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Subject: Teaching Dominant Species rss

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Axel
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My most active gaming group atm is actually my family and although I wouldn't consider them non-gamers I also wouldn't say they are completely ready to grasp something like DS (they are really into simplier family games like Catan, Carcassonne, Kingdomino, Qwirkle, Splendor and a few similar ones).

I'm preparing to present it to them over next weekend and I'm a bit worried if it's going to overwhelm them. So I thought what if I start explaining only half of the options on action display (and possibly completely cover the others) and we make a first game with only things like adapration, abundance, glaciation, speciation and domination.

Do you think it could be a viable teaching method in this case? My initial thought is that it might be a good way to get them interested with simplier and shorter version of the game and then expand number of options if I see they like it.
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suPUR DUEper
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DS is a tough game for noobs: long, complicated, technical names for actions, and conflict ridden. Not the place I would start....

That said, if I was to try it I don’t think I would teach half the game. It might be easier to learn but it will still take a couple hours and might suck. Instead I would set up the game and play a “practice turn” where I would have each player execute each of the actions on the board. I would have them read the action on the player aid and then do the thing. Once done, reset and go.
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Alex
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As Ted already said, DS is a meaty (and very long) game. It has little to do with what the others in your group are used to.
By getting directly to DS, you will likely "burn" them. They will become reluctant to try anything else in the future. I unfortunately been there and done that...

I would suggest you try a more gradual step up and see how far the group is willing to go.

More approachable games that share some common features :
Small World
El Grande

To a lesser extent, Agricola and Caylus are harsh worker placement that will clearly show if your group likes the mechanic.
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Josh
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I’d say it’ll be a hard sell without people having some prior exposure to both worker placement AND area control.
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BG.EXE
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I think it’s probably better to play a different game. Don’t force heavy games onto groups before they’re ready, it’s more likely to make them hate board gaming in general. Or at the least DS specifically.
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Dan S
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I dont think DS is -mechanically- complicated, at all (but -strategically- there is a lot going on). I disagree with just about anyone that says you need to sort of 'graduate' people into games like this. If you think that theyd -ever- be able to grasp it, then there's no reason not to just jump into the whole game.

The only reservation I would have playing this game with someone if it theyre prone to taking long turns and wanting to make sure they want to make every turn as good as it can be. (I mean sure, I want to do that too, but not at the cost of making a 4 hour game take 9 hours)
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Axel
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Yeah, I get that it's probably a huge step but I see them as true board game fans at heart like myself hence the desire to try something deeper than simple 20min games.

You think Puerto Rico would be more of an appropriate bite while we're at the topic? It's also one of my favorites and I'd be so happy if I could get them interested in one of these better, strategy games. They always give a shot at stuff I suggest btw, that's not an issue, I just don't want to disappoint
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Domenic
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Dvs08 wrote:
My most active gaming group atm is actually my family and although I wouldn't consider them non-gamers I also wouldn't say they are completely ready to grasp something like DS (they are really into simplier family games like Catan, Carcassonne, Kingdomino, Qwirkle, Splendor and a few similar ones).

I'm preparing to present it to them over next weekend and I'm a bit worried if it's going to overwhelm them. So I thought what if I start explaining only half of the options on action display (and possibly completely cover the others) and we make a first game with only things like adapration, abundance, glaciation, speciation and domination.

Do you think it could be a viable teaching method in this case? My initial thought is that it might be a good way to get them interested with simplier and shorter version of the game and then expand number of options if I see they like it.

My recommendation would be to play the official cardless variant: Official "Cardless" Variant. This lets you focus on the actions without trying to learn five new effects every round. Also, you can remove as many domination cards from the deck as you like, letting you control the game length. For your first game, I would remove 15 cards. For the next game, remove 10. After that, adjust based on whether you feel the game is ending too soon or not.

You'll probably have to encourage them to learn by doing - the impact of choices in Dominant Species is not always intuitive, and they could spend a whole lot of time in the first game trying to figure it out. Much better if they just try things that seem reasonable and see what happens in the first game. Good luck!
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Rathma P.
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I don't understand why people think this came is complicated, It's not that hard, my 9 and 10 year old picked it up very fast. It's more of a cut throat area control game. What's so hard about the preparation phase, all you do is pick what you want to do then resolve the actions from top to bottom then left to right. When you get to the other options that become availalble like wasteland, depletion, and regression then that's when I explain what it does. I also don't even bother calculating domination on tiles until you want to score points when resolving domination. Makes it more easier and much more faster.

