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Subject: Learning New Rules rss

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p55carroll
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How do you feel about it?

For me, it has always been an obstacle. If I'm really curious about a new game, I have to learn it, of course--but the actual learning of rules is not something I look forward to. It definitely limits the number of new games I'm willing to tackle, and sometimes it delays my learning a new game after I've bought it.

Don't get me wrong, though; I love reading game rules. Like many BGGeeks, I'll read them for pleasure and even carry them around with me to read when I have some spare time. Just poring over a rule book often builds up my enthusiasm for the game.

But then comes the moment when I have to put those rules into practice for the first time. And I know I will have forgotten some of them and misunderstood others. Only playing the game while referring back to the rule book will get me to where I really know what I'm doing. For me, that's often awkward and somewhat difficult. I've done it countless times, and I get through it, but it's not an ordeal I really enjoy. I look forward to getting past it and being able to play the game without referring to the rules.

Hence, if I'm in the mood for a game, a game I already know how to play is usually preferable to a new one. It's also preferable to a game I haven't played in a while and would have to review the rules to.

Also, it seems that the older I get, the less tolerance I have for games whose rules can't be pretty easily committed to memory. If I find myself having to look something up in the rules more than a couple times during a game, I want to play a different game.

How 'bout you? What's your take on learning game rules?
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Enrico Viglino
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Age has definitely been a factor.

Even games I've played before are tough to relearn.

All the same, the games I LIKE most have difficult
or innovative rules. I don't want to see the same
game system again and again.

The handful of scenarios contained in most of the
GMT tactical games is tough - I like the systems,
but I want a good deal more distinction between
the battles.

And then, when a system is close to something else
I'm familiar with, the little differences will catch me.

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Stephen Collazo
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Patrick -

I share the same feelings about rule-learning. Definitely a love-hate relationship thing for me. I consider myself to be a relatively new board gamer...

(pardon the big digression here.... almost exactly 2 years ago, I can remember stumbling across boardgamegeek and subsequently ending up with a very cheap copy of Knizia's Lord of the Rings coop board game, in German, no less!! Up to that point, I was virtually clueless about the world of board gaming. The one thing I knew once I opened up that slightly worn game box - I HAD TO LEARN how to play the game. So there I was with the German version of LoTR and I started downloading everything I could find that was related to the games' rules and mechanics in an effort to figure out how to play this strange thing called a cooperative game... oh the agony of it all, I can recall the anguish and headscratching like it was yesterday!!).

Back to the here and now... 2 years and 45-plus games later and I'm still pretty much doing the same amount of agonizing head-scratching. Age creates memory-challenges for me and the time factor, well as much as I'd like to spend all day reading AND memorizing board game rules (I would only confess this on BGG!), there are other obligations and responsibilities!

I know one BIG thing for me is that I need to do more jumping into games accepting that I'll make mistakes and fumble around on my first few plays and less worrying over reading AND understanding every rule in the rulebooks prior to playing. My personal challenge is that my gaming group is my kids which consists of an 11, 10 and 9 year old. Nothing ruins a gaming experience quicker than my kids waiting on rules-dumb dad to figure out what we're supposed to be doing in the middle of gameplay.

Yes, we do our share of "winging it" at times but I get little pleasure out of creating our own rules just to keep their interest alive. It's a constant balancing act when it comes to breaking in a new game. The upside is that once we do get the rules figured out, my kids are pretty good at committing the rules to their respective memories (better than I can do!). At that point, I get the joy of seeing the theme and, for some of our favorite games, actual storylines come alive for my kids. That's the payoff for struggling with rules and learning new games.

But for me, it's always those darn rules that present the greatest challenge to getting the games on the table. As a parent with very little opportunity to spend time away from home learning games from more experienced board gamers, I have found BGG forums to be a priceless resource for learning rules.
 
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David Debien
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My most recently learned game was Through The Ages. The rule book made it seem like a good idea to play the game as you read the rules. Boy, was that a mistake.

After 3 hours, we had finished our first round of the basic game and if it weren't for the fact that we had only scratched the surface of the full game, I do not think I would have ever come back for another round.

I am now 3 games in (one basic and two advanced) and ready to play the Full game. I am still on the fence about this game and I think it has a lot to do with the way the rules were presented.

Honestly, I think it may have been better if there was no such thing as the basic or full game. Sure, the learning curve would have been a lot steeper, but at this point I have been in training for 10+ hours with this game and have still not had a satisfactory gaming experience. I will give it one or two more plays using the advanced rules and see how it goes.

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Nicolas
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casualgod wrote:
My most recently learned game was Through The Ages. The rule book made it seem like a good idea to play the game as you read the rules. Boy, was that a mistake.

After 3 hours, we had finished our first round of the basic game and if it weren't for the fact that we had only scratched the surface of the full game, I do not think I would have ever come back for another round.

I am now 3 games in (one basic and two advanced) and ready to play the Full game. I am still on the fence about this game and I think it has a lot to do with the way the rules were presented.

Honestly, I think it may have been better if there was no such thing as the basic or full game. Sure, the learning curve would have been a lot steeper, but at this point I have been in training for 10+ hours with this game and have still not had a satisfactory gaming experience. I will give it one or two more plays using the advanced rules and see how it goes.



