Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 Hide
22 Posts

Pax Pamir» Forums » General

Subject: Oh boy, this game is a total pig to explain rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Mark Turner
United Kingdom
Farnham
Surrey
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Started teaching my wife this game tonight. I gave up as her head clonked to the table and let out a long low groan.

How on earth can you teach this game in a reasonable period?

The basic concept is great: warring afghan tribes, picking a faction, trying to make that faction win and get the most influence in that faction. Four shifting ways to make that faction win, military, political etc...

So far so good.

Now I have to explain every single potential action.

Buy (hand limit)
Play (Tableau limit, Leveraged, informants, garrisons, change regime)
Place cubes (cost for tribes)
Discard.
Regimes.
Special actions... 8 of em, no less, which all have lots of peculiarities. Spies? There's a few minutes in itself.
Favour.
Topples.
Victory conditions...

Yeesh.

I have no idea how to keep the explanation below a yawn inducing half an hour or more. I fear this is a game I will simply not be able to teach to anyone except the most dedicated geeks.

Any tips? Videos? Scripts? How the heck do you keep someone's attention long enough to teach and play this game?
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Start here: Pax Pamir Teaching Script

I would advise not trying to teach every little quirk before starting the game. Get the basics across, get started, then explain the details of actions as they come up.
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Hawkeye
United States
Astoria
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

Try this ...

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/121075/pax-pamir-teac...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Cole Wehrle
United States
St. Paul
Minnesota
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
"Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
As with most teaching endeavors, much depends on audience. But, if you're sitting down and playing the game with the group, it's pretty easy to adjust a few things in the interest of making the learning session a little more fun. For instance, you don't really need to teach the special actions. The game is perfectly playable without them and playing in this fashion can make the core victory condition MUCH more digestible.

If you do want to use them, try introducing them slowly. I've experimented with the optimal order, so far I like teaching the special actions in the following order political, economic, military, then intelligence, with a few rounds of play in between each new type.

As for a general order of instruction, I'd follow the teaching script (1. Theme, 2. Victory (Topples and Loyalty), 3. General Game Flow, 4. Your Turn and your basic actions). It's possible to get through all of that in as little as five minutes.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Cole Wehrle
United States
St. Paul
Minnesota
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
"Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
qwertymartin wrote:

I would advise not trying to teach every little quirk before starting the game. Get the basics across, get started, then explain the details of actions as they come up.
This is really important and is true of other SMG titles as well. A few days ago I taught Pax Porfiriana to a bunch of new gamers. I taught the victory conditions, the basic actions, and then we were off to the races in about 10 minutes. There were lots of bumps and surprises and breaks in the game as new concepts came into play, but the whole thing went pretty smoothly. This approach only works if the players agree to treat the game as something closer to a sandbox/roleplaying experience with the rules instructor serving as both a fellow player and game master, but it can be a great way to learn the ropes.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard Dewsbery
United Kingdom
Sutton Coldfield
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Some people are happy to learn new games in that fashion - I'm one of them. "Never mind the details, let's just get on and play; I can catch up with things as I go along."

Unfortunately there exist plenty of players who insist on knowing every little rule before they take the very first turn. Then agonise about it, as if they understand all the tactical and strategic ramifications! I know a few like that; they're hard work at the best of times, and when introduced to a SMG title they usually end up hating the experience.
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Turner
United Kingdom
Farnham
Surrey
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
yes indeed, and thanks for all of this.

Clearly, the key is to start playing and explain special actions later, as they arise.

