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Subject: How do I avoid playing with these people? rss

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Okay.

I've been gaming at Southampton University since October 2005 (so 2 and a bit years). Typically 15-20 people will turn up and play a mixture of board games, Magic the gathering, Games Workshop and Role Play games. In all the years I have been going I have never had this problem. Here it is:

On Saturday I played Railroad Tycoon with 4 others. One player asked to play, so I said OK and explained the rules (I have successfully taught this game to at least 15 different people, maybe even 20+ without hardly a hitch). The trouble was he kept making mistakes. Not regular mistakes like anyone could make, but, well let me give examples.

For those that don't know the game, a red cube can only be delivered to a red city, a yellow cube can only be delivered to a yelloe city etc. Some cities are grey, so can't deliver cubes to them (since there are no grey cubes). First off, as his opening move, he wants to connect 2 grey cities together in the very SW corner of the map, for a cost of $8,000, which is pretty much the worst opening move you could possibly hope to make.

Being the nice guy that I am, I remind him of the rule about where the cubes can go, so he eventually builds a more sensible link in the South East (Savannah-Charleston IIRC). Later he tries to deliver cubes. He takes a LONG look at the seven-odd cubes adjacent to the link, and picks up a random cube, putting it down in the destination city (of the wrong colour, of course). Repeat rules explanation. Repeat the procedure so that I state the rule for a total of 6 or 7 times in the whole game.

By this stage I am having to baby the new player so much that he is detracting from my ability to focus on my own position and enjoy actually playing the game. Here are some other things he did: When he needed to pay $6,000 for something, he tries to hand in a $1,000 note plus a 1 share certificate as payment. Also, during end game scoring for the tycoon mission cards he completely misses the point and and tries to claim points for the number of links built, because he just watched someone else do something similar that.

In short he had NO clue how to play the game, despite being sat right by the part of the board that has a player aid printed right on to it. I would suggest that he couldn't read, except he was a post graduate studying at one of the better universities in the country (I think you need 3 B's at A Level as a typical offer). He seemed quite keen on being there playing with us, but it is beyond me how he could have listenedto what I said AND make so many mistakes.

Anyway, Railroad tycoon is a pretty straightforward game, but if he can't handle that, I dread the day I sit down for a game of something more complex like Puerto Rico or Imperial. I consider myself a very tolerant person, but if I have to constantly monitor someone to make sure they obey the rules (let alone make vaguely worthwhile moves) then it becomes less of a fun hobby and more of a chore.

I enjoy playing games and I also enjoy teaching games to an extent. I like sharing them and seeing the light bulb coming on for new players. But when the light bulb is defective (or possibly missing all together), what do I do?

(I also have some stories from a different person who is causing me grief, but I need to go to bed now).

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Patrick
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Well I don't see why you have to monitor people to make sure they "make vaguely worthwhile moves". The point is to win, if the guy wants to connect two grey cities, let him.

As for this guy's other problems, you should have lowered the hammer. Told him to pay attention to the rules explanations and if he couldn't be bothered doing that then to kindly get the fuck out.
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James Bentley
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This is sad. But it happens. I guess I'm a more patient person than others. And maybe I'm just not as serious a player as some others, although sometimes I do play pretty seriously. But much of the time, I'm putting more priority on interaction with the other people I'm with...after all, I feel that's what's it's really all about. But others may have a different opinion, which they're certainly entitled to.

Several years ago, my wife had a stroke. It wasn't too serious, and with God's grace, she has recovered well. But she does have a residual effect from the stroke: she knows what she wants to say, but sometimes it takes just a little longer to get the words out the way she intends them. I'm talking just a few seconds longer. I'm certainly used to it and our family and friends are also. Also, sometimes she has to think just a few seconds longer to analyze a situation to know what to do. But she does fine. Her mental capacity has not "lessened", but the time between the thought and the resulting action sometimes is a little longer. And believe me, I've worked around a lot of people who have not suffered a stroke and do the same thing. Heck, sometimes I don't remember what I had for lunch the day before!

