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Subject: Preferred method of demoing games rss

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Greg
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I've taught SMG to several people that I know and taught it as a regular full game. But next month I will be demoing it at a historical convention outside Chicago and it will be the first time demoing it at such an event and with strangers.

I've been to GenCon a couple times and have seen how demoed games usually just last a few rounds or whatever, and aren't the full game. This being my first time at this historical convention and knowing that it goes like from noon to 7PM, I'm not sure if full games on DoD maps/scenarios are best or if only a few turns of one of those scenarios would be best.

I guess I can prepare for full games in case people are interested and have time, as well as there not being too many people waiting around to play. But if people are short on time or if there is a lot of interest, perhaps having it set up for a full game, but maybe being flexible to stop it after a few rounds would be good, or if there are others waiting, perhaps have them jump in and take over for others leaving.

For those that have demoed the game, what seems to be the way you go about it? Is it a set plan, or do you roll with it and see how it goes?

Thanks!
 
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I did a 3 player game at a con (the 4th didn't show) but I had preset teams ready for folks to use and a pre-chosen scenario. After that, I just went with the flow.

I would play through one round of three cards just to explain the mechanics, reset and go from there. Have open objectives for the explanation and then draw blind for the real start.
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Michael Bowker
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Greg,

I have been running a four player scenario at cons. It is one of the WBC games that they posted on here, though of course I can't find the posting.

I run 28 point forces, no speciality troops, modules or X terrain. It would work with either British or Americans as the Allies. Both sides have the same orders so one player on each is trying to capture the center landmark, and the other player is trying to eliminate the enemy.

I build the squads using the Excel sheet that has been posted in the Files section so stats are similar. Usually I have one deck with longer range hits and one for close combat.

I allocate four hours for a convention game and most have went the distance. The more players you have, especially new players, will of course cause the game to run longer.

I just let them decide where they want to sit for their force. Since none of them have come with their own troops they don't know what the decks are like.

By turn two or three usually they are running the game and I just have to answer a few questions,
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Martin Gallo
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For the one demo I ran I pre-made the squads. My intent was to concentrate the player's on the game itself, and removing the distraction of squad generation seemed like a good idea. I picked "generic" squads with a decent leader and no special types of soldiers.

During the game, a couple of the players started to see the connections and we talked about squad generation during a "break". It was encouraging.

I tried to pick a scenario that had "simple" VCs so the players did not have too much to work through. I did pick a scenario that had the squads on one side separated too much and that side got picked apart and that was a mistake on my part. The scenario played greatly affects perception of the game system.

Having player aids available for everybody (so they could easily see what they could do and how to do it) seemed pretty critical. I used the player aids I created for the game (that became official after some slight modifications) and they are available somewhere.

I used the GM kit. It made it much easier for the players to see what was going on, turn-wise (for planning).
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Greg
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Thanks fellas!

I have the gamemasters kit, so I'll be sure to bring that.

As the time gets closer to the convention, I'll contact the person running it ( I only offered do do the demo after seeing a post here at BGG about the Historical Convention), and see how big a turn out there usually is and what to expect. Not sure if it's a big or small convention and what's expected from demos.

I'll certainly want to have stripped down stuff like you guys said. No specialists, equipment etc. I certainly won't give the Germans their MG42, as it's pure nastiness. angry

I've never played a 4 player game yet, only 2 player games. But I'll have forces for a 4 player game ready just in case.

 
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Tom Boyd
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I've been running 4-player scenarios from either RtC of LFB, and generally play the entire scenario through. I don't use specialists, but do give each player an automatic weapon of some sort. The GM kit is a must.

I'll be running at Little Wars next month. Is that where you'll be Greg?
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Michael Bowker
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This is the 4 player scenario I have been running (it does require maps from all three Day of Days stories).

http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1736159/kduke?size=large

Finally found the post. It works well because you have to move and get aggressive.

I have run it several times. I have allowed grenades in the game since the scenario allows it. It also helps to balance out points when trying to create four 28 point units. One game I had all more experienced players so I took it up a few points and threw in some equipment.

Each time it has been a different experience. I have had total blow out American victories, total blow out German victories, and really close games. Even with the same exact squad construction things have come out totally different.


A lot of what you do can depend on what the convention does. Most of those that I have attended are HMGS conventions where people pre-register for games and I set the time frame for the game when I sign up to run a demo.

If it is a more informal event where people just do pick up games then you may need to adjust to a shorter scenario or time frame. Maybe use one of the small DoD scenarios. That way, as you said, you could do several small games.


One thing I do is to bring foam board, picked up at a dollar store to help level the tables. I tape it together, can cut it to size if needed, and it is cheap and light.

