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Are you the "rule explainer/researcher" of your gaming group?

Poll
You = rule explainer/researcher
Yes, I always explain the rules.
Yes, a few people of our group always explain. I'm one of them.
No, everyone explains from time to time, including me
No, I never explain or figure out rules.
      325 answers
Poll created by Geert Vinaskov


As a rule explainer, do you always figure out game rules by yourself, right after purchasing the game, or before the "game event" starts (game evening, game day, ...)? Do you like to be prepared as a rule explainer? Or do you just open the box when playing it for the first time and wing it?

Poll
As rule explainer, figure out rules beforehand?
Yes, I like to be prepared and always figure out the rules before we play.
Yes, mostly I like to prepare, but sometimes I just open a box and play.
No, I prepare complex games, but mostly I just open and play.
No, I never prepare. We figure the game out together as a group.
N/A, since I'm not a rule explainer of our group.
      318 answers
Poll created by Geert Vinaskov


As someone who's being taught (you're a player, and someone else explains the game), has it happened to you that that explainer just opens the box and "wings it"? The explainer opens a game of which he doesn't kno the rules - neither does anyoneone in the group - and starts reading the manual and setting up the board, meaning to play it now.

Poll
Have you encountered "open the box for the first time and figure out how it all works while we play our first game" situations?
No, someone always figures the game out before we start.
No, but it has happened a few times that we just "opened-and-played".
Yes, always. Bring a new game and figure it out while playing for the first time.
      288 answers
Poll created by Geert Vinaskov


As a rules explainer, when you read the rules on your own before the game, has it happened that you "gave up" for some reason? Or do you stick it out, 'till you've found out how the whole thing works?

Poll
Given up, when figuring out the rules on your own?
Yes, I've given up, and didn't give that game a second chance.
Yes and no. I stopped reading the rules on paper and went to BGG/FAS/Video for help.
No, though I'll seek clarification on BGG/FAQ/Video after reading.
No, I'll keep reading the rules until I've figured everyting out.
N/A. I never figure rules out by myself.
      292 answers
Poll created by Geert Vinaskov


When you, as the game explainer, open the box for the first time, and decide to "wing it" - seeing the game and components for the first time, and learning the game as you play for the first time? Has it happened to you that you and your group decided too give up? (and do something else/play a different game).

Poll
When "opening the box for the first time and playing immediately", have you give up?
Yes, we didn't find the experience pleasant, so we never gave that game another chance.
Yes, but even though it didn't make sense to us at the time, we've revisited it later after figuring out the rules.
No, even if it's unclear, we play as we seem fit.
No. rules are generally very clear to us, even if we read them as we go.
N/A. We always read the rules before we start playing.
      251 answers
Poll created by Geert Vinaskov


When you're a player (someone else explains the rules), have you seen them give up trying to figure out a game? (and do something else/play a different game).

Poll
Have you seen others give up, when figuring out how to play a game?
Yes, they put it away and were visibly dissapointed.
Yes, but they didn't seem to mind.
No, they play even when some rules are unclear, but it bothers them.
No, they play even when some rules are unclear, and they don't mind.
No, all rules were always very clear.
N/A. I always expain the game, or we're always prepared.
      227 answers
Poll created by Geert Vinaskov


Talking about "people that don't visit BGG". They may be casuals, they may be hardcore videogamers that play their first boardgame, they may be something complete else. Do you think they "open a game without having a slightest idea of the rules, and play"?

Poll
Do non-BGG visitors "open a box and play without reading the rules beforehand"?
Yes. All of them do: 100%
Most of them do: 90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
No. Everyone! reads the rules before playing. 0%
      171 answers
Poll created by Geert Vinaskov


Was this post too unclear to be enjoyable? If this was a boardgame, would you put this game away and play something else instead?

Poll
If this post was a boardgame, would it be too unclear?
Yes, I'd put it away and play something else instead.
A bit, but I'd look to BGG for help. BGG always helps.
No, I'm adament enough to figure everything out. Everything!
      214 answers
Poll created by Geert Vinaskov



Thanks for reading and answering. It's quite a bit of text.
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Chris Talmadge
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Clinton
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Geert Vinaskov wrote:
Have you ever started a game and given up, because you didn't feel like deciphering the rules?

The recipe for a bad time.
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James Palmer
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Someone in our group once bought Power Grid and we tried to sort out the rules as we played the game.

And that was the end of that. Now in our group, we would never play a game without someone having researched the rules beforehand.
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Nathan Milbrath
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Felkor wrote:
Someone in our group once bought Power Grid and we tried to sort out the rules as we played the game.

