Random Ramblings of Gaming

Just random crap I may think about at any given point.
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Learning a new game.

Christopher Ebert
United States
Cape Coral
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I know everyone has their own way of doing things. We are all unique, have our own opinions, likes, dislikes, and process of doing things. That's the beauty of the human race.
Unfortunately, seems that many people in this life see their way as the only way and that if you aren't doing it that way, than you are wrong. You know what I'm talking about too. You've witnessed it yourself many times, even here on boardgamegeek.com. I wrote about a particular example of this in a previous blog; Gotta be the best?

Now, along with this train of thought, also comes a point where you don't understand why someone does things the way they do. This could either be because you see the way you do it, and compare it, therefore thinking it "weird". Much like with differences in culture. Or maybe it's just something you never thought of, but still wouldn't do it that way. I'll list some examples of my own which involve the title of this blog. When it comes to learning new games, I've seen many many posts related to this. And there are quite a few that don't make sense to me, yet then again, I'm not in that person's shoes. Who am I to judge? These examples that I've seen are things like:
• Asking questions about the rules before reading the rulebook. This is understandable when the rulebook is not available for free online, but I've seen this when it is.
• Claiming the game is broken after a mere 1 or 2 plays
• Making house rules after a few plays as well.
• And my favorite, wanting to play all the rules right the very first time.

I'll go over each of these parts with my opinions about this. I want to note, that this blog post is in no way an attack on people that do things this way. It is simply things I personally don't understand why they are done, and my view on it, and hopefully even a guide to help those that do these sort of things to ease their frustration. I've not accomplished much in my life, but I love to help people. I made it my personal goal over 10 years ago to at least try to make a minimum of 1 person smile a day. I feel pretty successful at that. Another thing I do, is find easier yet more efficient ways to do things.

So now for the point of my post, my thoughts...
For the first one I'm going to combine two.

• Asking questions about the rules before reading the rulebook. This is understandable when the rulebook is not available for free online, but I've seen this when it is.
• And my favorite, wanting to play all the rules right the very first time.

In my opinion, trying to make sure you understand everything and play right the very first time, doesn't stamp the rules into your mind as hard. The best way of learning is through trial and error. If you do something wrong, and find out how to do it right, you tend to remember it better.
So this is how I learn a new game.
Step 1: I expect that for the first few plays, I'm going to make mistakes and I'm going to do things wrong and I'm going to forget some minor details.
Step 2: Read the rulebook in it's entirety and try to consume as much as I can. Usually sometimes you don't soak up everything cause of the anticipation of playing the game. Also, you may be imagining what it must be like to play with this rules.
Step 3: Play the game
Step 4: Read the rulebook in it's entirety again. Yes, it is sometimes difficult to do, cause you're reading over something you already know. However, it's important to read everything, cause now you have experience with the game and moving it's components around and getting a feel for the turn order, no longer imagining what it would be. Now when you read the rulebook, you'll have a different view of it and understand it on a more personal level. Not only that, the things you did incorrectly or even forgot will shine out like a beacon from the other things you got the first time.
Step 5: Play the game again.
Step 6: I repeat step 4 until I read through and nothing stands out and I feel I fully grasp all of the rules. Now is also the time I feel I'm ready to teach the game.

An example of this, was with the game Tales of the Arabian Nights. I actually read the rulebook twice before playing it cause I wanted to make sure I got as much info as possible since my first game with it was going to be with 3 people. (I didn't own the game yet, a friend was bringing it over and I like to prepare myself) I finally got the game eventually and played again. Then read every section of the rulebook again and something stood out at me that I didn't notice before, it was the rules with movement. I understood the part on how to read what your movement was, but I was using the location as what counted. For example I was counting Islands as a land movement and only sea zones as water movement. Out of my two read troughs before I had missed the part that you use the path in between as your movement, not the location. That minor mistake I had glossed over before and didn't catch.

I'm sure some of you got that from the very beginning, but remember, we all interpret things differently sometimes. I mean, that is why we are on BGG anyway right? To ask each others opinions and have rules questions?

I'll combine the last two as well...

• Claiming the game is broken after a mere 1 or 2 plays
• Making house rules after a few plays as well.

This one sometimes gets to me. How can an individual understand every strategy and tactic in a game the first play through? I know I sure don't. Sure, you can use the reason that once you've played games enough that you get how games are suppose to work. That just translates to me that if you are a chess master, than you'll immediately be a master at a game like Khet or Go.
I always feel that there are rules there for a reason, and maybe it wasn't there initially or was changed cause after playtesting it didn't or did work.
It seems to me that a lot of times when people say "this game is broken" that it really translates into "I don't like this rule cause it makes it less fun for me / prevents me from winning / etc." Then of course there's house rules to "fix" these "broken" rules.
Now, it's your game, you bought it, you can house rule whatever you want. But I feel it's unfair to house rule something just cause after a few plays you feel it's broken. It takes quite a few games to start developing a real strategy that works or even see another one.

For example, Merchants and Marauders. New people always see the "port-hopping" strategy and exploit it. The new pirate players think it's unfair and makes winning as a merchant easy. So they want to house rule it or of course, call it broken. However experienced players see it as a waste of turns and see it as a poor strategy.

These are just more of my random feeling and ideas, and I am not asking anyone that this is how things should be done or that you should do as I do, after all I never even said that you should do anything. I'm just sharing is all.
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