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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 tabletop game design (mainly board games and RPGs), 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.

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Mar 21, 2021

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?

SHOW NOTES

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.