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Subject: How to Teach Churchill rss

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Alex Zwinak
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Does anyone have any particular tips on teaching Churchill, especially to non-wargamers?

I've read the rules, and it's not the "what you do" at each step that's tricky. It's the "why you do it," the ramifications of your decisions. I can't figure out how to share these ramifications without overloading a new player with a lengthy list.

Perhaps a dummy turn is the way to go? Any thoughts you have would be welcome!

Edit: Let me throw another wrench in the works. I would also love to have my wife play this. How would you teach this game to a non-gamer (not just a non-wargamer)?
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Jason Sherlock
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Spamalama wrote:
Does anyone have any particular tips on teaching Churchill, especially to non-wargamers?

I've read the rules, and it's not the "what you do" at each step that's tricky. It's the "why you do it," the ramifications of your decisions. I can't figure out how to share these ramifications without overloading a new player with a lengthy list.

Perhaps a dummy turn is the way to go? Any thoughts you have would be welcome!


We just played through the training game. It is only 3 turns, so not really that much time required. It took a couple turns for the concepts to really gel for one of our players, so it was right on for teaching.

From there you can move on to the tournament or campaign.
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Rex Stites
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I think you have to explain it backwards. In order to understand the conference and issue selection, you need to understand how those things are going to play out. I'd explain:

1. The 3 different victory conditions.
2. The various ways to get VP (conference win, global issue, political alignment markers, front advancement, etc.).
3. How the resolution of the front tracks will work (including a basic overview of how enemy troops will be allocated and explicit explanation of the way offensive support markers modify the check for a front moving).
4. What the various issues are and what you get from them. (At this point, this will be more meaningful since players actually know how offensive support/naval markers work)
5. How issue selection works.
6. How the conference mechanism works (including debate).
7. Basic rules for clandestine network/political alignment marker placement work.
8. How the global issues can alter this.

I think if you just play through a turn to teach the game, you'll have to replay the first round, because without context gained later in the turn there's absolutely nothing for player really to bases his decisions on. But if you start at the end and work backwards, players will have a bit better context to understand the more novel concepts around the conference.
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James Bergstrom
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rstites25 wrote:
I think you have to explain it backwards. In order to understand the conference and issue selection, you need to understand how those things are going to play out. I'd explain:

1. The 3 different victory conditions.
2. The various ways to get VP (conference win, global issue, political alignment markers, front advancement, etc.).
3. How the resolution of the front tracks will work (including a basic overview of how enemy troops will be allocated and explicit explanation of the way offensive support markers modify the check for a front moving).
4. What the various issues are and what you get from them. (At this point, this will be more meaningful since players actually know how offensive support/naval markers work)
5. How issue selection works.
6. How the conference mechanism works (including debate).
7. Basic rules for clandestine network/political alignment marker placement work.
8. How the global issues can alter this.

I think if you just play through a turn to teach the game, you'll have to replay the first round, because without context gained later in the turn there's absolutely nothing for player really to bases his decisions on. But if you start at the end and work backwards, players will have a bit better context to understand the more novel concepts around the conference.


I could not agree with this more. I went through the training scenario solo, then introduced it to my gaming group last night. I started with explaining the victory conditions, then moved through front advancement, political/spy markers, etc., until we worked our way back to the conference cards. It's hard to understand why any of the issues matter until you explain how they are implemented in the War Phase. Everything made sense when you go through it in reverse order.
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Mark Herman
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bergstro wrote:
rstites25 wrote:
I think you have to explain it backwards. In order to understand the conference and issue selection, you need to understand how those things are going to play out. I'd explain:

1. The 3 different victory conditions.
2. The various ways to get VP (conference win, global issue, political alignment markers, front advancement, etc.).
3. How the resolution of the front tracks will work (including a basic overview of how enemy troops will be allocated and explicit explanation of the way offensive support markers modify the check for a front moving).
4. What the various issues are and what you get from them. (At this point, this will be more meaningful since players actually know how offensive support/naval markers work)
5. How issue selection works.
6. How the conference mechanism works (including debate).
7. Basic rules for clandestine network/political alignment marker placement work.
8. How the global issues can alter this.

