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Subject: How do you introduce a game that you, yourself, don't know the rules completely? rss

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David C
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My biggest problem isn't explaining games I know. My biggest problem is explaining games I don't know.

Like, I went through pandemic the other night. I played a few practice rounds... and when it came time to play the game, there were just too many situations that I hadn't thought about. The thing is, when it's game time, no one wants to read and digest a manual... at least not most people anyway.

So, what have you found helps?
a) people really into the theme of the game anyway
b) Not an angry mob.
c) "Trust me, this will all make sense by the 2nd turn."
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jim b
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You have to play it through yourself beforehand, even a pseudo multiplayer game for a few rounds. There's no substitute...
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Andrew Tullsen
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I find that knowing the rules works.
But there will always be a situation/card I'm not sure how to handle. The best thing to do here is keep the rulebook checking to a minimum.
I like player aid sheets, and the must current FAQ kept in the box for the tricky questions as well.
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Pete Belli
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Quote:
How do you introduce a game that you, yourself, don't know the rules completely?


Depends on the game.

A light piece of fluff or a party game? No problem!

A game with some depth or complexity? Don't do it. Take time to study the rules carefully and try the game next week.

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Paul DeStefano
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I would never do it.
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McDog
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If it's a somewhat complex game I play an entire game solo so I can see how the mechanics fit together and get the gist of the rules. I don't always make it all the way through because playing solo is damn boring but sometimes I play it all the way through so I can also see each stage of the game in action.

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Brett Hudoba
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Not to be a smart a$$, but if I don't know a game well enough to explain it to a group, I won't introduce it at that time--plain and simple. If it's something new I'm really anxious to try, I'll take time beforehand to make sure I have a (semi-)solid grasp on things. To me, nothing is more frustrating than muddling through a game with which everyone is unfamiliar, and there's no game I have to play bad enough that I'm willing to potentially ruin my first impression of it.

Of course, it also isn't reasonable to expect that you're going to foresee all particular problems that might arise. In most cases--during a game in progress--the group should be able to reach a general consensus on how to proceed at that time, and then research it afterward to see if it was the correct interpretation and/or if any adjustments are necessary for next time. Alternatively, if it's an issue that won't slow the game down, have someone else check through the rule book when it isn't their turn.
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David C
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Ahhh.... I just wasn't being patient enough.

Playing with yourself is darn boring. Guess that's why I'm married.
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Andrew E
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I find it depends on the makeup of the gaming group for the evening... some players are more patient than others.

With the really patient ones, we understand that the first game is mostly a "figure out how to play" game, and so any situational questions that come up are promptly researched (one person checks the rules, the other checks the game's BGG rules forum and FAQ).

Then we deal with misunderstandings as they come up.

With the larger group, the general rule that I follow is to not introduce new games unless at least one other person at the table has played it, or unless I really have a strong grasp of the rules and have played it a few times beyond the times necessary to learn the rules.

It's a little heavy-handed, but certain personality mixtures mean that patience is often in short-supply, which in turn makes for a really frustrating first play.

Really, it comes down to the group's patience levels. And since we usually only get about 2 hours worth of gaming in at a time, the best thing to do is make sure that it doesn't go any slower than it has to.
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Joe Huber

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Re:
bippi wrote:
How do you introduce a game that you, yourself, don't know the rules completely?

...

The thing is, when it's game time, no one wants to read and digest a manual... at least not most people anyway.


I'm apparently bizarre in being perfectly happy learning or teaching a game by going through the manual. It's not my _favorite_ method, of course, but frequently that's the only choice besides not playing the game - and unlike others on this thread, I've had no problems with it. Well, OK, one problem - we tried getting through Siena, and couldn't make heads or tails of it. But usually it's not an issue; we learned Erosion by reading it live just last night, and while it's not exceedingly complex it doesn't have the most intuitive rule set either...

So, to answer the question - find folks who are willing to put up with going through the rulebook live. Make sure that at least one is good at getting enough out of that exercise to get things through the first round. And be willing to start over if you mess things up too badly.
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Richard Maurer
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Just keep playing it and give folks a chance to get a feel for it. If they are good sports and most game players are, they will normally play it through until the end before making a judgment. Plus, nobody can memorize all the rules and expect all situations that will arise. You just do the best you can and check here at BGG later on if any issues arose that you couldn't answer.
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Jason
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I have a couple friends (and a sister) that enjoy learning a new game at the same time I do...so it's usually not too much of a problem...
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EDIT - additions:

Forgot to add, I actually have been in situations where I wanted to play certain games, but alas, I didn't know the rules well enough. I'm typically the one who owns such games too. It's not a TOTAL start from square one, as someone else did teach me how to play, and we did play at lesat one game before. I would've had to stop to reread rules and make guesses about how certain things worked that it would've been awkward, slow, and even painful to go through that game.

About "laziness", it's in me. In fact, I once rushed to buy Ticket To Ride Europe just so that I could get a new TtR game in some of my groups. Played it online on Days Of Wonder's site, so I was already familiar with the rules. I already had Ticket To Ride Marklin, but wasn't in the mood to read the rules for the longest time. What finally got me to teach TtR M to others was when I was taught the game, and then henceforth, read finally over the rulebook myself.

Similar deal with Dominion vs card driven games such as Condotierre and Big Top (based off of the old Fan Tan game). Dominion would be easy to introduce. The other 2 aren't that bad either, but they take longer to click, and would (at least I'm thinking for Condotierre) be ideal to have player aids for the group.



bippi wrote:
My biggest problem isn't explaining games I know. My biggest problem is explaining games I don't know.

