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Subject: The 222nd Edition of the TGIF Poll rss

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Ben Lott
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If you want updates on when new TGIF polls are posted, or want to look at the results of past polls go to The TGIF Poll Subscription Thread.

Poll: The 222nd TGIF Poll
If you were taught the rules to a relatively complex game how would you prefer the teacher explain?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Read the rulebook aloud
2.9% 10
Explain every single rule up front in their own words
12.6% 43
Explain all the major rules up front, but leave out rare exceptions
55.9% 190
Explain only the basic mechanisms, elaborate when things becomes relevant in the game.
28.5% 97
Voters 340
Which of the following would you like others to do in their rules explanations (for relatively complex games)?

Check all that apply
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Use visual examples (like moving around pieces as they would in-game)
91.4% 310
Make references to how mechanisms connect thematically
44.5% 151
Point out where you can find pertinent info on the board or other player aids
86.4% 293
Play a sample turn
56.0% 190
Display examples shown in the rulebook
16.8% 57
Let you hold the rulebook so you can flip through and answer your own questions
31.9% 108
Offer basic strategy tips
45.4% 154
Others (explained below)
2.4% 8
Voters 339
Are you a good rules teacher?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Absolutely
23.9% 82
Probably
40.2% 138
Maybe
25.9% 89
Doubtful
8.5% 29
Not at all
1.5% 5
Voters 343
This poll is now closed.   344 answers
Poll created by Blott
Closes: Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:00 am


4. What's the most complex game you could teach right now, without touching the rulebook?

Any discussion is encouraged.
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Tom P
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3: absolutely terrible rules teacher. I always forget things, and forget that just because I've played something a lot doesn't mean I remember how to play

4: That said, I spent so much time working out the rules to Khronos and thinking how to teach it I could teach this without the rules right now.
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Mark Schlatter
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I think I could handle Eclipse, although I would probably need the rulebook during the game. Except for setup issues for different numbers of players and different boards, Power Grid would be a no-brainer.
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Jason Lott
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Funny you should bring this up, as I've just been reading the rules for De Vulgari Eloquentia, which are dense enough I knew I was going to need to employ a teaching aid of some kind.

The most complex game I could do without looking at the rules would probably be Puerto Rico. Or maybe Arkham Horror, but for that one I'm always checking the book for exceptions.
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John Bandettini
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4. Terra Mystica, I taught it at a recent games night and was complemented on how well I explained it.
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I could teach Mage Knight right now, without the rulebook or the summary cards. (except the one for final scoring)
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I tend to prefer rules explained almost backwards - I want to know what the win condition is, what you're scoring points for and what the paths to getting there are. After that you can tell me the mechanisms.

I could teach Mage Knight Board Game right now. Or Magic: The Gathering, which is pretty complicated altogether, but you can easily play full games without ever encountering some of the more complex rules or card interactions.
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Martin G
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crazylegs wrote:
3: absolutely terrible rules teacher. I always forget things, and forget that just because I've played something a lot doesn't mean I remember how to play


At least you know it! Judging by the poll results, and my experience with rules teachers, there are a lot of people overestimating their ability
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Mark Schlatter
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qwertymartin wrote:
crazylegs wrote:
3: absolutely terrible rules teacher. I always forget things, and forget that just because I've played something a lot doesn't mean I remember how to play


At least you know it! Judging by the poll results, and my experience with rules teachers, there are a lot of people overestimating their ability


Yeah, I was wondering if we typically think we're better than we are or if BGG users tend to be good teachers at a rate disproportionate to the gaming population.
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Kyle
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1 Sitting and listening as someone else reads the rulebook aloud is one of my gaming nightmares. I'll tolerate it for a relatively simple game, but if the rulebook is more than a couple pages long or has densely-packed text it's a no-go. At that point I'd rather just take the book and read it on my own right then and there.

Covering all of the major rules is the most important part of an explanation. The exceptions can usually be left out until they become relevant.


2 Visual examples, a sample turn, and pointing out where to find the information on a player aid are all very helpful. Pointing out thematic ties are great too if it helps explain why a rule works the way it does.

Giving me the rulebook while you're explaining a game is god if you want me to completely ignore your explanation while I read it myself. It's best to keep it in your own hands or leave it in the box until it's needed.

Very basic strategy tips are usually okay, but only if they're really relevant to the rule and aren't too specific. For example, when explaining Merchants & Marauders, it's perfectly fine to point out the value of Special Weapons when explaining how Merchant Raids work.

Showing examples in the rulebook isn't needed unless it's laid out extremely clear and wouldn't be quicker to just show on the board itself.


3 I'd like to think I am, and with 95% of the games I play being from my own collection, I'm almost always the one doing the explaining. Lots of practice, and no one has ever really complained about it.


4

Seriously.
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Martin G
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mschlat wrote:
qwertymartin wrote:
crazylegs wrote:
3: absolutely terrible rules teacher. I always forget things, and forget that just because I've played something a lot doesn't mean I remember how to play


At least you know it! Judging by the poll results, and my experience with rules teachers, there are a lot of people overestimating their ability


Yeah, I was wondering if we typically think we're better than we are or if BGG users tend to be good teachers at a rate disproportionate to the gaming population.