Yeah, the hole "basic" game way of learning doesn't work for our group either. We always go for the full thing at once.

I've found the more games you know, the easier to learn new ones become, since you will almost for sure find some similar mechanic to one you already know
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p55carroll
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casualgod wrote:
My most recently learned game was Through The Ages. The rule book made it seem like a good idea to play the game as you read the rules. Boy, was that a mistake.

I tried that recently myself, so I know just what you mean. I didn't get all the way through one basic game, though, before I quit. Then I sat down and read the rest of the rules. After reading them, I thought maybe there's a good game there--but I haven't yet been back to try again.

If ever I do try again, I'll be jumping ahead to the full game. But right now I'm not looking forward to that at all.
 
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monchi
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This is why I love things like Board Games With Scott. If you can find a really good reviewer you will often find that they are able to explain enough of the rules and flow of play that you can get up and running a lot faster.

If I know that my group is going to bust out a game that I have never played before I will check and see what video reviews are out there. BGWS saved my bacon with Puerto Rico. I watched the review of Puerto Rico the day before I knew I was going to be playing it for the first time with my regular group. They were all seasoned vets of the game. Watching the review gave me enough understanding of the game that I was able to pick it up with very little explaining and I didn't come in last. Now not all reviews are created equal so the trick is finding a reviewer that actually gets into the game play and not just if they like the game or not.

I find the biggest issue with rules is that 9 times out of 10 you aren't reading them in the writers native language so often the translation causes most of the problems. Some games do a much better job of translating than others. One thing that would help would be more diagrams and less words, it is so much easier to follow with good diagrams showing what is being explained.
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p55carroll
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Rakeman wrote:
If a reference card isn't enough to keep everything in memory, then I would probably not play unless the game is amazing.

I also agree with that other comment - reading game rules can be enjoyable, but actually sitting down and "learning" the game can be a bit of a hassle.

I used to be an avid wargamer, but I gave it up and sold all my games and related material (including ASL, which I was big into at one time) in 1999. Then, about ten years later, I tried to tiptoe back into wargaming again (that venture is covered in this thread). But I made up my mind to stick to small, simple games this time.

Right now, I've got a scenario of Lock 'n Load: Band of Heroes set up and ready to play. And I just haven't been able to make myself do it. The main reason is that I'm not yet at a point where I can just play the game with nothing more than a reference card. I know I'll be flipping through the rule book a lot, making and correcting mistakes. And it just seems like a big hurdle.

I might abandon the attempt, except that I've already bought a whole stack of Lock 'n Load games and really want to get into the series.

Three factors are encouraging: (1) I've played a few LnL scenarios and enjoyed them all once I broke the ice and started making moves, (2) the game system is not that daunting--I'm confident that after a few practice games a reference sheet is all I'll need from then on, and (3) once I get past the rules-learning stage, I'll have a lot of games and scenarios in the series to enjoy for a long time to come.

So, at the moment, it's just a matter of plunging in and playing the scenario on the table. But my mind is sure putting up a lot of resistance.
 
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TJ
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NicoCel wrote:

I've found the more games you know, the easier to learn new ones become, since you will almost for sure find some similar mechanic to one you already know


I couldn't agree more. There is a huge difference between explaining games to my gamer friends and my non-gamer friends. With virgin gamers, I have to start with something like "in this game you are trying to get the most points...". With my non-gamer friends, I start to notice a difference in how they learn games after teaching them just one or two; they pick them up faster and grasp the strategies much quicker. With my gamer friends, I just have to explain the basic mechanic(s) and any notable exceptions to what they might expect; with a group that plays regularly, most games almost explain themselves. I definitely find that I learn games faster the more I've already learned.

Of course, that's a double-edged sword; the more games I learn, the more often I have to have a rulebook out for the details. When I only knew Settlers and Zombies!!! it was almost impossible to forget any part of the rules; now I can never remember how many cards we start with in ANY of my games; but it's a small price to pay.
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Enrico Viglino
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casualgod wrote:
My most recently learned game was Through The Ages. The rule book made it seem like a good idea to play the game as you read the rules. Boy, was that a mistake.





That never seems to work for me.
Nor following examples of play.

I just want clear, unambiguous, well-referenced rules.
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Craig Somerton
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
Also, it seems that the older I get, the less tolerance I have for

People, things, well... OK... every bloody thing.
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Jack Smith
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I am happy to learn any rule set as long as I know I will be playing it. I used to read rules for their own sake and still do for games I may purchase. I found a new play partner recently who also reads the rules which is a major help. I do get bored of explaining rules to new people these days even though I have it down to a fine art.

I can certainly understand people getting jaded as they get older and less tolerant. I did not buy a game recently purely because I felt the rules (and the game itself) had been overly compressed to fit an arbitrary page count and play time. I did not want to waste my time with them as I had several questions on my first read as some rules had two interpretations due to sloppy wording. I will also reject out of hand any game with badly written rules which is unfortunately quite a high percentage.

EDIT: Craig I love your avatar:)
 
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