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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 Erica Bouyouris, Gil Hova, Scott Rogers, and Sen-Foong Lim deep-dive into a single topic within game design, often with a well-regarded guest from the game industry. We generally focus on tabletop game design (mainly board games and RPGs), but we often pull in experts from all forms of games, from video games to escape rooms 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. Emma left in 2021, and Erica and Sen joined us.

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Nov 15, 2020

Emma, Gil, and Scott discuss the idea of complexity in a board game. We explore 6 types of complexity, and discuss their effects on the games we play and design.


0m51s: Pete Seeger was an American folk singer, known for songs like "If I Had a Hammer," "Turn, Turn, Turn," and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

2m04s: Our list of complexities:

  • Spatial complexity
  • Arithmetical complexity
  • Zone complexity
  • Planning complexity
  • Rules/mechanism complexity
  • Component complexity

2m45s: Barenpark, New York Zoo

3m44s: The SAT is a standardized test in the United States that is a major factor in a college's admission of a prospective student.

4m16s: Number 9

4m32s: Bosk

5m31s: Photosynthesis

6m30s: Treasure Island, Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space, Specter Ops, Tigris & Euphrates

7m14s: Checking the rules, an Internal Conflict in Tigris & Euphrates happens when a Leader is moved to a Kingdom where there is already a Leader of the same color belonging to another player.

8m00s: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. Check out Scott's Biography of a Board Game on the Flight Path family of games, including X-Wing and Wings of War.

8m25s: The Warhammer family of games is absolutely massive. The flagship game, Warhammer 40,000, is in its 9th edition. 

10m18s: The Funkoverse Strategy Game. We chatted with Chris Rowlands, one of its designers, in Ludology 224: Putting the Fun in Funko.

11m01s: Heroclix, Heroscape

13m23s: Set

15m17s: Power Grid, Russian Railroads, and Gil's own The Networks

16m26s: The term "Goumbaud's Law" was coined by Jesse Schell in his book The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses.

21m12s: Sticheln (the pronunciation of which Gil has completely butchered) was recently re-released by Capstone Games as Stick 'Em. Smartphone Inc.

22m46s: Sushi Go, Disney: The Haunted Mansion – Call of the Spirits Game

25m38s: Search for Planet X, Zendo (Kory Heath's design diary for Zendo remains a fantastic look at how hard it is to design a seemingly simple game.)

26m40s: Mastermind

28m12s: Here's a description of the XYZ Wing solve technique for Sudoku.

28m33s: (explicit language warning)

28m59s: Hey, That's My Fish, graph theory, and the Traveling Salesman problem.

29m33s: Scott first proposed the 6 Zones of Play in Ludology 209 - The 6 Zones of Play.

32m28s: Formula D

33m27s: Seafall, the Betrayal family of games.

41m21s: Ra

43m53s: A Feast for Odin

44m22s: A Few Acres of Snow

46m45s: Nielsen Media Research is best known for its Nielsen TV ratings, that offer the TV industry in the United States metrics into the number of viewers a TV show enjoys.

48m06s: Advanced Squad Leader, The Campaign for North Africa

50m13s: We discussed the futility of 1:1 models with Volko Ruhnke in Ludology 178 - COIN Operated. Gil also brings up the "Map-territory relation" problem.

50m29s: Food Chain Magnate, Feudum, Cloudspire, Kanban

54m48s: Two designers who work in complex games: Vital Lacerda and Dávid Turczi. You can hear our chat with Dávid about complex games in Ludology 234 - Playing with Time.

55m34s: Brass: Lancashire

57m27s: Fresco

1h00m20s: Gil discussed his doomed auction mechanism most recently in Ludology 235 - Rise to the Challenge.

1h01m45s: Samurai, Steel Driver, For Sale. Here's Samurai's scoring system:

  • If one player has the most figures of 2 or 3 of the types of figures, they win.
  • If no one has won in the previous step, only players who have the most of a single type of figure can win. All other players are eliminated.
  • The remaining players set aside the figures they have of which they have the most of a certain type. The player with the most remaining figures wins.
  • In case of a tie, the tied players re-collect all their figures and count their total number of figures. Highest total wins, all remaining ties are shared.

1h02m30s: Nomic, Fluxx

1h09m23s: Descent: Journeys in the Dark

1h10m45s: Geoff and Gil discussed "tight coupling" in Ludology 172 - Odd Coupling.

1h12m04s: Carcassonne (the type Gil was thinking of is Monk)

1h13m25s: The Betrayal family of games (again)

1h14m46s: GameTrayz

1h16m20s: Mike Selinker uttered this now-legendary quote in Ludology 189 - The Missing Selinker.

1h17m47s: Gil's announcements: BGG@Home, Weird Stories pregen settings, High Rise pre-orders opening soon, Rival Networks

1h20m02s: Battling Tops, and the legendary BGG Battling Tops tournament.

1h20m22s: Tabletopia

1h20m44s: Emma, Gil, and Scott recorded Ludology 215 - Table Topics live at BGG.CON 2019.

1h21m06s: Scott's announcements: Treats, Xeno Command, Comic Book Crisis, The Pitch Project.

1h24m06s: Emma's announcements: Game Maker's Guild panel, Dutch and Hungarian versions of Abandon All Artichokes.

1h25m26s: Our contact info: Emma (Twitter, Instagram, Web), Gil (Twitter, Facebook, Web), Scott (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook)