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Subject: Teaching and Intro Game details rss

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Scott G

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Just purchased AtGoL and have played a few solo games to learn the game flow. I plan to teach the game soon to a few new players. For most of them, this will be a step up in complexity in gaming, so I need to teach...... carefully. :-) (first impressions are everything).

I'm considering the usage of the "intro" rules as defined in the manual, where each player receives the simple regular customer in their hand, and each player can play them in any round they wish. However, I wonder if this intro rule makes the game play even more complex, especially when considering the card phase is already kinda unique. I'm mentally writing my script for teaching, and trying to figure the best way to explain the action phase, this intro rule, and everything else without causing the "glanced over look" from my students.

I understand what the intro rules are trying to do, giving each player something they can plan for. But at what cost to understanding the other rules of the game?

Almost seems to be a balance between "teaching the game rules" vs "teaching a simple strategy." Which is more important?

Certainly not the same as Agricola, where the intro rules actually reduces the complexity of the game. (no cards).

Has anyone had success/failure using the intro rules in AtGoL?

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Maarten D. de Jong
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I say: leave it in. Not that I have much experience with teaching this game, but the point is that a player should begin a mini-economy of sorts which sees vegetables harvested from the patches transformed into points either through regular and irregular customers. The fact that you begin the game with a regular customer helps considerably in focussing on this important aspect of the game, and makes the early card drafting phases less crucial. Players have a ‘backup’ as it were in case they screw up, and that’s definitely a Good Thing.

As a matter of fact, if there is something I would be worried about, it’s the two-pack. I say: leave that one out for the first game, especially if, as you say, the players will experience AtGoL as a step up in gaming complexity.
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Scott G

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cymric wrote:

As a matter of fact, if there is something I would be worried about, it’s the two-pack.


Yes.. the two-pack is also a worry in my mind. It is certainly needed for long term winning/strategy of the game, but not really something you think about the first few times you play. (focus is to figure how to get the right veggies to grow for the right customers).

I kinda feel the same way about the helpers. Certainly a key to the game, and indirectly impacts the cost of the 2packs, but all of their "rule breaking" seems to make things more complex.

Right now, I'm toying with the idea of removing helper cards from the action deck for the first few rounds (maybe first 3?). Give intro rule customer cards to each.. only play with markets, customers and fields in the action deck. Explain all the actions related to those cards, how to sow... how to trade.. how to supply the customers... plus/minus 2 point rule... satisfaction indicators....buy/sell with shop... and then after a few rounds of playing.... step up the complexity with shuffling in the helpers and explaining how 2packs work. (once per action.. how cost is defined..etc..etc). At least by the later rounds, most will see how the game works, and can see the importance of the helpers to the game.

Also.. such a hacked up rule set would not record as a "play" in my mind. cool
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Maarten D. de Jong
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I wouldn't doctor too much if I were you. Let the players explore on their own, and leave it at a general statement that in the beginning of the game (especially when learning) it is easiest to focus on the veggies, but that you'll leave the helpers in since the helpers will automagically become more important as the players gain experience. Explain that they have a regular customer on standby in case they make the wrong card choice, but at the same time don't close the door on those who want to know more about the helpers.

Short of simply telling the players they should like the game, you really don't have much of a say in their personal appreciation save for providing a concise explanation and being there in case someone attempts to make a severe mistake. Be practical: play with open hands, for example. Don't tell others what to play, but briefly explain the options and let them decide. Explain your own actions.
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Scott G

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cymric wrote:
I wouldn't doctor too much if I were you. Let the players explore on their own, and leave it at a general statement that in the beginning of the game (especially when learning) it is easiest to focus on the veggies, but that you'll leave the helpers in since the helpers will automagically become more important as the players gain experience. Explain that they have a regular customer on standby in case they make the wrong card choice, but at the same time don't close the door on those who want to know more about the helpers.

Short of simply telling the players they should like the game, you really don't have much of a say in their personal appreciation save for providing a concise explanation and being there in case someone attempts to make a severe mistake. Be practical: play with open hands, for example. Don't tell others what to play, but briefly explain the options and let them decide. Explain your own actions.


I agree with everything you say.

