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Subject: Pointers on How to Explain This Game? rss

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Dave F.
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Dear Geeks,

I have explored this game myself for the last couple of days, setting up the board, reading the rulebook, checking this forum for the FAQs and some clarifications, etc. and I think I have a pretty good grasp of the game.

My intention is, however, to play it with other players and for that I need to explain it to them. This is the hard part, because the game is so complex. There are many variables and parameters and siderules and when looking at the board, you can see there is a lot going on.

I have often walked through the explanation in my head, but I find it very hard to do. It seems like for any section I have to say: "Well, there's this and that, but then there's also this and that you have to take into account, which may cause this or that." Especially being an effective pirate can be hard for those new players because of the bounties, hunting NPCs and limited port ability, which they might not all grasp at first.

On the other hand, I don't want everybody to be a Merchant (although they can be one if they wish) and just want everyone to enjoy that first game and not have negative experiences because pirating didn't work.


This is why I am asking for some pointers as to how to go about explaining this to new players.

What worked best for you in the past?

My group has a lot of experience with popular games like Caylus, Puerto Rico and 7 Wonders, but this is quite a bit different and more RPG-like (with the dice throwing for successes and the ship stats).
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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
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Dear Dave,

The following may not work for everyone but, when showing my two boys (ten- and 14-years-old) how to play, I set up the game and took first turn.

I then explained everything I did and why. With the next turn, I gave options of what could be done and let the 14-year-old make his decisions from them.

With the wee man on the third turn, I made sure he got involved in a battle and again explained options as we went along.

After about six turns (two each), they had about 70% of the rules under their belts and were itching to start again and play the game for real.

I find that this learn-while-you-play approach allows them to pick up things quicker and at the same time they don't regard it as a chore before actual play.

Regards,


Jim
Est. 1949

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Dave F.
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As some players in my game group (all aged 25+) sometimes behave like 14 year olds, this might work.

We have another "expert" in our group whose game collection trumps mine, so usually he does the explaining and for some games, those explanations can take a lot of time and players get distracted, start twiddling their phones, daydream, etc.

I think a rough playthrough of a couple of turns may be a good idea.
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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
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I should have said that I also "Primed the Pump" so that NPC pirates entered and some of the cargo cards were salted so that they got sets. The mission, rumour and specialist cards are self-explanatory so you don't have to spend any time there.

Regards,


Jim
Est. 1949

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Dan C
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Instead of starting a new thread - I'll piggyback if that's okay:

Should be getting my copy of this game in the next day or two, then I'll play a solo round to get the rules down and teach a group this weekend...

Are there any tips you veterans could offer? Such as easily missed rules, etc. I am going to try to read up on some old threads, but there's quite a large number of them and I know I'll be using most of my time on the actual rules manual and player aids in the files section (tips on which are the best?) - thx!
 
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Wade Fox
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I think the biggest problem with this game is that most people want to be a pirate and that they want to start attacking everything before they are ready to. I like to emphasize that, even for a pirate, there are many ways to earn glory points and that it is dangerous to be a pirate (although fun).
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ɹǝpun uʍop ʞǝǝƃ
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Use the player aid as a checklist to give an overview of the game. Tell the players to use the player aids when planning their time in port. Note that the sea zone text is written on here as well.
Point out the use of Special Weapons during Merchant Raids (rules page 10)
Start playing and explain the rest as you go.
When you get to PvP combat, use the example on the back of the rule book to explain it. Also use Gary James' Combat Flow Diagram.
If you do something that makes you go "Arrrh!", then you probably get Glory for it. arrrh
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Dan C
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Thanks guys
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Chris in Kansai
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wadefox wrote:
I think the biggest problem with this game is that most people want to be a pirate and that they want to start attacking everything before they are ready to. I like to emphasize that, even for a pirate, there are many ways to earn glory points and that it is dangerous to be a pirate (although fun).


We had the opposite problem when first learning the game - there seemed to be so many downsides to pirating (banned from ports, NPCs) that everybody went merchanting and the game was really dull.
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Adam Burger
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Davio wrote:
Dear Geeks,

I have explored this game myself for the last couple of days, setting up the board, reading the rulebook, checking this forum for the FAQs and some clarifications, etc. and I think I have a pretty good grasp of the game.

My intention is, however, to play it with other players and for that I need to explain it to them. This is the hard part, because the game is so complex. There are many variables and parameters and siderules and when looking at the board, you can see there is a lot going on.

I have often walked through the explanation in my head, but I find it very hard to do. It seems like for any section I have to say: "Well, there's this and that, but then there's also this and that you have to take into account, which may cause this or that." Especially being an effective pirate can be hard for those new players because of the bounties, hunting NPCs and limited port ability, which they might not all grasp at first.

