Michaelo Brazen
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My gaming group loves board games. Before I introduce it to them, I usually play it with my siblings a handful of times. This way there's atleast a handful of people who know how the game goes and they can help teaching etc you know.

We recently acquired Vast! The Crystal Caverns! and I'm having difficulty teaching it (mostly because I find it hard to understand it myself). Due to it being asymmetrical, it's a little difficult to know what to do in response to certain actions etc. We've tried to play it three times only to become mentally exhausted and overwhelmed by text upon text (and having exceptions pop up that aren't mentioned in the rulebook). Knowing that we're probably playing the game wrong is also discouraging/not fun because it feels like a waste of time and a fake victory.

I'm planning on getting Troyes and many people are saying it can be difficult/daunting. I'm definitely getting it as I've been wanting it, plus it's been around longer/popular so I can get help easier, there's youtube lessons etc.


So my question is, how do you approach incorporating board games that are more complex in nature to your gaming group? Keep in mind the ages in my group go from mid 20's to pre teen. Most are 18 and up however. We do code names, catan, bang dice, survive!, resistance, dixit, Quantum, Spector ops, but I want more complex mentally fulfilling games.

I bought Scythe, but I haven't even tried playing it yet. I know people get discouraged to hear it's a 2 hour game... Yet these people will play monopoly for 6 hours (or risk for 5 hours a day, playing it again the next etc.) which is annoying to me.
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Luke Denby
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Learn to play videos are often much better at teaching a game than just reading the rulebook.

Also if you can try and do a solo play through first I know that helps. I know laying out the game while going through the rules really helps cement things in my mind more.
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Russ Williams
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Perhaps play successively more complex games, instead of "jumping into the deep end" with games which feel too difficult. I think learning how to learn games is a skill like most skills, which improves with experience.
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Phillip Harpring
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I think the most helpful thing is trying to set a positive tone from the beginning. Making sure people know that everyone's learning and mistakes will be made, not making a big deal about winning/losing, and trying to keep things moving. If possible, try to deal out the necessary rules as you play rather than a big info-dump at the beginning. Being willing to pack it up halfway through and try again another time now that everyone knows the rules can help, too.

And yeah, I highly recommend trying to make the time to do a solo play of any new game before bringing it to a group. Even if the rules seem straightforward, there will often be situations that come up that aren't self-explanatory that you can be prepared to answer when they happen in the group session.
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Adam P
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Play the game yourself a couple times, going through the rulebook. Then make a cribsheet that you can use when teaching. Think of it like preparing for a speech.
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Tony Go
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Play Race for the Galaxy.

It doesn't overstay it's welcome and is only intimidating initially due to some graphic design (I infact think there is a lot of intuitive design to it). The fact that it's mostly a card game hides the fact that it is mentally fulfilling and incredibly deep. It's about baby steps- tricking your group into playing a deep game and then getting them hooked on it and wanting more.

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 is another good candidate as the core game is fairly straightforward but it opens up into more much interesting ideas.
 
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Greg
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I think there are few things to consider.

First, why do you feel it is necessary to play more complex games? Sometimes I feel there is a misconception on this website that the ultimate goal for any gaming group should be more complicated games. I don't think that is true. I think every group has it's sweet spot in that regard. If you have found it, there is no need to push into the more complex games. Of course, I think you should explore, but I just want to push back on any idea that more complex means a better game.

If you do decide that the more complex games are right for you and your group, my suggestion is to learn it well before you introduce it. I think that rules explanations can make or break a game. Read the rules and get them down pat. Play a few rounds solo. Practice teaching the game in your head a few times. I think a well organized rules explanation can make a complex game seem simpler.