Like, I went through pandemic the other night. I played a few practice rounds... and when it came time to play the game, there were just too many situations that I hadn't thought about. The thing is, when it's game time, no one wants to read and digest a manual... at least not most people anyway.

So, what have you found helps?
a) people really into the theme of the game anyway
b) Not an angry mob.
c) "Trust me, this will all make sense by the 2nd turn."
it depends on the group. Many of mine will want to make a good faith attempt at finding out how to resolve such issues. However, if it takes too long, we'll just make a judgement call.

Otherwise, I personally try to find out about various whatif questions, but if it detracts from me playing the game and slowing it down, I'll just deal with it as it comes up.




But yeah, everything people have said I agree with. Try a few practice rounds, check for any latest errata/FAQs, check here on BGG. You can't know EVERYTHING and every possible situation, but you should have enough that major rules affecting scoring or gameplay are understood well.
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Stew Woods
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Wired_Wolf wrote:
I have a couple friends (and a sister) that enjoy learning a new game at the same time I do...so it's usually not too much of a problem...


Ditto

I have a small group of three of four core players who often come down to nut out a new game with me...it's enjoyable and we all know that we're in for a slower-than-average night.

Then, on my regular game night there are a few of us who can whip out the game and teach.
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Phil
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I am the only one in my game group that even bothers to read the rules. Explanations that are done beforehand are ignored, everything has to be explained during the game. If I forget something I will be blamed. If I slow down the game because I have to look something up, I will be blamed.

Always the same. But worth it.
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Mike Sherwood
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Most often, I will read the rules night before and play. For more complex games, I often have one or two individuals (hand-picked) that are willing to roll with a "first game" with me. We both understand that there will be lots of rules looking-up, etc.

I absolutely hate sitting down and having someone read the rulebook out loud to me. To avoid this, I usually ask "Do you know this game?"
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Jesse McGatha
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I figure that if you're not willing to go through rules to a new game live, you're either:

1) Selfish (you want someone else to do the hard work of figuring things out and then spoon feed you).

2) Lazy (you weren't willing to learn the rules yourself if it's so sacrosanct that someone must be the single annointed teacher).

3) Willing to be behind the learning curve because you'll be sitting out the first game.

Obviously, my opinion seems to run counter to the crowd here. I het more out of rule read-throughs because fewer things are forgotten and learning the rules together can be a fun social experience... with the right crowd.

Just my 2 cents to offer a different viewpoint.
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Richard Skinner
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It is so worth learning the rules properly first.

The better you know the rules, the better your explanation, because you can focus on your explanation and on making the game enjoyable, not strain to remember how the game works.

In my experience, the entire success of a game is often contingent on how well the owner knows the rules. When people come to the group with a weak grasp, the games drag on and there's a huge amount of downtime waiting for rules to be figured out.

When the owner knows the rules inside out, the issue is removed entirely. People relax and enjoy the game because they feel comfortable that there's somebody there who will always know what to do.

Granted, something unexpected can always come up, but if you show a solid understanding of the rest of the game, those incidents are never disruptive.

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Mark Crocker
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After reading the rules twice or thrice...even more, I still often had trouble explaining it all. Lately I've taken this approach.
With rules in hand, I sit down at the computer and compose for MYSELF a teaching aid. I try to compact 8 or so pages of rules into 1 page. Longer rules into no more than 2 pages. The process forces me into condensing and paraphrasing certain passages, further pounding the messages I need to teach the game, into my head. When it becomes time to play, the players are much relieved to see me reading from a 1 page outline, rather than the rulebook.
But the key is that, you have to make your own. You can't just download a player aid file from BGG, and then wing it. If you can find an FAQ, read and print that up too.
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Phil
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With my luck if I invest that much time into preparation no one wants to play the game despite my efforts.
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Mike Sherwood
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Harlekin wrote:
With my luck if I invest that much time into preparation no one wants to play the game despite my efforts.


This totally happened to me. Everyone laughs now. The first time we tried to play Tichu, we were so confused that no one would play again. I eventually learned how to play from a different group, and tried to get my group to play.

Everyone revolted. Mutiny.

I begged and pleaded, and eventually they humored me. Seven Tichu decks later (from wearing them out), that same group laughs about that night. It's been a huge hit.
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Sean Shaw
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well, if I really want to play it, then hopefully everyone can agree to play the rules as explained and if there are problems we can try again at a later date with the revised rules being played properly. I'm not the best at explaining rules, nor always interpreting them correctly, but if it's my game and I'm the only one that has it sometimes I have no choice. If I've never played it before, well...it really comes down to me reading the rules and doing my best to explain what I've read.

I've seen that some print out rule aids which helps...and the best times are when everyone has a LOT of time prior to the game and can read the rules for themselves.
 
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Mark Crocker
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Harlekin wrote:
With my luck if I invest that much time into preparation no one wants to play the game despite my efforts.


I play everybody elses whims. Sooner or later they will indulge me, and play MY choice...and I'll be ready.
 
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Mike Sherwood
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GreyLord wrote:
and the best times are when everyone has a LOT of time prior to the game and can read the rules for themselves.


We did this once with Die Macher. It definitely helped cut the rules explanation. Everyone had to either read the rules or watch Scott Nicholson's video.
 
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David C
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msherwoo wrote:
GreyLord wrote:
and the best times are when everyone has a LOT of time prior to the game and can read the rules for themselves.


We did this once with Die Macher. It definitely helped cut the rules explanation. Everyone had to either read the rules or watch Scott Nicholson's video.


when your audience is THAT committed to a game... it's always a plus.
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