On the other hand, I don't want everybody to be a Merchant (although they can be one if they wish) and just want everyone to enjoy that first game and not have negative experiences because pirating didn't work.


This is why I am asking for some pointers as to how to go about explaining this to new players.

What worked best for you in the past?

My group has a lot of experience with popular games like Caylus, Puerto Rico and 7 Wonders, but this is quite a bit different and more RPG-like (with the dice throwing for successes and the ship stats).




Something My gaming group has been doing is watching Video reviews here on the geek. They usually explain all(or most) the basics alot faster than we could ourselves. We then sometimes do a few test turns to get a feel for it ourselves. And then start the game. But regardless if you do "test" turns or not, watching review videos here is quite useful and saves alot of time. I do suggest that you "scout ahead" for a video that best suits your need. Some of the "unboxing" videos arent as helpful with the rules part of the game, for obvious reasons.

Adam
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Danno Might
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When I'm explaining a new game, I generally start with the objective: This is how you win the game. This is how you go about achieving that objective.

So for M&M I'd say:

You win the game by getting 10 Glory Points. Here are the ways you can get Glory Points.

M&M comes with very thorough player cheat sheets, a large double-sided card that summarizes all the rules. I'd point them to that section and go through them one at a time.

I would explain that essentially, you have two routes to choose. You can go merchant or you can go pirate. I tell them at the beginning of the game you randomly get a captain, whose stats may lend itself to one path or the other.

I'll go first, reveal my captain, go through his stats one at a time and explain when they are used. Then I will tell them which ship I am choosing and why.

I also recommend they choose the merchant path first if it's viable. I think it is a bit easier path to grasp, and most people I play games with aren't highly combative or competitive. In the heat of the game they'll gleefully attack each other, especially if we establish that kind of mood, but when playing a game for the first time most people find the less confrontational path more appealing.

By the time set up is complete a new player has a ship, a captain and their own personal board to figure out, as well as a large game board with lots of tokens, icons and text on it. It's a lot to absorb so I think it's best to launch into turn 1. Have the experienced players go first and walk them through every step and decision you make. Then explain their options when it's their turn. If they're going merchant the goods buying mechanic is fun and simple.

After that I try to generate situations to explain the rules. Do a merchant raid to show them how it works. Buy upgrades and explain what they do. Start a fight as soon as it is reasonable to do so (ie. when a Naval ship isn't likely to cream you). Also try to get a mission or rumour complete so they can see how that works.

By the end of the game they'll want to play again so they can know what they're doing from the start.
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Evan Stegman
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The hard part of explaining this game is that it is kind of a game world system so it is not like most games where you can go 'Phase 1 goes like this, Phase 2 goes like this, Phase 3 goes like this and then it all starts over again'.

There are more just a bunch of options on what you can do on your turn that you just have to go through one at a time. For much of it, there is no natural order to which option should be explained first (e.g., Merchant Raids doesn't naturally come before NPCs). Following the player aid is as good as any other order.

I always tell people, 'You'll never remember everything so I'll coach you through your turns at the beginning' and do just that.

Every time I take my turn, I explain what I am doing and why. At the beginning of the game, I go over the two or three best options for other players and then walk them through them step by step. After a couple of turns most people catch on to the options they have already done and just need new ones explained as they come to.

That works pretty well but is a lot of effort for the explainer. This just isn't a game where you can explain all the rules at the beginning and think that is all most players are going to need.
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Danno Might
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jedimusic wrote:
Instead of starting a new thread - I'll piggyback if that's okay:

Should be getting my copy of this game in the next day or two, then I'll play a solo round to get the rules down and teach a group this weekend...

Are there any tips you veterans could offer? Such as easily missed rules, etc. I am going to try to read up on some old threads, but there's quite a large number of them and I know I'll be using most of my time on the actual rules manual and player aids in the files section (tips on which are the best?) - thx!


Some rules that are easy to miss or misunderstand:

-When rolling damage in ship-to-ship combat, if you roll skulls or successes, the guy who is taking the damage gets to choose where.

-Special Weapons are essential for merchant raids, as they let you change failed seamanship dice to successes.

-If you scout a merchant successfully you flip it over. You can then raid a merchant of the nationality you revealed OR the nationality of the sea-zone. You can also choose not to attack. No matter what remove the merchant token from the board.

-If your masts are destroyed you only roll one die in seamanship contests and you can only choose 'shoot'.

-You can't enter any ports of nationalists with which you have bounties.

-The frigate is not useless if you intend to do merchant raids. That one's not a rule but it's a common question: Why frigate vs galleon?
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The best way to teach new players is to go first and show them. They'll learn quickly.

I have some more easily made mistakes:

Special weapons
Thumbs up for Dannomight's reply. If you have players who believe that pirates are underpowered, explain them the use of special weapons. Also how they work in battles vs NPC or player ships.