Also, just as russ mentioned above, it might be good to gradually increase the complexity of the games instead of just jumping into the deepest end. Look for games that use similar mechanisms to the game you want to eventually teach, but without all the other complexities surrounding it. Sometimes, new mechanisms can be confusing just because they are new and if a game has a ton of them, it might be daunting to teach or learn. If however, the group is already familiar with a few of the mechanisms, it lowers the entry barrier a little bit. For example, if a game has drafting and the group has never drafted before, you have to go into a whole explanation about it in addition to any other mechanisms. But if the group has played something like Sushi Go!, you can just say "First, we draft these cards, just like Sushi Go!" It doesn't seem as intimidating because they are familiar with the concept and you can just move on to the new stuff.

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Mauricio Montoya
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Now, unless you're talking about miniatures games with lots and lots of cards and components, heavier eurogames like Troyes are actually not that complex rules-wise. The manuals tend to be smaller (Troyes' manual is just 8 pages including the cover, only four of them are gameplay rules), the steps and decisions you can take each round are quite limited and often very clear, and the actions and their efects are usually displayed in the components and the board itself. Their complexity derives from the need to plan your actions and manage your resources ahead of time so you can get points more efficiently or get access to better actions, not from the amount of rules and exceptions you have to remember.

I'm often the teacher for new games at my group because I buy most of them, and although my regular players are very used to heavier games, english is not their first language so they rely on me to know the rules (unless they can get the spanish version first) and to make sure the game is being played as intended, because missing a single word or adjective somewhere can dramatically change the meaning of a very crucial rule. Plus I just like teaching.

I usually start by watching a runthrough video way before the game arrives, not for the explanation itself (a lot of videos contain many rules mistakes and you don't wanna go replicating them) but because they help you get a feel for the game's flow and get a visual and spatial idea of the components: how they look, how they interact, what goes on top or under what when you activate something, which one is the Dangers deck and where's gotta be placed, or what exactly happens when you are instructed to refill the contracts queue with new tiles at the start of each round.

When your copy of the game arrives you already have a general idea but you still have to start reading the manual from the beginning and trust what it says. This helps you catch any mistakes from the video you watched, but the components, turn steps and actions discussed in the rulebook are no longer imaginary things, you have seen them work and it's way easier to follow the rules and teach them later to other people.

And definitely do a solo run simulating multiple players so you can familiarize yourself with the way the game is supposed to run, the turn order, actions, decisions, interactions, questions and rules mistakes that you and your players are gonna be facing on the first few games. This way you can have the answers already in your head when it happens or at least know where too look for them without pausing the game and losing focus every couple of minutes, because that doesn't help at all with the experience and you want that first game to be the best possible, because depending on your group it may be the only time it gets played in months (if at all), or at least it will dictate if the game has any chance to get replayed anytime soon.

And please, never, never bring a completely new game to the table that you haven't prepared for, with the intention that "we all learn the rules as we play", specially if it's a heavier one. Those have been the two most insufferable and painful gaming experiences of my life (wasn't my fault, it was other guys that wanted to play their recently-acquired games so badly) and now I promptly drop out of any game where that's gonna happen before it even starts. Please don't subject your poor players to that kind of torture.
 
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Scythe:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffMLIL5qGQg

Otherwise... read the rules. Play more games. The more games you teach, the better you'll be at it. I can teach just about any game I've played in 5-10 mins. I've found the trick is to get people playing as quickly as possible. Get them taking turns and asking questions, and explain things to them as they do their turns. I personally HATE when someone tries to give me an hour long lecture on how to play a game. It also helps that YOU know the rules... so read them! If you don't get it, watch videos, check for rules supplements on BGG in Files section, and better yet set-up the game and play it solo and force yourself to understand it before trying to explain it to others. Also, heavier games aren't for everyone. I personally prefer them but sometimes they take some work.

My suggestion? Keep playing simple games with your friends. Let them want more complex stuff. You should get some complex SOLO games for yourself to satisfy that itch, because complex games will make casual gamers hate gaming. Go buy/learn Mage Knight or the Scythe solo mode.

Lots of helpful hints:

https://www.shutupandsitdown.com/videos/rules-explanations/
 
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