I guess I'm saying all this to say that sometimes we don't know what's going on with a person. I'm not saying this guy who played "wrong" has this problem, I wouldn't know...and if he was simply being stubborn and didn't want to play "by the rules," then, yeah, I'd probably be aggravated too. But like I said, most of the time, when I come across this situation, I just mark it off as an "off-game" and simply look forward to the next one hoping it will be better. (And hope he doesn't want to play that next one!)

But I hope you don't take the other advice offered and simply tell the guy to "f*** off"... That's sad. That's just the player I would try to avoid. Good grief, it's a game. He said, "The point is to win..." I guess I see it differently. I would rather have good interaction with people and just have a good time than to just "win." But different people are different.

Hope this makes some kind of sense. Just my 2 cents.
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I'd like to second that. My room mate is a good gamer, he's got a good gaming background. However, he's played mostly miniatures games and abstracts; I've been introducing him to lost cities, carcassonne, and ticket to ride. However, when I put yspahan in front of him, he just didn't get it. He hadn't really ever played a logistics game with varied routes to victory before. He sort of glazed over. In fact, I remember the first time I played a trick taking game. It just didn't make sense and I got wolloped and didn't know why. It was all very alien... The point is that games that work in a way you don't expect or have no experience with just don't make sense sometimes. Give the guy a chance and be patient. Try him on a different game and eventually things will click.

Remember, you catch more flies with honey - especially when you smear it on a paddle and go chasing the them...
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Mark Crane
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Quote:
Anyway, Railroad tycoon is a pretty straightforward game, but if he can't handle that, I dread the day I sit down for a game of something more complex like Puerto Rico or Imperial.


Railroad Tycoon was my first modern boardgame. In the words of the group leader, as he explained the rules "he could see my head explode." I've gotten better but it actually is a complex game if you're not used to the genre.
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Paul Sauberer
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I've found that these sorts of things work themselves out before too long.

Not all people end up being a fit for the types of games a particular group plays. It can be a mismatch of learning styles, differences if priorities regarding paying attention to a game, or conflicts in playing styles.

Usually it doesn't take too long for these sorts of things to become obvious to the person who, as in the Sesame Street segment, "is not like the others." Then they tend to disappear.

Note that there is nothing wrong when such a mismatch occurs, it's just a difference.
 
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My response is somewhere in between the responses here, but it definitely comes down on the "you mustn't play with this person" side.

Games work when they are a combination of people playing a set of rules in an agreed-upon fashion in an enjoyable manner. Not everybody agrees as to what that "enjoyable manner" may be, but if people cannot grasp the fundamental rules of the game, then they simply cannot make the minimum requirements necessary to participate in the game.

Some people can't play because they are too young. That's okay. We don't blame them for being developmentally unsuited to play the game.

Some people can't play because of an infirmity which makes them unable to play the game. If you can't come up with a workaround, then that game becomes unsuitable for that person. I wouldn't ask my mother (who suffers from M.S. and has very limited coordination) to play Jenga, and I wouldn't ask a blind friend to play a game which required tons of reading and inferences from an ever-changing map-surface - at least not without some major workarounds.

Some people don't "get" a game right away. That's okay. We try to be patient, and teach the game, and do the best we can. We give 'em another shot. We sometimes give 'em a third shot.

But the sad truth is that some people just aren't cut out for some things. Maybe they have a problem. Maybe they're not paying attention. Maybe (and this is not a bad word) they're just not as smart as the average bear). It is all just a genetic crapshoot anyway, but maybe they just aren't wired to handle the mechanics of gameplay as easily as gamers are.

I've had friends who - for some reason - just can't seem to learn games.

Playing games with them would ruin the experience for both of us. They wouldn't actually be playing the game -- they'd be having their hand held as they were led through the experience. I wouldn't be enjoying the game, as I'd be spending most of my time teaching them, or playing their hand for them, or calming them down, etc.

So why bother?

Life is too short!

Not everybody is a gamer. A lot of gamers marry people and discover this fact! Statistically then, not everybody who wants to be a gamer is going to be wired to be a gamer.

It is not your responsibility to change this fact of life.

So, if you're feeling extremely patient, you can try to teach different games to your friend, or try to teach the "problem" game again in a different manner, or in a different setting. You can try and get your friend over the hump.