It's one of those curious games where nothing is actually that complicated, but the initial impression is mind-boggling.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jorik
Netherlands
Utrecht
Utrecht
flag msg tools
badge
How sticky is your ZOC?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
MrMT wrote:

It's one of those curious games where nothing is actually that complicated, but the initial impression is mind-boggling.
this is true of most of the SMG catalog. I remarked about High Frontier (just the base game mind you) "If you can count you can play this."
it's often the strange terminology for basic actions as well as lots of special cases that make the game much harder to grasp at first sight.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rebus Carnival
United States
Da Burbz
DC METRO
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Oh, you can stand it alright.
Avatar
Microbadge: Roland Jupiter-8 fanMicrobadge: Pax Transhumanity fanMicrobadge: All-aboard games fanMicrobadge: Pax Emancipation fanMicrobadge: I play the Moog!
I find that SMG, GMT and other games with dense rule sets that I must play them against my self several times before I can teach them. I have played 4 or 5 solo games of greenland and only now feel like I could confidently teach the game, and even then I would pick my opponents carefully...
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brett Burleigh II
United States
Columbus
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Bless the Maker and His water... Bless the coming and going of Him... May His passage cleanse the world...
Avatar
Microbadge: ShamanismMicrobadge: I drop the F-bombMicrobadge: Mark of the DamnedMicrobadge: Dune fanMicrobadge: Neon Genesis Evangelion fan
rebuscarnival wrote:
I find that SMG, GMT and other games with dense rule sets that I must play them against my self several times before I can teach them. I have played 4 or 5 solo games of greenland and only now feel like I could confidently teach the game, and even then I would pick my opponents carefully...

This is quite true… Luckily, both of those publishers include pretty awesome solo rules.

This was how I learned Space Empires: 4X.
After 4 games, I was like "OK, find a human." I found 3 more… maybe not optimal to throw into the deep end…

Greenland is pretty straightforward.
A lot less quirky than Neanderthal.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Phil Eklund
Germany
Karlsruhe
Baden Würtenberg
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
RDewsbery wrote:
Unfortunately there exist plenty of players who insist on knowing every little rule before they take the very first turn.
I agree with the answers given here to Mark's question, and cannot add any more. But as an cold comfort to those lost in an alien landscape, I would like to share the philosophy of scientific induction.

Whether in the Pamir mountains, the blackness of space, or a Pleistocene tundra, you don't know all the rules. Many have not been discovered yet. But still you know something, and you have to act in unfamiliar settings with the security that the outcomes "make sense" and are ultimately derivable from what you do know. In an "experience" game, you at least can survive bad decisions and learn for the next time. Its part of the experience.

To get even further off-topic, a pet peeve of mine is the decline and philosophical corruption of scientific induction (the art of figuring out general rules from observing specific instances). This is due to really bad philosophers (e.g. Popper) who insist (without a smidgen of evidence) that induction doesn't exist and universals like the Law of Gravity and Natural Selection are figments of imagination. If Popper were to design a game like Pax Pamir, he would have every possible situation in the game catalogued somewhere with its outcome, since no "rule" can ever be used generally.
22 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard Dewsbery
United Kingdom
Sutton Coldfield
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've never studied philosophy, but Popper's universe sounds like hell for somebody like me. Heck, I spent half of my professional life interpreting - and intuiting - rules based on common sense, first principles and observing other, similar instances.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Sessoms
United States
Butler
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
I'm a Super Genius, but not in the style of Mark Madden, Local sports idiot.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I finally got my copy last week (yay) The rules seem to be a bit better written than Porfirana, which was a BEAR to read.

Some things I have a gripe with though:

Why put card descriptions on the box? I don't understand that.

Rules are there, well written for the most part, but there are terms that are hidden (It took me forever to find out what a patriot card is)

I lack the skills to make a good player aid (I'm not talking about the teaching aid which is nice and well made) But I would like to see someone make a good aid depicting the iconography what action is dealt with each icon, things like that, and a good definition of a topple.

(I haven't watched the video yet so I don't know if that would help with my questions, although i hear its really well done)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jack Francisco
United States
Cumberland
Rhode Island
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A little self-promotion here - Pax Pamir game aid - should help you teach the game and learn as you go (as I often do!).
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ray Nimocks
United States
Fayetteville
North Carolina
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
senorcoo wrote:
A little self-promotion here - Pax Pamir game aid - should help you teach the game and learn as you go (as I often do!).
Used it this weekend! Great quick reference! Dense but the color coding is awesome!

