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Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization» Forums » General

Subject: Best way to teach this game? rss

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Kurt Keough
United States
Oskaloosa
IA - Iowa
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I've taught this game three times now, myself only playing the three times. I've done simple game rules twice, then the last time jumped straight to the advanced game rules.

Seemed like the simple game rules were effective only for teaching the mechanics and a group of players used to moving pieces around the board were capable of grasping the concept.

Still, I think it took me 45 minutes to an hour to go through all the rules.

Is there a good summary/cheat sheet that would facilitate explaingin the rules and help people follow along? Has anyone come up with a better way of teaching this game?
 
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Thom Denholm
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The best I've done is teach with the simple game, talking about the major points of the other games (tactics cards, event submission, pacts, and change of age). I then finish up with a sample of an aggression and war, and taking a colony. I should probably add in a discussion of leaving the game honorably at that point.

The next game I play with that player or players is the full game. I skip the "Advanced Game" completely.

As to a "cheat sheet" for teaching, I just make sure they go through each step in order on the quick reference card. That's usually pretty good.

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Kirk Thomas
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I'll be curious to see how teaching the game goes. We played for the first time last night- I had read the rule thoroughly, and two of us had played Civilization the PC game extensively, so the concepts were very familiar. We went straight for the Full game, with 3 players, and we loved every second of it, but it took 6 hours.

I'm very confident that a second playing by the same three players would take 4 hours or less. We got much better at it as we went, and after reviewing the rules today, identified what we did wrong and/or spent time confused about, so it should go much smoother.

But I was wondering today, as I was thinking about the game, how teaching somebody new would go. It seems like it should be relatively easy - that if we had had a player who knew the game last night, that we would have played in 4 hours instead of 6, so even with new players the next time, it should go more quickly.

But I don't know - the game has some concepts that are really obvious once you really get them, but that aren't obvious even if you have somebody experienced teaching you.

Personally, I believe that you just have to brace yourself for a longish learning curve for new players.
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Dave Sinclair
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Setup the game. Explain the objective/winning condition. Play each player's turn as a group to cover the fundamentals of HOW the game is played. Choose different cards to buy/play as you go. Keep the turns flowing by focusing on the rules as they apply to that step or card. Don't get bogged down in strategy. Move through turns quickly until everyone understands the flow of a player turn. Quit once everyone is relatively comfortable with what to do on a turn. Setup the game again and play (encouraging table talk throughout the first game). Try to emphasize fun for everybody as you go through the first game, as opposed to being competitive. Feel free to quit/start over if all players agree.

Emphasize the fun. Get everyone involved as quickly as possible.

Of course, I could be wrong.
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Dave Sinclair
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thomcat wrote:

As to a "cheat sheet" for teaching, I just make sure they go through each step in order on the quick reference card. That's usually pretty good.


Always use the reference cards. Hard to miss steps if you follow along.

Great advice from thomcat! thumbsup
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Ronald Bernier III
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As a piece of advice:

Try to get people into the habit of going through the production phase in the order on the reference cards (using the player-aid mats as well for the food/consumption/resource/corruption phase). It really frustrates me when players skip around because something inevitably gets missed at some point with the typical "Wait? Did I do this?" question.

Once you get in the habit of doing it in the same, ordered fashion every production phase, you'll find that it tends to speed the game up a little and you are far less likely to miss something.
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Reko Ukko
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I always teach the full game, but I do it in phases. I also ask the players to check the player summary sheet often when it's not their turn - I think it's one of the most helpful sheets out there.

I pretty much cover the Simple game stuff + happiness/corruption before we start. Then during the play, when I encourage people to use remaining military actions to draw military cards, I slowly teach the specific political actions.

When new governments start popping up (or someone asks) I explain the government change. When we start nearing the end of the age, I go over what that might mean to older cards.

Typically, when you play a game for the first time, no matter how much you explain, people can't really master it on the first try. There's also so much information people can get by telling it to them straight, so in my experience it's best to cover the bare essentials and then explain the rules as you go, whenever it looks like that the new players are approaching situations where that knowledge is required.