Buy or capture a ship
When you buy a new ship or capture a new ship to use it yourself, do not move the Crew square to the value on the ship card yet: first you need to recruit new crew in a port.

NPC ships
You get two bounties if you defeat a NPC naval ship: The first one once you engage the ship and the second one once you defeat it.
A NPC pirate won't scout for player ships if there is a NPC naval ship in the same sea zone.
A NPC Naval ship won't scout for player ships if there is a NPC naval ship with whom he is at war is in the same sea zone.
When a ship movement event card is drawn don't move the ships yet, but first check if any player ships who meet the hunting priority of the NPC ships are in the same or adjacent sea zones: they will move in the direction of the player ship instead.
Naval ships scout with more than their regular dice if you have more bounties than their scouting skill. If you for example have 5 Dutch bounties and are scouted by a Dutch NPC ship, the Dutch ship will not scout with its default 3? number of scouting dice, but with the same number of dice as the amount of bounties you have, in this case 5.

War
If the country of your captain's nationality gets into war, you can't enter the ports of the opposing nation anymore, even if you don't have bounties of this nation.

Crew combat
You can never do more damage to the enemy's crew than the amount of crew you have.

Sea zone descriptions and captain descriptions
Read the unique sea zone and captain descriptions. Players tend to forget about them regularly. for instance: "Oh sh.. I should have drawn 7 cargo cards in stead of 6 in my last turn."
 
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Dariusz M
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mvdielen wrote:

NPC ships
You get two bounties if you defeat a NPC naval ship: The first one once you engage the ship and the second one once you defeat it.


You will gain only 1 bounty if you defeat the NPC naval ship. You gain bounty for engaging the merchant token not the NPC naval ship.

Am I right?

 
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Dan C
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Found another rule I missed the first several games: only four glory cards can be held at a time. Simple one, but I missed/forgot it.
 
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djedi gamer wrote:
mvdielen wrote:

NPC ships
You get two bounties if you defeat a NPC naval ship: The first one once you engage the ship and the second one once you defeat it.


You will gain only 1 bounty if you defeat the NPC naval ship. You gain bounty for engaging the merchant token not the NPC naval ship.

Am I right?



From page II of the rule book:

Getting bounties

You get a Bounty immediately after:
1) Starting combat with a non-pirate ship
(This includes Merchant Raids)
2) Defeating a Naval ship
(Sinking it or winning Crew Combat)

...

Example 3: In a bold move a player chooses to
engage a Dutch Naval ship. This immediately gets
him a Dutch Bounty as the Naval ship is regarded
a 'non-pirate'. The player also manages to win the
battle and defeats the Dutch Naval ship. This gains
him yet another Dutch Bounty due to the criteria
"Defeating a Naval Ship"!
 
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jedimusic wrote:
Found another rule I missed the first several games: only four glory cards can be held at a time. Simple one, but I missed/forgot it.

Yes, and when you get your fifth card you are not allowed to play one of the five cards to reach your four-card hand limit. Take the fifth card and decide which one of the five cards you wish to discard.
I made the mistake before that I first discarded one of the four and then took the new card, but the rule is less strict.
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Dariusz M
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mvdielen wrote:
djedi gamer wrote:
mvdielen wrote:

NPC ships
You get two bounties if you defeat a NPC naval ship: The first one once you engage the ship and the second one once you defeat it.


You will gain only 1 bounty if you defeat the NPC naval ship. You gain bounty for engaging the merchant token not the NPC naval ship.

Am I right?



From page II of the rule book:

Getting bounties

You get a Bounty immediately after:
1) Starting combat with a non-pirate ship
(This includes Merchant Raids)
2) Defeating a Naval ship
(Sinking it or winning Crew Combat)

...

Example 3: In a bold move a player chooses to
engage a Dutch Naval ship. This immediately gets
him a Dutch Bounty as the Naval ship is regarded
a 'non-pirate'. The player also manages to win the
battle and defeats the Dutch Naval ship. This gains
him yet another Dutch Bounty due to the criteria
"Defeating a Naval Ship"!


Thanks! All clear for me!
 
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Scott M.
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TO the OP,

I had the opportunity to play this game with my wife who had no inclination to play in the first place (yes I force people to play)

I set up the game and explained the premise and actions, after two turns she was on her own sailing and trading.

She actually beat me 10 - 5 doing nothing but trading and missions. An enjoyed the game after. The hurdle she explained is the first turn or two when you just got to get your feet wet figuring out what to do. Having it explained was confusing but once the main 3 moves were established and then the port actions were established... out to sea she went!...

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Henning Karlsson
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I actually just sat down with my players and showed them the rule book. Went through every section as it came and explained it a little more briefly. Then, during their first couple of turns, I offered them pointers on what was good to do. It worked very well for us.
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