Welcome to Ludology, an analytical discussion of the how’s and why’s of the world of board games. Rather than news and reviews, Ludology explores a variety of topics about games from a wider lens, as well as discuss game history, game design and game players.

Ludology is made possible by the support and donations of listeners like you.

Have your own thoughts about our topics? We encourage you to visit us at our guild on Boardgamegeek to get involved in a continuing discussion.

You can also email us at gil@ludology.net or geoff@ludology.net.

Ludology is part of The Dice Tower Network, the premier board game media network.

Are the kids out of school yet? If so, here's a bonus GameTek that is sure to keep their math skills freshly honed during the break. Geoff discusses how to estimate the 'Expectation Value' and how you can use that to help your gaming.

Direct download: Ludology_-_GameTek_Classic_-_Expectation_Value.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00pm EDT

Ryan and Geoff are pleased to be joined by special guest Phil Eklund, designer of many games including High Frontier and Origins: How We Became Human.  

We discuss designing games as simulations, rather than just as games. What are the specific design challenges that are faced? How do you balance accuracy, playability, and fun?  And can novel things be learned from a game?

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_22.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:02pm EDT

Following up on the last bonus GameTek episode about Regression Towards the Mean, Geoff discusses the USCF chess rating system with it's developer, Dr. Mark Glickman.  How are they calculated? How is the system designed to prevent 'gaming' the system? And once again we tackle the question of how you know if you're getting better or not.

Direct download: Ludology_-_GameTek_Classic_-_Chess_Ratings.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:03am EDT

It's Thanksgiving in the USA, so everything is bigger than usual. In this supersized 90 minute Ludology, Ryan and Geoff tackle the question of innovation in games. Where does innovation come from? What games are innovative and which build on existing mechanics?  Is it possible for a game to be too innovative?

Plus Ryan and Geoff reveal their picks for the most innovative game of the modern era. Do you agree?

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_21.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:31am EDT

Why do we get worse after we get better? In this classic GameTek Geoff explores the concept of 'Regression Towards the Mean', and tries to figure out how we can really tell if we're improving or just getting lucky.

Direct download: Ludology_-_GameTek_Classic_-_Regression_Towards_the_Mean.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:39pm EDT

In the episode, Geoff & Ryan discuss Victory Points - What are the different ways they are used? What works and what doesn't? Are they a crutch for lazy design or a useful tool in the arsenal of the game designer?

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_20.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:47am EDT

In this classic GameTek Geoff talks about Group Think in games - what causes it, and different ways to think about it.

Direct download: Ludology_-_GameTek_Classic_-_Group_Think.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:20pm EDT

With Geoff out of commission due to a freak snowstorm, Mark Johnson steps up to the plate to join Ryan in a discussion of two versus three player games. What are the differences? What design choices does player count present the designer? 

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_19.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:06pm EDT

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses shuffling - A little of the math behind it, how online shuffling works, and a brief glimpse into the science of thermodynamics. Not bad for five minutes!

Direct download: Ludology_-_GameTek_Classic_-_Shuffling.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00am EDT

Ryan and Geoff interview Dr. Luke Rendell of the University of St. Andrews.  Dr. Rendell's team conducts research on social learning and the spread of ideas and culture throughout society. To assist in their reserach they ran a tournament in 2009 where anyone could submit a strategy to play a game based on social learning.

Dr. Rendell is now sponsoring a new tournament with some added depth to the game, this time with a 25,000 euro prize. for the best solutions.

We invited Dr. Rendell to join us to discuss the role of gaming in research, what they have learned from the prior tournament, and possible pitfalls.

If you are interested in learning more about the competition, including full game rules, please check out the link here.

Note that this time they are having a special 1,000 euro prize for the best performing strategy submitted by a a school class (through high school), so if you are a teacher this may be an excellent project for a group of interested students.

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_18.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT