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Subject: Games you "enjoy" teaching. Any tips for teaching? rss

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Alexandra Logan
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This year I found a games group in my area which I have been attending regularly. I often take new games, but find that I really don't like teaching games.

Looking for any of the following:
- Can be taught easily in under 10 minutes
- By end of first round everybody gets it
- I can teach, play, then leave for others to teach
- Components include teaching prompts
- There isn't too much "more experienced player will always win"

Thanks
 
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Joao Pedro
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Settlers of Catan fits that bill, I'd say
 
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Graham
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I'd say that Coop games like Flash Point: Fire Rescue, Pandemic, Forbidden Island, or Forbidden Desert really work. Especially as everyone is working together you don't have a "winner" issue.
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Jonathan Challis
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loganbreath wrote:

- There isn't too much "more experienced player will always win"


By definition then, this requires high randomness and low skill, which is the very opposite that we've all been seeking in the euro game revolution of the last 20 years.

I honestly have no interest in any game that doesn't very much reward the most experienced and skillful players (and these tend to correlate). If have a decent chance of winning against players that know what they are doing on my first game (or even 3rd or 5th) then to be honest it's not a very good game, and has no replayability. It sounds like you want games that give people something to do in the background rather than concentrate on and work at...

Back to the dark days of Monopoly and Risk...
 
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Condottiere fits all requirements well
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Graham
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Kelanen wrote:
loganbreath wrote:

- There isn't too much "more experienced player will always win"


By definition then, this requires high randomness and low skill, which is the very opposite that we've all been seeking in the euro game revolution of the last 20 years.

I honestly have no interest in any game that doesn't very much reward the most experienced and skillful players (and these tend to correlate). If have a decent chance of winning against players that know what they are doing on my first game (or even 3rd or 5th) then to be honest it's not a very good game, and has no replayability. It sounds like you want games that give people something to do in the background rather than concentrate on and work at...

Back to the dark days of Monopoly and Risk...


I think there is a huge amount between the "dark days of Monopoly and Risk" and games where the "more experienced player will always win".

Its like me saying that "therefore the only games you recommend are High skill games where the least experience player is going to be walked all over for his first 10 game. Back to the dark days of Chess..."*

Back to OP, some other games that might fit:
Tsuro (plays in roughly 10 mins, lacks teaching prompts, but is very easy to understand)
Ticket To Ride (No player aids, but fairly easy to understand - however skill plays slightly more into this)
Small World(Easy to teach, Giant Player Aids, From my experience people gang up on the most experienced/apparent leader and so it self balances)
Cash N' Guns (No player aids, but easy concept to grasp and again self balances against experience. [N.B. Teaching this game makes you prime target])
Dixit (If you get Journey (and I believe some others) the score track explains the rules. It relies on the understanding of the other players and so having played before with a different group it doesn't help that much)

*Edit: I feel I should point out that I am not against Chess, I'm just pointing out that he's making that kind of logical leap.
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Jonathan Challis
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*shrugs* As a someone that plays chess, and hates 4 games on your list, I'd say we are agreeing, just disagreeing in our semantics to describe it...

Perhaps I am just at the wrong end of the pond to answer this one, but I honestly can't conceive of anything that fits this criteria that is a good 'game' as opposed to a past-time, and your list hasn't changed that view.

To be a 'game', it involves, skill, learning and experience. You need to be able to outplay someone, and for that to happen, it has to have an experience gradient.
 
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David
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loganbreath wrote:
This year I found a games group in my area which I have been attending regularly. I often take new games, but find that I really don't like teaching games.

Looking for any of the following:
- Can be taught easily in under 10 minutes
- By end of first round everybody gets it
- I can teach, play, then leave for others to teach
- Components include teaching prompts
- There isn't too much "more experienced player will always win"

Thanks
If you're in an existing group and find you don't like to teach games all the time then I see two options:
A Bring less new games and play more of the stuff they already know.
B Consider the teaching as investment to have someone you can play with later.

As for games recommendations... I've played Indigo last night. The rules are incredibly simple. There's like 1.5 pages to read. Most of it is for setup, then there's a bit of rules (which are realls simple) and the rest is to make absolutely sure you've understood them. Yet it is an intriguing mix between luck of the (tile) draw and tactics with a hint of strategy and take that.
 
