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Subject: Teaching an un experienced player rss

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Helena Hovancova
Slovakia
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On Sunday I convinced my sister to try out Mombasa. She plays quite a lot of games [Tzolkin, Alchemists, Voyages of Marco Polo, etc...] and I was convinced she will manage well. To my surprise, my mother sat down with us eager to play. It's true she plays some family games with us [Takenoko, TTR and even Istanbul], but I would not call her a gamer. Lately she got really confused with Isle of Skye, although it's hard to see through how to value the tiles and how the game flows at first, you need trial and error for that one.

So how did I manage to teach Mombasa and was it a success?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
My mum managed a win 84-79-75!


1

Explain goal - money, diamonds and more importantly how trade houses are placed and replaced and how this affects value of shares.
It's pretty straightforward and no issues arose.

2

Explain deck management & round duration. I made both my sister and my mom go through few rounds placing cards, picking up discard pile and discarding the played cards to get the feel for game flow even without knowing what these cards do.

3

Use player aid to go through actions. Show examples.

4

Things I omitted - I told my mother to ignore a bookkeeping track and get rid of the bookkeeper card for money. I told them that I will show them how it works in the last round of the game. Just told them to treat the bookkeeping points as coins.

I did not go through detail about tracks, I explained 1st bonuses and once a player reached bonus space, I repeated the meaning and rewarded them unexpectedly with 1 coin.

5

Explain things over and over during your turn - helps to retain the rules. With so many spots on player board, so many icons and different cards it's easy to get lost. So remind of rules, icons & explain the worker placement spots every time you use them.

123456

All in all, after 30 mins or so we were already playing and after 2 rounds my mother was in the game and finished a winner!

To all fearing this game might be too complex - this is not the case. No need to take it all in at one go, even without bookkeeping or all the minutia of the company tracks one can enjoy the game and be competitive.

This made me happy - as I can share my appreciation of this game with more people!
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David Fox
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helena_poprad wrote:
To all fearing this game might be too complex - this is not the case.


Very true.

I've taught Mombase three times now and I'd describe it as "A lot of simple". For first timers and inexperienced gamers, the stumbling point is indeed the bookkeeping track and, you're right, it's not necessary to win (albeit helpful to get an extra action).

I quite like to mention the rules associated with the pieces as I'm putting them out during Setup; then I do a virtual 'Round 0' quite quickly, and reiterate those points in Round 1, which helps them stick. Mombasa is a very understandable game mechanically, so by the start of Round 2 there are rarely any queries.

Overall, I'd say 20-30 minutes is about right for setup and teaching. One day, I'll have a group of all experienced players and we can just get going straight away!
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Alexander Pfister
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I like your idea of a sort of beginer game without using the bookkeeping track as their are quite a lot rules involved. Great to see it worked well!
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Tahsin Shamma
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Personal anecdote from this past weekend:

A longtime gamer friend and his hesitant-to-gaming wife came over last weekend for lunch and game. I expected to play something basic, like Imhotep or Ticket to Ride since the wife had not played many "advanced" games. I know that certain people can pick up a game quick if their version of intelligence (spatial, mathematical, auditory, visual, physical) fits with the style of game.

We took the above advice and did not implement bookkeeping at all. Any bookkeeping points went to money. We also forgot a couple of rules, but nothing major and we were able to adjust.

The impressive thing to me, given all of the other posts about long rules explanations (I think mine was 20-30 min) was that she got it. The game did require re-explanations of rules and reminders, but she was able to play, with suggestions, the whole game. She was never bored and the game was tight for everyone up until the last couple of turns.

I am really impressed at this. A big thank you for the teaching suggestion, but also for the fact that ultimately, what is described as a "heavy" game gets a rough rap from some other players who don't realize the challenge and joy inherent in the game with pulling off a great plan considering how many choices there are.

I have an upcoming review in Board Game Quest, so I don't want to spoil that. But I just want to say that a game with this level of engagement, even for a new player, is amazing to me.
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Helena Hovancova
Slovakia
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Quote:
Personal anecdote from this past weekend:...


Thanks for your feedback! Glad it worked well!

I have to say I am also surprised about people complaining on struggles teaching this game. The thing is that the rules for this game are not only written very clearly [A+ rulebook], but they are super clear themselves. The only thing is that for not completely obsessed players, it can be a lot to take in on first go...

I can see that if you ignore bookkeeping, the game might be unbalanced ['cause diamond cards and diamond bonus tile become much more sought after], but at least new players don't struggle with trying to sync card play [tricky itself] and bookkeeping track movement, which is super satisfactory, but really hard to pull off!
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