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Welcome to Ludology, an analytical discussion of the hows and whys 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.

We post a new Ludology episode every other week. In these episodes, hosts Emma Larkins and Gil Hova (sometimes with Professor Scott Rogers) deep-dive into a single topic within game design, often with a well-regarded guest from the game industry. We generally focus on board game design, but we often pull in experts from all forms of games, from video games to slot machines.

On weeks where there is no flagship Ludology episode, we will alternate between two smaller mini-sodes.

GameTek is a long-running feature from the Dice Tower podcast by Ludology co-founder Geoff Engelstein that explores the math and science behind games.  GameTek Classic episodes were once broadcast on The Dice Tower podcast, while other GameTek episodes were recorded specially for Ludology.

Biography of a Board Game is a series hosted by Scott Rogers that explores the history behind classic and modern board games. It was once on The Dice Tower, but has since moved full-time to Ludology.

We aim for most Ludology episodes to be timeless, so you are welcome to explore our entire catalog. Most of it should age quite well. The podcast was started in 2011 by Geoff Engelstein and Ryan Sturm, with Mike Fitzgerald taking over for Ryan in 2015. Gil joined the show in 2017 when Mike stepped aside, and Emma joined in 2019 when Geoff ended his tenure as host.

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 emma@ludology.net.

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

May 17, 2020

Today, we put Emma in the spotlight to find out what went into designing her newest game, Abandon All Artichokes, how many cards she actually designed for it, and how the game was almost derailed by an Infinite Potato Problem.

SHOW NOTES

5m44s: Magic: The Gathering and the marvelous deckbuilding video game Slay the Spire. Also check out Ludology 198 - Inspired, featuring Slay the Spire's co-designer Anthony Giovannetti.

6m00s: Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing, two video games where the player starts in a remote area with very little in the way of equipment, and ends up building a small town.

7m22s: If you want to check out more deck-wreckers, try Xenon Profiteer (one of Gil's personal favorite games), or Fine Sand.

8m39s: Don't let the bean theme throw you off. Bohnanza is one of the best trading games you'll find.

9m15s: Bonnie Pang did the wonderful art for Artichokes.

9m43s: Sushi Go, by Phil Walker-Harding and also published by Gamewright, is an excellent light drafting game. It was good enough to spawn a family of light, charming drafting games. 

Phil has mentioned in passing that Sushi Go took many, many tries to get right. Another example of how hard it is to make a good, light game!

11m16s: Emma mentions some other Gamewright titles that fit a similar mold: Go Nuts for Donuts and Qwixx.

15m22s: Emma casually references Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey here.

26m29s: Seth Jaffee's article on balancing game elements and "finding the unit" is still immensely valuable to game designers everywhere.

31m59s: Cardboard Edison's publisher directory is an invaluable resource to game designers looking for a publisher for their prototypes.

48m44s: The incredibly adorable Abandon All Artichokes trailer  and its accompanying how-to-play video

49m18s: We'll post a link to the design diary in the Ludology forums as soon as it goes online!

55m16s: Emma's first episode.

56m43s: Dominion, the game that popularized deckbuilding as an in-game mechanism.