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Subject: Best way to teach a non-gamer how to play War of the Ring ? rss

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Scott Muir
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Okay. My wife has finally taken the plunge and has decided to let me teach her how to play "War of the Ring". I'm well versed in the rules, but she's kind of used to being in the board game kiddie pool where "War of the Ring" is a little more toward the deeper end.

Now there are a LOT of rules and game mechanics, but each one individually is pretty simple. My question is, "What order would be the most efficient for teaching the different mechanics and rules to keep things simple and then build up upon things slowly ?"
I've tried teaching this game to some other people, but my prior teachings all fell into a muddled confusing mess as one mechanic fell and stumbled over another resulting in my teaching being a lot more confusing than it should have been.
What mechanics should I teach first ? Second ? and so on ?

Suggestions ?
 
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Jim Cote
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I would start with the Fellowship/Ring stuff. It's unintuitive, but so central to the game and theme. Empty board. Fellowship. Rivendell. Mount Doom. Show sample paths. Show Strongholds. Make sure the concepts of Declaring and Revealing are clear and distinct.

Then do the war stuff. Units. Leaders. Movement. Settlements and their benefits. Political track and the related restrictions. Mustering. Combat. Leave out cards at first, then add them.

Now do sequence of play, followed by all the various action types.

The trick is to go slow enough and allow enough time for the new player to figure things out, but not have the game drag on so long that they get bored. Let them try actions that are clearly not the best in order to see how they play out. Don't try to crush them on their first game. I think playing The Shadow is easier for a new player, but playing The Free Peoples is more fun. Let them choose.
 
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Scott Muir
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Yeah I agree. She wanted to be the shadow side anyway because she has a definite evil streak and kind of an unnatural need to crush hobbits.

The Shadow side is much easier as well. There's also no way I'm going to crush her if I have the Free People's side. I always get annihilated playing that side (and I'm decent at the Shadow side).

This is really a fantastic game. I hope she enjoys it.

 
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David Debien
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Blackburn wrote:
Yeah I agree. She wanted to be the shadow side anyway because she has a definite evil streak and kind of an unnatural need to crush hobbits.

The Shadow side is much easier as well. There's also no way I'm going to crush her if I have the Free People's side. I always get annihilated playing that side (and I'm decent at the Shadow side).

This is really a fantastic game. I hope she enjoys it.



Not to discourage you, but...

Was playing this with a friend this weekend. Was his first game so we were going slowly as Iexplained the rules. My wife came into the room, took one look at the board and said "Remind me to never play this game."soblue

 
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Dan Has
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Yeah, playing the shadow is the most straight forward for beginners. This is how I would go about teaching:

The most important thing is to be very familiar with the rules. Having to look up rules will really slow things down. The longer the rules explanations take, the less likely someone will enjoy the game, IMO. Of course it depends on the person.

Then make sure you have player aids. Visual aids to reference while you are teaching will help the rules stick in people's memory. As a minimum, I'd have one that has the different actions for each die and one with the turn sequences. But not too complex or you might as well hand them the rule book.

Before actually starting I'd explain that the first game is a learning game, that the game takes getting accustomed to, and not to worry about making mistakes.

When actually explaining the rules I like to start with how you win the game. Mostly because that's the first thing I want to know when being taught a new game.

After that I'd go right to the action dice. Explain that each round you both roll the dice. Then you take turns choosing a die and doing the available action on it until you both have used all your dice. Then refer to the player aid and show what different dice can do.

Then I'd teach about the political track. The most important thing is to say what it represents thematically in the game and not just explain that, "This token moves here if you attack this army." People will remember what it represents and you can remind them when a nation will be activated, advance down the track, and so on.

At this point I would probably throw together a mock battle. Nothing big, just show them how fighting happens. No reason to explain all the details of the modifiers and what not. Most likely after this much talking things are getting hard to remember. So just a quick overview for now and more detail when battles actually occur.

As for the fellowship; I wouldn't even go into detail about it. Perhaps an overview as to what they are doing. You can explain what you are doing with the fellowship and why during your turn as you take the action.

Now just jump into it. Reference the player aids with the turn sequence and go through it step by step. Teach the rules that haven't been taught as they occur during the turn. Such as the cards and how to use them, the hunt box, and what not.

People remember things through experience a lot better than just being told. So let them learn through experience. Obviously if they ask questions or need advice, give it. If they look like they are struggling with choosing an option, offer advice and different actions that can be taken, and why you think each action is a good one.

Also make sure and explain all your actions as you take them and why you are taking those actions.

Wow, yeah I wrote a lot more than I thought I would. Anyway, this is just all my opinion. I have to teach games a lot and I like to pretend I'm good at it. Hopefully it helps and good luck!

 
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