And that was the end of that. Now in our group, we would never play a game without someone having researched the rules beforehand.

This was exactly how my first couple games went when I jumped into the hobby. I figured "eh, how hard can a game be"? Well, trying to punch out, sleeve and learn Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game took like 3 hours and we gave up once combat was initiated as that was like another 3 pages of rules.

Lessons learned and from now on, I always read a rulebook before hand. I may get things wrong, but we can either fix them on the fly or correct them when game 2 comes around.
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Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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We've occasionally figured out a game - and then decided not to actually play it, as it would be less enjoyable to play than it was to figure out how to play.

But I can only think of two games which we weren't able to get through the rules and play:

Siena - we all agreed that it wasn't worth the pain of completing going through the rules. Never played.

Ore City - while many English translations of Japanese rules require decoding, these were particularly tough. When I broke this out for the first time last year, we finally punted part way through - but we did come back to this. Four of us spent an hour together trying to figure out how to play the game, and this time we were successful.

And, I should say - figuring out how to play Ore City was tremendously fun. I really enjoy learning rules live - whether I'm the one reading them or someone else is - but this experience was special, in no small part because of how much effort it took.
 
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Larry L
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There are many game explainers in our group, but each player is responsible for explaining the games they bring.

I've never given up on a game while reading the rules, but I have despaired at explaining the rules to others, so don't bother.
 
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Ron
Netherlands
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The only time I've given up on a game was while trying to figure out Monster Chef at a game night. The rules are so terrible! But the guy at the publisher's Essen stand that sold me the game told me that beforehand, and said that better rules were on the website. These were still terrible, and we still couldn't figure out how to play the game.
For the rest, I sometimes put the rules booklet away for a bit when I'm not getting them immediately. Sometimes I want to read rules while I'm not actually in the right mood robot
 
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American in Chile
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My gaming group is my family. I am generally the one who finds new games, so I always have some idea of how the game plays. But I don't want to come into a game with the advantage of knowing the game when everyone else doesn't. So when we open the game, I read the rules aloud as we play our first game. Generally, I read only as much as we need to know at each point, so that people aren't overwhelmed. I let everyone know their options each turn, and read what they need to know to make an informed decision. By the time everyone has had a couple turns, we all know what we're doing.

The only time I can think of that we each read the rule book and watched game-play videos (multiple times) before playing was for Space Cadets.
 
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Keith B
United States
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pickboy87 wrote:
Felkor wrote:
Someone in our group once bought Power Grid and we tried to sort out the rules as we played the game.

And that was the end of that. Now in our group, we would never play a game without someone having researched the rules beforehand.

This was exactly how my first couple games went when I jumped into the hobby. I figured "eh, how hard can a game be"? Well, trying to punch out, sleeve and learn Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game took like 3 hours and we gave up once combat was initiated as that was like another 3 pages of rules.

Lessons learned and from now on, I always read a rulebook before hand. I may get things wrong, but we can either fix them on the fly or correct them when game 2 comes around.


LOL, I can just imagine how exhausted all of you were after that. I read that rulebook three times and played a solo run-through before we ever played. When it finally got to the table, we got about 4 hours in, I was probably 3-4 turns away from winning with a Tech victory, and I had, for the first and so far last time, to quit early because I had to go somewhere. Not sure if or when it will ever get back on the table again.
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Mike Jones
United States
Gainesville
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Are you the "rule explainer/researcher" of your gaming group?

There are several.


As rule explainer, figure out rules beforehand?

Couldn't give a good answer. 'prepared'? Someone reads the rules and goes over the game, that doesn't mean they are fully prepared.


Have you encountered "open the box for the first time and figure out how it all works while we play our first game" situations?

Most of us refuse to play a game right 'out of the box'


As a rules explainer, when you read the rules on your own before the game, has it happened that you "gave up" for some reason? Or do you stick it out, 'till you've found out how the whole thing works?

You didn't have an answer for me. "send it home with someone else to figure out" Around my house we call that 'assigned homework'



When you, as the game explainer, open the box for the first time, and decide to "wing it" - seeing the game and components for the first time, and learning the game as you play for the first time? Has it happened to you that you and your group decided too give up? (and do something else/play a different game).


We don't paly 'out of the box'. But, once we have given up during a game that wasn't playing well sfter reading the rules ahead of time.


When you're a player (someone else explains the rules), have you seen them give up trying to figure out a game? (and do something else/play a different game).

Once, we had a rules explainer that was not able to answer our questions and wanted to give up. We forced them to play through so that we could learn the game.


