Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design – interview with Geoff Engelstein and Isaac Shalev

I can’t believe I went this long without interviewing one of my biggest game design theory heroes, Geoff Engelstein. Together with designer, game design writer and fellow game design podcaster Isaac Shalev, they’ve written a book that seems like it might be kind of a big deal in this field. To quote a bit of Eric Zimmerman from the foreword:

“That’s why Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design is so significant. The incredibly detailed pages that follow, pages that crack open the inner components of tabletop games, constitute a kind of Rosetta Stone for game grammar.”

You can check out the table of contents and some of the free material here on Amazon. With diagrams from Daniel Solis, whose stuff also looks pretty awesome! Seems kinda like a must-have to me.


  • The TRUE SECRET ORIGIN of Input/Output Randomness (!!!)
  • More discussion on whether to PUBLISHER or KICKSTART
  • Game recommendations from both Isaac and Geoff
  • Cool backstory information on how they became established game designers and published authors!

Also if you haven’t listened to Geoff’s podcast, Ludology, it’s definitely recommended. You should definitely check out Isaac’s game design blog over at

As always, you can support this show at Thanks for listening!