467 episodes

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, and discusses game history, game design and game players.

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

Ludology Gil Hova and Emma Larkins

    • Games
    • 4.8 • 319 Ratings

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, and discusses game history, game design and game players.

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

    GameTek Classic 241.5 - The Elam Ending

    GameTek Classic 241.5 - The Elam Ending

    Geoff takes us through what he (and many other people) feel is a flaw in the rules of basketball, and a possible solution that was first implemented by a new league in 2018. The Elam Ending is designed to eliminate the incentive for teams trailing on the scoreboard to constantly, intentionally foul the leading team, making for a more consistent and fun game to watch.
    This GameTek Classic was recorded in 2018; since then, the NBA used the Elam Ending for the 2020 All-Star Game, although they added 24 points (in honor of Kobe Bryant) and played the entire fourth quarter without a clock. The trailing team won.
    Read an interview with Nick Elam. 
    Watch a couple of examples of the Elam Ending in action: the end of the 2019 Basketball Tournament semifinals, and the end of the aforementioned 2020 NBA All-Star Game.

    • 6 min
    Ludology 241 - A Different Kind of Year

    Ludology 241 - A Different Kind of Year

    We continue our annual tradition of bringing board game industry veteran Stephen Buonocore, now retired from Stronghold Games/Indie Game Studios and focusing on media and podcasting. We explore the bizarre, catastrophic year of 2020, and consider what's in store for us in 2021.
    Note that this episode was recorded on Monday, November 30, 2020; we occasionally say "this year" to mean 2020 instead of 2021.
    6m24s: "Travis" is Travis Worthington, CEO of Indie Game Studios.
    9m00s: Back the Comeback is a movement to keep comic and game stores alive during the pandemic.
    13m26s: Gravitation Games (who did not release their first game on Kickstarter), Chris Solis' Solis Game Studio, and NewMill Industries.
    18m58s: More info about the idea of flight-to-quality.
    22m04s: You can hear more from Luke Crane and Anya Combs on Ludology 223 - Kick Out the Jams.
    27m41s: You can play Codenames online here.
    29m13s: Tim Hutchings' 1000 Year Old Vampire, Travis Hill's zine games, Jeeyon Shim's games about nature and survival.
    32m47s: Our socially-distanced Gen Con 2020 live show, Gil's blog post about online conventions. 
    33m46s: Gil's thoughts here were really driven by Jeff Tidball's blog post here.
    40m13s: Castle Tricon
    42m01s: Board Games Insider
    43m06s: Some board game Twitch streamers: The Brothers Murph, Ruel Gaviola, Board Game Blitz
    46m17s: Our Family Plays Games, Before You Play
    1h04m59s: Stephen's Facebook, website, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

    • 1 hr 7 min
    Ludology 240 - Are You Receiving Me?

    Ludology 240 - Are You Receiving Me?

    Emma and Gil welcome Adrienne Smith, designer of the card game Blitz Champz and wide receiver for the Boston Renegades women's gridiron football team. We discuss the intersection of mass market, kids, and sports game design, the state of women's football in modern America, and serial entrepreneurship.
    This episode was recorded on November 16, 2020. A couple of weeks later, Vanderbilt brought their varsity women's soccer goalie, Sarah Fuller, onto their men's football team as a kicker.
    Note: This will be the last Ludology episode of 2020! We are taking our annual winter break, during which time there will be no episodes of Ludology, Biography of a Board Game, or GameTek. We will return on January 10, 2021 with our annual "State of the Industry" episode with the Podfather, Stephen Buonocore.
    2m05s: Wondering how you can throw a spiral?
    3m18s: Adrienne played for the New York Sharks. Here's the web page for the IFAF.
    3m56s: More information about Jen Welter, the first female coach in the NFL.
    5m14s: Gil wrote a Twitter thread about the history of women in football after the news about Sarah Fuller broke.
    5m46s: Women's old-school football pants, versus MC Hammer's pants.

    8m03s: The Women's Football Alliance, and the Women's National Football Conference
    10m17s: More info about Ultimate, originally called Ultimate Frisbee.
    10m42s: More info about Ultimate Hall of Famer Molly Goodwin.
    14m00s: Adrienne is correct! The periodic table of the elements was first envisioned by Dmitri Mendeleev. Said he, "I saw in a dream a table where all elements fell into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper, only in one place did a correction later seem necessary."
    21m56s: You can hear more from our interview with graphic/game designer Daniel Solis on Ludology 204 - The Eyes Have It.
    25m23s: Here's a closer look at Adrienne's "Passing TD" card.

