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Subject: Worth it to buy Zendo 2.0 just for the rule cards and new shapes? rss

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I have Pyramid Arcade plus several other pyramids (5 trios total of each colour) and am wanting to introduce Zendo to my occasional gaming partners. So far I've not had much success - some folks seem to get it when I explain it, but many don't, which is weird, because I'm usually fairly successful at explaining games. And Zendo does not have an especially complex rule set.

I wonder if having the rule cards and the new shapes might make it easier for folks to understand what's going on and get into the game.
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Nathaniel Chambers
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I think the new shapes don't change much, just a different way of doing things. I do think the cards, when using only the Easy carda, make it a more approachable game. But it also means that it is much more solvable, since the easy cards don't have that many possible 'solutions'. So it makes for a good intro game. I haven't played with the advance cards yet. All in all, I think you could have a similar effect by simply having a sheet that gives all the easy options for an intro game.
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Jeff Wolfe
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geerhead wrote:
I have Pyramid Arcade plus several other pyramids (5 trios total of each colour) and am wanting to introduce Zendo to my occasional gaming partners. So far I've not had much success - some folks seem to get it when I explain it, but many don't, which is weird, because I'm usually fairly successful at explaining games. And Zendo does not have an especially complex rule set.

I wonder if having the rule cards and the new shapes might make it easier for folks to understand what's going on and get into the game.

I have not tried to teach anyone the new Zendo, but I have taught the original Zendo to many, many people. And I did get a chance to play the new Zendo in prototype form.

I think the new Zendo is more newbie-friendly than the old. The rule cards help keep things at an appropriate difficulty and are much more dynamic than the old rule cards, which most people don't have anyway. I don't know that the shapes will make much difference, but the distribution of pieces is better, with fewer colors and more copies of each piece. Removing the theme, much as I like the Zen theme, probably also helps people learn the game.

In my experience, the things that most trip people up are rule complexity and terminology.

Rule complexity. People almost always make rules that are too hard when they're first starting out. This applies to the master/moderator who is making the rule and the student/player who is trying to guess the rule. If you think the rule is too simple, you are wrong, and if you think the rule is too hard, you are almost certainly right. So to this point, the rule cards can help a lot.

Terminology. Knowing the right terminology is not actually necessary to play Zendo. I never sweat the terminology with a beginning player. They make their guess, and as I try to understand their guess, I help them with the terminology. The new version helps with terminology by removing the Zen theme and using terminology that's simpler and more intuitive. Not all the terminology changed though, and the shapes add some new terminology, so play style is important here, too.

If you don't have at least one experienced player to lead people through, the terminology issue will be more of a problem. Beginning players should have at least a few games under their belt before they try their hand at being Master/Moderator. If that's not possible, having a boxed set could be helpful.
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Russ Williams
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geerhead wrote:
So far I've not had much success - some folks seem to get it when I explain it, but many don't, which is weird, because I'm usually fairly successful at explaining games. And Zendo does not have an especially complex rule set.

Strange indeed; I've taught many people without problem, including casual gamers & non-gamers. I always am the master and make the first rule (and with casual/non-gamers, always make a very simple rule, e.g. "There must be a green piece"). Did you do that, or did you have a newbie be the master (which I think is a mistake when teaching new players)?

Then after a round or two with me being the master, someone else usually volunteers (typically I propose that whoever guessed successfully can be the master if they like), and I explicitly note that the rule should be simple (and I give a few example simple rules) and tell them that a common error for newbie masters is to make too complicated a rule, so don't do something like "There must be prime number of blue pieces unless the sum of smalls plus yellows is a perfect square blah blah blah". Remind them that the master is not trying to "defeat" the guessers but is only a moderator facilitating a fun puzzle for the guessers.
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russ wrote:
I've taught many people without problem, including casual gamers & non-gamers. I always am the master and make the first rule (and with casual/non-gamers, always make a very simple rule, e.g. "There must be a green piece"). Did you do that, or did you have a newbie be the master (which I think is a mistake when teaching new players)?


Essentially I did have a newbie (me) be the master, yes. But I stuck to the suggested starter rules at Kory Heath's page.

I was thinking that having the rule cards in the new edition would be a little more "welcoming" in that it would allow everyone to feel like they were on an equal footing and could participate in any role. They could be more involved. My dad in particular always interrupts my rules explanations by grabbing parts and asking "what does this do?" and I've found that if I put off answering him, he doesn't learn the game very well. I have to answer him right away and then make sure to put what I just explained to him in the overall context of the game. So for him, he might learn Zendo better if there are a bunch of sample rule cards he can pick up and read and think about.
 
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Jeff Wolfe
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The cards do help, yes. Also, if you have a beginning Master/Moderator, consider the following.

Common mistakes a beginning Master/Moderator makes during the game

- They mark a koan/structure before waiting for the call of Master/Tell or Mondo/Quiz.
- When a guess is made, they don't make sure they understand the rule before they attempt to disprove it.
- When a guess is made, they don't verify that it's correct according to the table before they attempt to disprove it.
- When evaluating a guess, they forget that there are two ways to disprove a guess (matches rule but not guess or matches guess but not rule). If you think you can't disprove a guess, consider how you might disprove it the "other" way.

Hope that helps. Good luck.
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