The game is heavy and strategic, but it's not complicated at all. Very easy to learn.
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Alex
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djs326 wrote:
I disagree with just about anyone that says you need to sort of 'graduate' people into games like this. If you think that theyd -ever- be able to grasp it, then there's no reason not to just jump into the whole game.


I talk about my own experience. I have burned potential gamers by trying games I felt were "not that heavy".
And by heavy, it can mean long, unusual mechanics, long term planning, complex scoring system, etc..

Had a much better success rate with the gradual approach. But yes, It surely depends on your group.
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Domenic
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rathmax wrote:
I don't understand why people think this came is complicated, It's not that hard, my 9 and 10 year old picked it up very fast. It's more of a cut throat area control game. What's so hard about the preparation phase, all you do is pick what you want to do then resolve the actions from top to bottom then left to right. When you get to the other options that become availalble like wasteland, depletion, and regression then that's when I explain what it does. I also don't even bother calculating domination on tiles until you want to score points when resolving domination. Makes it more easier and much more faster.

The game is heavy and strategic, but it's not complicated at all. Very easy to learn.

Yes, it's very easy to make legal plays. If you used a 30-second timer during the action selection phase, you would force everyone to play quickly. But absent that timer, there are two possibilities for new players:
1) They don't know which moves are good and they don't know/care, so they make virtually random choices quickly.
2) They know they don't know which moves are good, so they try to figure out the first- and second-order effects of every possible move, leaving them effectively paralyzed. Eventually, they come up with something that seems reasonable, but it takes a very long time.

Also, look at the titles OP mentions. Dominant Species is much more complicated than any of those so, from the point of view of the people involved, it is a complex game.

For a longer discussion on whether it's helpful to insist that relatively complex games are simple or easy, see: The Dangers of Saying a Complex Game is "Easy"
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Tweedel Di
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TedW wrote:
DS is a tough game for noobs: long, complicated, technical names for actions, and conflict ridden. Not the place I would start....

That said, if I was to try it I don’t think I would teach half the game. It might be easier to learn but it will still take a couple hours and might suck. Instead I would set up the game and play a “practice turn” where I would have each player execute each of the actions on the board. I would have them read the action on the player aid and then do the thing. Once done, reset and go.


That.
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Keith czop
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Dominant Species is an amazing, deep and heavy game. It’s heavier than all of your previous titles. If your committed to teaching your family I would watch Edward Uhler’s teach. He does an amazing job. Play one turn at a time and discuss how it played out. I used the shorter rules from the book and it works well for your first couple plays.

What might be a good option to get your family into this level of Area control is to pick up El Grande. Very simple but deep area control, however if your convinced your Fam will like it DS is a wonderful game.
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Stephen Stewart
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Avoid DS.
Its longer than the other games.
There are far more games that introduce strategic maneuver over DS....Its prone to AP.

I've run it for many years at a Game Con.
With a few individuals taking forever, I've instituted a Player timer.

This cut down all the AP immediately.
Every minute you take past your timer you lose a point...never had anyone lose a point.

Games were 2.5-3.5 hours...No timer on the placement of AP's. ONLY execution.

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suPUR DUEper
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rathmax wrote:
I don't understand why people think this came is complicated, It's not that hard, my 9 and 10 year old picked it up very fast.

The game is heavy and strategic, but it's not complicated at all. Very easy to learn.


9 and 10 year old kids are learning machines; it is what they do. They are also very curious and will try things just to see how they work. Kids also have boatloads of time so burning up a few hours learning a game doesn’t phase them. Adults generally will want to play well from the start and will typically approach the game from that perspective. They desire to understand how all the pieces fit together before committing the time. If they are at all competitive (which you should be if you are playing DS) they have an emotional stake in the outcome and thus will want to make the best decisions.

Side note- you say DS is “not complicated at all”. Was wondering how you define complicated. Dictionary says, “consisting of many interconnecting parts or elements”. Pretty accurate description of DS to me.
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Aaron Fleming
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If you don't think they'll mind the length, I say go for it.

The rules, IMO, are pretty easy. The strategy however, is not intuitive.

I would play 2-3 turns to get them familiar with the concepts (particularly dominance) then reset to the beginning. They're never going to fully "get it" until they play; even if you start them with other worker placement and area control games first. As I said, if the length of the game doesn't bother them then go for it (even if for some reason you can't complete the first game, that's fine too).
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Carlos Colin
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How did it go?
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