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Subject: TGIF POLL #384: Newbies rss

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kat costa
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There will always be newbie-gamers. People who have only played Checkers or Clue, but who are tentatively willing to try one of your new-fangled boxes from a foreign land. You want to introduce new games, but if you're not careful, you may end up overwhelming the newbie and scaring off a potential gamer from the hobby. What do you do?

Poll: TGIF Poll #384: Newbies
Assume for the purposes of this poll that the newbie in question is an adult.
What play-duration is best for introducing a newbie to the hobby?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
10 minutes
0.6% 2
30 minutes
30.9% 109
45 minutes
35.1% 124
60 minutes
24.9% 88
90 minutes
4.8% 17
2 hours
1.1% 4
4 hours
0.0% 0
There is no upper limit
2.5% 9
Voters 353
Which of these gateway games does the best job of drawing a newbie into the hobby? (Vote for as many as you like)
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Can't Stop
18.8% 65
Carcassonne
50.1% 173
Dixit
24.9% 86
Forbidden Island
27.0% 93
Incan Gold/Diamant
21.7% 75
King of Tokyo
36.5% 126
Love Letter
24.3% 84
Qwirkle
11.3% 39
Settlers of Catan
36.2% 125
Splendor
37.1% 128
Ticket to Ride
77.7% 268
Voters 345
When teaching a game that you believe is above the newbie's complexity level, would you...
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Teach the basic game, but leave out the more complex or confusing rules (e.g. remove bonus tiles that allow a player to break the rules in a specific way)
21.7% 75
Teach all the rules, but only those the newbie needs to get started at first, adding more as the game progresses
43.1% 149
Teach the game exactly as the rule book says, all up-front and before beginning play
17.3% 60
Refuse to teach the game until you feel the newbie has worked up to it, suggesting a simpler game
17.9% 62
Voters 346
Which of these games is too complex to introduce to a newbie? (Vote for as many as you like)
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Agricola
73.8% 228
Caverna
70.2% 217
Gloomhaven
63.1% 195
Pandemic Legacy
33.7% 104
Power Grid
54.4% 168
Puerto Rico
48.9% 151
Scythe
70.9% 219
Small World
12.0% 37
Terra Mystica
84.5% 261
Terraforming Mars
68.9% 213
Through the Ages
78.6% 243
Twilight Struggle
82.5% 255
Voters 309
Two games stand on the table: the game you're currently excited about, with all its chits and bits and phases and rules upon rules, and a gateway game. The newbie is willing to play either and says, "You pick."
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
I introduce the game I'm excited about
14.0% 49
I introduce the gateway
86.0% 301
Voters 350
You are playing against a newbie at a game with which you are highly familiar. Pick one:
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
I play as hard as I can against the newbie
31.9% 110
I play below my skill-level, but still challenge the newbie
67.0% 231
I try to arrange for the newbie to win
1.2% 4
Voters 345
The newbie has shown up at a board game meet-up and brought along a few of his own games. He asks if you'll play one. You can tell that this will put him at ease and help draw him into the group. Which do you play?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Checkers
7.1% 25
Clue
22.9% 80
Connect 4
9.7% 34
LCR
0.6% 2
Monopoly
5.1% 18
Parcheesi
3.4% 12
Sorry!
3.4% 12
Trivial Pursuit
8.0% 28
Uno
11.7% 41
Yahtzee
22.0% 77
I refuse to play any of these.
6.0% 21
Voters 350
This poll is now closed.   358 answers
Poll created by kataclysm
Closes: Fri May 19, 2017 6:00 am


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Discussion: What's something you've tried that has ended up bringing a new or inexperienced gamer into the fold?
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Stephen Eckman
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For question 6:
Quote:
6. You are playing against a newbie at a game with which you are highly familiar. Pick one:

I think a good choice is: I try out some new strategy that I've never tried before.
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Chris Graves
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Quote:
When teaching a game that you believe is above the newbie's complexity level, would you...


