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Subject: How do you introduce a new game to your group? rss

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Joe Pruitt
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Do you just pull it out on game night and teach as you go? If so, do you at least read the rules and learn it beforehand?

Does everyone acquire their own copy, or do you send around the rule book for everyone to read ahead of time?

Just wondering, since a lot of games are kind of complex and hard to learn on the spot.
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Trevor Taylor
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I will often let people know in advance of games I plan for us to play (usually plan about half the games). I will also be up to speed and ready to teach the game (from simply reading the rules to having a whole playthrough on my own, depending on the game). I try to avoid teaching too many complex games in one session.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Jhogun wrote:
Does everyone acquire their own copy, or do you send around the rule book for everyone to read ahead of time?
I know no one who does either of these things.

Jhogun wrote:
Just wondering, since a lot of games are kind of complex and hard to learn on the spot.
Play with smarter people. Everyone I game with is proficient at picking up games from an explanation.
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Chris Graves
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When I get a new game I really want to play, I will let everyone know I'd like us to play it the next gaming session...my group is easy. Then, if there is a good video, I will send it out for people to watch (if they want to, but they don't have to). Like Trevor said, I also make sure I am knowledgeable about the rules. My group has seen lots of different mechanics, and they pick games up fast. We also just play a practice game first time, so the winner has an asterisk by the victory.
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Joe Huber

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Jhogun wrote:
Do you just pull it out on game night and teach as you go? If so, do you at least read the rules and learn it beforehand?


One person reads the rulebook live; the others listen, and ask clarifying questions (not for answers, but to be sure the group notices the answer when it arrives). Far and away my favorite way to learn a game - puzzling it out together.
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Angel Carrete
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huber wrote:
Jhogun wrote:
Do you just pull it out on game night and teach as you go? If so, do you at least read the rules and learn it beforehand?


One person reads the rulebook live; the others listen, and ask clarifying questions (not for answers, but to be sure the group notices the answer when it arrives). Far and away my favorite way to learn a game - puzzling it out together.


IMHO (and obviously tastes differ) This method of out loud rule book reading is positively, absolutely, and undeniably the worst way to explain a game. So much so that I do not know if the post is a troll. If it is not, then I hope you do not take this quote in a bad way.

If you want to teach a game, come prepared knowing the rules by heart and preferably having played one or two rounds. If you can, you should definitely teach by examples and, when possible, by playing. Also, try not to push your group too much. It is sad but some people can't or won't learn anything more complex than a medium-light game.
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Mark Helton
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Jhogun wrote:
Do you just pull it out on game night and teach as you go? If so, do you at least read the rules and learn it beforehand?

Does everyone acquire their own copy, or do you send around the rule book for everyone to read ahead of time?

Just wondering, since a lot of games are kind of complex and hard to learn on the spot.

Re: How do you introduce a new game to your group?


At gunpoint?



Since I am the primary game day host, I tend to try a game out on one of the guys in my gaming circle, if the game allows for a two player game. If not suitable for two players, then I still try to run it by one or two of the guys in the gaming circle to see if they think it would work for our group. This means usually setting up the game and going over the rules with them. If they agree that the game is good, then I email out either the rules, or a link to where the rules are for everyone to read. And on the game day we play the game for the first time, I offer to teach the rules an hour before the game actually starts, (for those players who have not read the rules completely, and to point out the various nuances to the rules that they might have overlooked).

Usually I am a pretty good judge of what will work and what will not. Our group has a few really good gamers, who are not really wargamers so I have to tailor the games to avoid too much of a wargame. And we have a few gamers who like games, but play more for the social aspect of it, so I tend to keep the games to medium weight. As an example, TI3, while a great game, was just too complex and long for my group, whereas something like A Game of Thrones, the board game, worked out quite well.)

My two cents worth anyway.
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Eddy Sterckx
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Averaging around 80 new games / year.

There are 3 game teachers in my 2 groups, our approach is the same :

We read/learn the game before gamenight, then teach it and we play. Can't get any simpler, nobody loses any time listening to someone reading the rules to them.

We're expecting another couple to show up here in 15 minutes - I've got 2 games ready to roll and I'm pretty sure they'll have at least 1 too. Takes half a minute to decide which game(s) we'll play.



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Joe Huber

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Tlalox wrote:
IMHO (and obviously tastes differ) This method of out loud rule book reading is positively, absolutely, and undeniably the worst way to explain a game. So much so that I do not know if the post is a troll. If it is not, then I hope you do not take this quote in a bad way.


No worries - but not a troll at all. There's a sense of exploration in learning a game - and I think it's most enjoyable as a shared experience. I understand that it's not for everyone - or for the majority of folks, for that matter - but I really do find it sufficiently enjoyable that I feel like I've missed out when taught a game.

