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Subject: Intimidated by war game rules (new to hobby) rss

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Christopher S
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Reading the rule book (which I tend to love) to my first board wargame (GMT"s Men of Iron [2005]) and I'm a bit overwhelmed by the density and complexity of all the rules. Oddly enough I usually love complex games and from what i hear Men of Ion ranks fairly low on the wargame complexity level.

Any tips or suggestions or resources for remembering the rules/acclimating to a new wargame (aside from actually playing it with someone who is a vet of said game)? I don't want to set up and play solo without the confidence of understanding most of the rules first. Thanks.
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Asher Kennedy
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With wargames, I think you have to resign yourself to playing for many games without fully understanding the rules. a veteran community is a must for accurate play, but if you don't have that, just allow yourselves to make mistakes and not be too tight with getting the game 'right'. Write down your questions afterwards and look them up between sessions. Discuss the answers within your community and the larger community.
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Niko
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There are a lot of good posts on these forums, mostly in the wargaming subforum and various geeklists.

One of the more recent "intro to wargaming" lists is here: http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/217194/wargaming-101
Another, older one: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/42654/wargames-yes-you...

In general the first wargame is the worst; You'll need to learn a lot of terminology and concepts, once you have that the next one will be easier since you have a frame of reference.
Of course that won't help you for this one, but the above geeklists might

EDIT: A common tip is to read the rules then put some counters on the map and just go. You may need to look things up, but try not to get bogged down by minutia and just get through a turn or two. Afterwards go back and read the rules again.
Things will make a lot more sense once you have an idea of overall structure and how the rules work together to create the game.
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Ed T
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Boyarpunk wrote:
Any tips or suggestions or resources for remembering the rules/acclimating to a new wargame (aside from actually playing it with someone who is a vet of said game)? I don't want to set up and play solo without the confidence of understanding most of the rules first. Thanks.


As someone who just successfully taught himself how to play GBoH my best advice for you is to not wait too long to do this or you might not ever get it on the table. Seriously, after the first few times you've read through the rules, just do it. Get a few units on the table on each side and move them around, practice a few very simple combats, etc. You are inevitably going to mess a bunch of stuff up the first few times - that's part of the process.
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Paul DeStefano
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There's some nice play aids for Men Of Iron on the game page here. Maybe they will help.

It is on the light to mid range of rules complexity.
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Christopher S
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Thank you all for the very quick and very informative replies!!
I will being definitely heeding your advice
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Reed Dawley
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Player aids, cheat sheets and copious notes. Best way to learn any game in my findings. Check BGG for player aids, if more is needed make your own smaller cheat sheets and if that isn't enough then make multiple cheat sheets in a notebook, pages for attack and defense broken down as much as you need. As you write them down they get absorbed into your brain. Putting on some good war music while you are learning helps the information stick if you play it while playing as well.
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L S
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Just my personal impression, but as a word of warning for new players: The GMT complexity rating on the back of the box is indicative of nothing.
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Meet me in St Louie for FIRST Worlds!
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Boyarpunk wrote:
I don't want to set up and play solo without the confidence of understanding most of the rules first. Thanks.


    Rookie mistake!

    Read through the entire rulebook, then set up the game and play it for a couple of turns or even an entire play if it's short. Now that you have a good understanding of the basic running gear of the game, return to the rulebook and review each section. They will be much easier to understand and internalize the second time.

             S.


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Niko
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Randombias wrote:
Just my personal impression, but as a word of warning for new players: The GMT complexity rating on the back of the box is indicative of nothing.
In my experience it is accurate when compared against itself (i.e. GMT rating 8 is more complex than 5)
Of course it doesn't really correspond to any other rating scale and even a 1-3 isn't necessarily easy to learn for somebody completely new to wargames.

That goes back to what I mentioned in my first post about needing to learn the basics and developing a frame of reference though.
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Fred W. Manzo
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Pick a light introductory game or a learning scenario. Read the rules, push the counters, read an in-depth review and watch a few video reviews, then go for it. When you try another game you can skip a few of those steps anyway. Of course, you will be doing it wrong but you will be doing a bunch of stuff right:

First, you'll get a feel as to what is not particularly important. Many rules are almost never used and can safely be skipped.

Second, most rules simply re-invent the wheel, so once you are familiar with the concepts like "Zone of Control" or "Terrain Effects Table" all you have to do is remember how this is different than the last game you played.

Third, it's best to play a game with someone else as you will both check on each others understanding of the rules. Of course, if the other player knows the rules that's great. But even if the other player misunderstood the rules and insists on playing it his way, that's usually OK too.

After all, it's a level playing field and maybe next time you can find an FAQ that shows why he's wrong. You can also sometimes say "let's try my interruptions as a House rule." You'd be surprised how many House Rules are actually the correct rules.

Fourth, check the "Sequence of Play" and the "Player's Aid Chart." Most games can be played straight from them.