I chose "refuse to teach". I had this kind of situation with some new friends recently. They had been playing Catan and Risk, and saw me post about Scythe. They said they wanted to learn that game at some point, but I told them we'd work up to it. We did work up to it, and I actually came in 4/5 after I taught them. It was good we tried other games first.
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Jake Blomquist
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This is an interesting set of questions. Personally I think people are too sheepish with new gamers. Some people need to start with something easy, some people also are happy to only play different versions of Ticker to Ride forever. And that's fine, but there are also people who even if it's their first game they're going to be bored out of their minds playing Lover Letter or whatever.

I was sort of eased into the hobby and really I wasn't into it at all beyond a thing to do with some of my friends until I played more complex games. If a new person thinks they're up for a more substantial game right away, I say you trust them and try it. I had some friends who'd only ever played Settlers of Catan, and I taught them Terra Mystica. One of them by the end of the rules explanation decided to bow out but the other two were interested and they seemed to have a really good time. I also taught A Feast for Odin to a bunch of people with little to no modern game experience and everyone's enjoyed it.

Now, neither Terra Mystica nor A Feast for Odin are the most complex games ever, but the attitude on this site still seems to generally be that you shouldn't teach them to new people. And I think that's giving new people too little credit. They're just games, and the minimum ages all cap out around 13 I think, anyone can learn them if they're interested. It's just a question of who is interested, and it seems to me to be the case that sometimes new people will be interested.
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Michael Debije
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Good Lord, that list of games to teach 'newbies' is insulting. Anyone can start anywhere: depends on your interest in the topic and intellectual capacity. There is no reason a person cannot start by playing 1830, Here I Stand or Combat Commander if they are so inclined towards trains, the Reformation or WW2. I find it so condescending to tell someone 'hey, Bill, I know you like space exploration, but High Frontier may be a bit too difficult to you. Here, let's play Splendor so you can gradually learn how games work.' Total crap.
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Brad Miller
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I have to disagree. terra Mystica is VERY complex. 4 different "currencies", variable powers, variable turn-by-turn bonuses...

Hard to come up with a more complex Euro...
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steckman wrote:
For question 6:
Quote:
6. You are playing against a newbie at a game with which you are highly familiar. Pick one:

I think a good choice is: I try out some new strategy that I've never tried before.

This was my thought exactly. I try some sort of off-the-wall or long shot strategy just to see if stands any chance of winning.
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Chaddyboy
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mi_de wrote:
Good Lord, that list of games to teach 'newbies' is insulting. Anyone can start anywhere: depends on your interest in the topic and intellectual capacity. There is no reason a person cannot start by playing 1830, Here I Stand or Combat Commander if they are so inclined towards trains, the Reformation or WW2. I find it so condescending to tell someone 'hey, Bill, I know you like space exploration, but High Frontier may be a bit too difficult to you. Here, let's play Splendor so you can gradually learn how games work.' Total crap.

I don't think your "anyone can start anywhere" assertion is at all true. Even if someone really likes trains, I'm not just going to pull out 1830 if all they've played in their life are Yahtzee and Sorry. I've had people overwhelmed by Ticket to Ride before, just because they weren't used to games that actually offered you any kind of choice.
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Russ Williams
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mi_de wrote:
Anyone can start anywhere:

That's demonstrably false!

But I agree that certainly some newbies can start with more complicated games. It all depends on the particular person.
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Matthew Percival
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Generally speaking, I prefer complete newbies to play gateways. Depending on the individual, I may be happy to quickly escalate them through games (eg Lord of Waterdeep to teach worker placement, then straight to Agricola), but most people do not seem to want to go that way.

I have occasionally had a harder game set-up with people who requested it and had a newbie dropped in on us the last minute. This has happened with Power Grid, Tigris & Euphrates, and Terra Mystica, off the top of my head. When that has happened, I normally teach most of the rules, but may leave out anything that I feared may be too convoluted. Depending on the rule, I may not explain it at all, or I may wait until it comes up (eg Phase II/Phase III in Power Grid I only explained when relevant).

Often when explaining a game to experienced people, but the game is heavier than what an individual normally plays, I see their eyes glaze over early on. When that happens I try to find a way to short-cut the rules explanation before things end up a complete disaster.