I think if you just play through a turn to teach the game, you'll have to replay the first round, because without context gained later in the turn there's absolutely nothing for player really to bases his decisions on. But if you start at the end and work backwards, players will have a bit better context to understand the more novel concepts around the conference.


I could not agree with this more. I went through the training scenario solo, then introduced it to my gaming group last night. I started with explaining the victory conditions, then moved through front advancement, political/spy markers, etc., until we worked our way back to the conference cards. It's hard to understand why any of the issues matter until you explain how they are implemented in the War Phase. Everything made sense when you go through it in reverse order.


I have found that right to left thinking is very powerful.
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Alex Zwinak
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Thank you all for these excellent tips. Now all that's left is for me to solo the game a few times to get it down pat.
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Jeff Cohen
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I agree with starting with the VPs, then constantly referring back to them. It puts everything in context.

What I did last night was to let the other two set the game up, then let the BOTs play all the powers under my direction for one conference. After that, we each picked up the reigns and finished.
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Dune Tiger
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My approach for teaching any game is to always first explain the winning condition. I despise sitting down to a game and having it explained to me before I even know what I'm trying to accomplish.

That being done, the first thing was to show the board and then briefly gloss over the conference display since nothing done there will make sense without making sense of the military display. Since the military display is pretty much where everything is resolved, this is where I start in terms of the overall flow (without going into what impacts what). The important thing here is to describe how the fronts advance and how the Axis decision priority is determined. Unfortunately it takes time to parse the large boxes and I need a way of whittling that down. That leads to the VPs on the board that are up for grabs which is pretty straight forward except for "if SW Pac returns"... really, that could have been made to read easier.

Anyways, doing this covers production since hey, that's your currency for buying offensive and naval support. Go over the base production as if nothing can affect it (this is what you get each round) and then what you can use 'em for. That ties into how the front advancement works and it also ties into your A-Bomb track... oh, and pol-mil activation! This moves me over to the conference display and I actually go through all of the issues to be tabled and how they translate to the military display. This goes hand-in-hand with explaining how the card play and overall agenda/meeting segments work. The last thing I explain is the global issue and the conditional issues.

It's a bit of a lengthy path, but there weren't any pressing questions from the other players, so I found it was a pretty good way of approaching it.
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DuneTiger wrote:
My approach for teaching any game is to always first explain the winning condition. I despise sitting down to a game and having it explained to me before I even know what I'm trying to accomplish.
I taught the game to two new players over the weekend (in fact, I'll point them here and they can give feedback about the process, which was about an hours worth of explanation) and while I did follow the advice here (it was my third time playing the game but my first time explaining it "backwards"), the only downside I think to explaining the wincons here is that there's a ton of ways to score VPs and some are interlocking and it's just really complicated especially if you have no context for how you accomplish any of those things.
 
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Clyde W
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DuneTiger wrote:
That being done, the first thing was to show the board and then briefly gloss over the conference display since nothing done there will make sense without making sense of the military display. Since the military display is pretty much where everything is resolved, this is where I start in terms of the overall flow (without going into what impacts what).
Do you start with VPs, surrender conditions or end-game conditions? They're sorta interlocking but I don't really know the best way to approach this. I've tended to gloss over the surrender conditions mostly.
 
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Shawna
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clydeiii wrote:
DuneTiger wrote:
My approach for teaching any game is to always first explain the winning condition. I despise sitting down to a game and having it explained to me before I even know what I'm trying to accomplish.
I taught the game to two new players over the weekend (in fact, I'll point them here and they can give feedback about the process, which was about an hours worth of explanation) and while I did follow the advice here (it was my third time playing the game but my first time explaining it "backwards"), the only downside I think to explaining the wincons here is that there's a ton of ways to score VPs and some are interlocking and it's just really complicated especially if you have no context for how you accomplish any of those things.


I've been summoned.

I never like the approach of explaining the victory conditions first. It has not worked for me on any game, and I didn't feel like it worked for me on Churchill. Explaining the victory conditions without me understanding how to achieve it just leaves me confused. I'll inevitably forget due to lack of understanding and want to hear them again once I grasp everything. You can tell me there are various ways I can achieve victory points, which I will need to win. But I would save all specifics for later.