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Well, probably the easiest game to have players jump into is Fluxx - with its "draw 1, play 1" starting state -- although that is a very high randomness low-strategy game.

At the moment, Dixit is at the top of my list of games I play with non-gamers, due to the ease of explaining the rules and the relatively social nature of play. Other games on that list include Hey That's my Fish, Guillotine, Hanabi, and Lord of the Fries.

I would recommend the widely-known Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Cattaan, but I don't think either can be taught easily in under 10 minutes -- especially to an audience who is skeptical of these weird newfangled games, so those probably don't meet your criteria. Additionally both have initial setup decisions that strongly effect the rest of the game (initial placement, tickets kept) and therefore substantially penalize players who must make those decisions before they understand how the game works.

Finally, for general game teaching tips, actually take the time to prepare a presentation for any game you want to teach. Break the gameplay into key sections and organize those in a manner that explains everything clearly in the least amount of time. Don't be afraid to have your presentation interrupted by questions -- those just show that the new players are interested and paying attention -- but with an outline you should be able to answer many questions with, "I'm glad you asked, but I'll get to that next" since you know what's coming up and don't have to jump back and forth repeating yourself with addenda. I personally have actually gone as far as typing out a 3,000 word outline for presentation of a more complex game; but most of the time just a few index cards and practicing once in front of a mirror will help immensely
 
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Stephen Cooper
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Easy to teach games

-Ticket to ride
-Jamaica
-Smash up
-Pandemic
-Forbidden Island/Dessert
-Resistance/werewolf
-Castle panic
-Hanabi

All of these games also have very little set up the most set up is pandemic.

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Shane Larsen
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To answer your question in the title: I enjoy teaching every game I enjoy playing, no matter how "difficult" it is to teach/play. That's the honest truth. Once a player learns a game well, teaching it should be a walk in the park, no matter how "deep" the game is or "complex" the rules are. You just have to follow ONE SIMPLE RULE:

::Teach backwards::

Tell the players how to win first; not last. Explain the win condition; If it's a VP game, start by literally saying, "The player with the most points at the end of the game wins." This begs the next question(s): How do you get points, then? and When does the game end?

If you teach backwards, there is always a context for the next thing you teach, and with context, the brain registers it much better.

It's amazing how many "expert" game teachers out there do reviews and start explaining the rules by opening with something like this: "On their turns, players will take actions doing one of the following things..." This is ineffective, because players don't know why they're doing those things. Give them the why first, then the how and you'll find even "complex" games to be much easier to teach.

On the issue of time, it's hard to teach any game with any kind of strategic depth in only 10 minutes. 10 minutes is a very low restriction.

Now I'll step off my soap box and tell you a few games that are so easy to explain that even if one isn't a good teacher, he/she should still be able to teach them easily. Keep in mind that to fit your list of criteria, you've going to be getting a lot of very light games, including many fillers, that won't offer much of a strategic experience:

Loopin' Louie
For Sale
Labyrinth
Diamant
Parade
+1 Hanabi
Finca - It's going to be close on the time limit again, but it's close enough that you should take a look. It probably won't get any deeper than this.
Dominion - Iffy on the time limit. Now that I've taught it dozens of times, I could probably do it. I'd really focus on the A-B-C teaching structure if I wanted to leave them after 10 minutes.

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Jordan Booth
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I really enjoy introducing people to Werewolf because after your first game you know what to expect, but in the first game you can literally just start playing and the mystery of what you are doing is part of the fun/suspense. This only really works because one "player" is guiding the group and telling everyone what to do and when to do it ("Everyone close your eyes", "everyone vote", etc.)
 
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Gene Moore
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thedacker wrote:
::Teach backwards::

Tell the players how to win first; not last. Explain the win condition; If it's a VP game, start by literally saying, "The player with the most points at the end of the game wins." This begs the next question(s): How do you get points, then? and When does the game end?

If you teach backwards, there is always a context for the next thing you teach, and with context, the brain registers it much better.

It's amazing how many "expert" game teachers out there do reviews and start explaining the rules by opening with something like this: "On their turns, players will take actions doing one of the following things..." This is ineffective, because players don't know why they're doing those things. Give them the why first, then the how and you'll find even "complex" games to be much easier to teach.

