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Ludography Explanation

A ludography is a listing of the games created by a games designer, comparable to a discography for a recording artist. This is a limited ludography, which makes no attempt to be complete; in fact, I hope by limiting its scope slightly, that it will prove to be of greater interest. Anyone who wants a more exhaustive compilation of games by their author should check out the Luding or BoardgameGeek web sites.

What is the overall purpose of this list?

My purpose is to list the more prominent game creations of the leading designers of modern games. This is a personal list, so I've restricted it to the designers I'm most familiar with and the areas of gaming I know best. The games are listed in chronological order, so that the course of the designers' careers can be tracked. I've also annotated the list with collaborators, awards and award nominations, and relationships between the various games.

What sort of games are included?

Mostly board and card games from the last forty years. However, I am deliberately excluding certain classes of games, such as wargames, children's games, and collectable card games. I am not knowledgeable enough about any of these types of games to determine which should be included. I am also excluding little known designs. For the most part, I'm using my own judgement for this, although when in doubt, I've used the number of players rating the game on BoardgameGeek as a rough guide. Basically, if I've heard of a game or believe that a sufficient number of others have, I've included it. Fortunately, that's a pretty large percentage of most designer's games. I've also included any game which received one of the awards or nominations I've chosen to highlight (more about these later). My hope is that by pruning out the more obscure titles, along with the large number of children's games many designers crank out (which are of limited interest to me and, I suspect, to many of you), I've created a series of smaller lists that more concisely represents the output of some of the world's leading game designers. With any luck, this will allow the gamers accessing this site to more easily locate the games they are most interested in.

Which designers are included?

Any designer with at least five qualifying games is included in the list. Most of these designers have only been active for the last twenty years or so, but there is no particular cutoff date--it's just that having any number of games identified with a designer is a relatively recent phenomenon.

For the individuals on this list, I have included any notable wargames, children's games, and CCGs that they've designed. But these games are the exception, and not the rule for these designers. Thus, for example, a Richard Berg, whose catalog consists of mostly wargames, is not included in this list. Nor have I included James Ernest, the main creative force behind Cheapass--I'm simply not familiar enough with his games to judge them.

For the most part, I've given individual designers their own entries. Some groups of designers, such as Doris & Frank, or the Eon designers, have really only designed together, so they have only the one entry. There are only two other linked entries. Jeroen Doumen and Joris Wiersinga, the principal designers of the Dutch game company Splotter, have designed games together, separately, and with others. But all these games have been for Splotter, so it seemed more natural to list them together rather than separately. Similarly, Craig Van Ness and Rob Daviau are both so closely identified with Hasbro (and with each other) that I decided to group them together as well.

In all, there are 56 different designers in 51 different entries. I expect these numbers to increase with time; I intend to make this a living list and will maintain it as new games and new designers appear.

What information is included in each entry?

The first line of each entry gives the name of the designer (or designers), along with the number of games listed for that designer (this number is given in parentheses). If the designer has his own gaming company, this is also listed in italics (for example, 2F-Spiele is listed after Friedemann Friese's name). I've done this because in some cases, the games are better known for their company than their designer (you may have never heard of Corné van Moorsel, for example, even if you know of his gaming company Cwali). I've only included companies owned by the designer; so, for example, I've not listed Hasbro next to Van Ness and Daviau's entry.

Then, the games are listed. For each game I list the year of it's first publication, its title, any collaborators that share design credit for the game, and any notes about the game. The games are listed in chronological order. When several games are released in the same year, they are listed in alphabetical order.

What can be found in the "Notes" column?

Basically, I've used the Notes column to show any items of interest about the games. But the vast majority of the notes fall into two categories: gaming honors and related games. I've described both of these below:

Gaming Honors

Any major awards, nominations, and citations that the game has received are noted. Here are the ones I've included:

  • Spiele des Jahre (SdJ) - Germany's best known Game of the Year award, given since 1979. The SdJ jury usually focuses on more family-friendly games. Most years, there are ten to twelve games nominated, one of which is chosen as the winner. Since 1999, this has been a two-stage process: three games are chosen to be finalists, one of which is selected to be the winner. So there are three different notations concerning the SdJ awards: nominee, finalist (since 1999), and winner. In addition, the jury often makes special awards, such as Most Beautiful, Best Dexterity game, and a few others. Since 1989, the jury has also given an award for the Best Children's game of the year. All of a designer's games which have won any of the SdJ special awards or Best Children's award is included in the list and noted as such.

  • Deutscher Spiele Preis (DSP) - Another of Germany's Game of the Year awards, second in importance only to the SdJ. This one tends to reward more meaty, gamer's games and has been awarded since 1990. Any game finishing in the Top Ten in the DSP voting is included in the Notes column. Most of these years, an award has been given for Best Children's game; in addition, an occasional Special Award has been made. All Best Children's or Special Awards are noted.

  • Gamers' Choice Awards (GCA) - This is a series of awards presented by the Strategy Gaming Society, the longest continuously operated gaming organization in the U.S. These awards have been given since 2000 and have proven to be perhaps the most reliable indicator of the best gamer's games of the year. Three presentations are made each year: Best Multi-player game, Best Two-player game, and Best Historical Simulation game. All award winners and nominated games are noted.

  • à la carte (a.l.c.) - This award for the best card game of the year is overseen and presented by the German gaming magazine Fairplay. It has been awarded since 1991. Any game finishing in the Top Five is included in the Notes column.