I like to start with turn overviews. How many turns are there. What does a turn look like.

Phase One: Conference
Phase Two: Implement the Issues
Phase Three: Military Movement

After however many turns of this, give brief end game information.

Now thoroughly explain conferences. Then issues and military.

Just my two sense from a learner's perspective and someone who also teaches/learns lots of games. That is the gist of my opinion. I could elaborate more.
 
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clydeiii wrote:
the only downside I think to explaining the wincons here is that there's a ton of ways to score VPs and some are interlocking and it's just really complicated especially if you have no context for how you accomplish any of those things.


I don't think you have to be very specific in explaining the ways to score VPs. Just simply state that you get VPs for winning conferences, you get VPs for Political Alignment/Clandestine Networks on the map (i.e., exerting your influence globally), you get VPs based on where fronts advance to, you get VPs for controlling a global issue, and you get VPs based on the A-Bomb research. You just want enough context so that when you explain the issues that people understand, for example, that Pol-Mil issues are direct VP issues (as are the Global issues), and that things like European Leadership are direct resource issues and only indirectly related to VP.

The nuances of things like the UK getting VP for reaching a certain space on the Med track before the Normandy invasion--i.e., the VP incentive to the UK for delaying Normandy--can be explained after play has begun.
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clydeiii wrote:
Do you start with VPs, surrender conditions or end-game conditions? They're sorta interlocking but I don't really know the best way to approach this. I've tended to gloss over the surrender conditions mostly.


I start with the general idea of VPs and the 15 point spread and then re-iterate and go over the 3 conditions after everything is all said and done. This way, I found it all has context. I explain the general sense that the top player should not want to be ahead by more than 15 from the lowest player or the victory belongs to the 2nd player (I say this less confusingly, of course). That's easy enough to keep in your head. Then after all is said and done, I re-iterate and then explain how the conditions work, pointing to the aids printed on the board so that they can look at it when they have some downtime.

I find it's best not to bog down new players with case-use items, but more to just let them know that it's out there. This is obviously much more difficult when you have a more traditional wargame in front of you with a basic ruleset covered in heaps of exceptions.

Edit: To clarify, what I meant earlier was to ensure that new players have an idea of what everything we are doing facilitates, not to go into the minutiae of the actual winning conditions. That is to say, "the point is to get points," or "the point is to control the most areas," or something like that. It is a lead-in to "and this his how you do it..."
 
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OR...

you can just set up the training scenario, play three conferences and do not score the result. That should do it.

Mark
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DuneTiger wrote:
The important thing here is to describe how the fronts advance and how the Axis decision priority is determined.


I think the big thing here is that before Normandy, the East Front is going to get at least 4 of the German armies, maybe more, and that before the Far East front moves out its box, Japan's armies are fairly random, but after 2 of the 4 will be devoted to the Far East.

That gives enough of an idea to make production allocation after the first conference.
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rstites25 wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
the only downside I think to explaining the wincons here is that there's a ton of ways to score VPs and some are interlocking and it's just really complicated especially if you have no context for how you accomplish any of those things.


I don't think you have to be very specific in explaining the ways to score VPs. Just simply state that you get VPs for winning conferences, you get VPs for Political Alignment/Clandestine Networks on the map (i.e., exerting your influence globally), you get VPs based on where fronts advance to, you get VPs for controlling a global issue, and you get VPs based on the A-Bomb research. You just want enough context so that when you explain the issues that people understand, for example, that Pol-Mil issues are direct VP issues (as are the Global issues), and that things like European Leadership are direct resource issues and only indirectly related to VP.

The nuances of things like the UK getting VP for reaching a certain space on the Med track before the Normandy invasion--i.e., the VP incentive to the UK for delaying Normandy--can be explained after play has begun.


Hopefully VERY SOON after play has begun as that is something that players should be aware of early on. Honestly, I don't care how long it took, I'm not sure I could think of something that I wouldn't want to be totally aware of in this game before the game started. It's too long of a game for me to be on board with learning things as I go.
 