This is the best advice there is about teaching games. Just today, I taught King of Tokyo to a group that was completely unfamiliar with it. KoT is not exactly a difficult game to teach, but I made sure to start with the win condition (20 VP or knock everyone else out), and the rest just fell into place.
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Rich S.
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thedacker wrote:
To answer your question in the title: I enjoy teaching every game I enjoy playing, no matter how "difficult" it is to teach/play. That's the honest truth. Once a player learns a game well, teaching it should be a walk in the park, no matter how "deep" the game is or "complex" the rules are. You just have to follow ONE SIMPLE RULE:

::Teach backwards::

Tell the players how to win first; not last. Explain the win condition; If it's a VP game, start by literally saying, "The player with the most points at the end of the game wins." This begs the next question(s): How do you get points, then? and When does the game end?

If you teach backwards, there is always a context for the next thing you teach, and with context, the brain registers it much better.

It's amazing how many "expert" game teachers out there do reviews and start explaining the rules by opening with something like this: "On their turns, players will take actions doing one of the following things..." This is ineffective, because players don't know why they're doing those things. Give them the why first, then the how and you'll find even "complex" games to be much easier to teach.

On the issue of time, it's hard to teach any game with any kind of strategic depth in only 10 minutes. 10 minutes is a very low restriction.

Now I'll step off my soap box and tell you a few games that are so easy to explain that even if one isn't a good teacher, he/she should still be able to teach them easily. Keep in mind that to fit your list of criteria, you've going to be getting a lot of very light games, including many fillers, that won't offer much of a strategic experience:

Loopin' Louie
For Sale
Labyrinth
Diamant
Parade
+1 Hanabi
Finca - It's going to be close on the time limit again, but it's close enough that you should take a look. It probably won't get any deeper than this.
Dominion - Iffy on the time limit. Now that I've taught it dozens of times, I could probably do it. I'd really focus on the A-B-C teaching structure if I wanted to leave them after 10 minutes.



This is probably the most helpful way to do it. I agree completely. I don't teach games very often but this is the approach I'm going to start using.
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Aaron Yoder
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I'll give some tips!

I'm usually the one teaching games, and I can now solidly teach almost any game in around 15 minutes. This is a very broad guideline; you'll have to figure out when point 5 works best. Sometimes it is a good idea to splash some 5 up in 4's business.

1) Start with what you're doing in game, the idea if you will. Be brief, no details.

2) Tell them how to win. If it is through VP, briefly list all the ways to gain VP. Don't worry about the exact values of things.

3) Tell them, briefly, what Players can do in a turn, and how they should do it.

4) Go through the details on what they can do and how they do it.

5) Point out rules exceptions.

It is easier to remember and understand point 4 if they've gotten a brief background via points 1 to 3. Use your components, too, there's often reminders on the board. It is important to end with point 5 because the exceptions are often the hardest to remember, and ending on that point is often the best way to remember stuff.

Don't detail all the special abilities, all the cards, and all the different "things." Especially if it is already written down. That's tedious and your players can read all on their own. It also happens to be the largest time sink and the most easily avoided. If there's something strange or weird about a specific ability or card, use point 5 to call attention to it.

Encourage questions, but don't be afraid to wave them off if it isn't time for the rule they're asking about.

This format works for a lot of games, but not all games. Some games are just odd. Be flexible. Teaching games is a chore, but it doesn't need to take long and it doesn't need to be a horrible experience for you or the other players.
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Seconded.

And walk them through a turn, so they have some idea of what to expect when they inevitably have to go first.

They aren't canon, but I would go with these two:

1. Railways of the world: Limited number of actions. Players only have to focus on doing one thing. Lots of visual appeal - this game is a huge sprawling thing with giant minis for empty towns, and trains that really do roll across the board. Game Time - It can be adjusted based on the length of game you want.

2. Navegador: Again, limited number of choices - players generally only have about three things that they need to focus on for their next turn. Roundel - This is a great way to introduce new players to the roundel mechanic, completely removing them from the world of rolling dice. Economic - Players can choose to work together to make sure more people have a "good market," or against each other to ensure "tough markets," for their opponents.
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Liam
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Any tips for teaching?

