my copy of M&M is on its way, and I hope to get it to the table on Wednesday with my wife. The problem is, I've read through the rules twice, and I find them a bit complicated (it seems that there's quite a lot of "small" rules, which might be easy to forget). Do people have any suggestions about teaching this game? (Something like, say, family variant of Agricola.) More specifically, I'm wondering about the following things:
* are there any teaching guides here on the 'geek?
* is there any good way to shorten the first game to, say, 30-45 minutes per player? (I remember reading somewhere that plaing to, say, 6 glory points is not the best idea, since the "plot" (NPCs, mostly) starts unfolding later in the game.)
* is there any "simpler" variant to make oneself familiar with the mechanics (like the aforementioned Agricola)?
My wife and me are fine playing medium heavy games (and an occasional game of something meatier too), but teaching a game like this may be a bit challenging. (I'm going to play through a few rounds myself first, but any other suggestions are welcome!)
what i tried once was doing it step by step.
so i first told them we all were merchants.
play two, three turns only doing the basic merchant things:
buy stuff, sail, sell stuff en buy again up and including getting glory points and glory cards. (good reading: no rumors, no missions, maybe even ingnoring NPC ships when the arrive from the event cards.)
when having done that, I leave those flutes on the board, I give every one a new sloop, maybe with a new captain, and what the heck, 3 special weapons.
Now we are pirates, en guide everyone through its first three merchant raids. Now the basics are done.
time to introduce the other things: rumors, missions, ship mods,
and maybe let them choose with which ship they want to continue.
Now you are already playing yourn first game.
I do also believe that you can skip the whole explanation of the Player vs Player/NPC battles during the first game.
Because new players don't dare tp attack other players, and are very well advised to stay very far away from NPC ships.
Which pretty much make a lot of the ship mods worthless, so you can skip their in dept explanations as well.
HAve a bottle of rum
Hope this helps.
The way I taught my wife was I explained most of the rules without explaining ship to ship combat before we started. That way she understood all the basic mechanics of buying/trading as well as the merchant raids. I explained ship to ship combat when it came up and we didn't mind because it was a learning game.
There are a lot of little rules to the game that come naturally after a few plays. I almost guarantee after the first time you will go back to the rules and say, "oops, we played that wrong." At least, that was my experience.
I've found this one to play pretty naturally for most new players. Rumors, missions, and so forth can certainly be considered optional for the first go-around if you want to streamline a bit, but I wouldn't be surprised if you find it not that complicated once you've gotten a turn or two behind you and just go ahead and add them back in.
One thing I tend to do when teaching a game like this one, as counter-intuitive as it might sound, is to hold back any player reference cards until people have the basic rules down and the general questions that come out of that have been answered. Too often, people start reading instead of listening and end up either needing to have the same questions answered again, which can frustrate the other new players, or, much worse, only half-hearing and gaining an incorrect understanding ("But you said... !"). It's only natural, after all, to start reading something somebody has put in front of you, but most references are meant for just that: reference, not learning the game!
As soon as the game starts flowing and it is time for people to start getting into the details, then I'll pull the references out of the box and pass them out. By that point, questions tend to be less about things that everybody needs to care about right then, and the players are hopefully up to speed enough that the details on the player reference are useful instead of just confusing, distracting, and/or discouraging in their perceived complexity. For this particular game, that point isn't usually far off at all; it isn't really too bad a beast to get into if you just dive in and let that first game be a learning experience with mistakes and potentially flawed strategy rather than a real serious competition.
We introduced my wife's 3 nephews (ages 8 to 14) to the game this weekend and played with a time limit instead of a point goal. We knew we had a two hour drive back home so a definitive ending time was kind of a necessary thing for us, but it is probably not a bad thing for first games in general. That way you still have some kind of marked ending in sight but, after all, if you've hit the time limit and decide to just keep going to 10 points, who's to stop you?