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.

Emma and Gil welcome Justin Gary, designer of Ascension and Shards of Infinity, to discuss card-based strategy games. What makes them so different than other games? How does one handle things like balance, plans for expansions, and in-game marriage proposals?

Direct download: Ludology_207_Mixdown.mp3
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Gil, Emma, and Geoff field listeners' questions in an episode recorded live at Gen Con 2019 in Indianapolis.

Direct download: Ludology_206.5_Mixdown.mp3
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Emma and Gil welcome accomplished designer Tom Lehmann (Race for the Galaxy, Res Arcana, and many others) to discuss game arcs versus story arcs and how an inflection point can help the arc of a longer game. We also get into how the plot of Romeo & Juliet compares to a cooperative game, and how game design could possibly connect to contra dancing.

Direct download: Ludology_206_Mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In this GameTek from August 2017, Geoff goes through three interesting bits of of game design-related research. Is there such a thing as momentum in sports? How does the brain react to the prospect of punishing others for violating social norms? And how does the Prisoner's Dilemma change if we alter its framing?

Direct download: Ludology_205.5_Mixdown.mp3
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Scott did some research and came up with all the different ways a board game can end. In this super-sized episode, Scott, Emma, and Gil go through this list and share our thoughts on how a game experience concludes, and how we designers can affect our players based on the different ways we wrap up our games. 

Direct download: Ludology_205_Mixdown.mp3
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Scott covers the history of the seminal board game Dune, its legal tangles with its IP, and its retheming as Rex: Final Days of an Empire.

Direct download: Ludology_204.5_Mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Daniel Solis (@danielsolis) joins Gil and Emma to talk about graphic design from a nuts-and-bolts perspective. What are the elements of graphic design that game designers should be aware of? 

During the show, Daniel mentions the website https://blambot.com for fonts, and https://game-icons.net and http://thenounproject.com for icons. We also bring up his Bird Bucks (https://www.drivethrucards.com/product/128925/Bird-Bucks) project that replaces generic paper money in games.

Direct download: Ludology_204_Mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In this special GameTek, Geoff sits down with Micha Le Bourhis of Asmodee Research to discuss how Asmodee scientifically studies people's interactions with board games.

For more information, go to the Asmodee Research website here (French only, at the time of this episode release): https://www.game-in-lab.org/

Direct download: Ludology_203.5_Mixdown.mp3
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Elizabeth Hargrave (@elizhargrave) joins Gil and Emma to discuss the design of her hit strategy game Wingspan. We start by discussing engine-building games, but we'll also touch on the benefits of a rigorous playtest schedule, the best ways to prepare a prototype, scaling to a good player count, working with Stonemaier Games, and the range of things people can really say with flowers. 

Direct download: Ludology_203_Mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Scott tells us about Icehouse, the real-time game that's celebrating its 30th birthday this year, and whose distinctive plastic pyramids launched an entire game system.

Direct download: Ludology_202.5_Mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Jeroen Doumen, co-founder of Splotter and co-designer of games Food Chain Magnate, Antiquity, and Roads & Boats, joins Gil and Emma to discuss the design of unforgiving games. What choices do you have to make when making a game that can be harsh to mistakes? We also talk about testing, publishing, and of course, hamburgers.

You can reach Jeroen by emailing him at jeroen@splotter.nl.

Direct download: Ludology_202_Mixdown.mp3
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Geoff discusses an unusual and somewhat tragic condition in sports called "The Yips." Is it mental, or does it have a physiological basis?

Direct download: Ludology_201.5_Mixdown.mp3
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Gil, Emma, and Scott talk about fun and meaning in games. What is fun, and how can we achieve fun in our games? What are games that try to balance fun within a more serious topic? And how about games that are not meant to be fun at all; how do they provide meaning for their players?

