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Subject: How readable are these rules? rss

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Jonathan Degann
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A friend informed me of this game, and being a fan of Vinhos and of economic games, I rushed to download the rules.

Reading them was something else. After a couple of pages, I just put it down. My friend later informed me that he, too, just couldn't get into the rules.

Sometimes it can be more difficult when you don't have the equipment in front of you. Even so, I was able to understand the rules for Vinhos without a copy of the game, and that is not a simple game.

One obstacle is the tone adopted - that of including the two "characters" who present some rules in their voice, rather than just telling me how to play.

What have other people's experience been? I'm putting this out now in the hope that if there is a consensus that these are not the best written rules, that they can be rewritten before release. Certainly the designer and the theme are a selling point, but if this game is never going to hit the table, there's no point in putting my money down.
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Jimmy Okolica
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lol. I had the same reaction. I chalked it up to a bad day and figured I'd try it again some other time (or wait for someone to write up a rules summary). So far, I haven't gotten around to trying again. I'll probably give it another shot sometime in the next month. Nice to hear I wasn't the only one with a problem.
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Clyde W
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Blind playtesting is a beautiful thing, game publishers. Please do it.
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Daniel B-G
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I've read through c.10-15 Essen release rulebooks in the last 2 weeks and this is the only one that's stumped me. I encountered it last year with madeira and bruxelles 1893, then bought them anyway. I'm not buying this without a demo. Once bitten, twice shy.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Hopefully someone involved notices this thread and can help fix the rules.

Vital Lacerda
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2010 - Vinhos, 2012 - CO2, 2014 - kanban, 2015 - The Gallerist, 2016 - Vinhos Deluxe, 2017 - Lisboa, 2018 - Escape Plan, CO2 Second Chance and Dragon Keepers - Maybe: 2019 - ROTW Portugal and On Mars, 2020 - Kanban Deluxe Edition, Mercato
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Vital Lacerda
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2010 - Vinhos, 2012 - CO2, 2014 - kanban, 2015 - The Gallerist, 2016 - Vinhos Deluxe, 2017 - Lisboa, 2018 - Escape Plan, CO2 Second Chance and Dragon Keepers - Maybe: 2019 - ROTW Portugal and On Mars, 2020 - Kanban Deluxe Edition, Mercato
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I can always offer my help if you have any specific question. I would say that having the board and componets in front of you will be a great help.
 
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Ori Avtalion
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Jonathan Degann wrote:
One obstacle is the tone adopted - that of including the two "characters" who present some rules in their voice, rather than just telling me how to play.

Isn't this "Chvatil style"?

I also find the parts of the rules in the green/red boxes a bit hard to follow, but it's a stylistic choice, and there aren't a lot of them - they mainly deal with Sandra's bonus/penalty.

The rest of the rules, while still in Sandra's "voice" here and there, are mostly written in "regular" rules-language and I found them easy to understand. There are a lot of rules, the 3 scoring phases are a bit subtle (Meetings, end-of-week, end-of-game), but after two readings of the rules I think I got everything.

The rules go into extra care to explain how things connect. Each department's actions are prefaced with an explanation on what the department does, and what other departments it relates to. Several actions also explain why they are useful and how they affect what you can do later, or end-game scoring.

A few things might confuse you:
* The tips at the bottom of each page don't make much sense while you're reading the rules for the first time.
* Some concepts are introduced before you can really know what they mean: The Certification Benefits go into specifics about the departments before you know what actions you can perform in them, and there's a tip about the Parts Voucher on page 7 before you know what those are.
* The Factory Manager's (Sandra) mood of play on page 9 details under what conditions you get a bonus or a penalty. Those are written in a conversational tone.

Do you think I understood what you found hard to follow? was it something else?
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Jimmy Okolica
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Would you put this at the complexity level of Vinhos? I found teaching it took about 30+ minutes. Any guesses on how long Kanban will be to teach? Based on the rules, I'm suspecting a similar amount of time.

 
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Jonathan Degann
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Vital - I appreciate your offer of help. However, with so much consensus on the density of the rules, now may (hopefully still) be a good time to recruit some fresh eyes and a new voice in generating a rewrite or at least some choice rewording.

For me the issue wasn't figuring out specific cases. It was understanding what was going on in the game to begin with. I just couldn't wrap my head around it.

Maybe add an overview and summary that describes the mechanisms to help frame the game for the reader before he dives into the details.