One of my favorite experiences was when four of us sat down to try to decode the English rules for Ore City; the translation, at that point, was really, really rough. It took us an hour to get to the point of starting to play, we weren't sure of a few key rules - and I loved journey.
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Brian
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Verbatim rule reading is generally the way my group does it as well.

Generally speaking, any form of teaching that is shorter than reading the rules is a summarization and not an exact representation of the rules. I (and most in my group) would rather get all the rules before we make any game-relevant decision.

In some cases when most of the players know the game but there is a new player, and the new player is comfortable with the approach, we will try to explain the rules completely and succinctly without reading verbatim.
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Daniel B
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buy it, learn rules and watch videos and (if possible) solo play it a bit. then it's ready.
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Quote:
How do you introduce a new game to your group?

We're usually pretty informal. "Terraforming Mars, this is Jeff, this is Ruth, that's Dwayne ... Gang, say hi to Terraforming Mars."

For older games we do tend to be a bit more formal. "Shogi, may I introduce Jeff. Jeff, I'd like you to meet Shogi ..."
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Paul DeStefano
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First, keep the game locked in a different room, so the gamers become aware of it and become used to it's presence. Let them go to the door and kind of sniff at it, but don't let them in.

After about 3 days, when their initial distrust has died down, you can open the door just a crack, allowing some carefully monitored visual contact, but be careful not to let anyone touch the game, you never know when gamers might snap, no matter how docile they seem.

After a week, allow them to play.
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John Wrot!
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I'm the guy that funnels most new games to my group, and my group is pretty flexible, so I can kinda get away with whatever I want.

That said, I try to do it respectfully by at least reading the rules through once (to have a basic handle on it) before laying it out the first time.
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Johannes B.
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Like this:
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Kevin Whitmore
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For many years, I have been the "rules guy", and am a reasonably good explainer of rules. So naturally I would bone up on the rules, and be ready to explain.

But more recently, I've been asking folks to help me figure out a game - we cover the rules, discuss what we understand from them, and give it a whirl.

This transition has come from two things. Games have gotten more and more layered over the years. Seems like more and more games have lots of interlocking mechanisms. where in the past Euros had a game built around a single cool idea. Secondly, after learning how to play over 1000+ games, I am not as hungry for new games. So often the interest in a new game precedes my quest to conquer the rule book.

Either way, I do generally have the game punched, and probably organized for easy set up.
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James Wahl
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huber wrote:
There's a sense of exploration in learning a game - and I think it's most enjoyable as a shared experience. I understand that it's not for everyone - or for the majority of folks, for that matter - but I really do find it sufficiently enjoyable that I feel like I've missed out when taught a game.

One of my favorite experiences was when four of us sat down to try to decode the English rules for Ore City; the translation, at that point, was really, really rough. It took us an hour to get to the point of starting to play, we weren't sure of a few key rules - and I loved journey.


My goal is to have a game group like yours. The trouble I usually have with the people that I play with is that if I'm introducing any new game that is not currently being marketed or buzzed about, I basically have to guarantee that the game is good. I can't do that without learning it and heavily researching before putting it on the table.

It's annoying. Sometimes, I like to play games sometimes just to discover how bad they are; sometimes I like to play games from the '40s just because they have pretty bits and I suspect that they may not be entirely random. I'd like to explore that with people, but instead I find myself having to constantly sell games at the table to keep people from getting up during the rules explanation and going to a table with something on the hotness (at a gathering), or from mentally checking out and blowing the first half-dozen turns before they discover that the game might be interesting without an ad campaign.

I've found a couple of people that are fun; hopefully I can grow that.

I understand that people's time is valuable and limited, I just hope that their criteria for discovering what is worth that time is less based on flashing lights, bright colors, hyperbole or pixel density.
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Sam Lam I Am
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We rotate who chooses the game, so if it is So-and-So's night to choose the game, he just brings the game and announces we are playing New Game.

A person introducing a new game has an understood responsibility that he has read the rules beforehand and can explain them.

We have learned so many games over the years that we are very adept at both teaching and digesting rules. So even with a relatively complicated game, we should be able to go through the rules in relatively short order.

The only time we wind up going through the rulebook is if it is a game we've played before, but are all rusty and want a refresher.

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Ben Rubinstein

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Tlalox wrote:
huber wrote:
Jhogun wrote:
Do you just pull it out on game night and teach as you go? If so, do you at least read the rules and learn it beforehand?


One person reads the rulebook live; the others listen, and ask clarifying questions (not for answers, but to be sure the group notices the answer when it arrives). Far and away my favorite way to learn a game - puzzling it out together.


IMHO (and obviously tastes differ) This method of out loud rule book reading is positively, absolutely, and undeniably the worst way to explain a game. So much so that I do not know if the post is a troll. If it is not, then I hope you do not take this quote in a bad way.

