Discover the Science behind Board Games

Looking under the bonnet of games.

Did you know there is science and mathematics at work behind most of the board games we play and love? Dr. Reiner Knizia is one of the world’s most successful and prolific game designers and Quentin Cooper the presenter of BBC Radio 4's material world explore the science of board games.

We asked Dr Cooper to give us an idea what this will be about. He said "Chance plays a part in many games.   And also in why some of us end up playing them.   A few years ago my wife bought me a game called Samurai, largely because she liked the look of the board and pieces.   It is a thing of beauty, but it also turned out to be a lot of fun to play, and play again.   It had that elusive quality I’m always looking for of not being too strategic or too governed by luck, too confounding or too easily mastered, too rule-intense or too repetitive.  More or less the opposite of Monopoly. 

On the box it said “Reiner Knizia’s Samurai” as if his name was meant to mean something.   It didn’t.   So I Googled him and found myself in another dimension of gaming, one where Knizia is among the most successful and revered of a new(ish) generation of designers many of whom – like him – draw on their backgrounds in maths and science.   

I began buying a lot more such games and having many great nights and weekends playing them with friends.   And I began to get more interested in the underlying science, in particular the mathematics, and how it can be tweaked to turn good ideas into great games.    

So I’m looking forward to getting under the bonnet of games design with Reiner and to exploring how far maths can help, while still – I hope – leaving time for us to try out one or two of his latest creations that he’s bringing along." 

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