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Subject: Alternative Set-up for Teaching Dominion rss

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I posted a thread a couple of weeks ago dismissing the basic set-up as an effective way to engage new players. Here's what I tried last night, with solid results:

1.) Start by adding a single attack that is not the witch or the thief (I chose Bureaucrat).
2.) Add the moat.
3.) Remove the remaining attacks and the chapel from the blue-back deck.
4.) Deal 8 random cards.
5.) Do not permit the village and smithy to be in the game at the same time.

What I like about this is that new players immediately experience the sense of adaptation that is central to the game. They see that cards are being added at random. Also, by prohibiting the village-smithy nonsense, players can get a feel for the game instead of going down the dead-end strategy of (amateur) deck cycling. Which is nice for experienced players, since we don't have to watch long turns with ineffectual results.


 
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Loc Nguyen
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i taught this game to about 6 people already. they all ask me questions about gardens. (I didn't use the basic and chose random as my setup and garden came up frequently.) "Do you count garden as one of your cards in your deck?, Do you only count the cards remaining in your deck?, Do you only score one garden for points?"

So you might want to skip this as well, but after you answer this, hopefully they understand how to play them.
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Valerie Putman
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Of course we want you to teach the game in whatever way works for you, but let me give just a little bit of advice after playtesting many starting set ups and teaching the game quite a few times.

New players like to try a little bit of everything. While the teaching 10 might feel boring to experienced players (though I still enjoy the set!), you can make a deck that has one of everything in it and with the village, market, and cellar, there is enough "lubrication" to keep the deck from completely stalling. If you teach with a random set and none of them have +Actions, the new player might get very frustrated when they have a hand of all actions and no way to "fix" their deck.

Second, we did pick the starting 10 because it included all of these terms:

+1 Action
+1 Buy
+X Card(s)
+
"Gain"
"Trash"

But if you are planning on playing several games before sending the person off to play on their own, I can see that teaching them all in the first game isn't as important.

Enjoy the game!
Valerie Putman
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Joe Casadonte
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JohnRayJr wrote:
What I like about this is that new players immediately experience the sense of adaptation that is central to the game.


Perhaps I'm being a bit pedantic here, but I don't see how starting with a random set of cards allows a newbie to experience any sense of adaptation. Still, as Valerie says, do it however it works best for you.
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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JohnRayJr wrote:
Also, by prohibiting the village-smithy nonsense, players can get a feel for the game instead of going down the dead-end strategy of (amateur) deck cycling.


Isn't the best way to address amateur deck cycling to ask them - at the end of those long, pointless turns - "And what precisely did you achieve with that?" Then proceed to buy a Gold or a Province with just your drawn hand, to prove the point.
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Peter Stein
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Or how about at the start of the game you say to newbie "Be careful about buying all Villages and Smithees?"
 
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Joe Casadonte wrote:
JohnRayJr wrote:
What I like about this is that new players immediately experience the sense of adaptation that is central to the game.


Perhaps I'm being a bit pedantic here, but I don't see how starting with a random set of cards allows a newbie to experience any sense of adaptation. Still, as Valerie says, do it however it works best for you.


I think what you're getting at is that a random set-up is just as unknown to new players as a preconfigured one. But when you see a set-up being created at random, you grasp that a fundamental draw of the game is figuring out what to do with the set every time. You are not learning the game in an environment the other players have seen before.
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statonv wrote:

Second, we did pick the starting 10 because it included all of these terms

+1 Action
+1 Buy
+X Card(s)
+
"Gain"
"Trash"

But if you are planning on playing several games before sending the person off to play on their own, I can see that teaching them all in the first game isn't as important.


Indeed, I think it's crucial for newcomers to play 3-4 times in a row. If the ability to trash cards blows their minds in game three, so much the better.


 
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Bill Barksdale
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statonv wrote:

Second, we did pick the starting 10 because it included all of these terms:

+1 Action
+1 Buy
+X Card(s)
+
"Gain"
"Trash"

But if you are planning on playing several games before sending the person off to play on their own, I can see that teaching them all in the first game isn't as important.


Maybe this makes more sense in a convention/playtest environment than with a boxed game. If in your second or third game you find a new kind of game action on a card, you can look it up in the rulebook. Putting them all in the first game just serves to increase the number of things you need to explain (or worse, read).
 
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B C Z
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I've done enough 'random' setups on BSW to know what's 'missing' based on a quick read of the 10 kingdom cards.

Village/Smithy is an important learning step.

With chained villages, sure, you get tons of actions, but if you cannot use them, they don't do much.

With the Smithy, you draw more cards.

With both, and a proper chain, you can draw your entire deck, which means you have 7 copper with which to buy something - which is exactly enough to buy any given card *except* a Province.

That's a very valid strategy, and great for a beginner who gets to interact with the cards and, with all the extra actions from villages, try out some of the other cards to see what they do.
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Michael Becker
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Remember one of the most powerful cards ever printed in Magic: The Gathering was Ancestral Recall (draw three cards). The smithy in some ways mirrors that action. And likewise, in Magic there were two important principles to win - speed and drawing power. Dominion players are wise to heed those principles.

What I find with the basic setup is that some first time players get overwhelmed a bit by the cycling aspect of villages and smithys. It seems especially so when they see another more experienced player pull off a complete deck cycle to use most of their resources. That is the point in my experience where newbies seem to get frustrated. But like most games a learning curve for better play is to be expected.

Michael
 
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