But at the end of the day games are meant to be played, and if people can't play them then they shouldn't be sitting at the table.

People who can't carry a tune shouldn't show up to the jam session and grab the microphone, even if they love music. People who love animals but are allergic to pet dander shouldn't adopt dogs.

People who can't learn the games shouldn't blow the game for everybody else by intruding on the table.

//////////

So remember this next time you need motivation to ask them politely not to play, and you need to remind them what a terrible time they had with the game last time they tried.
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Was his mind possibly on other things? Sometimes people seek a diversion from a personal issue, but still dwell on that problem even while in the midst of that alternate activity. Maybe his mind just wasn't in the game.

Is RRT just not his style of game? It's possible that he just couldn't grasp the scope and volume of that particular game, or that the subject matter wasn't for him, and that he was playing just to be sociable.

Or is he really that obtuse? You won't really know until you've had a go-around with a few other games. Then, you could make an informed decision whether or not this guy's worth having join you in future games.
 
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It doesn't seem like the case, but are you absolutely sure he wasn't just trying to get your goat? Hopefully not, as that would be pretty nasty, but I've known that type of person.
 
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Question: How did one guy become "these people"?

You may be panicking too soon. RRT is NOT a simple game, nor is it an intuitive game. Someone who doesn't know the rules might think that connecting cube to city by the shortest route would make sense--but in the strange worlds of RRT and AoS, it doesn't. You have taught RRT a lot, but have you taught it to a non-gamer? I wouldn't try, myself: I'd pull out TransAmerica and start him there, move to TtR, and then if he gets it all and wants a lot more complexity, try RRT.

So basically, you may have been assuming a gaming background he didn't have.

Alternatively, as has been said, he may just not be a gamer. Or he may not like anything heavier than TrR or even TransAmerica. Or he may have a traditional games background and is wonderful at chess and go, but doesn't get games with more complex rules yet (if he even wants to).

It's hard to pick among these possibilities: not enough data.

As far as suggestions, if he tries to get in another game of RRT with you: if it's your game, hand him the rules (or a copy) and say, "I don't think I was successful teaching you the rules, so I think it's best you read them through before you play again"; if it's not your game, you can still suggest that (especially if you have a copy of the rules to hand him), but if you think the game is going to be a train wreck, don't play it. It is OK to refuse to play with someone you find annoying. It will happen from time to time. I can think of someone I won't play with. It happens: nothing says you have to martyr yourself on the altar of gaming.

If he wants to play with you in a game much shorter than RRT--like TransAmerica--then I'd say give him another shot with something simpler. But that's my answer and may not be yours.
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The only clear remedy to this dilema is to have a T-Shirt made.

The T-Shirt should be brightly colored (almost to the point of being offensive; but not too bright because you want people to read it).

Then...

The T-Shirt should have the slogan ....

Will not play games, reindeer games or otherwise with _____(insert name/s here).

Now when you go to that game group again, wear the T-Shirt, yes there will be some awkward moments but....

Using your crafty charisma (I don't know you from Ghandi but I am assuming you have some) you turn it into a joke.

The result should be that the individual/s may not play that game with you that night or ever again OR they will make an effort to learn the rules and pay better attention during play.

In any case it is a win/ win situation for you:

1..They will play better or not at all. OR

2..You will be asked to leave the group but hey, you have a new T-Shirt!

Soon I will become the Self Appointed Senator of REALLY Good Ideas.

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I have the same problem with Niagara. It just makes no sense to me and I cannot remember the rules. Try to sit away from that guy so somebody else has to help him.
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I can certainly understand the desire to help a player with a game new to him and try to keep him from making really stupid moves--it is really no fun to win against someone because they had no clue as to what they were doing! However, once the rules have been explained, flaws in moves pointed out, perhaps better moves suggested, that is really all one should do, I think. Some people just have to be allowed to make blunders and learn from them, or not.

If he is still playing that badly after five games or so, then I would try to avoid playing with him. But though most people will believe you if you tell them fire is hot, there are some people who only learn that fact by getting burnt. It is the ones with multiple burn marks on their hands and arms you need to avoid!
 
