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.

Geoff and Ryan are joined by Steve Kendall of the Ragnar Brothers and designer of History of the World, Viking Fury, and more, to discuss Area Control or 'Dudes on a Map' games. What are the outstanding examples? What are the key ingredients of this genre? What are the strengths and weaknesses?

Duration: 01:17:12

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_71.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

NEW CONTENT! Geoff talks with Quintin Smith of Shut Up and Sit Down about his recent experience at The Betrayer's Banquet, a Prisoner's Dilemma-themed dinner party.  Does backstabbing improve the taste of chicken feet?

Duration: 22:56

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_70_-_The_Betrayers_Banquet.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Ryan and Geoff are joined by Rob Daviau, of Iron Wall Games, and formerly with Hasbro. While at Hasbro Rob worked on a slew of games you know, including Heroscape, Betrayal at House on the Hill, and Axis and Allies.

But we've invited him on to discuss his 'Legacy' series of games, starting with Risk: Legacy, and the upcoming Seafall.  How did he come up with the idea for Risk: Legacy? What were the design challenges and blind alleys he overcame? What is he trying to do differently with Seafall?

Duration: 01:15:15

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_70.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, the GameTek players present "Wild West Showdown". Who will win this three-sided gunfight... of doom?

Duration: 07:44

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_69_-_Wild_West_Showdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:58am EST

Hot on the heels of talking about Set Collection, Ryan and Geoff tackle its cousin, Area Majority, a mechanic which comes wearing many disguises.  How does it differ from Set Collection? What makes it work or not?

Duration: 01:11:12

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_69.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek episode, Geoff talks about gamification, specifically the way that it is used by fold.it to use game mechanics to solve real world problems.

Duration: 06:32

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_68_-_Gamification.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:25am EST

In this episode Ryan and Geoff discuss Set Collection as a tool for game designers. What attributes can set collection add to a game? What are some of the pitfalls? What games have used it well or badly?

Duration 1:04:32

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_68.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In the classic GameTek, Geoff talks about Chaos Theory, and how it is reflected in game design.

Duration: 06:54

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_67_-_Chaos.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this episode, Geoff interviews Frank Merrick from FIRST about using games to get kids excited about science and technology. What are the special considerations when designing a game to be educational, fun, and challenging?

Duration: 34:15

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_67.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about two recent research results about choice.

Duration: 5:15

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_66_-_Blindfolds_and_Boxes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Ryan and Geoff are joined by special guest Corey Koneiczka of Fantasy Flight Games designer of such classics as Battlestar Galactica, Mansions of Madness, and the upcoming Eldritch Horror. The topic? Expansions! Are they good or bad for the industry? Do you design a game with expansions in mind or bolt things on afterwards? What are the do's and don't's of expansions?

 Duration: 01:03:29

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Scott King Photography, for all of your game photographing needs!

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_66.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

How are dice and planets connected? Listen to this classic GameTek and find out!

Duration: 06:47

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_65_-_Planetary_Dice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Ryan and Geoff dedicate the entire show to reviewing their top 10 entries to the Dice Tower Network / Cool Stuff Inc contest, and announce the winner!

Duration: 01:00:44

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_65.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff explores fuzzy logic and how it applies to our attempts to categorize games - and everything else in the world.

Duration: 07:45

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_64_-_Fuzzy_Logic.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Ryan and Geoff are joined by guest Mike Fitzgerald. Mike is the designer of a variety of card games including the Mystery Rummy series and Hooyah, but also spent many years working on CCGs like Wyvern, Magic, and Pokemon.  Mike joins us to discuss the early history of CCGs, how they changed the gaming industry, and what special design techniques are required for the CCG and LCG arenas.

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Nations, the new publication from lautepelit.fi. Nations will be released at Essen 2013.

Duration: 01:14:12

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_64.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Ryan and Geoff interview game designer Bob Abbott, designer of classic games like Confusion, Eleusis, and Code 777.

Duration: 09:29

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Nations, the new publication from lautepelit.fi. Nations will be released at Essen 2013.

