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Subject: Very bad teachers rss

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Garfield Cat
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Hi

Do you also have persons in your gaming circle, you are glad that they don't teach children?

Even if they have already played the game and the mechanics are easy to explain, they totally mess it up. 80% of the group don't understand what he/she is saying. It ends up in sitting there, bored, and at some point you shout 'let's just start' (before other people start to read the manual...)

I know one problem of this is, that even if you prepare your boardgame (reading at least the manual, better unpack it and play a short round), there is no guaranty that your game is chosen...

But ok, what's the best way to deal with such situations? Just start playing and the person explains it simultaneously? And if everyone understood it, start again?

The problem with this approach is, that normally these persons are not aware of that they are terrible teachers. So you can't say 'hey you're are so bad in teaching things, let's just start the game and you try it to explain it on the way...'

Other suggestions?
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Brad M
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Can you find out what games you are playing and watch a tutorial beforehand? Is this person the one who is hosting and has all the games, otherwise why is he/she always teaching the rules?

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Shelia Wright
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My friend has a podcast and he did an episode on how to teach games... Maybe have everyone watch it and this person will become a better teacher?

http://howtoplaypodcast.com/special-episodes/episodes-a-g/ep...

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baker mouse
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I am lucky I have a few great game teachers that I can game with so I try to copy their style. Now I did try to play a game with a stranger and he was so ADD in the rule explaination that I never got how the game worked.

Maybe instead of the person launching into explaining the game, have them explain by asking questions. What does it take to win? Now how do I accomplish that? What is this for? ect. Then have someone else give a summery of the game.

I know I am not that great at explaining games, but I am trying to get better by copying how my friends teach, watching videos of how the game works to learn how to teach it, running thru the game a few times by myself with the rules, and making player aids if needed. I still miss stuff, but I am getting better.
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Brandon Rollins
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This is my experience basically every time someone's explanation doesn't contain the objective of the game in the first three sentences.
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Robb Melenyk
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bakermouse wrote:
I am lucky I have a few great game teachers that I can game with so I try to copy their style. Now I did try to play a game with a stranger and he was so ADD in the rule explaination that I never got how the game worked.

Maybe instead of the person launching into explaining the game, have them explain by asking questions. What does it take to win? Now how do I accomplish that? What is this for? ect. Then have someone else give a summery of the game.

I know I am not that great at explaining games, but I am trying to get better by copying how my friends teach, watching videos of how the game works to learn how to teach it, running thru the game a few times by myself with the rules, and making player aids if needed. I still miss stuff, but I am getting better.


Thats a good starting point, even for a bad teacher.

How do I win?
What do I need to win?
How do I get what I need to win?
lets play!
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Josh J
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I am a teacher, but I also acknowledge I stink at teaching board games.
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Peter Knapp
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It is also documented that people learn differently, so a teacher in a classroom will adapt to ensure "inclusiveness" in his teaching. So maybe the mechanic/style/description doesn't suit the learner in the teaching process and they can't "get it" (have seen that when showing people VAT calculations)...

Saying that, I've played games where a key objective/source of points/rules interaction is missed out entirely and I(or my wife) have discovered that our strategy we were building toward is null and void by one action from our opponent that we were unaware of... Hmm... I'd like to say that it was simply an oversight - or a "bad teacher" like you say - and not something more underhand!
 
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Ian Bennetts
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robbcorp26 wrote:
bakermouse wrote:
I am lucky I have a few great game teachers that I can game with so I try to copy their style. Now I did try to play a game with a stranger and he was so ADD in the rule explaination that I never got how the game worked.

Maybe instead of the person launching into explaining the game, have them explain by asking questions. What does it take to win? Now how do I accomplish that? What is this for? ect. Then have someone else give a summery of the game.

I know I am not that great at explaining games, but I am trying to get better by copying how my friends teach, watching videos of how the game works to learn how to teach it, running thru the game a few times by myself with the rules, and making player aids if needed. I still miss stuff, but I am getting better.


Thats a good starting point, even for a bad teacher.

How do I win?
What do I need to win?
How do I get what I need to win?
lets play!