It's known as the Lake Wobegon effect. I'm a great rules teacher though
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Richard Pardoe
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I always liked The Finer Points of Teaching Rules by Mario Lanza as a starting point for any rules that I explain. At a high level, it is based on the following incremental approach:

* Set up the board and components.
* Distill the game down to a few sentences. (Less than a minute.)
* Paint an overview for the whole game. (1 to 3 minutes.)
* Expand the overview using details - the finer points.
* Cover the exceptions, if any.
* Teach basic strategies and offer "fair warning." (1 or 2 minutes.)

Obviously, for a first time play, the last item is omitted as we all discover those during the game.

Full details in the article.
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Kevin Whitmore
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Now that I've taught it once, I am pretty confident I could teach Ruhrschifffahrt 1769-1890 reasonably effectively.

I enjoy teaching games, so long as I am solid on the rules. I dislike teaching from the rulebook. I prefer to teach from personal knowledge of how to play the game, and would prefer to look up certain details as needed.

Generally, I have received many compliments over the years at my ability to teach games. Perhaps the highest compliment was an offer to take me to Essen as a booth monkey (which I declined).

But I am blessed with fellow players, some of whom are also talented rules explainers. There was a day when i taught almost all of the games in our club. Nowadays I listen more often than I explain. It's nice to just be taught, especially when the teacher is good at it.
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Richard Pardoe
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qwertymartin wrote:
Judging by the poll results, and my experience with rules teachers, there are a lot of people overestimating their ability

I based my answer on the fact that I explain the rules and the other players tend to win the game.

I consider myself an example of "Those who can't, teach"
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Sharon Khan
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I'm the main games explainer for my group, so I can explain most of the games in my collection without too much difficulty, and without consulting with the rulebook for any games I've played a reasonable number of times. Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization is the most complex one I can think of.
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Gary Heidenreich
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Because I play and teach a ton of different games, I like to make sure I have a rulebook to help me guide along. I don't read it, verbatim, especially if I know how to play, but I use it.

I think I've gotten to be a fairly competent teacher of games. It took some time to get there. Practice practice practice. I definaly, in my head, have a formula on how I like to teach (which usually works with my group).


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Steve Wagner
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I have taught a lot of people to play games. I feel that I'm pretty good at it, especially after spending many years as a DM or GM for RPGs.

I could teach Descent (1st Edition) without looking at the rulebook, but I may need some type of cheat sheet for the abilities, which I don't think it a rule issue.
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2. I'm fine with a verbal explanation only, and I don't need for the theme to be tied in (though it can be helpful in some cases, in others it doesn't help at all (e.g. Tigris & Euphrates). It's much more important for me to be able to play through my first game(s) at a nice pace, so I can see what the consequences of my choices are.

3. I suck at teaching rules. I explained Ingenious to a friend recently and managed to mess up the rules and forget something. The game barely has rules beyond put a tile on the board and score this way.

4. I can't properly explain complex games, I jump all over the place, because I'll remember something relevant, and start to explain that in the middle of explaining something else. The most complex game I can explain (and have a chance of people knowing what they're supposed to do afterwards) is probably Yggdrasil.

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My friend and I usually tag team when explaining Twilight Impirium.
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I like to think that I'm a pretty good rules teacher, I do it often enough.

But, I don't think there are many complex games I can teach without picking up the rule book - largely due to how much time elapses between plays of games. I think there are only a few (and relatively simple) games I can teach without referring to the rules - Dominion, Catan, etc.
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Enrico Viglino
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4. Teach? Or teach correctly? I keep almost no games in my head.
Teaching Gin Rummy a year or so ago, I missed some things,
and had to amend them as I remembered differences. I almost
always have to have the rules available to look something up
during play. Still, like Gin, there are quite a few that I
could teach the vast majority, and play through a complete game
without the rules present. Might get some things wrong, but not
much. In which case, I'd guess Magic Realm is probably the
most complex I could do this with (how terrible the rules actually
ARE made it important to just mostly know them).
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Håkan König
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3. I think I'm an OK rules teacher, but I do have a tendency to get so eager to get playing that I forget some things, like what the actual target of the game is.

4. Any 18xx in my collection. Probably also Age of Steam, Power Grid, Agricola and/or Railways of the World.
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1 - I like all the major rules, but without special exceptions included. Save that stuff for later.

2 - Visual examples are great. Creating memory hooks by connecting to theme is also spectacular. Finally, by all means, point out where I can find info myself later. I do not like strategy tips, let me discover that stuff myself.

3 - I said Maybe because my talent at teaching rules is proportional to the number of times I've played the game. So if I'm new to the game and trying to teach from what I read in the rules, I will struggle. But if I've played 10 times I can ace the teaching.

4 - Probably Lord of the Rings as long as we're leaving out expansions.
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Jennifer Derrick
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Chances are that I suck as a teacher, but I know that when I'm learning I want to be able to look at the rulebook. I learn better by reading than by being told. So you can tell me the rules, but give me the book to read along and I'll get it down quicker.

The most complex game I could teach right now without the book is probably RoTW. I could almost do Castles of Burgundy, but I'm still fuzzy on a few things.
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3: I think I'm pretty good. I have a tendency to talk fast though, which some people have complained about. I somehow taught the same group of people Tigris and Euphrates and Resistance, and they were much more confused about Resistance.

4: I taught Mage Knight without the rulebook a few weeks back, and that went pretty smoothly, actually.
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