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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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Jul 11, 2021

Erica, Gil, Scott, and Sen have a roundtable discussion about player counts. We go through each of the common player counts, as well as a few uncommon counts, and discuss what's special about designing for them.

SHOW NOTES

0m39s: Our thoughts about and general strategies for designing games at different player counts.

5m42s: 2-player games

9m20s: We chatted with Matt Wolfe about decision scales on Ludology 157 - Come Scale Away.

13m08s: Inhuman Conditions

13m59s: Belfort

16m24s: Alien: Fate of the Nostromo

19m41s: Pandemic

22m06s: Tokaido, High Rise

24m20s: Scott Pilgrim Miniatures the World

24m38s: 3p games

26m44s: The three-body problem.

27m38s: Here's Cole Wehrle's talk on kingmaking in games, and how it can be a good thing.

28m16s: Churchill

28m37s: Basari, which was adapted into Edel, Stein, and Reich in 2003 and modified to try to better handle a higher player count. Also, a note on ties with 3-players: it's impossible to tie on a vote with 3 voters (or any number of odd voters), as long as you are limited to two choices to vote for. Once you have at least 3 choices to vote for, the possibility space gets far more complicated (see the three-body problem above).

30m52s: Rayguns & Rocketships

32m25s: 9-5-2 is known by various names. Here are the rules to Sergeant Major, which is a very similar game; rule changes for 9-5-2 are further down the page.

Also: Carolus Magnus, Bargain Hunter, End of the Triumvirate (Gil was wrong, it can play 2 players), Three Kingdoms Redux

32m58s: 4p games

38m24s: Stuffed Fables, Between Two Cities

39m14s: Tichu

40m03s: 5p games.

Also, a note: Eagle-eared listeners will notice that you don't hear much from Scott from now until the end of the episode. He had to leave our recording session early, so we quickly recorded his bits for the end of the episode. And that's how the sausage gets made!

41m10s: 7 Wonders

44m16s: Alhambra, Alhambra: The Vizier's Favor, Catan: 5-6 Player Extension

47m36s: 6p games

50m44s: Godfather: A New Don. The "other Godfather game" Sen is hinting at is The Godfather: Corleone's Empire by friend of the show Eric Lang.

54m43s: Floor Plan, Welcome To..., Take It Easy, Time's Up, Karuba

56m11s: Werewolf, Two Rooms and a Boom

57m11s: The Unlock! series of games, Cranium

1h00m59s: Terra Mystica

1h01m23s: Arkham Horror

1h02m02s: 1p games. If you want to know more about designing solo versions of games, check out Ludology 154 - Leave Me Alone! (with Morten Monrad Pedersen), Ludology 234 - Playing With Time (with Dávid Turczi), and Ludology 248 - Solo-liloquy (with Carla Kopp).

1h05m12s: Onirim

1h06m38s: Chainsaw Warrior. Sen also mentions Ian Livingstone, who created the Fighting Fantasy series of interactive books with Steve Jackson (that is, the British Steve Jackson who co-founded Games Workshop, not the American Steve Jackson who designed Ogre, GURPS, Illuminati, and Munchkin. To muddy the picture further, the latter Steve Jackson authored three Fighting Fantasy books himself!).

1h07m33s: Kingdom Rush: Rift in Time

1h10m03s: 0p games, starting with So, You've Been Eaten. (Note that the BGG header only shows it as a 1-2 player game; technical limitations prevent it from properly showing as a 0-2 player game.)

1h11m34s: Strat-o-matic Baseball

1h13m30s: In Ludology 142 - Slots of Fun, Geoff and Mike chatted with slot machine designer Jeremy Hornik.

1h15m19s: Another link to Alien: Fate of the Nostromo.

1h15m43s: Sen's project: Avatar: Last Airbender RPG, Tiny Frontiers: Mecha and Monsters (referred to as "Mechs vs. Kaiju"), Coded Chronicles (Jay and Sen have already designed games with the Scooby Doo and The Shining licenses for this series), Dungeon & Dragons: Rock Paper Wizard

1h16m34s: Erica's projects: Rat Queens: To the Slaughter, Disney Sidekicks

1h17m37s: Gil's projects: Networks Broken Token insert, shipping issues, con season coming up