Seeing how you took the time to respond, I will give it another shot and see if I can give more specific criticism.
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Vital Lacerda
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2010 - Vinhos, 2012 - CO2, 2014 - kanban, 2015 - The Gallerist, 2016 - Vinhos Deluxe, 2017 - Lisboa, 2018 - Escape Plan, CO2 Second Chance and Dragon Keepers - Maybe: 2019 - ROTW Portugal and On Mars, 2020 - Kanban Deluxe Edition, Mercato
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Hi Jonathan,
You can always count on me to help. My games are my passion and I do what ever I can to help players to enjoyed them and take the best of it.

The main reason I asked the publisher to upload the rules online before printing is to get the most suggestions I can from the community. And I've been receiving great feedback and tweeking the rules, hopefully for the better.

The Editor of the rules is Nathan Morse and I totally trust him. I'm not an English native speaker and I know all tweaks and rules very well, and because of that I trust in Nathan judgement as the rules editor. He already proved to made excellent rulebooks. Vinhos is one of them and I was hooping this one was another.

This game is not so difficult to learn as vinhos or even CO2, but it maybe not so intuitive, and it have a couple of new concepts, that we, as players, are not used to. That per see may do the learning of the rules by using only the rulebook, a bit more difficult.
My tests showed that players did not have problems learning it having the setup of the game in front of them.

But anyway, I'm also doing a geeklist with examples in the same way I did to Vinhos. I hope that helps.
Paul Grogan will do a video to introduce the basic rules and core of the game.

If you want, send me a GM, I can give you a link to the latest version of the rulebook. And I'm always online, if not just GM me.

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Paul Grogan
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And just so everyone knows...

This isn't me trying to plug my channel, but rather offering to help...

I'm doing a 7-8 minute overview video to help people learn the game. For a game like this, I think it will really help.

I really struggled with the rules too when learning the game. Just like I did with Vinhos and Madeira, but like those two games, it is absolutely worth it IMO.

I've now taught Kanban 5 times to different groups of people, and the game plays a lot easier than the rulebook suggests.

In the meantime, Vital (and me) are here to answer any queries, but the game is due out at Essen - the overview video should be done in August, so if people are able to wait until then, that will save a lot of time, as I think a lot of questions will be answered in the video
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Ori Avtalion
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PaulGrogan wrote:
I've now taught Kanban 5 times to different groups of people, and the game plays a lot easier than the rulebook suggests.

How are you shuffling the design tiles, and how many times do you have to shuffle them during the game?
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Paul Grogan
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SaltyHorse wrote:
How are you shuffling the design tiles, and how many times do you have to shuffle them during the game?

How am I shuffling them? Not sure I understand the question - I just am? If you mean "35 thick tiles is too many to shuffle", yeah, you are right, but I've let the players do this during setup, and they each do it their own way. Maybe divide into 3 piles, shuffle each one, then randomly stack them?

During the game, they only get reshuffled when Sandra evaluates the design department. And even then, you only shuffle the right hand 4 designs into the central stack, which is normally only about 7-10 tiles at that point, and it will only happen 2-3 times in the game.
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The tiles are double-sided. I thought it might be a bit tricky to do without looking at them. In any case, you alleviated my concern. Thanks
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Jonathan Degann
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Paul,

I appreciate your efforts and I will gladly watch your video.

My concern though is not that there are insufficient resources available to learn the game if I really need them. My concern is that any customer should be able to take the game home, read the *rule book* in one sitting, and understand the game. The support system - of your video's or Lacerda's willingness to answer questions, or being taught the game at a con, are welcome enhancements, but the rules book is the backbone of learning the game for the vast majority of purchasers.

So seeing that an apparent majority of other experienced gamers are having trouble with the manual, my hope is that the publisher will take this to heart and revisit its content.

An opaque rule book can destroy a game, and I want to see this one succeed.
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Sheldon Smith
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I, too, had a great deal of difficulty absorbing the instructions. I'm also not a fan of the "dual Sara managers" concept.

What the rulebook needs is very clear illustrations to site the examples on how to play. I would rather have a rulebook that's easy to read and 10+ pages longer than to feel stumped after struggling through every 2 or 3 pages. The illustration examples, IMO, are not as good as they could be.

As with Jonathan, I was able to read through Vinhos without the components in front of me... and grasp the rules & mechanics of the game. Vital also posted a very nice graphical tutor aid on the geek (complete with wonderful illustrations). With both combined, every question I had about the game was answered.

I took a look at Kanban, and immediately thought this was a much tougher read than Brass!
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Bart
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I have to agree that the Rules are hard to get through. There's a lot of cross referencing to later stages, etc. I think it would be easier if I had the board and components in front of me, though.

Maybe put together a gameplay video to watch and understand how it all ties together?
 