Talking about "people that don't visit BGG". They may be casuals, they may be hardcore videogamers that play their first boardgame, they may be something complete else. Do you think they "open a game without having a slightest idea of the rules, and play"?

??? They may also be seasoned board game players. ???

So, yes I have seen seasoned 'non-BGGer' board game players pull out a game and try to learn on the fly.

What metric are you trying for though? Heck I answered that we 'never do', but really ther4e might be 1 in a four or five hundred that we will, if it's a short one p[age rule book.

So, if you are looking for the percent of people that have EVER tried it, then I'd say 100%. If you are looking for those that ALWAYS do it, I say it's a VERY low percentage. If you want to know the percentage times they do, I'd have no basis to even guess.

Was this post too unclear to be enjoyable? If this was a boardgame, would you put this game away and play something else instead?

Yeah, it seemed written with a specific point of view.
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Candace Mercer
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Olympia
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Mage Knight Board Game I am looking at you. Me and the smartest/best player in our group each took one book and learned it. We sat down to play. 4 hours later we had played some. But man...it was brutal. I have yet to get it out again. I do think the mistake was that we tried to learn together, it just made it so painful. I think had one of us worked at least one game out alone, it would have gone better, but we were like, we got this.

That being said, on lower level games, I can play them right from box w partner, though for a group I would do at least one play through so I can grasp the overall picture. That makes it easier to explain.

Also, the more games I play the better I am at GROKing a rule set. Games like Dominant Species took me hours when I was just starting out, whereas I just did Reef Encounter in one sitting. I got it easy-peasy. And that is just a matter of understanding major concepts, like worker placement or area control on a deeper level.

The rule book makes a difference too. Drum Roll should have been much easier and required less research.

My two main strategies are to read the rule set in its entirety at some point before I set the game up. A photo copy so I can make notes, and note unclear areas I need to research.

Then after I play the game the first couple times, I make sure to read the rule set w/in 24 hours. This is where I look for errors I may have made which I note in red so next time I remember. I also make some notes for teaching, a brief outline of the order in which I should cover things.

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David B
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Schoolmarm5 wrote:
My gaming group is my family. I am generally the one who finds new games, so I always have some idea of how the game plays. But I don't want to come into a game with the advantage of knowing the game when everyone else doesn't. So when we open the game, I read the rules aloud as we play our first game. Generally, I read only as much as we need to know at each point, so that people aren't overwhelmed. I let everyone know their options each turn, and read what they need to know to make an informed decision. By the time everyone has had a couple turns, we all know what we're doing.

The only time I can think of that we each read the rule book and watched game-play videos (multiple times) before playing was for Space Cadets.


I don't think I could sit through someone reading the rulebook.
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David Gibbs
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The idea of pulling out the rule-book and learning together horrifies me. If you bring a game and want to play it, but can't explain it -- we're not playing it.

I have lots of games we can play that I can explain. A bunch more that I can explain after a quick review of the rules. The worst is where it is a game I haven't played in a couple years, and I have to spend a while reviewing things, and using the rules as a guide while I explain it. I'll still not read the rules out -- I'll refresh and explain. If I can't (or the game owner can't), then this session isn't the time to play that game.
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Kevin Shillinglaw
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Felkor wrote:
Someone in our group once bought Power Grid and we tried to sort out the rules as we played the game.

And that was the end of that. Now in our group, we would never play a game without someone having researched the rules beforehand.


Good to know...
 
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Craig Fox
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I love me some Mage Knight, but that ruleset's a bully. Even learning enough to run the beginner scenario leaves my brain with a wedgie up its rear and no lunch money.

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Eric Brosius
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I'm with Joe. We often learn a game by reading the rules at the table, and it usually works. We very rarely give up; those cases are generally because the rules seem contradictory as written and thus we cannot play. (Often it turns out that the rules don't describe the game as the designer intended it.) Also, as Joe mentions, sometimes we nderstand the rules but choose not to play (the most recent I remember in this category is Chicago.)
 
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American in Chile
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pfctsqr wrote:
Schoolmarm5 wrote:
My gaming group is my family. I am generally the one who finds new games, so I always have some idea of how the game plays. But I don't want to come into a game with the advantage of knowing the game when everyone else doesn't. So when we open the game, I read the rules aloud as we play our first game. Generally, I read only as much as we need to know at each point, so that people aren't overwhelmed. I let everyone know their options each turn, and read what they need to know to make an informed decision. By the time everyone has had a couple turns, we all know what we're doing.

The only time I can think of that we each read the rule book and watched game-play videos (multiple times) before playing was for Space Cadets.