Whenever I teach most people a new game I play only a basic strategy, so the new players can see how the game flows: I do not throw in any curve-ball strategies that I may know lead to better points, but could throw them off the basic gameplay. This usually leads to a tighter result and helps them learn the game faster. Once they know it I immediately take the kid-gloves off

I once had someone suggest Pick-up-Sticks at game night. No joke! Someone once brought Guess Who?, while Skip-Bo and UNO have appeared more frequently.
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Michael Debije
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russ wrote:
mi_de wrote:
Anyone can start anywhere:

That's demonstrably false!

But I agree that certainly some newbies can start with more complicated games. It all depends on the particular person.


Then show me. If someone is interested in a topic, they will already have some knowledge they can port in to help them understand the game. I suppose if you have some more abstract games with no frame of reference and simply a mechanical exercise, then, yes, they may be harder to approach. But, geez, if you have an adult with half a capacity to read and reason with an attraction to the topic, why waste time on these other games to 'bring them along slowly'? As if boardgaming was some deeply intellectual enterprise.
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Russ Williams
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mi_de wrote:
Then show me. If someone is interested in a topic, they will already have some knowledge they can port in to help them understand the game. I suppose if you have some more abstract games with no frame of reference and simply a mechanical exercise, then, yes, they may be harder to approach. But, geez, if you have an adult with half a capacity to read and reason with an attraction to the topic, why waste time on these other games to 'bring them along slowly'?

Are you really sincerely doubting that I or others have seen a newbie fail to learn a game and be visibly in over their head??? I assure you that I have. I'm kind of surprised that you seem to think that this does not ever happen.


Also: note that just because someone is interested in learning and playing a new game does not mean that they are going to be able to learn it in what seems to them a reasonable enjoyable amount of time and effort, even if in theory they could learn it if they work hard enough at learning it.

What's the use of trying to teach someone a game which they theoretically could learn with enough time and effort, if they don't enjoy spending that much time and effort and aren't interested in doing so?

Quote:
As if boardgaming was some deeply intellectual enterprise.

Something does not have to be "deeply intellectual" to be more challenging than someone is ready or willing to deal with. E.g. there's nothing "deeply intellectual" about playing the guitar, but despite wanting to play guitar and trying seriously several times in my life, I gave up in frustration.

Anyway, if you somehow really don't believe it's ever happened that someone interested in a game's subject decided the game was too hard for them and gave up, just look through the forums of some "hard" games; to give a clear stark example, you can probably find some of the threads of literate intelligent adults sincerely interested in World War 2 tactical combat who nonetheless found themselves overwhelmed by Advanced Squad Leader and gave up.
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Gareth Reynolds
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kataclysm wrote:
You are playing against a newbie at a game with which you are highly familiar. Pick one:
Me being familiar with a game does not correlate all that closely with me being good at it. For most games I'd do better than a new player, but there's been a few that I lose when teaching everyone else. And I don't ever play to lose on purpose.
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There weren't enough "it depends" choices...
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Gretchen Fontenay
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killerjoe1962 wrote:
There weren't enough "it depends" choices...
whistle


I have to agree with this
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Jerry Wilkinson
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1. I chose 45 minutes, since its in that 30-60 minute range.

2. The big three. (Carc, Catan, TtR)

3. Teach some, add later

4. If I had to teach one of these games to a newbie, I would choose Puerto Rico.

5. gateway

6. below my skill level, challenging the newb.

7. I chose Yahtzee, would also play Clue.
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Sharon Khan
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We have one day a year when we invite friends who don't normally play games to try them - it's turned out to be a great way to introduce some of our friends to our hobby. We generally start with party games, or card games, depending on their previous gaming experience, and try to draw them in to playing more gateway games. One friend, now a regular member of my game group, jumped right in and started with Agricola, by choice - it's definitely a case of every newbie is different!
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Mark L
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wren08 wrote:
killerjoe1962 wrote:
There weren't enough "it depends" choices...
whistle


I have to agree with this

Yep, me too!

Quote:
What play-duration is best for introducing a newbie to the hobby?

I voted "45 minutes", because I think that's probably best for the imaginary abstract average newbie, but I actually think an hour or more may well be fine, depending on both the person and the game.

Quote:
When teaching a game that you believe is above the newbie's complexity level, would you...