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You may never have to worry about it, because it's quite likely he'll never show up again. At my main game group, we had a woman show up who said she loved games and played them all the time. Some of us were just sitting down to Around the World at 80 Days, so of course we asked her to join. I ran through the rules for her, then we started. And she just could NOT get it -- the fact that you selected a special action AND a card all in one move was the wrong shape for her brain. I consider Around the World a transitional game (between gateway games and regular Euros), so I was astonished that she could be an experienced gamer and not be able to grasp a relatively simple ruleset. After about the fifth time we had to lay out the options for her on her turn, she said something that made everything clearer: "I usually play word games." So here was this person who could probably wipe us all out in Scrabble trying to find her way in a weird world of number cards.

My initial reaction was much like yours, in that I dreaded trying to play any game with her, much less a nice heavy game. She never came back, though -- I hope she found some nice word gamers and goes there instead.

Even if he does come back, it sounds like you have a few options:

1. Steer him into a couple of gateway games. I mean really simple gateway games! If he doesn't get those and still comes back for more, then you have more of a problem.

2. Spread out the pain. It sounds like there are multiple tables going, so if you feel your patience isn't up to the task, foist him off on somebody else for a game or two. It may be that somebody else has a slightly different twist on rules explanations that clicks better with this guy's brain.

If the goals of the game group are just to have a bunch of buddies get together and play games, then you don't have any particular obligation towards this non-game-brain guy. If one of the goals of the club is to encourage new gamers and spread the hobby, then I'd say you're on the hook for making him feel welcome and doing your best to help him figure out games. Telling him to eff off (especially since he doesn't seem to be deliberately obnoxious) should not be an option.
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paulclarke339 wrote:

I enjoy playing games and I also enjoy teaching games to an extent. I like sharing them and seeing the light bulb coming on for new players. But when the light bulb is defective (or possibly missing all together), what do I do?




Welcome to the world of teaching in general. You can teach someone a particular rule or skill as many times as you want, but if they have HSS (Homer Simpson Syndrome) and don't actively engage in the learning, everything you've said is moot.

I'm off to teach point-of-view to sixth graders...
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dragon of blood wrote:
As for this guy's other problems, you should have lowered the hammer. Told him to pay attention to the rules explanations and if he couldn't be bothered doing that then to kindly get the fuck out.


Ah, the love of a dedicated gamer....
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paulclarke339 wrote:
I enjoy playing games and I also enjoy teaching games to an extent. I like sharing them and seeing the light bulb coming on for new players. But when the light bulb is defective (or possibly missing all together), what do I do?


You need to realize that everyone has their own unique style of learning and that your style of teaching isn't going to be helpful for everyone in every situation. That doesn't mean the light bulb is missing, it just means that it's more of a challenge for you to present the same information in a different way for a different audience.

That being said? I'd avoid that guy like the plague, too. Can you set up your first game in advance of the game day, so that your game is full and he has to find another table? Or have someone else take over the teaching role? Maybe I'm just too blunt but when I was recently in a similar situation, I asked everyone else if someone could please take over because obviously I couldn't teach this person. It ended my misery, at least.
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Am I the only one considering this person trying to connect grey cities or delivering cubes, selected randomly, to randomly selected cities, to be color blind?
He might either be ashamed or not aware of it.
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wittdooley wrote:


Welcome to the world of teaching in general. You can teach someone a particular rule or skill as many times as you want, but if they have HSS (Homer Simpson Syndrome) and don't actively engage in the learning, everything you've said is moot.

I'm off to teach point-of-view to sixth graders...


I'm with this guy (I teach college sophomores at a large, conservative, midwestern state university - some of them aren't much better than 6th graders on some days).

To the OP: I'd give the guy another shot or two. He could have been having a really bad day. If the problem is chronic, just flat out tell him that you have trouble with his interpretation of the rules, and it ruins the game for you.
 
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wittdooley wrote:
Welcome to the world of teaching in general. You can teach someone a particular rule or skill as many times as you want, but if they have HSS (Homer Simpson Syndrome) and don't actively engage in the learning, everything you've said is moot.


