Teaching Games

Morning Table Talk is a series where our designer Trevor Harron takes Sunday mornings to muse about games and game related topics.

We all have that game we love, whether you have created it or bought it, there might come a time where you need to explain this game to another person and teach it. Today I will cover the seven things I have seen work best when teaching a new game to someone. Keep in mind that this may not be a complete list and many of my readers may have already implemented some of these:

  1. Set expectations: make sure they are aware of how complex, how much time it will take, and what the basic mechanics and theme is since no one wants to feel like they were tricked into a 5 hour board game with gameplay they weren’t expecting.

  2. Know your audience: are they german-boardgame loving hobby game players? Family? People from a convention? It is important to gauge and know if the game you want to teach is a good fit for the group. If it isn’t then you should probably find another game to suggest. Also let everyone know that there are new players so that they can help as well.

  3. Find common points to other games: what games are similar in mechanics or gameplay to the game you want to teach? Even before cracking open the rule book if you can give some context a new player might need is critical so that they can focus on learning the new rules and concepts.

  4. Explain goal of the game and how to win: This (on top of the other common points you have just explained) will help the new player get a focus on the important aspects of the game without becoming bogged down in the nitty gritty gameplay at first. Also knowing how to win and what to do to win is vital for playing and understanding a game as a whole.

  5. Have the rulebook ready: While always a good tool for breaking up disputes, the rules can provide additional explanation into the nuances into the game and even provide imagery that would aid the explanation.

  6. Have the new player end the round: Start the game with a player that knows how to play so that the new player can see as many turns in action as possible. This will help the new player understand all of the rules they were just explained with real world examples.

  7. Listen for and answer questions: You can try to cover everything but inevitably a scenario will come up that the new player has a question on. Answer these questions as they come up so that the new player can understand what is going on and use that new information in their play.

Teaching a new player  or players a game you love can be difficult but hopefully with these seven tips you can help any new player learn quickly. This list of tips is what I have found to be effective in teaching games to players and especially in teaching games I have/in the process of creating. Your goal is to share something you like with other people I hope you find these suggestions useful.

All of this is just food for thought so take some time, sip some of your morning beverage,  and have a great day!