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_63_-_Interview_with_Bob_Abbott.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am EST

Ryan and Geoff take a very high level look at the structure of games - the phases and turns that make them tick. What structures were there in ancient games? How has this changed over time? How does the structure selected by the designer influence the game experience?

We also launch our portion of the big Dice Tower Network contest! Big prizes at stake!

Duration: 01:17:47

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Nations, the new publication from lautepelit.fi. Nations will be released at Essen 2013.

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_63.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff shares a technique for making it simpler to calculate probabilities in your head.

Duration: 06:06

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_62_-_Flipping_Probability.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Ryan and Geoff are joined by John Meindersee of Campfire Creations, to talk about the special challenges in creating digital versions of boardgames.  Campfire Creations developed the iOS version of Stone Age, and John shares the details of the challenges and opportunities that presented.

Duration: 1:16:04

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_62.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:40am EST

Meaningful decisions are what drive deep strategy games. But can there be too much of a good thing? Can having too many choices hinder our ability to make good, or any, decisions?

Duration: 06:42

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_61_-_Choices.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this third listener question episode, Ryan and Geoff respond to a veritable panoply of user questions, and field them with their usual combination of aplomb and pithy aphorisms.

Duration: 1:04:57

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_61.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about PokerBots: How they are programmed, why they're a problem, and how to detect them.

Duration: 04:54

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_60_-_PokerBots.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Rules! Every game has them, but they are a big source of gamer frustration.  Ryan and Geoff put their heads together to come up with rules for rules.

What makes for a good set of rules? What are common pitfalls? How should they be structured? What should be highlighted? 

Duration: 01:13:35

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_60.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about the difference between playing a human vs an AI opponent. Do we act and feel differently about the game? If so, why?

Duration: 5:58

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_59_-_Man_vs_Machine.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

As humans we overvalue losing something and undervalue gaining it. This is called Loss Aversion, and is a well studied psychological effect.

How do games incorporate Loss Aversion? How does it affect us as players, and how can game designers use it to create a more emotional and engaging experience?  When can Loss Aversion hurt a game rather than help it?

Duration: 58:22

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_59.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek episode, Geoff discusses long games and how to keep players engaged for many hours. What are the different types of engagment, which are effective, and which are mentally taxing?

Duration: 05:52

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_58_-_Player_Engagement.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:13am EST

Ryan proposes a radical change to the mechanics of Trading in the Mediterranean to simplify and smooth our the gameplay, and Geoff wants to talk about it.  Will it throw the baby out with the bathwater? What is the heart of the game?

Duration: 1:16:05

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_58.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:41am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at car washes and the Endowed Progress Effect. How can we use it to get players more engaged in a game?

Duration: 05:30

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_57_-_Endowed_Progress.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Ryan and Geoff tackle the concept of an 'objective' in a game - not just end game objectives, but techniques for building a series of mini-objectives to keep the player engaged and the game moving forward.

What types of objectives work well? What is the difference between public, private, and hidden objectives, and how do those interact?

Duration: 01:17:54

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_57.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about how businesses are trying to use games to appeal to customers.

Duration: 07:25

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_56_-_Gamification.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:56am EST

Licnesed games like X-Wing and the upcoming Star Trek: Attack Wing are hugely popular. But how is designing a game with a license different?  Ryan and Geoff are pleased to welcome back guest Andrew Parks to delve into these questions. Andrew is the designer of a wide variety of licensed games, including The Nightmare Before Christmas TCG, 300, Hogwarts House Cup, Hunger Games District 12, and the upcoming Star Trek: Attack Wing.

How do you invoke the theme of the licensed property? Does it make game design simpler or more challenging? How much is dictated by the licensing company?

Answers to all of these questions, plus tons of spoilers about Attack Wing and a very special Core Worlds reveal!

Duration: 01:02

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_56.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff looks at intransitive dice - Dice where die A tends to beat die B, which tends to beat die C, which tends to beat die A.

This was a big topic of discussion on the Dice Tower form when it was first released, so please continue the conversation over on the Ludology forums!

