Friday, 23 May 2014

Guide to Teaching Board Games - Five Steps

| April 4th 2016 | 
Thanks for checking out my blog. I have a new, much better looking version of this review here:

You're holding it in your hands, that awesome cool looking game that you really want. What's holding you back? Maybe your group just isn't in to those type of games, maybe your group doesn't have enough players, or maybe you just suck at explaining how to play.

This is the first part in a series that will hopefully help you become a better board game teacher so that you can not only play any game with your friends / gaming group but you will also have no problem at all introducing new people to the wonderful world of board gaming.

Before diving into what you can do to make sure you are explaining the game to the best of your ability I will first cover the biggest mistake you can make.

Avoid long winded explanations: This is by far the biggest point, I have seen many explanations lose players entirely this way. So much wasted time when you go through a 25 minute explanation only to have players ask what to do or how this works or what that thingy is. Do not explain every little detail there is, keep things short and sweet. I will talk about this more below but for context it is important to understand that trying to explain too much at once, or in the wrong order, adding little irrelevant details will overload the people you are wanting to teach your game to. Instead you should keep them on a need to know basis.

Steps to a good explanation

The following steps will explain what I think the best order to explain a game in is, one thing to keep in mind while you continue reading is to know your group. The key to teaching anything lies in explaining the concepts in a relatable way, if your group has played a similar game to not hesitate to draw upon similarities and make those connections.

Objective/Goal: The easiest way for someone to understand a new concept is by starting with the goal. Getting money, ore or fuel is fun and all but if I don't know what I am trying to accomplish none of it is really going to make sense. If the goal is something simple like having the most points then briefly touch on when the game ends. Next you are going to move into how you complete that objective. Avoid explaining any out of the ordinary game ending conditions, you can get back to them in the recap but for now just stick to what they need to know.

Tools: Now that players understand what they are trying to do you are going to want to explain what they can use to accomplish that goal. If you goal is to take over your opponent's base you are going to cover the most basic things you have in your arsenal. If the goal is to have the most victory points you might explain the different ways to get them; "travel to these towns, donate to the church, serve these customers, get on the village council, or hoard your coins." Once players have grasped what their goal is and the different ways they can achieve it you are going to move into the process.

The Absolute Basics: Now that everyone knows their goal, the options of tools they can use to complete that goal you are going to summarize the game flow in as little information as possible. "On your turn you place one of your people onto an open space to activate it. Once everyone is out of people to place we get them all back and can start placing them again. Instead of placing a person you can take just take coins or complete a building by paying the corresponding costs listed on the card"

Recap: This should have taken you somewhere around 1-3 minutes per topic depending on the game. Now you do a very short recap, something like "remember the game ends after the 8th turn, then there are some final scoring conditions and we each get points for unused adventurers and gold. Then we all get bonus points according to the hidden objective on the Lord Card I dealt you earlier.

Set the example: Telling everyone all this is great and wonderful but still you might get some deer in the headlights, that is just because everyone learns differently. I find that it always helps if the people knowing the game start even if it is just you that way everyone else gets a chance to see the game flow in action.

Thank you for reading my steps to explaining board games. In the upcoming part of the series I will give an example of a streamlined explanation of a complex game as well as cover a totally different angle than just worker placement games. I will also offer some great tips that will help you to explain a board game whether or not you decide to follow my 5 steps.

Part Two - Five Steps in Example - Streamlined Explanation of Rialto

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