If you want to teach a game, come prepared knowing the rules by heart and preferably having played one or two rounds. If you can, you should definitely teach by examples and, when possible, by playing. Also, try not to push your group too much. It is sad but some people can't or won't learn anything more complex than a medium-light game.


100% agree. This might work if it's a light party game, but if it's a game of any complexity, I despise this so much that I'd rather not play anything. Listening as someone reads 10 pages of rules outloud is... revolting.
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James Wahl
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epilepticemu wrote:
Tlalox wrote:
huber wrote:
Jhogun wrote:
Do you just pull it out on game night and teach as you go? If so, do you at least read the rules and learn it beforehand?


One person reads the rulebook live; the others listen, and ask clarifying questions (not for answers, but to be sure the group notices the answer when it arrives). Far and away my favorite way to learn a game - puzzling it out together.


IMHO (and obviously tastes differ) This method of out loud rule book reading is positively, absolutely, and undeniably the worst way to explain a game. So much so that I do not know if the post is a troll. If it is not, then I hope you do not take this quote in a bad way.

If you want to teach a game, come prepared knowing the rules by heart and preferably having played one or two rounds. If you can, you should definitely teach by examples and, when possible, by playing. Also, try not to push your group too much. It is sad but some people can't or won't learn anything more complex than a medium-light game.


100% agree. This might work if it's a light party game, but if it's a game of any complexity, I despise this so much that I'd rather not play anything. Listening as someone reads 10 pages of rules outloud is... revolting.


The problem is that if it's a game of any complexity, you won't know the rules by heart until you've played it a dozen times. How would you ever play it the first time?
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Andrew Turpin
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Much like Geosphere I let them see it first so they don't get spooked. I take it to game night with little or no intention of playing it, and maybe pull it out on the table for show and tell if there isn't enough time to play another game. I would have watched videos and read the rules by now, maybe played a practice game with just my wife if it's a tough one.

This is just to make a talking point about the game and gauge interest.

I also use meetup.com to float the idea of a new game by posting about it looking for interest as that is how we organize ourselves anyway. Gives those rare creatures who do their own research a chance to see a video before game night.

For example, Quartermaster General. Two of my players who had done the research were able to lead the game without me there at all due to this method. I was sad not to play my game for the first time, but I was needed to teach a different game at another table. I was reasonably sure that play a card, draw a card, wouldn't crash and burn due to rules confusion.

We also have access to a smart TV at the library so videos are an option, but people generally just want a certain amount of verbal/tactile explanation as they can stomach before someone just says "ok let's just start playing it".

None of this applies to a lighter game of course, those I just throw people into. Co-Ops as well, people are generally more willing to start playing with just the basics as they know you aren't just setting them up to fail. ( For whatever reason some people take a first play way too seriously as if there is any meaning to winning a game some of the people haven't played before.

Just accept that people will say you didn't tell them that rule sometimes as no class gets all the students to get 100% retention of info. If it's a potentially game ruining rule or concept repeat it every other minute until some tells you to stop. I find it greatly amusing when someone has to agree that they knew the rule I kept repeating. It takes experience teaching to identify the rule you will need to whip like a rented mule.

I teach the general public, of all ages and abilities as I'm sure you can get from this. It generally works out well enough. Also some people are not ready for certain games and you can't fix this. I was told in the last week at a meeting for marginalized youth that Camel Up was "confusing" and "hard". Says it all.
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Angel Carrete
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pharmakon wrote:
epilepticemu wrote:
Tlalox wrote:
huber wrote:
Jhogun wrote:
Do you just pull it out on game night and teach as you go? If so, do you at least read the rules and learn it beforehand?


One person reads the rulebook live; the others listen, and ask clarifying questions (not for answers, but to be sure the group notices the answer when it arrives). Far and away my favorite way to learn a game - puzzling it out together.


IMHO (and obviously tastes differ) This method of out loud rule book reading is positively, absolutely, and undeniably the worst way to explain a game. So much so that I do not know if the post is a troll. If it is not, then I hope you do not take this quote in a bad way.

If you want to teach a game, come prepared knowing the rules by heart and preferably having played one or two rounds. If you can, you should definitely teach by examples and, when possible, by playing. Also, try not to push your group too much. It is sad but some people can't or won't learn anything more complex than a medium-light game.


100% agree. This might work if it's a light party game, but if it's a game of any complexity, I despise this so much that I'd rather not play anything. Listening as someone reads 10 pages of rules outloud is... revolting.


The problem is that if it's a game of any complexity, you won't know the rules by heart until you've played it a dozen times. How would you ever play it the first time?



I once sat through a TWO HOUR long explanation of Kanban: Automotive Revolution precisely because the one who brought the game did not really know how to play it. To be fair, I think the one reading the rulebook kinda enjoyed the experience. Everyone else lost about two years of life that night. I do agree than Kanban is on the heavier side of the spectrum and it clearly has a lot more rules and nuances than the average game. Regardless, I would not wish that experience to my worst enemies.

