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Subject: Advice for 1 person teaching a group of non gamers rss

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Ashlee Cramb
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Hey guys,
I am hosting a games night at my work this Friday night, and thought I’d seek out some advice. I am going to have between 7-10 people at the games night, and I will be teaching the games by myself which I’m worried will be a problem. Does anyone have any advice on how to handle multiple groups of people playing different games and teaching them? Keep in mind these people are all non gamers so they'll need alot of guidance.

This is the second games night I’m hosting at work. Last time we had about 7 people so we got away with only playing big group games, we played the resistance, coup, saboteur which they really loved! But this time I’ve had a request for some strategy games, and none of them really allow for too many players.
These are the games I have decided to bring, I think they are all easy to understand and play, and also very fun!!



Does anyone have any experience with this? Is it best to just teach one group, and then teach the next group and float between both groups? (I can't think of any other way) There's a chance I might have my boyfriend come and teach also so we could have 2 teachers, but he might not be able to make it so I want to have a plan in place just in case it’s just me.

Any advice would be appreciated!!

I'm thinking of starting with Coup (it was such a big hit last time) and we can play that all together, then moving to cash n guns (hopefully we won't have more than 8 so another group game), then breaking up into groups and doing the strategy games like ticket to ride/ mission red planet etc
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Hanna Dickhut
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It would be better to start a group with a game they know and can play quickly, and then start a strategy game with the rest. When the first group finishes, you should be done explaining the strategy and can start a second strategy game. From there you can float between the two and start setting up a third strategy game.

Alternatively you can start a YouTube video for one group and explain another game to the next group. Rodney Smith has been a life saver in situations like this.
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Ashlee Cramb
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Thanks!! Those are both really great ideas. Unfortunately no one really knows any games so I won't be able to leave them with Sushi go or something, so I think the second option is the best idea.
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Kelly Krieble
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Suggest you start with TTR and Karuba - have them BOTH set up before people arrive. The first four people that show up will play TTR. Any other people that show up after can watch and/or drool over the game THEY will play, Karuba.

In my mind TTR is an easy game to teach: mechanics of a turn (cards, tickets, lay track), scoring mechnisms (tickets and routes), strategy, game end conditions. This should not take more than 15 minutes. Play out an open hand round as an example. Then reset and let them go.

Karuba is pretty straightforward but needs an alpha player to be the bingo caller - perhaps that should be you. That's the next 4 players.

Suggest the last game be Dominion with you and whoever else shows. If its one other player or two that should be good.

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Ashlee Cramb
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Thanks!! I know we will have at least 6 (not including me) from 5.30-10.30 If no one else shows up I think I will get them to play all the 6 player games I have (mission red planet/ survive escape from Atlantis/ cash and guns). If anymore turn up (which is likely) I will have to split into 2 groups, I think Dominion and Ticket to Ride will be in order then! And yeah I really want to teach them Karuba because they loved the tile laying mechanic in Saboteur so I know they'll love this.
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Cool User
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The less time you have to spend on any game is good, so make reference cards ahead of time.

For example, Ticket to Ride:

On your turn do one of the following:
1) take cards (one face-up "wild" or two either face-up or face-down)
2) turn in matching cards from your hand to place train pieces
--card color must match track color (or wild card)
--one card per train segment being placed
--advance your token on the score track

Then you can be on hand to answer the finer points as they come up (after having explained everything initially, of course.)

Something as simple as this sounds crazy to veteran gamers, but you don't want to assume people can remember it right away.
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Ashlee Cramb
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Thanks for that!! I will definitely be making reference cards. My biggest concern is that once I spend X amount of time teaching group 1 the game, I will need to stay for at least 1-2 rounds for them to start picking it up before I can leave them alone and teach the other group. No doubt within the time I am teaching group 2 the first group will have questions, but I don't want to leave the second groups explanation to help out the first group (if that makes sense). Ha this is going to be harder than I thought eeeeeeeeeeeeeek!!
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Cool User
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Maybe one of the people who plans on attending would be willing to be tutored on a specific game before the big event. That way they can serve as a back-up teacher for whichever game you have introduced them to. It sounds like someone might be willing, since they've already played and liked several of the games.
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Ashlee Cramb
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That could be a good idea!! I might try and ask around and see if anyone is keen for that.
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Hanna Dickhut
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Elizabeth1000 wrote:
My biggest concern is that once I spend X amount of time teaching group 1 the game, I will need to stay for at least 1-2 rounds for them to start picking it up before I can leave them alone and teach the other group.


Hand holding is a killer. One thing that helps is providing some basic strategy such as Hail-Mary plays and screwage when out of options. Usually people will understand the most obvious goals in games like TtR but not other nuances which can throw people off. For instance, I was teaching Last Will to knowledgeable people, but a couple people were forgetting the importance of screwage when it came to placing top hats.

Also, basic strategy helps people formulate plans and start running. Without it people can feel a little in the dark like there's something they weren't told which is pretty true. Just a push in the right direction and everyone feels like they can win and knows how to do it.
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Stephen Williams
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You said this was the second time you've hosted a games night at work. Are none of the people who signed up last time attending this one? (Is it a different job?)

If there are any repeats, approach one or two of them ahead of time about the idea of teaching a game they already know to some people while you teach something else to another group. If there are no repeat guests, perhaps poll the attendees you do have to see if anyone's willing to help you out? Let them borrow one of your games so they can read the rules ahead of time, if necessary.