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Phelan
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clydeiii wrote:
Blind playtesting is a beautiful thing, game publishers. Please do it.
This is unfair, and implies that it wasn't done here.
I'm pretty sure that it was.
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Paul Grogan
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I agree that the game is hard to learn from just reading the rulebook. I got given it late on and have suggested some tweaks to it to make it easier, and the version now is (in my opinion) better that the earlier one. But it's a heavy game with a lot going on. I'm not saying it is perfect, but it is far from awful.

In its defence, although it is a difficult game to learn, everything is in the rulebook. There are no errors and nothing is omitted (as far as I know). There are many rulebooks for games which are shockingly bad, contain errors and also just look awful. Some games are actually unplayable from the rules as printed. I wont list any here for fear of upsetting people.

Not all games can be learnt from reading the rules on the train on the way home, and then getting it out to play. This is one of them. It's the heaviest game I've had to learn and play in... quite a while, so I was expecting it to be hard work. And after a couple of read throughs and setting the game up and playing it once, I'd got it sorted.

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Phelanpt wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
Blind playtesting is a beautiful thing, game publishers. Please do it.
This is unfair, and implies that it wasn't done here.
I'm pretty sure that it was.
Perhaps. But if it was, it strongly suggests that it wasn't done with a copy of the final rules as posted here. If they are as bad as everyone here says they are, then it seems like this would not be an issue, because the blind playtesting would've brought this issues to the forefront, no?

I have no idea whether or not the game was blind playtested with the "final" rules, but regardless of whether or not it was, it should always be before publication, which is my only point.
 
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Jimmy Okolica
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clydeiii wrote:
Phelanpt wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
Blind playtesting is a beautiful thing, game publishers. Please do it.
This is unfair, and implies that it wasn't done here.
I'm pretty sure that it was.
Perhaps. But if it was, it strongly suggests that it wasn't done with a copy of the final rules as posted here. If they are as bad as everyone here says they are, then it seems like this would not be an issue, because the blind playtesting would've brought this issues to the forefront, no?

I have no idea whether or not the game was blind playtested with the "final" rules, but regardless of whether or not it was, it should always be before publication, which is my only point.


Not necessarily. It may be a lot easier to read and understand the rules with a copy of the physical game in front of you. We're all trying to understand the game just by reading the rules. The only way to catch that would have been a blind reading of the rulebook.
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Paul Grogan
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clydeiii wrote:
If they are as bad as everyone here says they are

Seriously, there are a lot of games with far worse rulebooks. This is just a heavy game and it is going to be more difficult to learn from the rules. But, lets not argue about whether the rulebook is good. By the time the game comes out, there will be the rulebook, a lot of extra guides by Vital, and a video overview. I believe there will be a QR code in the box linking to the video too, but I cant guarantee that as it was just an idea.
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Bryan Thunkd
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In my personal opinion, you shouldn't need the board and components in order to be able to understand the rules. I've read any number of rulebooks before ever seeing the board/components and almost always am able to follow the rules and understand what is being discussed unless the rules are poorly written.

I haven't had a chance to read the rules for Kanban as yet, but if they are as hard to follow as is being indicated, then that suggests that there is an issue with the rulebook.
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Jonathan Degann
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I will review the rules, but I think that they are better if the rules as such are written directly, and the "flavor" provided by Sandra is reserved for separate boxes, as is done in the introduction.
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Jonathan Degann wrote:
Maybe add an overview and summary that describes the mechanisms to help frame the game for the reader before he dives into the details.

There's a thematic introduction at the start of the rules. Perhaps you would like a more concrete description of the flow of the game?

Here's my attempt. I'm interested to know if it makes the rules easier to understand

The players are new employees in a car production factory. They will move around the various departments, helping to progress the design and manufacturing of cars, while gaining expertise in each department.

Each turn, you will move your worker to a separate workstation of a department. After all players have moved, each worker will resolve its actions. Each workstation provides you with several action points, or Shifts, to perform in the department. In each department you can either perform "regular" actions, or choose to advance on the training track, eventually unlocking new actions and benefits. You will collect car designs and car parts, advance the assembly line, upgrade car parts, and collect cars for testing in your garage. At several points in the game there will be special phases that score you points: Meetings (that are triggered by collecting cars) will allow you to use seats that you have reserved to score various objective cards. At the end of each week, which lasts several turns, you will score points based on the cars you have in the garage and the upgrades all players have made to each model.

The game also features the factory manager, Sandra. She moves around the departments like the other players. In each department she performs an automatic action, and also audits all the players' performance in that department. Players could either get bonus points, or be penalized for points, based on the game mode chosen. Whenever Sandra reaches the last department, Administration, the end of the week is triggered.

The game is over when enough meetings and weeks have surpassed.

EDIT: Added an intro.
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