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32755Re: [Unity_Games] Game Complexity

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  • Randy Brown
    Mar 10, 2012
      I volunteer at the local Boys & Girls Club every week.  I endeavor to get the kids interested in board games, which is certainly tough in the face of video games and all the other distractions.  I've had enormous success with Dominion as an intro game.  I'd also call TtR and Carcassonne light or gateway games.  

      What I've found is that the best games for beginners are games with evolving rules.  What I mean by that is games with very light basic rules, where the complexity is gradually folded into the game.  Dominion works well for this, because it isn't really important to know that much at the start of the game.  The starter decks introduce the concept of money and points.  You learn the rest of the rules one card buy at a time.  OTOH, the set up and shear amount of card text can appear overwhelming at first blush.  

      Non-gamers usually approach a new game in a much different way than gamers do.  Gamers often want all the rules up front, and they hope to be competitive in their first play.  Non-gamers would rather get into the game more quickly.  If I can get a game started within five minutes, giving advice and complicating the game as we go from there, then I will usually have a successful game for non-gamers.

      Last night I went to an event organized by a friend of mine.  The event had a mix of gamers of various experience as well as non-gamers.  I arrived to find my friend trying to teach a non-gamer Play 9, which is a pretty basic card game.  She was flustered, and they had obviously been at it for a few minutes.  My friend asked me to sub in, so that he could continue his role as host of the event.  I told the woman that rather than confuse her further, we'd just play a couple of practice hands.  In this way, I could explain the game as we went.  This attracted another player, and soon we were ready to play a full game.  Later that night, I saw the woman playing a game of Quarriors.  She ended up winning.  Hopefully we've scored another enthusiast for our niche hobby.

      One extreme example of evolving rules is AH's Advanced Civilization.  I've had enormous success getting non-gamers into this 8-12 hour game.  I use the long play time to make a social event around the game.  I cook up something delicious for dinner, and stock the fridge with beer.  But it's the game's evolving rules that really make it easy to teach.  A player really doesn't need to know anything before starting.  Most of the rules only come into effect several turns into the game.  The first couple of turns teach players population expansion and movement.  Then Crete teaches players about ships.  Then cities are built.  A few turns later trading happens for the first time.  A couple of turns later we see the first calamities and civ card purchases.  By this time, players have learned pretty much all of the rules.  We can actually start the game with no expo.  The other reason I've had success with this mammoth game is that the trading
      phase makes the game a social affair.  This interaction is the same reason so many new gamers like Settlers.



      From: E <swift_4@...>
      To: "Unity_Games@yahoogroups.com" <Unity_Games@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2012 9:43 AM
      Subject: Re: [Unity_Games] Game Complexity

      I also forgot to say that starting a non-gamer with a game like Dominion is not a good idea (unless they've played Magic or something). And reading a few sentences of a rulebook out of context isn't going to help anyone.

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