  • Games Magazine Game of the Year (GM GotY) - As part of their Games 100 issue, Games Magazine has been selecting a Game of the Year since 1991. Any game selected as the magazine's Game of the Year is included in the Notes column.

  • Sumo/Counter Hall of Fame (S/C HoF) - The groundbreaking British games magazine Sumo instituted a Hall of Fame in 1998 under the guidance of Stuart Dagger, Gery McLaughlin, and Sumo's editor Mike Siggins. Upon the sale of Sumo, the Hall continued to be maintained by the magazine widely viewed as its successor, Counter (edited by Dagger). The Hall, selected by the readership of the two magazines, honors great games of the last fifty years, excluding two-player wargames. All games in the Hall are noted.

  • Games Magazine Hall of Fame (GM HoF) - Games Magazine has maintained a Hall of Fame for (mostly) American game classics since the eighties. All games in the Hall are included in the Notes column.

Related Games

One of the questions I had to consider with this ludography was what to do about games which reappear with different names, different themes, and, occasionally, with modified rules. Is it necessary to list both Showmanager and Atlantic Star, given that, outside of their themes, they are practically the same game? I decided the answer was "yes". For one thing, the games do have slightly different rules. For another, theme and components are so important to so many gamers that it is not unreasonable to say that these differences alone make these two games different. Yet another reason is that treating the games as separate entities makes it easier to handle awards and nominations (case in point: both Showmanager and Atlantic Star received SdJ nominations). But the most convincing reason is that there are probably quite a few players today, and undoubtedly more in years to come, who don't know the relationship between these two games. Giving Atlantic Star its own listing makes it much easier on these individuals and allows me to inform them that an earlier, almost identical game existed.

Given this decision, here is the terminology I've chosen to use to reflect the different relationships between related games. A game is a remake of another if it is the exact same game with a different name and different components. For example, Henn's Showmanager is a remake of his earlier Premiere. A game is a redesign of another if it is clearly derived from the earlier game, but some rules are different. Thus, Atlantic Star is a redesign of Showmanager.

Redesigns can be much more involved than the difference between Showmanager and Atlantic Star. For example, Kramer's Daytona 500, Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix, and Top Race are all redesigns of his earlier Niki Lauda's Formel 1, which is itself a redesign of his first published game of Tempo. All these games are clearly different, but they share a common set of mechanics and are obviously related to Tempo.

Sometimes the differences between two games are considerable, but a relationship still exists. For these cases, I use the term modified redesign. For example, I call Moon's Reibach & Co. a modified redesign of his Freight Train and Moon & Weissblum's Canal Grande a modified redesign of their San Marco. In each case, the later games are quite different than their progenitors, but each was clearly derived from the earlier games. I thought these kinds of relationships were worth noting.

Another relationship found in the Notes is simplified redesign. For example, Elfenland is a simplified redesign of Elfenroads and Portal is a simplified redesign of Magic: The Gathering. In these cases, the latter game often consists of a subset of the former game's rules.

Sometimes, the only difference between two games are their names. In these cases, I haven't given the two games separate listings. The better known game gets the listing, with a notation that the game is also known as (aka) the second game. The most common instances of this are when games are released in a different language or a different country at approximately the same time. For example, Knizia's Durch die Wüste is aka Through the Desert and Moon's Reibach & Co. is aka Get the Goods.

I've tried to apply these relationships as consistently as possible, but the distinctions are not always obvious, so I will say ahead of time that not everyone will agree with my choices. Hopefully, none of my judgments are too far out of whack. If I've told any real whoppers, let me know and I'll change the listing.

What about expansions?

One of my early decisions when compiling these lists was not to include expansions as separate game entries. I basically define an expansion as any independently sold item that requires the possession of a previously produced game in order to be played. I view these as extensions of the base system, which, in many cases, might very well have been included in the original game had the publisher chosen to do so. So you will find Lord of the Rings in Knizia's ludography, but not the Friends and Foes or Sauron expansions. Obviously, this is a judgement call, but it's one I feel fairly comfortable with.

I've only made two exceptions to this rule. The first is with some of the expansions to The Settlers of Catan. I chose to include the Seafarers and Cities and Knights expansions (along with the Nürnberg version of the game, which may or may not be an expansion, depending on your definition) in Teuber's ludography. The other exception is adding Advanced Civilization to Tresham's list. In both cases, the expansions involved have become so popular that they have practically become independent games; in fact, there is spirited debate about which version of their games are best. Mindful that consistency is the bugaboo of small minds, I decided it made more sense to be flexible in these cases.

What are the sources for this data?

My two principal sources are the Luding and BoardgameGeek databases. I've also utilized the information on many other web sites and publications. I've tried to do my homework as thoroughly as possible, but the responsibility for any errors in these ludographies is mine alone.

Will these lists grow with time?

Absolutely. I will make an determined effort to keep them up to date. I would also be delighted to hear from any of you. If you see any omissions, errors, or have suggestions for new features you'd like to see, please drop me a line at [email protected]. I promise I'll get back to you promptly.


Here is a complete list of all the abbreviations used in the ludographies.

aka - also known as
a.l.c. - à la carte (best card game of the year award)
DSP - Deutscher Spiele Preis (game of the year award)
GCA - Gamers' Choice Awards (three categories of game of the year)
GM - Games Magazine
GotY - Game of the Year
HoF - Hall of Fame
S/C - Sumo/Counter
SdJ - Spiele des Jahre (game of the year award)


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