Alternatively, stand apart from the crowd yourself so that you can walk around and answer questions at any table, but otherwise let them read the rules and play by themselves.
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Ashlee Cramb
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It's all the same people but they want to play different games, more strategy etc.
There is one guy coming who has played Dominion and Ticket to ride before, so I'm hoping he will be upto teaching haha.
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Val Ofiesh
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Have you considered emailing links on how-to-play in advance with the suggestion that they check it out before Friday?
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Ashlee Cramb
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Thats a great idea!! I'll definitely send around some links. thanks
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Ira Kalina
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Another thought. You could start with Codenames with the big group. After a couple of rounds of that, peel off a group of 3-4 to teach the first strategy game leaving the rest to continue rounds of Codenames (giving everyone a shot to be clue giver at least once). That will buy you time to teach the first game (TTR or Dominion?) before moving back to a second group.

BTW, I really liked Mission Red Planet, but feel like that could be a bit heavy on the teaching and strategy for a total group of newbies unless...but that is based on one play...
 
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Ashlee Cramb
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Kalii wrote:

BTW, I really liked Mission Red Planet, but feel like that could be a bit heavy on the teaching and strategy for a total group of newbies unless...but that is based on one play...


I was worried about that too but they've asked for a game like risk, and it's between mission red planet and small world which are the 2 lightest area control games I have. I think small world might just be a bit too much.
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Alex Box
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I'm kind of in a similar situation all on my lonesome tomorrow but with trying to teach 18 kids meeple

I'm going to start with various smaller party games and then move on to longer games over time.

However, one thing to consider would be to give one group a game that requires more set up time, but leave clear written instructions on how to set up. Maybe this could be Pandemic, Colt Express or Survive from those in the images. While that group is setting up, teach another game that is quick to learn to the other group, like Codenames or Sushi Go and then return to the first group. Perhaps?

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Matt Brown
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AngryRedhead wrote:
Alternatively you can start a YouTube video for one group and explain another game to the next group. Rodney Smith has been a life saver in situations like this.


Links to videos are send before game night. People can watch that stuff on their own time.
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Hanna Dickhut
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matthean wrote:
People can watch that stuff on their own time.


Good luck with that. It's never worked for me.
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Geoffrey Burrell
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Do a walk through while teaching the game until everyone gets up to speed.
 
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Matt Brown
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AngryRedhead wrote:
matthean wrote:
People can watch that stuff on their own time.


Good luck with that. It's never worked for me.


It has for me. I don't expect much to come from it, but it nice when somebody does it.
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Mauricio Montoya
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Not everyone has to watch it, but you can task one specific and dependable person from each group to watch a short instructional video, so you can leave them in charge of that game once your explanation ends.

Then you can go teach the next group another game but they will be able to keep the game going in your absence without asking questions every 20 seconds because they already know more or less how the game is supposed to flow (maybe just a question of two if something unexpected happens).
 
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Hanna Dickhut
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Then you run into the issue of maybe 1-2 nongamers watching the video to only watch it again because not everyone did. I've been in nearly the same situation due to being host, greeter, teacher, etc., and YouTube helps me keep the night going smoothly. If I compare a scripted, edited, professional tutorial to my tutorials and subsequent player questions, especially with new gamers, the videos are faster and better which they should be - a lot of time, money, and effort went into those videos which I'm grateful for. Recently I showed a Rodney Smith video for Keyflower, and wow, he did a great job. The only questions were about specific tiles, and the game sped along with 6 players, some of whom were pretty new gamers. I was the only one to have played it before and got whooped stupendously. I think the video was 26 minutes which included setup, and those 26 minutes allowed me to cleanup, setup, and tidy the table. Simpler games obviously have shorter videos, and my husband, the Toastmaster, doesn't feel like exploding from hearing "um" and disjointed thoughts.

And I would never trust a nongamer to explain a game in less time than the video and issues not arising from it. GameNight! does a great job of explaining family games in about 10-15 minutes which is basically nothing when it comes to public speaking. I'm fairly sure I average about the same amount of time for teaching Alhambra which is probably the game I've taught the most. Speaking and demonstrating take time, and if there are questions or goofs, you likely weren't thorough enough for all players and time should be tacked onto your initial tutorial which can turn 5 minutes into 30.

I don't know why people seem so gung-ho about making the OP's life more difficult and leaving the night to chance. Videos are great in these sorts of situations, and a bad teacher can ruin a game, particularly with new players, forever. Sticking with a good tutorial/teacher is safe and easy and more likely to leave everyone enjoying the game. It also gives the host time to be doing other things.
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nat tact
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To be honest the best thing to do is practice what you are going to say.

I'd start off with describing the main win/lose conditions. Then core mechanism and then the odd ball rules that make the game work. But practice your spiel. Also if you don't know the game don't teach it.
 
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Chris Williams

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Personally, I just avoid the situation and if I am worried about a case where I might be the only one bringing games, I make sure that I have some games which have one-page rules. When it comes time to split up, I tell people which games they can teach themselves, and it's on one of them to step up and learn it.

While, perhaps, not as friendly as trying to run people through the game, I find that a game run-through is really more just an opportunity to give people a preview of how the game is played. Until they actually see a round or two, they're going to be pretty mystified no matter what. (And a longer, more thorough rules explanation isn't going to help - that just makes people zone out.) You need at least one person who actually know the rules playing the game, to guide people through the first round or two. And, of course, some games switch it up midway through with new rules and complications.

Also, game lengths can vary. Once you split up into two groups, it's probable that one group is going to finish earlier than the other. If they have a pile of easy-to-learn games, and an official rule-learner, they can move on to a second game without having to interrupt you or wait for your game to finish.

So ultimately, like I said, it's better to just have a selection of games ready in advance that people can read the full rules for in under 5 minutes.

A few more strategic options with 1 page rules are:

Star Realms
Gloom
Isle of Trains
Fish Cook
King's Kilt
 
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