It's not a matter of Homer Simpson Syndrome, that's just kind of insulting. Different people learn in different ways, and have intellectual strengths.

I, for example, seem to have completely lost my short term memory somewhere around age 18 (okay, the long term memory is not that great either). Someone else mentioned in another thread the "analysis paralysis" type player who seems to need to reread the same cards he had every time he has to take an action, even though nothing in his card hand had changed from the last time he looked at them.

I'm that guy too. Unless I'm really focused in to a high degree (which somewhat ruins the nature of gaming for enjoyment purposes for me), things like the special skills on boardgame cards just don't "stick" for me. I would be terrible if I ever had to competitively play a CDG, because I could play it 10 times, and still not remember most of the card special actions. In other games, I'm the guy saying, "Oh yeah, it's +1 cover for being in a forest, not +2, +2 is for buildings," the 8th time I've played the game.

I know other people with incredible memories. Tell them a ruleset, they've got it down right away. In games with hidden information, they know that your 4-4-7 counter is over there, and your 4-2-8 counter is over there, etc., because they saw it 8 turns ago when you played your last session 2 weeks ago and still remember. But they are horrible analysts, making stupid moves tactically and otherwise because they simply can not grasp how to use the information they have.

I've seen it in the real world; people who are incredibly intelligent but just do not have the skill for test taking (so you get these 4.0 GPA with an 1020 SAT score types), and vice versa.
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paulclarke339 wrote:
By this stage I am having to baby the new player so much that he is detracting from my ability to focus on my own position and enjoy actually playing the game.


Welcome to teaching people to play games. If you are going to take on the duty, you are going to have to follow through on the responsibility. I frequently do very poorly when I teach as I virtually play the game for the other person. Many people need this level of help to get their head around a game - shown repeatedly and frequently. Remember your school days? I often wondered why my teachers had to go over math or science over and over and over for some people... until I had to do it over and over and over myself when teaching.

So, I really see myself as playing two ways. At the beginning of a game, I decide if this is a "teaching" game or a "playing" game. If it is "teaching" I pretty much write off my performance and try to take enjoyment from watching others do well and helping them learn. If it is a "playing" game, I pretty ruthlessly try to do my best and ignore flaws or mistakes of others. I don't get to enjoy "playing" type games very often, but I find them vastly more satisfying and engaging. So I feel I understand where you are coming from here. But at the same time, if you're going to undertake the chore of bringing someone up to speed, you're probably going to have to suffer through it.
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Many groups have a game selection mechanic, where choosing a game is rotated among the group. Maybe you could have a teaching game mechanic, where the duty of teaching to the new players is formally rotated.
 
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I'd say give the guy a break. People sometimes have difficulty understanding certain concepts that you may find easy to understand. Its not a matter of intelligence, just differences in how our brains are wired.
 
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dragon of blood wrote:
As for this guy's other problems, you should have lowered the hammer. Told him to pay attention to the rules explanations and if he couldn't be bothered doing that then to kindly get the fuck out.


I like the following quote. I'm sorry that I can't remember who said it nor if I am getting it completely correct, but, "Don't attribute to meanness what is simply ignorance."

I don't think in this instance that being nasty to the guy is called for. Maybe, just nicely ask or even tell him to watch the game played one or two games so he can learn how to play. He may just get bored and wander off on his own. If he wants to sit and ask questions while watching give him the rule book and tell him, "You seem like an intelligent person, look it up." If none of this works tell him to please find another game to play because he is distracting you. If all else fails, excuse yourself from the game and come back to play later, when he is gone.

Kindness should always be tried before getting angry and swearing at a person. I sometimes have to remind myself, "People are more important than this game (TV show, computer, etc.)."
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Not enough information.
Don't lose it, unless you have proof (and I mean proof) that the bloke is doing a number on you. There could be any number of reasons for his mess ups, including only being there because of loneliness.... who knows. (Hey he isn't a Psychology postgrad is he?
A better way with the clueless is to play as an advising partner, of course then you aren't playing anymore, so you have to ask yourself if you are that keen a teacher.
If it is stressing you then drop the role. Avoid telling him to eff off though, that's just laziness.
Good luck.
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