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Subject: How do YOU learn new games? rss

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Our Lady of Perpetual Yelling
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I'm pretty new to the games that have burst onto the scene since 2000 or so. In the last few months since I discovered BGG and all these great new games, I've been adding interesting sounding ones to my collection.

HOWEVER...

I'm so used to roll-and-move games that I've found some "simple" (as described on BGG) games a bit over my head. Take Mice and Mystics, for example. We cracked open the box, and were almost immediately overwhelmed by the set up. We then watched 1-2 hrs worth of videos trying to figure it out; packed it up and haven't pulled it out since. We WANT to learn how to play it, but we don't know any local gamers so we have to figure them out on our own. On top of that, I teach a games class at my local homeschool co-op, and generally am teaching/running three different games each class. *whew!*

How do YOU teach yourself a new game? I've never heard of a "learning game" until BGG, because most games I grew up playing were pretty simple. However, I need an easier way to teach myself a game so that family game night (and co-op class) run a bit smoother. Ideas?

ETA: I've been thinking about this question since I started watching Dice Tower vids. I was curious how Tom Vasal manages it, since he obviously has to learn & teach several new games a week. Of course, he has waaaaay more game experience than me.
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Mario Lanza
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I read the rules usually after looking at all the pieces and sometimes with the pieces out and in front of me for easy access. I read and reread sections until am able to envision gameplay. In other words, if I'm not getting it, I read it again until I do. If you don't get it yourself, your rules explanation won't go over very well.
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Curt Carpenter
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Read the rules. Slowly. Carefully. Maybe more than once (because many rules are egregious about forward references). Have the game open and follow along with components if wary of complex rules.

If still not clear, test drive the game (play a round or two by yourself, as if you were playing for others).

Scan the Rules forums for any questions, and see if yours were already asked/answered.
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Antonio
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Same with me actually, I would read the rules over and over again just to make sure I can understand the game very well before I teach others. Sometimes the night before I would read the rules before going to bed.
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Joke Meister
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photojenic wrote:

I'm pretty new to the games that have burst onto the scene since 2000 or so. In the last few months since I discovered BGG and all these great new games, I've been adding interesting sounding ones to my collection.

HOWEVER...

I'm so used to roll-and-move games that I've found some "simple" (as described on BGG) games a bit over my head. Take Mice and Mystics, for example. We cracked open the box, and were almost immediately overwhelmed by the set up. We then watched 1-2 hrs worth of videos trying to figure it out; packed it up and haven't pulled it out since. We WANT to learn how to play it, but we don't know any local gamers so we have to figure them out on our own. On top of that, I teach a games class at my local homeschool co-op, and generally am teaching/running three different games each class. *whew!*

How do YOU teach yourself a new game? I've never heard of a "learning game" until BGG, because most games I grew up playing were pretty simple. However, I need an easier way to teach myself a game so that family game night (and co-op class) run a bit smoother. Ideas?


I generally watch videos and read reviews of games before I buy them (generally...) so I already have an idea of how to play the game before I get it in hand. Once I get the game in hand, I then read the rulebook which, coupled with my knowledge from reading and watching reviews, is normally enough for me to get a grasp of how to play the game.

With that said, the first game or two does still require having the rulebook on hand as I find that I do need to check rules during the first game or two.

After I finish playing the game, I then re-read the rules as I find that this 3rd and/or 4th reading (generally, I read rules twice before the first game) makes a lot more sense after I have some actual experience of the game.
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Caysi McQuillan
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I usually read the rules and then start going through the game itself. I then set the game up and follow every instruction that is written. If this does not work (because there are A LOT of rule books out there that are unclear), i turn to watching videos on the game and see what they are doing. I also check out this site and ask questions, because there will be someone on here somewhere who is an expert and willing to help out!!!

Everyone learns differently...i am one that needs to be shown, so i have to show myself!!!
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I usually watch a few videos, set the game up and try to run through a couple of rounds while referring to the rules.

Once the first person 'sacrifices' and plough through the rules, the rest of the players should be able to benefit and get on board fairly easily.