I wouldn't refuse to teach the game, but I might suggest they would be better working their way up to it. If they still want to try anyway, that's their decision.

Quote:
Which of these games is too complex to introduce to a newbie? (Vote for as many as you like)

I assume this means the "typical" newbie: of course there are people who can jump in the deep end and be fine. I think all of those except Pandemic and Small World are probably too complex for most newbies.

Quote:
You are playing against a newbie at a game with which you are highly familiar. Pick one:

I wouldn't play below my skill level, but as others have suggested I nmight try different strategies to see how they work.
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Eric Brosius
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It depends a lot on their level of interest in the topic, and on their personality (both of which you may or may not know much about.) For example, if someone is very into interaction and negotiation, I'll suggest Settlers. But if they're more reserved, maybe I'll go with Ticket to Ride. If they're really into history, and the idea of a game about the Cold War sounds exciting to them, then sure I'll take a shot at Twilight Struggle.
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Q6. I start from the premise that you must always do your best to win. Anything else shows disdain and lack of respect. So if I want to encourage a newbie I won't play against them - crushing an unready opponent is rude too. I might demonstrate the game to show the kinds of decision you make while playing, but usually I'd suggest something different.
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1. Anywhere up to an hour. Better to have something you can play twice.

2. I don't have enough experience to judge.

3. Teach some, add later, but make sure they know that's what I'm doing. I'd probably suggest playing something else though.

4. It depends on the person. Of these I've played Puerto Rico, Small World & Power Grid (plus Pandemic but not Legacy). I'd happily try to teach any to someone who was interested in learning and had some idea of what the game would involve.

5. gateway (unless I thought they would enjoy the other game more).

6. If there are enough players I'll sit out when teaching a game I know well. If I am playing & teaching I'm not going to be playing to the best of my ability anyway as I'm concentrating on teaching too, and will typically be trying to take my moves as quickly as possible to keep the game moving. I'm not going to deliberately make bad moves, but if there is first player advantage I'll make sure I don't go first, and I'll try not to take advantage of a new player playing in a newbie way. I'll point out if the new player if they missing something obvious, maybe tell them what I'm about to do.

7. I would pretty much always happily play Connect Four. I'd happily play Checkers too, and would play Yahtzee, Uno (though I'm not that keen on it), Parcheesi (which I can't remember if I've played but sounds OK), same with Sorry!

Monopoly & Trivial Pursuit I'd try to avoid partly due to the length of the games and LCR I'd try to avoid (though I've never played it).
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Alain Baum
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2. I didn't vote for Catan or Carc, since Catan can create a "shut out" situation which is totally frustrating (even for veteran gamers), and Carc has this quirky farmer scoring.

4. I couldn't comment on Gloomhaven or Caverna, sicne I haven't played them yet. I have played a game of Power Grid with 5 complete newbies (in the first round, the first crappy plants got sold for about 15 Electros!), but it went well, and I came in second. A good chunk of the games on that list aren't so hard to learn to play, but tehy take a lot of skill to play well.

7. Why is that not a multiple-choice question? I chose Yahtzee, but Clue and Uno would also be okay. I don't mind a trivia game either, but I find Trivial Pursuit's game system inferior to, say, Wissens-Spektrum. I'm also okay with what I know as "Mensch ärgere dich nicht", but I never know whether that corresponds to Parcheesi or Sorry or Ludo...
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Quote:
When teaching a game that you believe is above the newbie's complexity level, would you...

Depends on the particular game in a huge way.
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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kataclysm wrote:
There will always be newbie-gamers. People who have only played Checkers or Clue, but who are tentatively willing to try one of your new-fangled boxes from a foreign land. You want to introduce new games, but if you're not careful, you may end up overwhelming the newbie and scaring off a potential gamer from the hobby. What do you do?
First off, you're assuming that I want to introduce new gamers. I don't. Playing with new gamers isn't terribly fun for me. I'd rather do something else. Or if we're going to play a game, a traditional card game or light filler is fine. I already have gaming groups to play games with gamers. I don't need to convert new gamers.
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Eric Brosius
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So this poll is pretty much not applicable to you.
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