If you want to introduce your group to a new game, you owe them the courtesy of knowing the game well so that you can really explain it and its intricacies. If you are not sure you will remember all the rules, there is nothing wrong about browsing some stuff on the rulebook or printing out a teaching aide.
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Joe Huber

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Tlalox wrote:
I once sat through a TWO HOUR long explanation of Kanban: Automotive Revolution precisely because the one who brought the game did not really know how to play it. To be fair, I think the one reading the rulebook kinda enjoyed the experience. Everyone else lost about two years of life that night. I do agree than Kanban is on the heavier side of the spectrum and it clearly has a lot more rules and nuances than the average game. Regardless, I would not wish that experience to my worst enemies.


And, comparing experiences, it only took us about one hour, but I learned Kanban the same way. And the clarity of the rulebook is not a strong point of the game. (We did get a number of clarifications from someone who had played the game after going through the rulebook.)

I had more fun learning the rules of Kanban by listening to them (and collectively trying to understand them) than I did actually playing the game.
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Mutton Chops
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Jhogun wrote:
Do you just pull it out on game night and teach as you go? If so, do you at least read the rules and learn it beforehand?

Does everyone acquire their own copy, or do you send around the rule book for everyone to read ahead of time?

Just wondering, since a lot of games are kind of complex and hard to learn on the spot.


I think it differs depending on the kind of game group you have. My group meet in the back room of a pub, a subset of the regulars usually bring multiple games, and people pick the table with the game they fancy. Since people don't know until they day what they feel like bringing/playing, reading rules in advance isn't a go-er.

The usual way of it with a new game I've acquired is that I read the rules, then re-read them, then try to run through some turns on my own with the rules handy, then read the rules again, then take the game to the group and if people want to play it, I teach it, usually with the rules to hand.

I've heard people be prescriptive about "knowing the game so you can teach it without the rules". That simply won't work with our game group, and strikes me as silly: it's not an exam, and even games I've played multiple times I often have to remind myself of something. My experience is that we get it right first time 90% of the time. The "all read the rules together" method wouldn't work either, as we only get about 4 hours once a week together, and muddling through a collective rules exploration would just be a waste of that valuable time, for us. Also, a fair number of the folks who attend aren't really into reading rulebooks.
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James Wahl
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Tlalox wrote:
pharmakon wrote:
epilepticemu wrote:
Tlalox wrote:
huber wrote:
Jhogun wrote:
Do you just pull it out on game night and teach as you go? If so, do you at least read the rules and learn it beforehand?


One person reads the rulebook live; the others listen, and ask clarifying questions (not for answers, but to be sure the group notices the answer when it arrives). Far and away my favorite way to learn a game - puzzling it out together.


IMHO (and obviously tastes differ) This method of out loud rule book reading is positively, absolutely, and undeniably the worst way to explain a game. So much so that I do not know if the post is a troll. If it is not, then I hope you do not take this quote in a bad way.

If you want to teach a game, come prepared knowing the rules by heart and preferably having played one or two rounds. If you can, you should definitely teach by examples and, when possible, by playing. Also, try not to push your group too much. It is sad but some people can't or won't learn anything more complex than a medium-light game.


100% agree. This might work if it's a light party game, but if it's a game of any complexity, I despise this so much that I'd rather not play anything. Listening as someone reads 10 pages of rules outloud is... revolting.


The problem is that if it's a game of any complexity, you won't know the rules by heart until you've played it a dozen times. How would you ever play it the first time?



I once sat through a TWO HOUR long explanation of Kanban: Automotive Revolution precisely because the one who brought the game did not really know how to play it. To be fair, I think the one reading the rulebook kinda enjoyed the experience. Everyone else lost about two years of life that night. I do agree than Kanban is on the heavier side of the spectrum and it clearly has a lot more rules and nuances than the average game. Regardless, I would not wish that experience to my worst enemies.

If you want to introduce your group to a new game, you owe them the courtesy of knowing the game well so that you can really explain it and its intricacies. If you are not sure you will remember all the rules, there is nothing wrong about browsing some stuff on the rulebook or printing out a teaching aide.


Sounds hellish, but plenty of games take a couple of hours to learn the first time you play (especially including any practice rounds.) Hopefully you're going to play the game enough to amortize the learning time. There are plenty of games that I know by heart that take me 45 minutes to explain to someone starting cold. Then you play a game that you abort halfway through because people are finally getting it and regret their early moves; then next time you finally get to play right.

Would you just not play a game like that? Sekigahara was like that for me. After Pablo isn't even that heavy, I don't have to crack the rulebook to explain it, and it always goes that way.
 
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