Prepare - don't just wing it and prepare a rules overview for your actual audience.
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Alison Mandible
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monkeyhandz wrote:
Any tips for teaching?

Prepare - don't just wing it and prepare a rules overview for your actual audience.


Yup. I often rehearse explanations in my head as I'm walking to game night, if I have a new game I'm excited to play and haven't taught before.

I will also say this: For some reason, I'm always tempted to only teach what's in the rulebook, but this is silly. If you've already played, it's totally worth saying "20 points is probably a winning score, and I've never seen 30" or "you want to get rid of your starting cards as fast as possible".

(I don't know if anyone else has this temptation.)
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Alexandra Logan
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Thanks for the teaching tips. I'm going to try rehearsing more. I also think I always rush my explanations because I'm anxious to start playing and everybody looks bored. But maybe they are just concentrating. And it really is better to play a game when you know the rules.

Any tips for learning games from the rule book? I find I really struggle with this. I may have to start taking notes. Even for small rule sets. And especially for games with nuances or obscure mechanics.
 
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Shane Larsen
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loganbreath wrote:
Thanks for the teaching tips. I'm going to try rehearsing more. I also think I always rush my explanations because I'm anxious to start playing and everybody looks bored. But maybe they are just concentrating. And it really is better to play a game when you know the rules.

Any tips for learning games from the rule book? I find I really struggle with this. I may have to start taking notes. Even for small rule sets. And especially for games with nuances or obscure mechanics.


I don't learn well from a straight read either. I'm a practical learner. So I set the game up and play through several turns, or a whole game until it clicks. I also practice teaching it while it's set up. Finally, once I've done a sole play through, I read the rules again and that's when all the little rules click.
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Jared Voshall
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What I tend to do for games that I'm greatly interested in is I read through the rules, then play a trial game against myself (with rulebook handy to make sure everything clicks), then go on to teach the game. While I do have to check on things on occasion during the game itself, it's a great way to make sure I have the rules down before trying to teach it to others.
 
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Alison Mandible
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loganbreath wrote:
Thanks for the teaching tips. I'm going to try rehearsing more. I also think I always rush my explanations because I'm anxious to start playing and everybody looks bored. But maybe they are just concentrating.


Maybe! But it's true that listeners can get bored. Another thing I try to do, when prepping an explanation, is to figure out which parts it's safe to skim or skip.

Obviously, you don't want anyone to feel ambushed by an important rule. But leaving out some gritty details also gives you a chance to check on your audience: "Okay, that's the bulk of it. I can go into detail about the cards that come into play later in the game, or we can just start now and get into it when they come up. Which do you want to do?"

Some games are easier than others for this. In Mage Knight, nearly every card is face-up on the table before it's added to anyone's deck, and every terrain feature is visible before you encounter it, so you can postpone a ton of the smaller rules.
 
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Kevin Garnica
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thedacker wrote:

::Teach backwards::

Tell the players how to win first; not last. Explain the win condition; If it's a VP game, start by literally saying, "The player with the most points at the end of the game wins." This begs the next question(s): How do you get points, then? and When does the game end?

If you teach backwards, there is always a context for the next thing you teach, and with context, the brain registers it much better.

It's amazing how many "expert" game teachers out there do reviews and start explaining the rules by opening with something like this: "On their turns, players will take actions doing one of the following things..." This is ineffective, because players don't know why they're doing those things. Give them the why first, then the how and you'll find even "complex" games to be much easier to teach.

On the issue of time, it's hard to teach any game with any kind of strategic depth in only 10 minutes. 10 minutes is a very low restriction.


+1,000!!! This truly is some of the best advice. I would even go so far as to say it also depends (slightly) on the game itself. For the most part, backwards is best.

As another general "rule of thumb", teach the game in logical "order" of what you're trying to accomplish. Sometimes this is *not* backwards.

Some games that can be taught straight from the player aids AND/OR visual/iconographic design are:

Belfort
Garden Dice
Tokaido
Yspahan
Santiago de Cuba
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Kevin Garnica
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Also, I have "notes" on my phone which serve as a teaching "prompt". When I teach, I just whip out my phone and glance at it to remind me the next point I have to teach about the game. Outline format, bullet points, whatever works...
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Lords of Waterdeep
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