    27m26s: You can hear more from our interview with mass market toy/game designer Kim Vandenbrouke on Ludology 212 - Inventing Play.
    29m47s: Here's a clip of the amazing Kyler Murray "Hail Mary" pass that somehow landed in D'Andre Hopkins' arms. This happened the day before we recorded. (I do not recommend Bills fans clicking on that link.)
    34m28s: Adrienne is talking about New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, winner of 6 Super Bowls. 
    42m46s: More info about Gotham Girls' Roller Derby, the NYC-based roller derby organization. (There are other fantastic roller derby organizations around the world, like the world #1-ranked Rose City Rollers in Portland, OR, and the world #2-ranked Victorian Roller Derby League in Melbourne, Australia, all run by the Women's Flat Track Derby Association.)
    44m17s: You can hear more about Omari Akhil's views on the intersection of sports and games in Ludology 233 - A Sporting Chance. 
    55m26s: The legendary arcade game Galaga.
    58m37s: It may not have been a tornado that hit NYC on November 15, but it seems to have come very close to one.
    1h07m49s: More info about Title IX, passed in the US in 1972, which prohibits discrimination in education based on sex. The upshot of this is that for most sports, if a school wanted to field a men's team in a given sport, they had to field a women's team as well. 
    1h09m03s: Pop Warner Football is a US organization for youth football, roughly equivalent to Little League baseball. It's named for legendary coach Pop Warner. Also, more information about Utah Girls Tackle Football.
    1h10m51s: If you want to know more about minorities in the middle ages, a great place to start is People of Color in European Art History.
    1h13m48s: Here's Adrienne's Instagram page.

    • 1 hr 16 min
    Biography of a Board Game 239.5 - Dark Tower

    Biography of a Board Game 239.5 - Dark Tower

    Scott takes us through the history of Dark Tower, the legendary electronically-enhanced board game, and its modern spiritual successor, Return to Dark Tower. The story's twists and turns include every designer's worst nightmare: a huge company stealing a designer's idea and making it their own.
    Wilderness Campaign, the Apple II game that helped inspire Dark Tower: https://www.mobygames.com/game/wilderness-campaign
    Fan page with all sorts of info: https://well-of-souls.com/tower/index.html
    Ruling on Burten v. Milton Bradley Co.: https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/592/1021/1816724/
    An article on the game's original release: https://www.nytimes.com/1981/09/23/business/new-bradley-game-tests-fickle-market.html
    Dark Tower commercial with Orson Welles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3HVCwPp7j0

    • 14 min
    Ludology 239 - Words at Play

    Ludology 239 - Words at Play

    Emma and Gil welcome Kathryn Hymes and Hakan Seyalıoğlu to the show to discuss the impact of language on play, and how to design games that revolve around the building, modification, and demise of a language.
    2m52s: Here's the Kickstarter for Thorny's new game Xenolanguage.
    6m45s: Among Us is a social deduction digital game that, after a quiet two years on the market, suddenly blew up on Twitch and is now extremely popular. US congressional representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made headlines when she played the game live on Twitch with several popular streamers (and fellow representative Ilhan Omar, who turned out to be very good at the game). 
    9m09s: Myst
    9m36s: Here's our episode on the Incan Gold experiment, run by Dr. Stephen Blessing of the University of Tampa.
    15m43s: Dialect (Watch a playthrough with Hakan here)
    20m33s: The earliest instance that the OED has found of the singular "they" is from 1375.
    38m47s: Gil, Geoff, and Scott dug deep into party game design in Ludology 190 - The Life of the Party.
    45m15s: Sign
    49m47s: More info about the fascinating instrument known as the theremin.
    52m54s: The instrument called the ondes Martenot (Gil apologies profusely to all French listeners for his poor pronunciation skills!). You can see its inner workings discussed here (video in French with English subtitles). You can hear it as one of the instruments in this absolutely wild Edgard Varése composition.
    55m18s: More info on Code Talkers and how they helped transmit encoded messages in wartime.
    56m01s: Here's a thread with Magic fans playing the translation game on Jace.
    56m35s: Kathryn's GDC talk on artifacts of play.
    58m07s: A Fake Artist Goes to New York
    58m48s: Fall of Magic
    59m15s: Qwixx
    1h08m18s: A Buzzfeed article (forgive me) on how red Solo cups are viewed outside the US as a uniquely American symbol. 
    1h08m38s: Thorny Games on the web and Instagram. Also, you can find Kathryn and Hakan on Twitter.

    • 1 hr 10 min
    GameTek Classic 238.5 - Induction

    GameTek Classic 238.5 - Induction

    Geoff discusses the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning, and its impact in board games and beyond.
    In this episode, Geoff discusses the games Clue/Cluedo, Mastermind, and Zendo. He also discusses dark matter, WIMPs, and Einstein's theory of relativity.

    • 7 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
319 Ratings

319 Ratings

amazing 5 stars1234567890 ,

Amazing podcast I ❤️dice tower network


Corey Small ,


I expected some real deep dives into game theory and schools of design. This was ultimately just surface level stuff, and political nonsense scattered in here and there.

Retroalias ,

Absolutely the Best Board Game Podcast!

Geoff and Ryan created an amazing show with an excellent format that also teaches as much as it entertains. As the show has aged it has only gotten better!

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