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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Friday, November 04, 2005

Teaching Games

Brief post today – I’m sitting here manning the Sunriver Games booth at BGG.CON and things are slow (too early, folks were gaming pretty late last night).

So yesterday I spent more time learning and teaching games than playing games.  Funny thing is, I only taught Havoc once.  I taught Siena, Antike (twice), and Railroad Dice 2.  For Siena I did get to play most of the game, but had to leave before the final endgame banker bash.

I found myself wandering around the floor and seeing people picking up a game that I’ve played and obviously trying to learn from the rules.  Peter Drayton (also here) was trying to figure out the shipping rules for RR Dice and I explained things then offered to teach him and three others how to play the game.  I would have liked to play myself, but I really did enjoy just teaching the game.  Side note: I had no idea Peter was a gamer.  We met 3 or 4 years ago at one of Chris Sells’ XML DevCons, and he’s a very accomplished author.

It is so much easier to learn a game from a human being than from reading rules.  Maybe I’m slow, but I had to read through the rules for Antike and Indonesia at least 5 or 6 times before it started to make sense.  I think I need to rethink how I teach myself – most people that play wargames teach themselves by setting up the game and playing solitaire. For any medium to heavy-weight Euro game I think that’s also a good approach, as it greatly helps to see the pieces in action and build some context.  There’s always that ah-ha moment when all of the mechanics click together, and I have hard time reaching that moment from just a rules reading.

Make sure you check out my personal weblog and Flickr photostream if you want to track the goings-on at BGG.CON.


  • At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Doug Garrett said…

    I completely agree, Chris, with both of your points. Learning from someone rather than just from the rules (with the caveat that sometimes a person can totally botch a teaching) helps things crystalize. Also, having the game spread out in front of you as you learn it certainly clarifies how things work as well.

    I actually like teaching games as much as playing sometimes, enjoying sitting back and watching others delve into something they've learned from me.

  • At 7:19 AM, Blogger Jasen said…

    Glad I got to partake in your only teaching of Havoc on Thursday. I'm planning on introducing it to my boardgame group on Friday and I expect it'll be very well received. In retrospect, I probably should have bought at least 4 or 5 copies so I could have resold them (or given them as gifts) to eager Calgarians.

    Pleasure meeting you at BGG.con Chris. Hopefully our paths will cross again - certainly let me know should you ever be in Calgary.


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