480 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 • 320 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.

    Ludology 248 - Solo-liloquy

    Ludology 248 - Solo-liloquy

    Emma and Gil sit down with Carla Kopp of Weird Giraffe Games and Galactic Raptor Games to discuss designing solo modes for games, the merits of "bots" in solo games, and how these bots tend to be named "Steve."
    2m00s: Carla's first published game Super Hack Override.
    4m53s: We spoke with Morten Monrad Pedersen on Ludology 154 - Leave Me Alone! about using Automa to make solo versions of games.
    7m02s: Sarah Reed is a game designer, disability advocate, and all-around excellent person. 
    11m00s: The Cat Lady implementation for iOS and Android.
    18m20s: Just a quick reminder that we’re talking about the digital implementation of the game Cat Lady, as opposed to Carla’s tabletop AIs. AI difficulty levels are more common in apps than they are in tabletop games. 
    19m45s: The Splendor digital implementation is sadly no longer available.
    20m34s: Gil mentions the solo mode that comes in the tabletop version of It’s a Wonderful World. Emma mentions the solo mode from the Galaxy Trucker app.
    21m13s: Calico
    21m47s: Gil forgets to mention that Friedemann Friese included an “achievement sheet” in Copycat.
    23m49s: Race for the Galaxy. We chatted with Theresa Duringer, CEO of Temple Gates, who developed the app, in Ludology 177 - AI AI, Captain! 
    24m26s: We're talking about the COIN (Counterinsurgencies) series of games, which have asymmetry built into them. Usually, each faction has a bot that allows many or all factions to be present in the game, even at a low player count. We talked to Volko Ruhnke, who began the series, in Ludology 178 - COIN Operated.
    24m56s: The virtual gaming platform Tabletop Simulator.
    26m54s: The three-body problem.
    27m19s: Power Grid: The Robots
    28m33s: Dune: Imperium, Smartphone Inc.
    29m21s: Gil's second published game Battle Merchants.
    31m24s: The Networks
    33m10s: The underrated but absolutely amazing Fantasy Realms. 
    34m49s: Seven Wonders and Alhambra. We discussed desicion scales in games with Matt Wolfe in Ludology 157 - Come Scale Away.
    35m36s: Abandon All Artichokes
    36m51s: Skull, Space Dealer
    37m33s: Weird Giraffe's upcoming games: Sara Perry's Gift of Tulips, and Fertessa Alysse's Wicked & Wise.
    40m12s: Tokaido
    48m02s: Carla's company with Dan Letzring, Galactic Raptor. Dan also runs Letiman Games.
    51m45s: Bunny Kingdom, Root. We interviewed Root's designer, Cole Wehrle, most recently on Ludology 222 - Johnny Fairplay.
    53m07s: Charterstone, Feudum
    55m48s: The free cardmaking program nanDECK.
    56m59s: The often-linked conditions of Narcolepsy and Cataplexy.
    1h05m58s: "Tony" here is designer, podcast host, and excellent person Tony Miller.
    1h09m09s: Carla’s website, Discord, and Twitter.

    • 1 hr 10 min
    GameTek 247.5 - Mana

    GameTek 247.5 - Mana

    Geoff talks about how games benefit when designers use familiar terms to describe familiar concepts. He also dives into the term "mana," tracing it back to its indigenous origins, and explains how it became a popular gaming term to track how much magic a character can expend.

    • 7 min
    Ludology 247 - Orc-kay Computer

    Ludology 247 - Orc-kay Computer

    Emma and Gil sit down with James Mendez Hodes to discuss his work as a cultural consultant, and the series of "orcticles" he wrote describing how the depiction of orcs in fantasy games can bring up problematic real-world stereotypes.
    CONTENT WARNING: This episode includes many references to racism and a section discussing sexual assault.
    01m55s: Orcus, a god of the underworld.
    04m29s: J.R.R. Tolkien's Urak-hai, the strongest kind of Orc in Middle Earth.
    27m49s: The Marathi people from India. We also get into the thorny, complicated, and vitally-important subject of intersectionality.
    32m57s: Here is the Adam Ruins Everything episode on the "model minority" myth.
    34m30s: Gil meant the "domino theory," a Cold War idea that suggested that one country that became communist would inevitably make its neighbors, and those neighbors, communist as well.
    38m04s: More information about James Baldwin's writings on race.
    45m19s: We had John talking safety tools on Ludology 227 - Respect the X.
    53m03s: Edward Said’s Orientalism is an important analysis of how a group of colonizing nations perceive the nations they colonize.
    57m56s: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 
    1h06m28s: Here is the comic Gil and Mendez are talking about, as well as the Sam Sykes tweet that inspired it.
    1h11m43s: Here's another link to Jiangsi: Blood in the Banquet Hall (which seems to come up every episode!). We spoke with Banana in Ludology 228 - The Roles We Play, and Sen most recently in Ludology 236 - Role With It. Of course, you will hear a lot more from Sen soon on this very show!
    We also mention the RPG Agon.
    1h14m43s: Blaise Pascal first expressed the sentiment in his 16th Letter from his lettres provinciales: "Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte." Mark Twain wrote out a similar thought two centuries later: "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."
    1h19m08s: More information about Maria Dahvana Headley's modern-day vernacular translation of Beowulf. Also, Eric Zimmerman's plea to keep games away from art, because in his words, "enshrining something as art is death."
    1h22m47s: Mendez' website, Twitter, and Patreon.