Good luck!
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Gary Goh
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Here's how I learn new games:

1 Read the rules to enhance familiarity with basic game rules and specific terminology.

2 Set it up for a solo session, playing for all sides (for multi-player games) as best as possible.

3 Check the rule book when I have the slightest doubt whatsoever.

4 Make mistakes and learn from them.

5 Rinse and repeat steps 1 to 5, until familiarity sinks in.

Truly, nothing beats getting down and dirty with the gameplay for me. Watching videos and reading rules are all good, but actually playing the game is the quickest way for me to pick the rules up
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Geoff C
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Google can be your best friend. Google the game title along with 'introduction' or 'how to play' and see what comes up. Dollars to donuts, these days, someone has asked the same question already or someone has made the video somewhere.

Barring that, ask where you got the game, odds are the local gamestore has someone who at least knows something about it and can answer some questions hopefully, who knows, you may even find someone willing to show the game.
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Krawhitham B
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I use the rules sub-forum for each game. This way I can see what rules questions other people have asked, which should help me understand the game better.

In this case: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/forum/1243462/mice-and-mystics/...

Reading the rule book carefully is an obvious one, but what might be less obvious to a new gamer is to re-read the rules after a play through. You will make mistakes, possibly even for a few games.

Keep reading the rules. Obviously you want to refer to the rules during the game, but it is also useful to read them when you are not playing right at that moment. Also try and get someone else to read through the rules, a different perspective will either help or raise questions which you can ask in the Mice & Mystics forum.

Video's are awesome too, but try and find a tutorial or game play video, rather than just a review. For example http://www.boardgamegeek.com/video/31040/mice-and-mystics/gr...
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Moe45673
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Games definitely can be hard to grok. I remember not understanding how certain rules in games worked mechanically, like getting rid of cards in your hand in Friday or moving your animals around however you please in Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small.

Stick with it! I haven't watched this video but I watched his other video on Puzzle Strike and found it stellar
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/video/21411/mice-and-mystics/mi...
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Hilde Vandierendonck
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First I watch a video and then read the rulebook. That works pretty well but I'm used to read rulebooks.
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Pieter
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Try to find some likeminded people in the neighbourhood who already know some of the games you are interested in. Play your first games with them.

BTW: Mice & Mystics is NOT a simple game. It is simple for a ROLEPLAYING game -- but RPGs are amongst the most complex games ever created. With your rulebooks, better start with things like Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, and some card games. They are relatively short and introduce mechanisms which you will see return in more complex games.
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Joke Meister
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Krawhitham wrote:
Video's are awesome too, but try and find a tutorial or game play video, rather than just a review. For example http://www.boardgamegeek.com/video/31040/mice-and-mystics/gr...


QFT - there are several people who do gameplay run-throughs now so that you can get an idea of how the game actually plays. Watch It played and Rahdo Runs Through are, by far, my favourite. I can't link you to their sites at the moment as I don't have access to youtube where I am but I am sure that someone else can help you out here (if nothing else, you can find their stuff if you google for the above terms).
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SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
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photojenic wrote:
I'm pretty new to the games that have burst onto the scene since 2000 or so.


You'll get used to them. Here's the thing; these games are so new and innovative, every time you play a new game you'll encounter game mechanisms and innovations that you've never seen before. But after a year or so, you'll open a game, punch the bits, read a bit and then go "OK, it's area majority with some trading and card draw". "OK, it's an engine builder with a bit of choice denial and drafting". "OK, it's a progressive dice-roller with bluffing and hand management."

You'll still have to go through the nitty gritty, and games that seem obvious or uninteresting can turn out in gameplay to be fascinating.

But after a while, you'll start recognising what's happening much faster, and it will really come down to understanding the finer points or nuances in game rules. And then you'll discover the cracks in the rules, what if it's this and this and you do this do I get this or this, the rules don't make that clear.

Probably the only really new game mechanism in recent years was the deck-building in Dominion as the in-game mechanism. Deck-building as a concept was obviously familiar, but it took a while for people to realise that in Dominion, deck-building was the actual game.

Give it a year and you'll forget how shocking it all was.
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Chris Smith
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I go through a number of things until I'm confident I understand the game.

1. - Watch a video of the game. If Richard (rahdo) has done one, I go there first as his video's for the most part leave me confident I could play immediately. Otherwise TDT or others, even if it's more of a 'How good is it' rather than 'How do you play it' as it gives the general idea.