Add in "What triggers the end of game", and you've got a formula. Nothing worse than feeling you're just getting to grips with a new game when someone says, "This is the final round".
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mortego
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I am a real teacher but I hate being the teacher of a game and nearly most of the time I have been the one who has to teach a game. If I am unfamiliar with the game I .........prepare but not with lesson plans. I try to teach the game in the best way I can understand it and making sure I stay focused on the big concepts then later with some details. During the game I am always showing new players how to beat me or make better moves for themselves. I allow for "self exploration" that is to say when I feel they have the gist of it I'll pull back until they ask for help or if I see them making a huge mistake.

I'd rather NOT be the teacher of any game but if the person doing it is messing up big time instead of me telling them they're wrong I ask questions as if I'm a dumbass about certain things explained incorrectly, it usually works except on people who know me then I get angry eyes aimed at me and I end up teaching the damn game......
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Tom
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robbcorp26 wrote:
bakermouse wrote:
I am lucky I have a few great game teachers that I can game with so I try to copy their style. Now I did try to play a game with a stranger and he was so ADD in the rule explaination that I never got how the game worked.

Maybe instead of the person launching into explaining the game, have them explain by asking questions. What does it take to win? Now how do I accomplish that? What is this for? ect. Then have someone else give a summery of the game.

I know I am not that great at explaining games, but I am trying to get better by copying how my friends teach, watching videos of how the game works to learn how to teach it, running thru the game a few times by myself with the rules, and making player aids if needed. I still miss stuff, but I am getting better.


Thats a good starting point, even for a bad teacher.

How do I win?
What do I need to win?
How do I get what I need to win?
lets play!

To a point you are correct. However, if you are teaching Bruxelles 1893 it isn't that simple. With more complicated games I just talk about the basic things you can do and then I tell the players what I am going to try to do to win. I also tell them a few viable other strategies but discuss how much risk reward there is with those strategies. Lastly, I try to play the game a week before I teach it to a new group either through a few solo turns or my very patient wife. Even if I have played the game dozens of times, if I haven't played it in a few months (or sometimes weeks) a quick refresher is always important. Two weeks ago I taught a couple who were newer to gaming Orleans, and they listed and followed instructions so well they crushed me....I was proud.

My main point to the OP is if you don't like the teaching style then teach the games yourself. Look for the game's rules on BGG, buy more games, and or watch (at your own risk, they can get them wrong too) some of the video walkthroughs. I wish Boardgames with Scott was still around because he was great at teaching games.
 
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Nicholas Krause
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We've all had bad teachers before. I know one guy at the meet up I frequent leaves out key strategic goals so he can crush newbies. It's kind of sick if you ask me. That's not cool and I'm sure nobody here thinks it is, but well....

OK, I'm going to say something controversial here, not all people are good students. Most bad student I don't mind. I know we have a few people at our gaming meet ups at have autism, and I have no problem spending a few extra minutes going over the rules a few times with them. It's the people with the attention span of a gold fish I can't deal with. I know it's been 110 seconds of the 2 minutes you've allotted me in your head to teach this game, but that doesn't mean everybody is ready to just dive in. I'm sure I have room to improve as a teacher, but if you're interrupting the explanation 2 minutes in with, "Lets just start already," you're being a jerk. People learn in different ways, so while you might be a doer, those who learn best by watching and listening are going to be completely lost. So do the world a favor, keep that opinion to yourself, try and grok what you can, and wait until the explanation is done. If it takes more than 5 minutes and people are all sitting around scratching their heads, then maybe say something, but chances are they're not. Try and be aware of the people around you and for gosh sake let the teacher do his/her job and teach.

Sorry for the tangent.
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Lisa Johnson
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I have been teaching at the college level for 16 years and one instinct I have developed is the look in my students eyes when they are "full." There's no use in continuing to lecture or try to coax discussion at that point. They need to DO something. I know this instinct is not universal because I've spent so much time sighing while my husband (also a college instructor) looks up rules when we are learning a game. We have not found a way for a new game to play smoothly the first time.