Fifth, have fun. It's only a game.
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TonyKR
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I'm gonna chime in with another "set it up and start playing" post. Read the rules first, obviously. But just start plugging at it and either things will start making sense or they won't. But you will make a lot of mistakes for a few turns, and that's okay. You're not playing to win that first time. You're playing to learn how it works.

If you're running into problems with some of the wargame terminology, then those links that Niko posted should clear some things up. That second one looks especially thorough.

Good luck and enjoy!
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Chris Blackford
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Sagrilarus wrote:
Read through the entire rulebook, then set up the game and play it for a couple of turns or even an entire play if it's short. Now that you have a good understanding of the basic running gear of the game, return to the rulebook and review each section. They will be much easier to understand and internalize the second time.

             S.




Excellent advice! This has been the best course of action, I've found. It really does work wonders to familiarize yourself with the system, THEN worry about the small details after. That first play, even if filled with rules mistakes, really gets the gears moving.
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You're going to hear a lot of advice, so always consider the source.

A lot of veteran wargamers casually will suggest that they "only play" the biggest scenario.

You're going to have to get a good feel for what is right for YOU.

The plus side is that wargames range from simple to complex and as long as you start at the shallow end, your skills are largely transferable across games. That takes time and experience.

There's ZERO shame in starting with Memoir 44, then going to Combat Commander, and then maybe to something like No Retreat: Russian Front, or another lighter operational or strategic game.

The reality is that each bite sized step is a good way to digest things like Zones of Control and how they're handled in each game system or supply or movement. You'll find that once you've played 10 - 15 different games there are patterns to how everything is done and it'll allow you to really grow.

A lot of the old programmed instructions (ASL in particular) had you walking through bite sized interactions within the ruleset (movement only for example) and that's still the way a lot of us learn games. The best advice is to start pushing cardboard. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that you'll never play that game and it'll just sit there all set up and lonely.

Have fun!
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Chris Robbins
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I once got through a new complete game playing solo along with writing a brief narrative of the action, only to realize I had forgotten a rule that one side's armored vehicles had to pass a breakdown check (a 1 in 6 chance) to move. It's just a part of learning. Do it another time or two, go with all the good advice above, and you'll be able to teach someone else how to play.
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Wendell
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Good advice here. Welcome to war games!

Also, don't be afraid to ask questions, either on the game page or in the wargamers forum on BGG. People in my experience are usually pleased to help answer questions, if there's some part of a game or its rules that you don't understand.
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Prince of Sholai

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Welcome to wargaming!

There is a lot of great advice from others here already. If you find that you are still having trouble, ask if someone will teach you via Vassal. A lot of people are very willing to teach a potential new opponent!

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suPUR DUEper
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Even the experienced wargaming veterans ALMOST ALWAYS get stuff wrong on their first play.

Hell, I just read the rules for Silver Bayonet. The intro scenario has like three guys in two hexes and I got about 5 things wrong.

Don't sweat it. Half the fun of wargaming is exploring the game and figuring out how it works.
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Crispin Moakler
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It's worth making a clear differentiation between Understanding the Rules and Understanding the Implications of the rules!

Chess has remarkably simple rules, but the subtleties and nuances of the tactical play are immense.

There are really three major 'understandings';

I understand the rules - so I know what I can do and how I must do it.

I fully understand the rules - I now additionally understand what will follow directly and thereafter and how this is either a cyclical process or a sequence which will result in the end of the game.

I Understand the above, and I also understand how the choices I make will restrict the options available to myself and to others as the game progresses or comes to an end.

Note that none of the above is qualitative.
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Brandon
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I'll echo what everyone said here: I'm sure that even the most grizzled grognard makes mistakes when first learning a game. My method, if you can call it that, is to read the rules carefully once or twice to familiarize myself with the contents but without any intention of memorizing them. Then I set up a small scenario. Then I'll skim the rules once more, with the game set up in front of me (sometimes visualizing things helps). Then I'll just start playing, looking up things as I go. The first couple turns might be agonizing; even if you have a basic understanding of, say, movement, you still won't know what to do! But it's best to just go full steam ahead. If you really mess stuff up, you can start over. Or, if you're pretty far along in the scenario, just keep playing and make a mental note to do it right next time. You'll probably have to play a few times before you start to internalize all of the procedures.

The point is, the designer's not going to go to your house and take the game away if you make a mistake. So just relax and enjoy the process of watching everything come together.

Lastly, be sure to check out the Wargaming subforum, where there's lots of great discussion.
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Just to second these thoughts. I was at a wargaming convention for a single game where everyone there had played the same game for years, and were "experts" at it, and we collectively discovered that we had all been playing a rule wrong. We all laughed about it, and carried on. "The play's the thing!"
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Christopher S
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Just another followup to say thank you to everyone for the advice and the warm welcome to the "board boards".

Don't know if I will have time this weekend to give my first MoI game a try but I will definitely firm up on the rulebook. Thanks again!cool
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