October 12, 2015: MIB Report: Tips On Running A Game To Hook New Players
Are you the Reader of Instructions, the Grand Pooba of Games, the Minister of All Rule Infractions? If so, then you've probably done a few game demonstrations in your life. Perhaps it was for your friends or at a convention; either way, you know this time is critical for new players! Honestly, you might think I'm being dramatic right now, but at this point you can share your gaming bliss or roll a frustrating critical failure.
So to help out, I've devised 4 simple steps to ensure happier gamers at your table.
Step One: Interactive Setup Up
Most people set up the game for everyone and then go into explaining the rules. This is a huge mistake. Dump the game out on the table and let your players get involved with the setup. This allows them to become familiar with what the pieces and cards are called before the game even starts. Give them a stepping stone to the rules.
Step Two: Linear Rules
When explaining the rules, I follow these steps: game theme, what you need to start, choices you make on your turn, effects of those choices, and how to win. No matter what the game is, I explain the rules in the same way each time because when you start to jump around, or get too detailed, you lose people's attention. You can even leave out obscure rules until you're a few rounds in and everyone's got the general idea of how the game works.
Step Three: Go First
Your players have just been assaulted with vast amounts of knowledge and some might be embarrassed to make the wrong move or maybe they're still unsure about what they're doing. Either way, you can easily take the stress off of them by going first. Take the time to walk the players through each step you make, and why you're doing it.
Step Four: Use Universal Terms
This is huge. Everyone has a name for something but if you're using rocks or some other item for currency, just say so. Then the player realizes what they should be doing with those items and can focus on other aspects of the game. Also, make sure not to use gamer lingo. Don't say VP, just say victory points or points to win the game. Later, once everyone has figured out the game, you can go back to using the rightful names for the pieces.
I hope everyone finds this helpful and you convert more people to your beloved hobby. If you're interested in learning more on how to demo games, visit http://thegloryhoundd.wordpress.com.
-- Kat Rider, MIB 3339
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