During the episode, Scott discusses Marc LeBlanc's 8 Types of Fun, which you can read more about here: https://theangrygm.com/gaming-for-fun-part-1-eight-kinds-of-fun/

Note: In the last 20 minutes of the episode, be advised that we discuss games that deal with traumatic subjects, like the deaths of close family members. 

Direct download: Ludology_201_Mixdown.mp3
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Scott discusses the history of the legendary deduction game Cluedo. 

Direct download: Ludology_200.5_Mixdown.mp3
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After 200 episodes, Geoff has decided to step back from Ludology to focus on game design and book writing. So we've gathered previous co-hosts Ryan Sturm and Mike Fitzgerald, as well as future co-host Emma Larkins and future contributor Professor Scott Rogers, for a big slam-bang going away party! 

You'll continue to hear Geoff with his GameTek segment every 4 weeks. And if you'd like to stay in touch, follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/gengelstein

Direct download: Ludology_200_Mixdown.mp3
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Geoff discusses the art of x-ray diffraction, and how it relates to board games.

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_199_Crystallography.mp3
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Gil and Geoff discuss uncertainty in games, using Greg Costikyan's _Uncertainty in Games_ as a guide. What kinds of uncertainty are there in games? How do they affect the game experience? 

Direct download: Ludology_199_Mixdown.mp3
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Scott takes a deep dive into the twisted and fascinating history of the game Othello.

Direct download: Biography_of_a_Boardgame_198.mp3
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Gil and Geoff are delighted to be joined by Anthony Giovannetti, one of the designers of the popular video game Slay the Spire, a deck-building rogue-like dungeon crawl.

How did the board game concepts of deckbuilding translate into a computer game? What advantages did the solo roguelike format give the designers?

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_198.mp3
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Geoff takes a look at the long history of drinking games.

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_197_Drinking_Games.mp3
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Gil and Geoff welcome Mikael Jakobsson and Rick Eberhardt from the MIT Game Lab to discuss their research into colonial themes in board games, and the game design workshops they run in former colonial countries.

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_197.mp3
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Scott Rogers is back with a new Biography of a Board Game, this time looking at Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity.

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_196_Apples_Against_Humanity.mp3
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Gil and Geoff welcome guests Allison Parrish and Tim Szetela, designers of Rewordable, to discuss word games. What particular design techniques are required for this type of game?


Direct download: Ludology_Episode_196.mp3
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In this GameTek, Geoff explores the connection between Ritual and Play.

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_195_Ritual.mp3
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Gil and Geoff discuss valuation within games - what are the different ways of determining resource value? How does value flow and change over the course of play?


Direct download: Ludology_Episode_195.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EDT

In this new interview, Geoff talks with Nolan Bard from Google Deep Mind and Jakob Foerster from Oxford University about their proposal to use the card game Hanabi as the next frontier in Machine Learning and AI research.

The original paper can be found at https://arxiv.org/abs/1902.00506.


Direct download: GameTek_Classic_194_The_Hanabi_Challenge.mp3
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Gil and Geoff are live at ToyFair NY with the designer of Fog of Love, Jacob Jaskov. What was his development process like for this innovative design? What does that tell us about creating narrative inside games?

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_194.mp3
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Scott Rogers is back with the biography of Merchant of Venus!

Direct download: Gametek_Classic_193_Merchant_of_Venus.mp3
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Gil and Geoff welcome back Stephen Buonocore from Stronghold Games for their traditional annual State of the Industry discussion. What trends did we see in 2018? What do we see for the future of tabletop gaming?

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_193.mp3
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In this classic GameTek Geoff talks about ties and tie-breakers. What makes a good tiebreaker?

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_192_Ties.mp3
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Gil and Geoff talk about Game Loops and how they can be designed to accomplish a variety of goals.

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_192.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EDT

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about the work of Thomas Schelling.

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_191_Schelling.mp3
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Gil and Geoff welcome Scott Rogers to discuss party games. What features make for a good party game? What are the dos and don'ts for designers?

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_191.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EDT