One thing that I have noticed when we are play testing our own game during development with folks who are just learning is the tendency to be "too helpful." Instead of letting them make their own decisions and asking for help if they need it, we chime in saying what WE would do. This is not a recipe for allowing the player to discover their own approach to the strategy. All I can say is that we are working on this kind of stuff and I'm glad this forum was started.
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mortego
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PhaedraWinterborn wrote:
One thing that I have noticed when we are play testing our own game during development with folks who are just learning is the tendency to be "too helpful." Instead of letting them make their own decisions and asking for help if they need it, we chime in saying what WE would do. This is not a recipe for allowing the player to discover their own approach to the strategy. All I can say is that we are working on this kind of stuff and I'm glad this forum was started.


That's key, in my opinion, to teaching; self-discovery.
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Hastings
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I think I may be an exception as I have a daughter and teaching her is fine, but teaching boards game ..... Whoa wow , I am awful blush shake

Its so bad that I end up getting the Mrs to explain the rules and she is not into the games as much as me. I play them fine but teaching them .... umm nooooo, not a good idea. At least I know that.
 
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Dave K
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Not sure if this would work or not, but try asking for a "demo round" where you play through a full round of the game with all information open. Have each move and choice explained as you go. When the demo round is over, reset everything and start over for the actual game.

Not a perfect solution but it helps for some games and can be beneficial when it's hard to get the rules based on a primarily verbal explanation.
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Nicholas Krause
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krauseng wrote:
We've all had bad teachers before. I know one guy at the meet up I frequent leaves out key strategic goals so he can crush newbies. It's kind of sick if you ask me. That's not cool and I'm sure nobody here thinks it is, but well....

OK, I'm going to say something controversial here, not all people are good students. Most bad student I don't mind. I know we have a few people at our gaming meet ups at have autism, and I have no problem spending a few extra minutes going over the rules a few times with them. It's the people with the attention span of a gold fish I can't deal with. I know it's been 110 seconds of the 2 minutes you've allotted me in your head to teach this game, but that doesn't mean everybody is ready to just dive in. I'm sure I have room to improve as a teacher, but if you're interrupting the explanation 2 minutes in with, "Lets just start already," you're being a jerk. People learn in different ways, so while you might be a doer, those who learn best by watching and listening are going to be completely lost. So do the world a favor, keep that opinion to yourself, try and grok what you can, and wait until the explanation is done. If it takes more than 5 minutes and people are all sitting around scratching their heads, then maybe say something, but chances are they're not. Try and be aware of the people around you and for gosh sake let the teacher do his/her job and teach.

Sorry for the tangent.


I realize that this could sound like a referendum on the OP. It wasn't meant to be that. Please don't take it as such. I have no way of knowing if you're doing this to your teachers, it's more me venting frustration over certain players I run into from time to time.
 
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Ryan Addleman
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I'm not afraid to admit I'm the worst at teaching board games.
Ironically I am in leadership at my job and teach classes all the time.
 
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Dm225 wrote:
I'm not afraid to admit I'm the worst at teaching board games.
Ironically I am in leadership at my job and teach classes all the time.



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Robb Melenyk
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johnnyspys wrote:
robbcorp26 wrote:
bakermouse wrote:
I am lucky I have a few great game teachers that I can game with so I try to copy their style. Now I did try to play a game with a stranger and he was so ADD in the rule explaination that I never got how the game worked.

Maybe instead of the person launching into explaining the game, have them explain by asking questions. What does it take to win? Now how do I accomplish that? What is this for? ect. Then have someone else give a summery of the game.

I know I am not that great at explaining games, but I am trying to get better by copying how my friends teach, watching videos of how the game works to learn how to teach it, running thru the game a few times by myself with the rules, and making player aids if needed. I still miss stuff, but I am getting better.


Thats a good starting point, even for a bad teacher.

How do I win?
What do I need to win?
How do I get what I need to win?
lets play!