Duration: 08:28

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_55_-_Intransitive_Dice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:51pm EST

Ryan and Geoff reivew the status of "Trading in the Mediterranean", their publicly-developed board game. After talking about the current version and how it has evolved, they talk about what's working and what's not, and how to fix it.

Duration: 01:13:50

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Sissyfight 2000, now on Kickstarter!

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_55.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff interviews Gil Hova, who designed the game Prolix, about the different concerns in designing a word game versus other genres of games.

Duration: 26:35

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_54_-_Designing_Word_Games.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Ryan and Geoff discuss the interplay between short and long-term objectives in games. How can designers use these to create a richer game experience? What impact do they have on complexity and the learning curve?

Duration: 01:04:15

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Relic Expedition, currently on Kickstarter!

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_54.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff continues talking about Entanglement and quantum physics by introducing the game Quantum Tic-Tac-Toe.  Check out the full rules on Wikipedia, which also links to several online implementations.

Duration: 06:54

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Relic Expedition, currently on Kickstarter!

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_53_-_Quantum_Tic-Tac-Toe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:08am EST

This special episode of Ludology is a recording of a game design panel Geoff particiated in at PAX East 2013, in Boston. The topic was "Impact of Video Game Design Techniques on Board Games".

Joining Geoff were Christopher Badell, designer of Sentinels of the Multiverse, Colby Dauch, designer of Summoner Wars, Matt Morgan, writer for Wired GeekDad, and Russ Wakelin of the D6 Generation.

Duration: 1:05

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Relic Expedition, currently on Kickstarter!

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_53.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic Gametek, Geoff talks about Entanglement, Quantum Mechanics, and why our intuition about probability can be woefully incorrect. One of Geoff's favorite episodes!

Duration: 09:00

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Relic Expedition, currently on Kickstarter!

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_52_-_Entanglement.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

This episode Ryan and Geoff tackle games that feature negotiation, either as a designed-in feature, or a by-product of the player interactions. What features make for a great negotiation game?  What types of player experiences can they engender? Can Ryan get Geoff to agree to anything?

Duration: 1:13:10

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Relic Expedition, currently on Kickstarter!

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_52.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff examines regret - why we would rather not make a choice at all, rather than make it and have it not work out.

Duration: 6:26

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_51_-_Regret.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Ryan and Geoff return with the second half of their new games for 2012. Plus their top picks for the year!

Duration 1:20:55

This episode is sponsored by the game Influence, now on Kickstarter!

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_51.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff introduces the Monty Hall problem, an old chestnut that never fails to amaze those who have not heard it before.

Duration: 08:25

This episode is sponsored by the game Influence, now on Kickstarter!

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_50_-_Monty_Hall.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

To celebrate the 50th episode of Ludology, Ryan and Geoff talk about 50 games that were new to them in 2012:  The good, the bad, and the design features that stood out.

Duration: 1:10

This episode is sponsored by the game Influence, now on Kickstarter!

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_50.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:07am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about Martin Gardner, who wrote the Mathematical Games column for Scientific American magazine from the mid 50's to the 1980's, and passed away in 2010.

Duration: 06:36

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_49_-_Martin_Gardner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Ryan and Geoff are joined by guest Zack Johnson, designer of the online game Kingdom of Loathing, to discuss the use (and misuse) of humor in games. How is humor used in games? Are there special considerations for making a game funny? Is Geoff capable of telling a joke?

Duration: 58:40

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_49.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a close look under the hood at the Reiner Knizia game High Society, to tease out what makes it such a dynamic and engaging design.

Duration: 6:35

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_48_-_High_Society.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:43am EST

No, not listener feedback - Feedback loops. What are the different types of feedback, and how do designers incorporate them into games? Do certain types of games benefit from feedback? Is feedback necessary for a rich game experience?

Duration: 1:06

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_48.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this GameTek from 2010, Geoff and his son Brian talk about what they are worried about as their game The Ares Project nears publication. Special bonus recap of how on target we were!

Duration: 8:50

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_47_-_Worrying.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:23am EST

In our first episode of the new year, we are joined by the godfather of gaming, Tom Vasel, to dissect 2012 and speculate on the direction of the industry in the upcoming year.

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_47.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EST