Gil Hova designs and publishes board games. His games offer challenging and interesting decisions, offset by approachable and usually humorous designs. He started designing board games in 2000. His first game, the word game Prolix, was released by Z-Man Games in 2010. He is a dedicated podcaster, co-hosting Ludology with Game Center faculty Geoff Engelstein, as well as co-founding the popular show Breaking Into Board Games.
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.
Geoff ruminates on the limitations of using AI to balance games. Why can't we use machine learning to fully balance a game experience, and finally make a game that everyone on BGG will find perfectly fair on the first play? SHOW NOTES 1m17s: For more on this subject, check out our two GameTek episodes on AlphaGo : GameTek Classic 218.5 Alpha Zero, and GameTek Classic 222.5 Alpha Zero, Part 2. 2m00s: Geoff's game The Expanse. 5m29s: The fantastic trading game Sidereal Confluence (which will soon have a new edition!) 6m18s: League of Legends has grappled for a long time with how to balance their champions for players of all skill levels. Here's their latest approach on how they're trying to do it.
Emma and Gil sit down with Chris Rowlands of Funko Games to discuss the design of IP-based games, and what it's like to design as part of a group collective. SHOW NOTES 0m00s: Playtest safely online with Gil and Emma! 4m11s: Mox Boarding House is one of the premier board game stores in Seattle. (Here's hoping they can stick around until everything is able to reopen!) 12m21s: The Frosthaven Kickstarter project. 16m45s: Personal plug: Abandon All Artichokes is Emma's newest game. 19m47s: Power Grid is the #36th ranked game on BGG. (Rankings are not absolute, objective measures of quality, of course, but still. It's a big game.) 24m01s: Beth Hawley was responsible for the amazing art in Chris' game Under My Bed. 27m18s: Disney Villainous, in which each player is a Disney villain with unique special powers, is one of their more well-known titles. 29m05s: The party game Yeah Nope. 30m52s: Funkoverse, the tactical minis game using modified Funko figurines. 32m33s: All of "Prospero Hall's" credited games on BGG. 34m04s: The games Horrified and Jaws. 38m17s: Prospero Hall's website.  43m28s: The "tracer" scene from Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy.  (Explicit language warning) 50m31s: Personal plug: Avowel is currently available on Android, and coming to iOS soon! 54m10s: The game Jurassic Park: Danger. 1h02m35s: Paper Girls and Manifest Destiny  1h03m26s: Sea of Thieves  1h03m48s: Infocom's original help guide entry to the horrible and notorious Babel Fish puzzle in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy video game, written by Douglas Adams himself, is an absolute wonder to read. Keep clicking "Next Answer." Favorite quote on step 19 of the hint: "At this point, brave men have been known to break down and cry."  1h05m11s: Building the Game, a podcast on game design. 1h06m34s: Some articles about wrestling's current audience-less format.  1h12m04s: Our episode on ludonarrative dissonance was Ludology 192 - Diabolus in Ludica. 1h14m04s: Back to the Future: Back in Time and Last Defense!
Scott goes into the checkered history of The Game of Life, which has had many inspirations and incarnations, and is still going strong.  (Content warning: this episode contains quick, passing references to sex and suicide.) 0m00s: Join Gil's and Emma's remote playtesting groups! 1m44s: A Little Pretty Pocket Book. Fun fact: this book contains the first appearance of the term "base-ball," although that term at the time was an alternative regional name for the sport now known as Rounders. 2m37s: The New Game of Human Life. Here's the original French game that inspired it, which BGG has under the name La Vie Humaine un Nouveau Jeu. 3m19s: More information about the teetotum, which was often used to avoid the impression of gambling.  5m48s: The Reward of Merit, The Mirror of Truth: Exhibiting a variety of Biographical Anecdotes and Moral Essays calculated to Inspire a Love of Virtue and Abhorrence of Vice, and The Mansion of Happiness. 7m45s: The Checkered Game of Life. 9m17s: The Game of the Telegraph Boy, Game of To the North Pole By Airship, and The Game of Playing Department Store. 9m32s: More information about toy and game designer Reuben Klamer.  10m48s: The famous blue and pink pegs are, of course, the inspiration for the name of the excellent board game podcast Blue Peg, Pink Peg. 11m44s: Here's a page with a photo of the 1960 edition of The Game of Life. 12m28s: More information about the resolution of the lawsuit between Klamer and Markham.  13m32s: The Game of Life: Twists and Turns  14m08s: The Game of Life Express  16m33s: This would also be a good time to mention some modern board games that handle the same subject matter, and were no doubt somehow inspired by The Game of Life. The Pursuit of Happiness, Funny Friends, CV, and My Story.
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Creator Details

New Jersey, USA
Episode Count
Podcast Count
Total Airtime
1 week, 5 days