To a point you are correct. However, if you are teaching Bruxelles 1893 it isn't that simple. With more complicated games I just talk about the basic things you can do and then I tell the players what I am going to try to do to win. I also tell them a few viable other strategies but discuss how much risk reward there is with those strategies. Lastly, I try to play the game a week before I teach it to a new group either through a few solo turns or my very patient wife. Even if I have played the game dozens of times, if I haven't played it in a few months (or sometimes weeks) a quick refresher is always important. Two weeks ago I taught a couple who were newer to gaming Orleans, and they listed and followed instructions so well they crushed me....I was proud.

My main point to the OP is if you don't like the teaching style then teach the games yourself. Look for the game's rules on BGG, buy more games, and or watch (at your own risk, they can get them wrong too) some of the video walkthroughs. I wish Boardgames with Scott was still around because he was great at teaching games.


Yea the formula really only applies to games that would fit in the formula. I agree on the more complicated games aspect. I always read rules, watch tutorials and attempt a solo game (at least a few turns) before introducing others. Mostly for my own sanity. I find new players excited about a game ask a lot of unconnected questions.

 
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Garfield Cat
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I'm a very patient person and don't interrupt the teacher after 2min. But if I see the other players scratching their head and taking the manual away from the teacher to read it by themselves, then something is going wrong

This time he knew that the chance we play his game is about 99%, so he could prepare much better. But usually we don't know which game we will play. Which makes it a little bit difficult to prepare.
 
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I break it down into:

How do I do things?
Rules of the games, mechanics, procedures, turn overview, it's a fully-co-op game


Why am I doing these things?
How you score, object of the game, thematic explanation of what's going on, why do you care about certain other parts of the game
 
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Paul Olson
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We have a a guy in our group who loves to buy new board games and wants to play them (and honestly the rest of the group would probably want to as well). About 6 months ago, he asked candidly why we didn't want to play any of the games he kept buying (was it the games or him). I told him straight up it was because he wasn't good at explaining new games. He never knew any of the mechanics and we always ended up having to basically reread the rulebook for ourselves. He said he wanted to do better so I gave him some tips:

1. Watch a "how-to-play" video on YouTube (being fully mentally engaged). Chances are, there is at least one instructional video of the game you want to play.

2. Read through the rulebook (I find watching a video first helps a rulebook make more sense).

3. Play the game yourself at home even if that means playing against yourself with 2 other dummy players. This helps you understand the flow of the game and an ability to hopefully give advice on basic strategy of a game.

4. If you think giving instructions is going to take more than 15 min., practice literally timing yourself and speaking out loud to your cat or dog or stuffed animal to see how long it takes and try to cut out what you can.

Once you've done all that, bring the game to the group and teach it as follows (as several people have pointed out on this thread already):

1. How do I win?
2. What do I need to win?
3. How do I get what I need to win?

The next week he literally did all of those steps and explained Dead of Winter. I kid you not, he nailed giving instructions and impressed everyone (this guy is a little socially awkward but you wouldn't have guessed it based on his instructions). We all had a great time playing, and now we're always open to learning a new game from him because he does these steps every time.

It takes being honest, but if they really want to better the group, hopefully they'll listen to you.
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DB
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In boardgames or in general, teaching is a skill -- and a grossly undervalued one at that. Content knowledge is necessary to be a good teacher, but it is by no means sufficient.
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Adam Tucker
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johnnyspys wrote:
To a point you are correct. However, if you are teaching Bruxelles 1893 it isn't that simple.
Funny you should mention that specific game ...

johnnyspys wrote:
My main point to the OP is if you don't like the teaching style then teach the games yourself. Look for the game's rules on BGG, buy more games, and or watch (at your own risk, they can get them wrong too) some of the video walkthroughs. I wish Boardgames with Scott was still around because he was great at teaching games.
While all this in general is good advice, it seems that this and most of the advice on this page is directed at avoiding situation to begin with and/or avoiding putting others in this position by not being the bad rules teacher yourself.

The original question remains, what should you do if you realize you have signed up to play and be taught a game by someone who is terrible at explaining the rules?

How much should your reaction differ depending on where this happens and who is the perpetrator? Friend of a friend during home gaming? Random person at an open board game meetup? Scheduled event at a Con?

I know that I like to go to Cons specifically to learn new games. Hopefully in a much easier, more conversational manner, and with far more examples (since the bits are in front of everyone).