If you aren't familiar with the tables you may want to ask, if possible, about size. Also, check the sturdiness of them. I had one that started collapsing in the middle of my game. Fortunately we realized what was happening (the one leg wouldn't lock in place and started folding if you bumped the table). I had never had an issue before but now I check them to see if they stand up to normal use.

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Greg
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Tommy20 wrote:
I've been running 4-player scenarios from either RtC of LFB, and generally play the entire scenario through. I don't use specialists, but do give each player an automatic weapon of some sort. The GM kit is a must.

I'll be running at Little Wars next month. Is that where you'll be Greg?


No Tom, I won't be able to make Little Wars, as I have other traveling things going on.

I'd certainly like to make it to that some year.

The one I'm attending is called The Elk Grove Village Historical Museum 4th Annual Games Con. Here's the thread the guy started about it. http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/15103095#15103095

 
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Greg
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pvi99th wrote:
This is the 4 player scenario I have been running (it does require maps from all three Day of Days stories).

http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1736159/kduke?size=large

Finally found the post. It works well because you have to move and get aggressive.

I have run it several times. I have allowed grenades in the game since the scenario allows it. It also helps to balance out points when trying to create four 28 point units. One game I had all more experienced players so I took it up a few points and threw in some equipment.

Each time it has been a different experience. I have had total blow out American victories, total blow out German victories, and really close games. Even with the same exact squad construction things have come out totally different.


A lot of what you do can depend on what the convention does. Most of those that I have attended are HMGS conventions where people pre-register for games and I set the time frame for the game when I sign up to run a demo.

If it is a more informal event where people just do pick up games then you may need to adjust to a shorter scenario or time frame. Maybe use one of the small DoD scenarios. That way, as you said, you could do several small games.


One thing I do is to bring foam board, picked up at a dollar store to help level the tables. I tape it together, can cut it to size if needed, and it is cheap and light.

If you aren't familiar with the tables you may want to ask, if possible, about size. Also, check the sturdiness of them. I had one that started collapsing in the middle of my game. Fortunately we realized what was happening (the one leg wouldn't lock in place and started folding if you bumped the table). I had never had an issue before but now I check them to see if they stand up to normal use.



Thanks Michael. Though I don't have LFB expansion, I'm sure I could make something similar with DoD/RTC.

Like you said though, I really need to talk to the convention people to see what is available and expected. I have a 3x6 folding table I can bring if need be and 2 3x4 plywood boards that I hook together on top of that table to make a big flat playing surface. I'll have to see if there's room for me to put that and set up.

It's not a thing where people register to play this game specifically, so perhaps it's going to be more casual. I just want to get some more people exposed to the game. I'm happy to run full games or partial games, but will have to really check with them.

Thanks again everyone for the helpful comments!
 
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Martin Gallo
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I completely forgot about the table issue. This is also some very good advice.

Quote:
If you aren't familiar with the tables you may want to ask, if possible, about size. Also, check the sturdiness of them. I had one that started collapsing in the middle of my game. Fortunately we realized what was happening (the one leg wouldn't lock in place and started folding if you bumped the table). I had never had an issue before but now I check them to see if they stand up to normal use.
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Kevin Duke
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You very much want to check out what sort of tables they have, unless you are planning on bringing your own sheet. A lot of cons park small surface tables together in various sizes and cover with a cloth. If the surfaces are just a little bit 'different' it is a real struggle for your map pieces fitting smoothly.

If you have the surface covered, then my suggestion is to make sure everything else works "smoothly" as well.

I make up generic squads of roughly equal strength-- making especially sure that they have a good number of 'shoot' cards and a reasonable number of move, hide, look.

I'd start with troops on the board already, since random-will-kill you and not having a 'move' card on the first turn (or 2) is bound to happen. And it's really boring when it does.

I also have no problem with 'cheating' the story deck either, if only to make sure that we don't start out with one of those "arty hits everyone in Landmark 1B" events on the first turn or two.

A demo is to get people "engaged" with the game ASAP, and let them experience 'normal' stuff. The GM's job is to give them 'normal' as fast as possible, and let them provide the surprises. ("Can I throw a grenade over there to where two enemy have my guy in a fight? I'm thinking he'll be lucky.")

If you have to actually play in the game yourself, make sure you are a good host. I've seen GMs whack someone who made a mistake or forgot an obscure rule (or maybe hadn't even been told that rule) and then laugh at them as they take dead troops off the table. Boo!