    • 1 hr 25 min
    Biography of a Board Game 246.5 - Quarriors

    Biography of a Board Game 246.5 - Quarriors

    Scott describes the history of Quarriors!, which became the base system for both the Marvel and DC Dice Masters games, among other licenses. 
    Tabletop Gaming Magazine issue 3 “The Making of Marvel Dice Masters” by Owen Duffy https://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/30410/designer-diary-dice-masters-no-catchy-title-just-b https://thegaminggang.com/game-news/table-top-gaming/the-gaming-gang-extra-77-interview-with-game-designer-mike-elliott/ http://www.ludology.net/ - episode 13 https://v1.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/134033-Marvel-Dice-Masters-Meets-Incredible-Response-Sells-Out-Rapidly

    • 11 min
    Ludology 246 - Cornering the Market

    Ludology 246 - Cornering the Market

    Emma, Gil, and Scott have a roundtable discussion in which they discuss the three sales channels, or markets, your board game can be available in: hobby, specialty, and mass. What are the differences between them, and how can a game move from one to another?
    0m48s: Erica and Sen are joining the show! You can watch them in the Meeple Syrup Show. Some of Sen's games: Junk Art, Akotiri, and Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall. Some of Erica's games: Bosk, Roar: King of the Pride, Kodama 3D, Scott Pilgrim Miniatures The World, Steven Universe: Beach-A-Palooza, and the forthcoming Rat Queens. Here's Sen's appearance on Ludology 236 - Role With It.
    2m11s: The hobby "classics": Catan, Carcassonne. The new hotness as of this recording: Bonfire, Carnegie (which is so hot, it's not even out yet...). 
    2m55s: More info about PSI, the sales agent Gil (and many other publishers) use to sell their games to publishers.
    4m11s: Yep.
    4m36s: Wingspan, Terraforming Mars, Codenames
    11m15s: Phoenix Games and Mox Boarding House in Seattle. Emma also mentions Century: Spice Road, Exploding Kittens, Just One, and her game Abandon All Artichokes.
    16m49s: Gloomhaven: JOTL, Pan Am
    17m46s: Yes, Gil's told this anecdote before. He's talking about Avowel, the mobile version of his game Wordsy.
    27m00s: Wingspan was written up in both the New York Times and Smithsonian Magazine, among others.
    33m17s: We had Kim Vandenbrouke on in Ludology 212 - Inventing Play.
    40m03s: Yes, Gil made the same point in the last episode. Still relevant!
    41m37s: Not sure why Gil brought up Root but completely forgot about Fort, from the same publisher! It's a better example.
    44m24s: The idea of affordances and signifiers from a design standpoint was popularized by Donald Norman in his book The Design of Everyday Things. This subject came up when we chatted with game designer and graphic designer Daniel Solis in Ludology 204 - The Eyes Have It.
    45m11s: Kingdom Builder
    47m39s: Seven Wonders
    50m01s: The story of Lizzie Magie, Charles Darrow, and the way The Landlord's Game eventually became Monopoly is worth knowing about. You can read about it here.
    55m51s: Verrater and Muerter. 
    59m12s: Emma and Gil gushed about their Quivers a bit more than they expected to! 
    1h01m27s: Red Raven made their game Megaland exclusive to Target when it was released in 2018. The Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game also had components exclusive to Target.
    1h04m23s: Scott is referring to the mechanism in each game in the Betrayal family of games, in which the game assigns one player to turn against the other players in one of dozens of wildly different scenarios.
    1h08m31s: We discussed complexity in Ludology 238 - Unraveling Complexity.
    1h11m33s: Gil likes to occasionally return to this lukewarm review of Catan from 1998, complaining about game length, runaway leader, and balance issues. The more things change...
    1h12m13s: Here's Emma's talk for the Tabletop Mentorship Program about playtesting!
    1h13m48s: More info about the AEG Pitch Project. Also, more info about Scott's forthcoming game Alien: Fate of the Nostromo.

    • 1 hr 18 min
    GameTek Classic 245.5 - Leadership

    GameTek Classic 245.5 - Leadership

    Geoff looks at a recent study that attempted to find a correlation between participants' actions in a game and how they would score in a survey of leadership skills. How can a game tell us whether a person is more or less likely to prefer to lead a group?

    • 6 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
320 Ratings

320 Ratings

amazing 5 stars1234567890 ,

Amazing podcast I ❤️dice tower network


Butter-J ,

Pompous and Overbearing.

Really not so much about games, mechanics, theory or the industry. More of a platform for Out of touch pseudo-intellectuals to pat each-other on the back for spending ten years in college and their whole lives in a bubble.

Coryak ,

A faint echo of a once fine podcast

It seems even the pretend world of board games and dungeon exploration is no longer safe from the evils of political wokeness and social activism. It just means more episodes that get skipped

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