We played a full game with three players and I ended up losing the whole thing, even though I was the only one who had played before :-)
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Steve E.
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I actually completely ignore the phases of the turn when teaching this.

I first explain the Yellow Population bank, how to grow your population, and how it costs more and more as your population expands. I also explain the Happiness requirement as being directly tied to how big your population is. I then explain the blue resources, noting that they work relatively similar to the yellow population tokens.

Then I move on to the game board itself - the various point tracks and how they are used. Then it's on to the card row, noting how different cards will cost different amounts to pick up. This makes a nice segue into taking about the cards themselves.

I go through each type of card one at a time (leaders, wonders, actions, tech, and government), explaining how they work in the game. Then I do the same with the military cards.

Finally I quickly go through the phases of the turn, going over production and what happens when one age ends and another begins.

Yesterday I taught the Full Game to two people who had never played before. Took about 35 minutes or so to explain.

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John Anderson
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1copse wrote:
Took about 35 minutes or so to explain.
Before you even started playing? wow My eyes would have glazed over like 30 minutes ago.

Honestly if it's going to take that long, I think it would almost be better to just explain the very basics in like 5 minutes, then just dive into the simple game (or advanced game if you think they can handle the differences between that and simple). They won't REALLY get most of the stuff until they actually do it anyway.

Sure it'll take them until about halfway through the game to really pick up on it, but I think that will be the case no matter how you do it, so you may as well go straight to the deep end.
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Dave Sinclair
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puck71 wrote:
1copse wrote:
Took about 35 minutes or so to explain.
Before you even started playing? wow My eyes would have glazed over like 30 minutes ago.

Honestly if it's going to take that long, I think it would almost be better to just explain the very basics in like 5 minutes, then just dive into the simple game (or advanced game if you think they can handle the differences between that and simple). They won't REALLY get most of the stuff until they actually do it anyway.

Sure it'll take them until about halfway through the game to really pick up on it, but I think that will be the case no matter how you do it, so you may as well go straight to the deep end.


+1
 
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Steve E.
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Quote:
Before you even started playing? wow My eyes would have glazed over like 30 minutes ago.

Honestly if it's going to take that long, I think it would almost be better to just explain the very basics in like 5 minutes, then just dive into the simple game (or advanced game if you think they can handle the differences between that and simple). They won't REALLY get most of the stuff until they actually do it anyway.

Sure it'll take them until about halfway through the game to really pick up on it, but I think that will be the case no matter how you do it, so you may as well go straight to the deep end.


You and I have a difference between our game groups, I suspect. The people to whom I was teaching the game were engaged the whole time and enjoyed their play. I was actually pretty pleased with how little time it took to completely teach the full game without any prior rules prep.

Such is the way, I suppose.
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Kurt Keough
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Thanks for all the help. Wish me luck as I try to create some new addicts!
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John Anderson
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Even if they were engaged, I'm still of the opinion it would have been a more effective use of time to just dive in and start playing. Even if you start over after 35 minutes, I think they'd have processed the information better.

Of course go with whatever works for your group, but I think people who would sit there for 30+ minutes listening to a rules explanation are in the minority.
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Adam Ruzzo
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I always start by explaining all of the icons on the board and defining the terms used in the game (leader cards are green civil cards, green military cards are events or territories, etc.).

Then i setup a demo civilization and walk everybody through a turn or two with preset hand/card row/military deck designed to show them how every card works.
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stephen biggs
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For most games I stick to 3 items.
Setup.
Victory conditions
Turn sequence: With a clear list of how actions in turn sequence link to the victory conditions.

I'm still looking for a good way to teach TTA...?

The victory conditions are almost trivial in TTA. The age-III events that generate culture are worth mentioning at the start.

A lot of the game is in the 351 cards. And there are way too many of those to explain them before starting the game. Just explaining the various symbols & the rules restricting which cards it's legal to draw (e.g. only 1 leader per age) Is about all theres time for.

Turn sequnce:

civil actions
military actions
Maintenance (including consumption, corruption & hapiness)

I'd delay the explanation of political actions & military card discard, since they can't occur until turn-3.

 
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