Mark Crane
United States
Orem
Utah
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Hi,
I'm teaching a technical writing class, and I've been impressed by the many game aids that users have created. For an assignment, I'm giving class members the option of taking an existing game with poorly written rules and redesigning them. Some of the sample games they looked at today were:

1. Liar's Dice
2. Sid Sackson't Card Baseball
3. Icehouse: Treehouse (Andrew Looney asked for help on Spiel Frieks with this)

I'm looking for recommendations for other games, preferably public domain, that could use rules redesign or playing aids. Thanks for your help! The best assignments will be uploaded.
 
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Tom Hudson
United States
Vermilion
Ohio
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The Napoleonic Wars. The rules for this game exemplify a certain type of rules writing: cramped, defensive, and cynical. There are no rules (straightforward and simple declarative sentences) to be found in it, just qualifications to rules.

The rules were obviously addressed to an unsympathetic rules lawyer-type reader.

Unbelievably, the author suggests that the reader skip the glossary of terms on first reading—don’t! The glossary is the only place you’ll find the game’s concepts explained, and then just barely. The rest of the lengthy rules are a catalogue of exceptions, qualifications, and special cases to—to what?—the game’s mechanics that the poor reader has to somehow tease out.
 
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L Wyatt
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Split.

It's a card game that was sold at retail stores in the past year. We never did figure out how to play it.
 
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j b Goodwin

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My suggestions: Lightning: Midway and Lightning: D-Day. These really are fairly simple-to-learn games, but only if you have rules that give you the complete set of rules, written in an understandable way.

Love the game. Hate the rules sheet. Where did the process go wrong? The most critical stage was a blind game test with no coaching, and a follow-up debriefing to see if the game was played as intended.

Good luck on your project.
 
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Mark Crane
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Thanks all for the suggestions. and if there are any free games that are pretty good, but hampered by bad rules, please let me know. If this works I can make it an ongoing thing, and post the results to the site.

In class today we played Card Baseball by Sackson, Treehouse, and Liar's Dice. Card Baseball just needs some modern formatting and clean tables. Understanding the abbreviated Treehouse rules is a game in itself. The set of "liar's dice" rules I gave them had a great bidding sheet, but didn't state anywhere that the purpose was to guess the number of dice in *everyone's* hand, not just your own. I have to say, I was pretty jazzed about playing games in class...
 
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Mario Lanza
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I just recently spoke to this very subject. Check out the following link and the others links contained within the post.

http://boardgamerspastime.com/?p=31
 
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Steve Bernhardt
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saratoga springs
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Pick almost any random wargame. I sent this thread to my girlfriend, who is a technical writer.
 
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Hayden Scott
Australia
Glen Iris
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Magic Realm; although some of your students may want to save that one for their PhD.
 
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nate ben-porat
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craniac wrote:
Hi,
I'm teaching a technical writing class, and I've been impressed by the many game aids that users have created. For an assignment, I'm giving class members the option of taking an existing game with poorly written rules and redesigning them. Some of the sample games they looked at today were:

1. Liar's Dice
2. Sid Sackson't Card Baseball
3. Icehouse: Treehouse (Andrew Looney asked for help on Spiel Frieks with this)

I'm looking for recommendations for other games, preferably public domain, that could use rules redesign or playing aids. Thanks for your help! The best assignments will be uploaded.


you can show them diplomacy. it uses a lot of pictures so it can give 'em idea what pictures are actully helpful. Carcassone and caylus are well written and so is nexus ops. whatever you do, don't show them WotR rulebook.
 
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Mark Crane
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Quote:
you can show them diplomacy


We'll do that during the unit on collaboration and internal office politics.
 
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José Carlos de Diego
Spain
Zaragoza
Zaragoza
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Some games with poorly written rules and there are to improve the rewriting the rulebook:

Wellington (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/11265)
R'Oc. (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/10666)
Assyrian Wars (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/8626)

 
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Alex Brown
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I may be misunderstanding your comment, but I found the rules to Wellington to be very well done. They're well organized, proceed logically, and clear. Plus there's an example play-through (which I admittedly haven't gotten to yet).
They're much better than, say, Age of Napolean, which is a disaster rules-wise.
 
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Mark Crane
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mlanza wrote:
I just recently spoke to this very subject. Check out the following link and the others links contained within the post.

http://boardgamerspastime.com/?p=31


Excellent--I'm having my class read it, thank you!
 
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