Teaching board games

Board game evening. You have invited a few of your friends to play the latest game, fresh off the counter at your local game store. Tonight is the night; the end of a months of hype and waiting. You have read through the rules feverishly, all that remains is explaining the rules to your fellow players. You start going through the rules in a well-ordered and structured way. Still, it is not long until you get attacked by questions: “How do I do this?”, “What does this thing do?”. People start zoning out, or having tower-building competitions with the game components. With great patience and perseverance, you explain all the rules. Finally, you can start playing. Not too long into the game, you execute a brilliant strategic move. All should be in awe of your wit and intelligence, seeing the game played by an expert such as yourself.

“Wait, what? You can do that?!”, says one of the other players. The words hit you like a bag of bricks to the face.

So, what went wrong? I have explained the rules of quite a few games, to players of varying levels of board game literacy. And it is hard. Even so, I have compiled a few tips and tricks to help avoid some of the problems of a poorly explained game. As I compiled this list, I also made some parallels to video game tutorials, but I will save those thoughts for later.

The calm before the storm.

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