federal troops descended on protesters, forcing them into unmarked vans. As the alarms went out, one protester captured everyone’s attention.

Mike Selinker

Game and puzzle designer, author, and amateur firebrand

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