2. - Read the rules. I read the rulebook all the way through and try to be sure I understand how the game works. I often do this before I even have the game in my hands, if it's available online.

3. - Get it out, set it up and not play it yet! I will often take a game out and do the setup at least once before getting it out in front of other people. This lets me get a feel for what components are going where, and lends a stress-free environment to think about what each piece/location does. I may even try to do a turn to see how it goes.

4. - Read the rules, again. Before seeing the board and after is very different! This step generally combines with the one above, but it's just a good idea to go over the rulebook again having seen the board. I don't just try to figure out how the game works, but how I can describe it thematically to others. I've found that if you can describe 'why' an action exists people grasp it much faster.

5. - Set it up and play with 1-3 players. Generally 2, but some games have annoying variant rules that don't help so 3 can work, or 1 if solo is supported. This gives a chance to sit with 1 other person and have a casual run through the game. This is generally completely non-competitive, and both people should be aiming to learn the game rather than win.

6, - All in! By this point I feel confident enough (If I don't I then just repeat earlier things) that I'll get a group of 3-6 and teach properly. Ideally this is with the person who helped out in step 5, as it's a huge reduction in stress when someone else can handle some of the smaller questions that get asked. Still takes a game or 2 before we stop getting things wrong, but we all understand well enough and have fun!


----


My god are games a lot of effort ^^. Obviously smaller games it's not quite so long, but certainly for anything more complex this works out great for me, good luck!
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Bart R.
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Expect to make mistakes and having to look up things in the manual during your first couple of plays. Don't sit down with a new game and expect to breeze through it in the playing time on the box. Doing a solo demo play will help, though.

You might also want to take notes as you are playing. It's not always necessary to look through the manual for five minutes to find out the exact rule. It's not an exam where you have to get everything perfect - having fun is what counts. Just go with your gut feeling and look up the rule afterwards.
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Brian Bennett
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I agree with most of what has been said here, read, play solo, read and repeat.

I think something to add here for your benefit is to consider how you will teach the game after you have learned how to play it. I am my gaming group’s teacher. It came that way for a few reasons, 1) I am the one who is buying most of the games and 2) everyone prefers to learn from me. Somehow I get the rules across in a way that is easy to grasp and pick up on the first time through. I have been complimented on my game teaching skills by many people. It is just a process I use every time. I have even been able to find success in teaching games that I haven’t even played using these guidelines-


1) Start with the end. Before you get all tied up in the specifics of the actions, explain the end goal. I generally do this by covering the basic theme of the game and how your success is measured.

• For example, with Puerto Rico- You are building your island by placing buildings and plantations. Those plantations and buildings will allow you to grow, sell and ship goods. Those goods will generate Victory points. You will also gain victory points for the buildings you build. In addition, you can score bonus victory points with a few of the buildings.
• Don’t get any deeper than that at this point, just because you introduce an idea, you don’t have to go through the entire process at this time. This is where many people go wrong. As soon as you say, "you will score VPs from your crops" you will want to go into how that happens and how the ships work, don’t do it. You will get lost in the point of "Start with the end", just give the 10,0000ft overview.
• When someone asks, "Well, how do I sell goods" or "How do I ship goods?" Just say, we will get to that here in a minute, I just wanted to give you an idea of what you are trying to do.


2) Explain how a round works. Again, don’t go to deep on each action. Just explain how a round works and how we move to the next round.

• Using PR as an example again- Starting player chooses an occupation; he takes that action, with the bonus ability. Then, all other players take that same action in turn order. Once all players have had an opportunity to take the action, the next player chooses one of the remaining occupations. This continues until all players have chosen an occupation. Afterwards, we place a coin on the three that didn’t get chosen, rotate first player and repeat.
• Don’t explain each action while you are explaining this part, again, the idea is to understand the process of the round.


3) Explain each action and how it works. This is where you go into detail of how the action happens, the details and caveats.

