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Subject: What a Difference a Year Away from the Rules Makes! rss

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Barry Miller
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Saint Charles
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OK, do you remember when you were new to this game? Unless you've previously played a Bowen Simmons game, or have decades of experience with that special knack for completely understanding rules the very first time, you probably had difficulty grasping the rules for Guns of Gettysburg. I know I did. But not now!

I'm relatively new to boardgaming (6 years) and had never heard of Bowen Simmons before stumbling across the GoG Kickstarter campaign. So, "Yes", I found it a challenge to grasp the very condensed GoG rulebook! So out came the pen. Why? For my first play of a complex game, I usually play it solo. Then based on that experience I underline everything in the rulebook that's important - especially for when coming back to the game after a long break.

So I underlined key sentences, phrases, and concepts in the GoG rulebook. While doing so, I was proud that I remembered that my 7th grade English teacher taught me to not underline everything! I certainly wanted to. It was the solo play experience that helped me focus on what was important in the rules - and again mostly to aid myself when getting back into the game at a future time.

And that tactic paid off! I haven't touched GoG for the past 16 months. But last week I pulled out the rulebook, and... OH! Now, IT IS SO WELL WRITTEN! I see that now. Being away from the game, and the rules for almost a year and a half actually helped. So when I dove back into the rules for the 2nd time around, it all just clicked. Every rule made perfect sense. Everything was covered. And more importantly, everything is clear. And that's amazing considering that 20 pages of rules are crammed into a 14 page rulebook. Normally such condensing is at the expense of clarity. This time, reading the rules was a joy.

Of course the underlining I had done when the game was new helped tremendously, but still - that's beside the point. All the puzzlement I felt when the game was new belies that this is a masterfully written rulebook. Though I still wonder about the organization a little (i.e., the ordering of when steps are covered in the rulebook vs their order in the turn sequence). But basically, once you know the game, then the way the rulebook is written makes getting back into it like riding a bike!

And of course, it can be said that if it were such a well-written rulebook then it would be easy for new players to grasp the first time instead of having to wait a year! Well, I guess that's sort of my point - the one I intended to make originally - and that is for some of us, we go into a complex game wearing blinders. And no matter how well written the rules may be we'll never see past our blinders and will instead convince ourselves that we have questions because we expect there to be. But now upon revisiting the rules after a 16 month break I see this rulebook couldn't have been any clearer, so it proves I was wearing blinders back then.

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Scipio O.
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I love this. Learning the game is an investment, not a drive-by.

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Jon Gautier

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Bowen's rules are so tight and lean, I think one would have to underline everything.
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Randy C
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Robert L Howard (Medal of Honor recipient)
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A big fan of the game too.
 
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