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Subject: Teaching without Overthrows and Coups? rss

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Whitemage Covenent
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I may be getting Pax Pamir soon, but I am concerned about the learning curve for the more causal family and friends I will want to play with. I am considering a few changes for their first game, and would love feedback.

Some of my changes are less important-ignoring special powers associated with each empire. I also plan to hold off on using the special actions until a few turns in (maybe even until after the first topple). But after players start using these actions, I am thinking about completely dropping the overthrows and coups. As Tom Chick aptly describes in his excellent podcast episode about the game, these rules seem like they could push casual players over the edge, since they are very specific exceptions that can really punish players, and will be very hard to remember.

My main question is, would the game be broken without these rules? I don't mean unbalanced; I am not worried about people discovering unfairly powerful plays on their first game. Just about things getting wonky and unfun somehow.

Any other feedback or advice on teaching are also appreciated. Hope to be able to get into this game soon!
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Paul Schorfheide
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I unintentionally played my first game without them (since I forgot myself.) I think it's fine to explain the special actions as cards are played, I talked about location and units, then as people played the cards I explained the new actions.

I've only played twice so I don't have much experience myself but I think it was successful.
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calvin chow
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I'd suggest just playing to the first topple for a teaching game... I tried Nation Building with a new 5 player group, and it went 6 hours with the learning curve...
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Cole Wehrle
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When I teach this game at cons, I usually follow the following pattern:

1. Theme, Empire Association, and Objective (2 min)
2. Gameplay (1 min) ("It's a tableau builder. You are going to buy cards and play them, that puts pieces on the board).
3. Explain the 4 modes and the corresponding pieces (2 min)

Then Specifics:
4. Turn Structure (1 min)
5. The Purchase Action (1 min)
6. The Discard Action (30 seconds)
7. The Play Action (5 minutes) (NOTE: This includes costs, impacts, placing units, patriots, etc).

Then I remind them of the victory condition and goal (1 minute).

Then we start playing. At this point they know everything EXCEPT special actions. But between the two tiered victory condition, the four modes of power, and the play action, the new players have PLENTY to think about. So I just say that those colored boxes on cards are special actions but that we will very slowly phase them in over the game and not to worry about them for now.

Then over after we get about 2 or three rounds in, I start introducing special actions, one mode at a time over the next several rounds. I usually use the following order: Economic, Political, Intelligence, and Military last.

By the time we've gotten through everything, the first topple is Usually about to appear on the scene. I will usually put myself in a position to pull it pretty quickly and then score the round before moving to the next Topple (ala Nation Building) but we're usually about an hour in at this point which is a good time to stop a demo anyway (and for new players to consider giving the game a fresh start).

In summary, tell everyone this is a learning game and that you're going to phase in the rules. The initial explanation is frankly not much harder than a mid weight euro and folks should be playing within 10-15 minutes (my personal record is 6 minutes). Then just slowly introduce them to concepts as they gain a little mastery of the system. If you dump all the special actions on new players at once they will lose their minds.
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Whitemage Covenent
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Thanks for the reply, Cole. I really appreciate your presence on the forum. And the specific advice here is helpful. I suppose you explain Coup and Overthrow when you explain the actions associated with them?

And since I have your attention: I couldn't figure out from your Quarter to Three interview quite why those rules where in there. Is it just for greater historical accuracy, or is there something important that they contribute to the gameplay?
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Cole Wehrle
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mbaddorf wrote:
Thanks for the reply, Cole. I really appreciate your presence on the forum. And the specific advice here is helpful. I suppose you explain Coup and Overthrow when you explain the actions associated with them?


Without BGG and the conversations its hosted there would be no Pax Pamir, so I figure I owe it to everyone And yes, I usually explain overthrows and coups as I get to the specific actions. Because I teach the campaign action last, overthrow and intel are the last rules that new players encounter.

Quote:

And since I have your attention: I couldn't figure out from your Quarter to Three interview quite why those rules where in there. Is it just for greater historical accuracy, or is there something important that they contribute to the gameplay?


Both. Each rules provides a way that an entrenched political power might be dislodged. There's a pretty strong pattern of this happening in Afghanistan over the period covered by the game and the dislodging either came with scheming at the court (coups) or military intervention (overthrow). The explanation for coups is a little light but in thematic terms the old ruler was probably killed or blinded and his son or heir would come under the control of the new faction. These grissly ends are likewise the reason why politicos were under direct thread. An army/road/spy "destroyed" is really more of a disruption. The army breaks apart and runs home. The intimidated merchant stops selling. The spy is killed or scared off. However, sometimes the connection between the pieces on the board and the cards in your tableau are strong. When a all the tribes in a region are destroyed, they are going to hunt down and kill every member of that family they can find.

In gameplay terms, this also helped me balance the modes against one another, specifically to provide ways to disrupt taxing and political strongholds.
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Whitemage Covenent
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Very cool, thanks.
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