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MarkHerman wrote:
OR...

you can just set up the training scenario, play three conferences and do not score the result. That should do it.

Mark


Why not score the result? I ask because if that was what I suggested, that would be exactly the question lobbied at me. Wouldn't scoring be the whole point of running through it?

I would also argue that it doesn't take three conferences to learn the game and playing all three out, scoring or not, would eat into the allotted playtime (assuming that the goal is to play the tourney or campaign).
 
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MarkHerman wrote:
OR...

you can just set up the training scenario, play three conferences and do not score the result. That should do it.

Mark
Interesting. Huh. I feel like a lot of eurogamers wouldn't like this approach. #SpeakingAsAEurogamer
 
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clydeiii wrote:
MarkHerman wrote:
OR...

you can just set up the training scenario, play three conferences and do not score the result. That should do it.

Mark
Interesting. Huh. I feel like a lot of eurogamers wouldn't like this approach. #SpeakingAsAEurogamer


Agreed. I wouldn't like it. I understand including training scenarios in games and that many people would appreciate them. But I'd prefer to just be taught and play an actual game.
 
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Jason Sherlock
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When teaching, I found this scoring sheet to be very helpful.

https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/120541/organized-vp-sched...

The layout (with color coding) is such that it can be much more easily processed by new players.
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shawnad2006 wrote:
rstites25 wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
the only downside I think to explaining the wincons here is that there's a ton of ways to score VPs and some are interlocking and it's just really complicated especially if you have no context for how you accomplish any of those things.


I don't think you have to be very specific in explaining the ways to score VPs. Just simply state that you get VPs for winning conferences, you get VPs for Political Alignment/Clandestine Networks on the map (i.e., exerting your influence globally), you get VPs based on where fronts advance to, you get VPs for controlling a global issue, and you get VPs based on the A-Bomb research. You just want enough context so that when you explain the issues that people understand, for example, that Pol-Mil issues are direct VP issues (as are the Global issues), and that things like European Leadership are direct resource issues and only indirectly related to VP.

The nuances of things like the UK getting VP for reaching a certain space on the Med track before the Normandy invasion--i.e., the VP incentive to the UK for delaying Normandy--can be explained after play has begun.


Hopefully VERY SOON after play has begun as that is something that players should be aware of early on. Honestly, I don't care how long it took, I'm not sure I could think of something that I wouldn't want to be totally aware of in this game before the game started. It's too long of a game for me to be on board with learning things as I go.


If a player has to know every single detail of a game before making his or her first move, then I don't think a game of Churchill is right for that person until after having personally read the rulebook and studied it until there are no more questions. Churchill is fairly novel at a lot of different levels. There's no other game to use as a starting point to reference and then explain a handful of differences. Typically, a single conference round is sufficient to get the core gameplay down. As long as you've got the core ideas down, new players could play it with reasonable competence. And no matter how bad a player does in the first conference, it's not going to cost that player the game.
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clydeiii wrote:
MarkHerman wrote:
OR...

you can just set up the training scenario, play three conferences and do not score the result. That should do it.

Mark
Interesting. Huh. I feel like a lot of eurogamers wouldn't like this approach. #SpeakingAsAEurogamer


I am as much of a Eurogamer as anyone. I find that doing is the fastest way to learn. If you have to play a conference and start over its easier than explaining rules for an hour. But that's just me.

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Gunderian007 wrote:
MarkHerman wrote:
OR...

you can just set up the training scenario, play three conferences and do not score the result. That should do it.

Mark


C'mon Mark. We are trying to complicate this. Your concise work, done over years of research and experience, is not helpful to this end.



Thanks, always good to know what is really going on.
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MarkHerman wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
MarkHerman wrote:
OR...

you can just set up the training scenario, play three conferences and do not score the result. That should do it.

Mark
Interesting. Huh. I feel like a lot of eurogamers wouldn't like this approach. #SpeakingAsAEurogamer


I am as much of a Eurogamer as anyone. I find that doing is the fastest way to learn. If you have to play a conference and start over its easier than explaining rules for an hour. But that's just me.

Cool, I'll try this next time I teach! How much about the conference do you explain before people start throwing down cards?
 
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