• It can help to roll through an example round at this point. I usually will do that for something like PR.
• Do them in an order that makes sense. I take the roles in an order that build on each other for PR. Builder, Settler, Mayor, Craftsman, Trader, Captain and Prospector. In this way as you explain them you can actually perform them based on what was explained before. I can Craft once we have Mayored, I can trade once we have crafted, etc.
• Leave out large chunks of general info until the end or even until needed. Some gamers don’t want to play until they know EVERYTHING, some are good with, OK, that will get us rolling, we can pick up the rest as we go.
i. For example, PR again, you don’t have to explain what all 24 or so buildings do at once. Cover the production buildings (which will already be apparent) and the 2-3 cost buildings. That is all they need for the first turn or two. You can cover the rest as soon as someone has 6 coins.
ii. This goes the same for any game where you have a bunch of different tiles but only a few available at a time. Just explain the ones that are out. Eclipse is a great example, just explain what the first set of tiles do, and teach as you go.


4) Explain end game.

• What conditions trigger end game. Don’t forget this, and halfway through the game remind everyone of when it ends again. Too often someone will be caught off guard by end game because they are just finally figuring out what they are doing.
• What is the process when the game ends? End game scoring, bonuses, etc.

I think that covers it all. Good luck learning and teaching games. Learning, teaching and playing new games is my favorite part of gaming. That probably explains why I have eclipsed 110 games; I’d almost always prefer learning a new game vs. playing my favorite game.
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If a game catches my interest, I first watch a video to see what it's all about.

If the video touches upon the rules, that's cool and I keep watching to get a general (or more refined) idea.

If the game still interests me, I pick up the rulebook myself and read it from beginning to end like I have no foreknowledge at all. The things I learned from videos before just makes the learning process way easier and helps to double-check.
I do this because no matter how experienced or sure somebody is about teaching the rules: people make mistakes, and quite often mind-boggling big ones for a long time.

Once I feel comfortable with the rules, I play one friendly "official test round" with someone to check if all the rules fit and to get a feeling for the gameflow. I call it "official test round" because it takes away the pressure of winning, losing and making mistakes from all players.
If the game features a (hidden) hand of cards, I even play with open cards so everybody can comprehend what and why everybody else is doing.

This worked best for me so far and while I also did some mistakes sometimes, they were rare, not gamebreaking and figured out quite soon as I like to re-read the rules after the first few rounds or if I haven't played a game for a while.
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Kirk Groeneweg
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The best way for me to learn a game is to
- read the rules
- set up the game
- start playing the game
- reference rule as I go
- re-read the rules when done and find out what I did wrong or missed.

I learn best by just doing. You can tell me how to play, but unless I roll up my sleeves and try it, I won't learn by listening. I'm too visual to just read it or listen to the rules. Videos are great for me, somebody can show me and I can see it happen (to get started anyway).
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Gregg Saruwatari
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I have to disagree with all of this solo stuff. It is too easy to misread or skip something important. I find the best way is to have your best gaming buddy or wife read a copy of the rules separately from you and then you play through with a copy of the rules in each of your hands. Then, you guys introduce the game to a group with one person keeping the game going and the other helping struggling players keep up. From there on out you just try to keep at least 2 of the players experienced when you introduce new gamers to the game.

Obviously, situations will arise when this is not possible, but it is generally more fun to play a game at least two of the people know than a game that one person knows and 4 people don't. I definitely try to teach a game I just bought to large groups every once in a while, but I usually regret it.
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Mike B
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I always try to read the rules with the game components in front of me. I find that if I am trying to understand a specific rule or terminology, then being able to actually see the appropriate game pieces helps me see how it all fits together.

Also try to remember where certain information in the rule book is contained when teaching the rules to someone because you will probably have to look up a few rules as you explain them, especially when they have questions that you didn't even consider.

I don't usually play an into game by myself, but it can be useful to teach yourself the flow of the game, even if you just play 1 or 2 turns.
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Monica Elida Forssell
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I try to get other people to teach the games to me first. But if I have to learn the rules on my own, I set up the game for a regular play, then sort of play test it by myself, while reading step by step... Not always a very good outcome of it, so I really try to seek support from people who know the rules before hand
 
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Ryan Rider
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Honestly we sit down and play through the first time going through as the rule book says. Learn by doing!
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James Garcia
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I pretty much do a play through of a sample round while reading the rules.
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