So what should I have done when the person "attempting to teach" 4 other people and myself Bruxelles 1893 said that the "City Hall track" (1,2,2,3,3,4) indicated the maximum number of Public Figure cards a player could have in front of them, while the "Royal Palace track" (1,2,3,4,5,7) indicated the maximum number of Public Figure cards a player could activate during any given turn? Note, that even when most of the players, including myself, indicated that such rules would make no sense (given what else they had explained so far), the person running the game not only doubled down on these instructions, but vigorously defended them.

What should others have done when being taught Temporum and instructed that during the move part of their turn they may move their pawn at most 1 Time away (i.e., from Time III, they can move to Time II or Time IV, but not Time I) along the current "real time line", or stay where they are?
Note: the actual rule is "2. Move
The current player may move his pawn to any of the four Zones that are currently real. He does not have to move; he may stay where he is."
That is the entire portion of rules for moving.
If you guessed that person explaining the rules here was the same person as from Bruxelles 1893 example above, you would be correct.
At the time this happened, I had not yet played Temporum and was considering signing up. I actually downloaded the rules to the game to my phone and read them between sessions - the rules are really short. If I had been there, with the actual rules still relatively fresh in my head, what should I have done?

I know that with Bruxelles 1893, another player and I actually looked up the rules on our phone (instructor was reticent to hand over the rules at first) and attempted to correct the teacher during their explanation, and even go back to correct things they had already incorrectly instructed; much to the annoyance of at least 1 other player.

But what should I have done?
I know that when I sign up for a game I have not played at I con, I am looking for 2 things:
1) To have the game explained to me (preferably using the bits of the game to demonstrate with examples)
2) To get a feel for how the game plays by actually playing the game (not some odd or accidental variant).

I know that at a board game meet up, I screwed up my first play of Thrash'n Roll for everyone by not passing the first player marker at the end of a round. Because even though I was pretty sure it was supposed to move, it isn't listed on the page 7 detailed description of the end of a round or the player aid section on end of turn (which is worse because the player aid also functions as an errata and takes precedence over the rules), but is only mentioned on the page 4 general description of the end phase of a round. I'm still kicking myself for screwing that up for all of us.

Looking up rules yourself (on your phone - please don't rip them out of the game instructor's hands) isn't always an option, some rules aren't posted online. So if someone teaching you a game tells you a rule that really doesn't make any sense, what should you do?

I've taken to looking at rules on my phone more often for many reasons: if something about the rules for a game isn't coming together for me (especially if it seems like the other players are comprehending the rules fine), if there was part of the rules that I feel like I missed, because I was trying to visualize some of the rule interactions from other earlier explanation, or even if just want to jog my memory on earlier rules without interrupting the explanation to the entire group.
Although some of those could be due to the person explaining the game as well, consider if you heard the following rules:
"+ The number of 'K' points you have is equal to the number of Entrances you have, plus 1.
+ Use 'K' points to move Patients from the Patient Services 'K's to your Pre-Admissions (maximum: 4 in each).
+ Each step “forward” in a 'K' costs 1 'K' point.
+ Going from 1st (rightmost) in a 'K' to your column costs 1 'K' point.
+ You may also move each Patient headed to your Pre-Admissions one time to an adjacent 'K' for 1 'K' point, by swapping it with whatever is in the same position in the adjacent 'K', even if that’s nothing (shift Patients to the right to close any gaps).
+ 'K'ed patients automatically march rightward to fill any gaps."

Now realize that person reading the rules had been pronouncing the word "queue" as 'K'.
Notes:
1) I tried to explain the proper pronunciation, but they said that some people pronounce it /keɪ/, some people pronounce it /kjuː/, and went right on through the rules saying 'K'.
2) Not the same person who taught Bruxelles 1893 and Temporum, but the rules are fairly complex, the building rules in particular are quite difficult to grasp and worse to remember, especially including the whole 3 dimensions aspect. Otherwise, rules explanation was on point, if a bit slow (there are a lot of bits, both physical and rule wise, to the game), but they had clearly played the game before.


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