I don't think I could sit through someone reading the rulebook.

That seems to be a common opinion on BGG. I, on the other hand, would feel like I hadn't really learned it if someone just told me how to play. And there would always be a question of whether a rule was left out, or something explained incorrectly.
 
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David Gibbs
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Schoolmarm5 wrote:
pfctsqr wrote:
Schoolmarm5 wrote:
My gaming group is my family. I am generally the one who finds new games, so I always have some idea of how the game plays. But I don't want to come into a game with the advantage of knowing the game when everyone else doesn't. So when we open the game, I read the rules aloud as we play our first game. Generally, I read only as much as we need to know at each point, so that people aren't overwhelmed. I let everyone know their options each turn, and read what they need to know to make an informed decision. By the time everyone has had a couple turns, we all know what we're doing.

The only time I can think of that we each read the rule book and watched game-play videos (multiple times) before playing was for Space Cadets.


I don't think I could sit through someone reading the rulebook.

That seems to be a common opinion on BGG. I, on the other hand, would feel like I hadn't really learned it if someone just told me how to play. And there would always be a question of whether a rule was left out, or something explained incorrectly.


Absolutely, which is why I'll often have read the rules myself, or I will find a copy of the rules on here and read them again after playing.

I'll often do that, then send an correction email to whoever taught me the game.
 
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Osiris Saline
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Schoolmarm5 wrote:
pfctsqr wrote:
Schoolmarm5 wrote:
My gaming group is my family. I am generally the one who finds new games, so I always have some idea of how the game plays. But I don't want to come into a game with the advantage of knowing the game when everyone else doesn't. So when we open the game, I read the rules aloud as we play our first game. Generally, I read only as much as we need to know at each point, so that people aren't overwhelmed. I let everyone know their options each turn, and read what they need to know to make an informed decision. By the time everyone has had a couple turns, we all know what we're doing.

The only time I can think of that we each read the rule book and watched game-play videos (multiple times) before playing was for Space Cadets.


I don't think I could sit through someone reading the rulebook.

That seems to be a common opinion on BGG. I, on the other hand, would feel like I hadn't really learned it if someone just told me how to play. And there would always be a question of whether a rule was left out, or something explained incorrectly.


I find that having an experienced player explain it, who is also willing to hand around the rulebook and/or printed FAQ/turn sheets to anyone who wants them works well.

I find the problem with most board game rulebooks is that they're really badly written for the most part, so the FAQs/cheat sheets help a ton with new players.
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Jake Blomquist
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For me it depends very much on the context.

In my regular game group there are few of us, we always meet at the same friend's house, and two of us in particular (one of which is me) buy most of the games. Personally when I buy a new game I really enjoy opening it up, punching it, and reading through the rules right away, and so as a result when I bring it to game night I've already read through the rulebook so I can explain it. The other guy does the same, though I can't speak to his motive for reading the rules beforehand. Perhaps he hates it but does it out of a sense of duty, but I hope he just does it out of enjoyment like me.

By contrast sometimes we'll go to a game club which provides a library of titles to try, and when we pull one out which no one knows (which is most of the time) one of us just grabs the rulebook and reads it to everyone else. This person is usually me or the other guy who buys games. When he does it he does a lot of reading verbatim, and then we have to clarify.

Usually what I like to do is read a paragraph or section quickly in my head then summarize it. I find this helps me to understand the rules because I have to be able to summarize them, but also I think I'd rather get the rules read to me this way. The technical style of explanations you see in rulebooks is better for reading than hearing. Plus many rulebooks just explain things in a dumb way and are better off being translated. For example it's become a recurring joke in our group how stupid the explanation of taking wounds is in the Mage Knight rulebook.

I mean really, games are designed with people learning them from the rulebook in mind, and given that I don't think I've ever seen a game with an age rating above 14 that means every rulebook should be understandable to a 14 year old. Presumably we're all smarter than the average 14 year old.

Though when I really get in trouble is when I'm overconfident about explaining the rules off the top of my head for a game I haven't played in a while. We busted out Kanban recently and it had been about a year since we'd all last played it, but I decided to explain it to everyone off the top of my head. I did pretty well, but I forgot that we start with a blueprint, which caused a sort of wonky start, and also only put one chair on the 'first to n cars/upgrades/certifications' things, so there were too few chairs available in the game. Fairly minor but it will teach me to at least skim through rulebooks more.

But yeah, I guess overall my point is it seems that the vast majority of people on this site are weirdly picky when it comes to rules explanations.
 