High point of your day is hearing laughter, seeing excitement, and noticing players talking to friends or bystanders in a positive way.
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Bruce E. Schwark
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I've played demos at three different game stores. Each time I've adapted a DoD, RtC, or LFB scenario. We'll throw some troops out there and play a couple of example turns to get a feel for the mechanics. Then move on to the scenario with pre-made squads. I let the player(s) choose which squad they want. I include some automatic weapons and grenades as they are part of the basic game. If I throw in one specialist, I remove all the "red" cards.
Most times 6-foot, or 8-foot 'lunch tables' are available, so I construct maps of 5x7 or 5x8. I also have a bag of shims (found at most hardware stores) to place under individual legs to even things out if I have to.
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Bruce E. Schwark
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kduke wrote:


I'd start with troops on the board already, since random-will-kill you and not having a 'move' card on the first turn (or 2) is bound to happen. And it's really boring when it does.

I also have no problem with 'cheating' the story deck either, if only to make sure that we don't start out with one of those "arty hits everyone in Landmark 1B" events on the first turn or two.

A demo is to get people "engaged" with the game ASAP, and let them experience 'normal' stuff. The GM's job is to give them 'normal' as fast as possible, and let them provide the surprises.

High point of your day is hearing laughter, seeing excitement, and noticing players talking to friends or bystanders in a positive way.


I must echo Kevin's advise here. In the latest demo the man to whom I was teaching the game had order cards which had him enter on turn two. He did not get move cards until turn three. Eventually he entered the board, flanking the Americans and decimating them. He was clearly bored until he had things to do.
Also, the blue cards which call for one of your 5-7 guys wound himself, grenade himself, or shoot a friendly do have a way of putting off newer players, so one might ignore those during the first game(s).
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Chris Ganshaw
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When running demos I have tried to stay with scenarios from the basic games (DoD & RD). This way when someone asks what comes with the game you have it there in front of them.
As stated before, try to have a good balance of LOOK/MOVE/SHOOT/HIDE cards.
I like the "Patrol the Roads" scenario, from Day of Days, which can be played with either 2 or 4 players and does not use Orders. From Red Deils, you can pretty much take your pick.
Keeping it as simple as possible is the important thing. The goal is to have players experience as many aspect of the game mechanics as possible, in addition to having a fun time.
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Michael Bowker
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kduke wrote:


I make up generic squads of roughly equal strength-- making especially sure that they have a good number of 'shoot' cards and a reasonable number of move, hide, look.

I'd start with troops on the board already, since random-will-kill you and not having a 'move' card on the first turn (or 2) is bound to happen. And it's really boring when it does.

I also have no problem with 'cheating' the story deck either, if only to make sure that we don't start out with one of those "arty hits everyone in Landmark 1B" events on the first turn or two.

High point of your day is hearing laughter, seeing excitement, and noticing players talking to friends or bystanders in a positive way.


The first demo I ever did it spent a bunch of time coming up with basically equal squads for moves,shoots, kills, etc. Somewhere along the line I accidentally swapped an NCO or soldier, and the unit ended up with almost no move cards. Fortunately the one card was something like 3 soldiers move and move again so he got into a firing position fast.

He couldn't figure out what happened when he didn't see any more move cards. It was a small board and his troops were rifle armed so he did get some kills but he became frustrated because he couldn't move.

I cheat the story deck all the time, especially when I have a lot of new players. The demo that I ran this past weekend at Cold Wars had one on the first turn that would have really changed things (I forget exactly what it was now) so I just told them that it was there but wasn't going to do it because of all the new players and I wanted everyone to understand the game before we worried about random events. Later on we had a burning plane crash into a farmhouse. I left that one in and as the player said, " how many people can say they were hit by a burning plane?"

I had one player say that they didn't like the game after the first couple of turns when he lost his .30 cal gunner and another man really quickly. At the end of the game he ended up winning the game and said he rally liked it and wanted to play again.
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pvi99th wrote:


I had one player say that they didn't like the game after the first couple of turns when he lost his .30 cal gunner and another man really quickly. At the end of the game he ended up winning the game and said he rally liked it and wanted to play again.
...yep, that figures...everyone hates to lose, but all like to win. whistle...I enjoy the game, win or lose...I approach it like drinking a fine wine with a good cigar...but that's obviously not the way to get a bunch of newbies "hooked" shake
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Steve Duke
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I make up generic squads of roughly equal strength-- making especially sure that they have a good number of 'shoot' cards and a reasonable number of move, hide, look.

Yes, this is a key point indeed.....ninja
 
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John Di Ponio
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I usually have everything set up to accommodate 4 players. Squads are set and ready to go. I have used the canned scenarios (with alterations) for the demos and it works pretty well. I find that I usually have to cut the games short due to people bouncing around a particular convention.

I tend not to use the terrain pieces for a game but do show them and explain their roll. The tactical modules and special troops I leave out of the mix as well. I want people to get a feel for the nuts and bolts of the game without all the added fluff.

I guess my demos are balanced between game demo and advertisement for the entire product line.
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