Maybe I'm getting caught up on my opinion of the intro rules (bringing the thread back on-topic whistle) I certainly don't want to doctor too much. But I almost see the prescribed method for an intro game to be a step in the wrong direction (help to facilitate good first game experience at the cost of one time optional action). Maybe I'm searching for another intro rule?
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Scott G

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Plan to read How to Teach Games .. again.

A great resource and way to get my head on straight.
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Ryan Sturm
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I have played this game exactly once.

But If I can recall basically what was going on the regular customer at the start gave you a focus at the beginning of the game of what to do, which I think is worth the minor rules hiccup. Also I believe there is a possibility to have a really bad first turn without this set of training wheels.

The only other thing I would say about this game is that it seems like a 2 player game that was stretched into a three and four player game as well. I would hesitate playing it the first time, if at all with the full four players, its got this goofy simultaneous turn thing which is just sort of a lame fix to make it work with 4 in any kind of reasonable amount of time. Since we were new we played without this rule so we could see what each other were doing, but then it took forever.

So I say play with the starting rule, and avoid a 4 player game based on my limited one play, though this is one I definitely want another go at. And looking at the rules forum for this one could probably use an HTP episode

Good Luck!
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Scott G

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RyanSturm wrote:
I have played this game exactly once.

But If I can recall basically what was going on the regular customer at the start gave you a focus at the beginning of the game of what to do, which I think is worth the minor rules hiccup. Also I believe there is a possibility to have a really bad first turn without this set of training wheels.

The only other thing I would say about this game is that it seems like a 2 player game that was stretched into a three and four player game as well. I would hesitate playing it the first time, if at all with the full four players, its got this goofy simultaneous turn thing which is just sort of a lame fix to make it work with 4 in any kind of reasonable amount of time. Since we were new we played without this rule so we could see what each other were doing, but then it took forever.

So I say play with the starting rule, and avoid a 4 player game based on my limited one play, though this is one I definitely want another go at. And looking at the rules forum for this one could probably use an HTP episode

Good Luck!


Thanks for the comments, Ryan (someone who's opinion I greatly respect with regards to teaching).

The 4 player games does seem like something to avoid.. unless you have a few die hard fans, that really need to play. Then.. maybe it would work out because each will play quickly.

I will include that the solo version is pretty good.. for whatever that's worth.
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Paul Incao
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RyanSturm wrote:


So I say play with the starting rule, and avoid a 4 player game based on my limited one play, though this is one I definitely want another go at. And looking at the rules forum for this one could probably use an HTP episode

Good Luck!


Yes please
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Ralph Bruhn
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scottieGGGG wrote:
Just purchased AtGoL and have played a few solo games to learn the game flow. I plan to teach the game soon to a few new players. For most of them, this will be a step up in complexity in gaming, so I need to teach...... carefully. :-) (first impressions are everything).

I'm considering the usage of the "intro" rules as defined in the manual, where each player receives the simple regular customer in their hand, and each player can play them in any round they wish. However, I wonder if this intro rule makes the game play even more complex, especially when considering the card phase is already kinda unique. I'm mentally writing my script for teaching, and trying to figure the best way to explain the action phase, this intro rule, and everything else without causing the "glanced over look" from my students.

I understand what the intro rules are trying to do, giving each player something they can plan for. But at what cost to understanding the other rules of the game?

Almost seems to be a balance between "teaching the game rules" vs "teaching a simple strategy." Which is more important?

Certainly not the same as Agricola, where the intro rules actually reduces the complexity of the game. (no cards).

Has anyone had success/failure using the intro rules in AtGoL?

Hi Scott, have you read this: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/48106/at-the-gates-of-... ?
This is a suggestion form the author how to explain the game.

Additional to this I very much recommend to use the "intro rule" to give the newbie an aim. Especially he then knows what to sow on the first field!
Otherwise it can happen that you have no customer matching to your veggies and have to take credits after 2 rounds. This isn't fun in your first game ...

Another good idea is to play with open cards, at least for the first rounds. I would not take out the helper cards, but I often mention that you can almost ignore them in the first game, because only AFTER the first game you really have an idea how to play them right. Just explain the less difficult ones so that they get an idea what's possible with this cards.

And in the end the rules are not THIS difficult. Maybe it's difficult to play the cards with the right timing, but this is something you cannot explain.
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