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Michael Debije
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jblomquist wrote:
For me it depends very much on the context.

In my regular game group there are few of us, we always meet at the same friend's house, and two of us in particular (one of which is me) buy most of the games. Personally when I buy a new game I really enjoy opening it up, punching it, and reading through the rules right away, and so as a result when I bring it to game night I've already read through the rulebook so I can explain it. The other guy does the same, though I can't speak to his motive for reading the rules beforehand. Perhaps he hates it but does it out of a sense of duty, but I hope he just does it out of enjoyment like me.

By contrast sometimes we'll go to a game club which provides a library of titles to try, and when we pull one out which no one knows (which is most of the time) one of us just grabs the rulebook and reads it to everyone else. This person is usually me or the other guy who buys games. When he does it he does a lot of reading verbatim, and then we have to clarify.

Usually what I like to do is read a paragraph or section quickly in my head then summarize it. I find this helps me to understand the rules because I have to be able to summarize them, but also I think I'd rather get the rules read to me this way. The technical style of explanations you see in rulebooks is better for reading than hearing. Plus many rulebooks just explain things in a dumb way and are better off being translated. For example it's become a recurring joke in our group how stupid the explanation of taking wounds is in the Mage Knight rulebook.

I mean really, games are designed with people learning them from the rulebook in mind, and given that I don't think I've ever seen a game with an age rating above 14 that means every rulebook should be understandable to a 14 year old. Presumably we're all smarter than the average 14 year old.

Though when I really get in trouble is when I'm overconfident about explaining the rules off the top of my head for a game I haven't played in a while. We busted out Kanban recently and it had been about a year since we'd all last played it, but I decided to explain it to everyone off the top of my head. I did pretty well, but I forgot that we start with a blueprint, which caused a sort of wonky start, and also only put one chair on the 'first to n cars/upgrades/certifications' things, so there were too few chairs available in the game. Fairly minor but it will teach me to at least skim through rulebooks more.

But yeah, I guess overall my point is it seems that the vast majority of people on this site are weirdly picky when it comes to rules explanations.


I'm with you: I guess many could not handle our group where we learn Andean Abyss from the rules on the spot. After Essen, we knock out 20-30 games in three days with barely a rulebook open beforehand. One punches, another reads the rules. Sometimes there is a goof but mostly we get it right.
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Monica Elida Forssell
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We once played Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome wrong at first, before we revisited the rulebook and started the game again.

Mostly when I set up a game that I have gotten or bought, I want to play through to see if I can learn the games on my own. I usually end up having to pack the game together and try again after reading through some more, seeing videos, or even have someone show me how to play the game.
 
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pickboy87 wrote:
Felkor wrote:
Someone in our group once bought Power Grid and we tried to sort out the rules as we played the game.

And that was the end of that. Now in our group, we would never play a game without someone having researched the rules beforehand.

This was exactly how my first couple games went when I jumped into the hobby. I figured "eh, how hard can a game be"? Well, trying to punch out, sleeve and learn Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game took like 3 hours and we gave up once combat was initiated as that was like another 3 pages of rules.

Lessons learned and from now on, I always read a rulebook before hand. I may get things wrong, but we can either fix them on the fly or correct them when game 2 comes around.


That's exactly my first disastrous experience with none having read the rules beforehand - Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game!

We were determinde to finish the game but it ended up taking the entire day! The game was forever tainted for my brother, but I had to come back and learn it properly cause it's actually quite an awesome game
 
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Geert Vinaskov wrote:
Have you ever started a game and given up, because you didn't feel like deciphering the rules?

As a general note, for me, this isn't always because the rules are crap. Sometimes I did not actually feel as ambitious as I thought I did. I get started learning (usually by myself) and realize it was more work than I thought it would be and I think, "hmmm perhaps today is a 'game I already know' day instead..."

Other times it is because of the rulebook. If I find that I am having a really hard time getting moving in a new game because the rulebook is confusing, I will come back to it at a later time after I have downloaded player aids from BGG and watched a few videos.
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There's a few games I've "given up on" the first time I tried to go through the rules[1]. Usually because they are more involved than I thought they would be when I first sat down w/ them. So far though there's only two I can think of off hand that I didn't eventually go back and figure out; Kremlin and Duel in the Dark. Really more lack of motivation than anything else (aka why did I buy these games again )... and then there's Myth. At this point I'm determined though, someday I will sit down, invest the time and just learn how to play it... someday whistle


[1] There's also a few games I haven't gotten into yet because I suspect the rules are going to be more complicated than I'm willing to dig into at the moment
 
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