Thank you.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jack Francisco
United States
Cumberland
Rhode Island
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
No problem. I need the color-coding otherwise I'd be totally lost.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gillum the Stoor
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Cole Wehrle wrote:
I like teaching the special actions in the following order political, economic, military, then intelligence.
You really do Tax first?

Tax seems to have all sorts of things to master - only in the Location, taxing Roads and Tribes but not Armies, figuring out whether you can Tax (especially if you have Armies in the Location and another player shares your Loyalty), and the whole issue of taxing your allies. And tax shelters.

I suppose you could make it easier by ignoring the latter issues around allies and tax shelters.

I would think that Commerce and Gifts (economic) would be the easiest. Commerce is completely straightforward, and the only quirk with Gifts is the issue where to put the payment if there is an empty slot (an unlikely case one can ignore in teaching).

Like Tax, Campaign also has its oddities - moving/not-moving/baggage, the army group stuff, Attacker Losses, Armies before Tribes (somewhat intuitive), and Armies before Roads (less intuitive).

I wonder whether, after Commerce and Gifts, one could do some of the intelligence Actions. Travel is pretty straightforward, as is Counter-Espionage.

While the last two, Assassinate and Bribe, are more involved, they are really just involve Tableau cards and the simple "do I have a Spy there" question (unlike the comparisons required for Tax).

Assassinate is simpler because its cost is fixed and any Spies on the targeted card (including the assassin) just go away. You could even skip the issue of Loyalty Prizes the first time around - then Assassinate becomes a simple "pay 2 to use a Spy to make someone discard a card."

Bribe is obviously the most involved of the intelligence actions because (1) the cost depends on Rank; (2) the target card moves; (3) the Spies on the card may shift within the card; (4) there can be a Loyalty change (but see below); and (5) Coup.

Another thought: one could skip explaining Patriots right away. It's probably easier to explain both Play and Bribe if you don't have to explain the results of playing a Patriot right away. Or - since the idea of Influence is bound up with Patriots - omit Loyalty changes and just say that you can't Play the Patriot of another side.

All that said, I have yet to teach the game to anyone (other than myself), so I may be completely off-base.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Turner
United Kingdom
Farnham
Surrey
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Since this post, I have taught this game a couple of times now.

It's actually a lot quicker than I first thought.

I can rattle through it all fairly quickly on a basic level, then deal with specifics as we come to them...

cheers

M
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Cole Wehrle
United States
St. Paul
Minnesota
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
"Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
gillum wrote:
Cole Wehrle wrote:
I like teaching the special actions in the following order political, economic, military, then intelligence.
You really do Tax first?

Since that post I've taught the game about 30 times. The general formulation has stayed the same, though the order tends to be now: economic, intelligence, military, and tax.

The main trick, as always, is teaching players on a need-to-know basis. Things like Intel/Coups/Overthrow/Failed Topples etc can be introduced once players are beginning to get their sea legs.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gillum the Stoor
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
MrMT wrote:
Since this post, I have taught this game a couple of times now.

It's actually a lot quicker than I first thought.
That's good to hear - I am encouraged!

Cole Wehrle wrote:
Cole Wehrle wrote:
I like teaching the special actions in the following order political, economic, military, then intelligence.
Since that post I've taught the game about 30 times. The general formulation has stayed the same, though the order tends to be now: economic, intelligence, military, and tax.

The main trick, as always, is teaching players on a need-to-know basis. Things like Intel/Coups/Overthrow/Failed Topples etc can be introduced once players are beginning to get their sea legs.
Economic/intelligence/military/political sounds like a good order.

I'll give the need-to-know approach a try next time I get a chance.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Turner
United Kingdom
Farnham
Surrey
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Cole Wehrle wrote:


Since that post I've taught the game about 30 times. The general formulation has stayed the same, though the order tends to be now: economic, intelligence, military, and tax.

The main trick, as always, is teaching players on a need-to-know basis. Things like Intel/Coups/Overthrow/Failed Topples etc can be introduced once players are beginning to get their sea legs.
The only thing I would mention about failed topple in advance is that it favors the afghan pieces...

This turned out to be a pretty significant thing in our game this weekend.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls