Guy Who Gets Paid to Teach Board Games Releases Free Guide

Guy Who Gets Paid to Teach Board Games Releases Free Guide

A professional games teacher has released a free guide on how to teach games to new players.

A Reddit user that goes by the name Monopolatte has posted a guide on the do's and don'ts of introducing players to a new game. His credentials? He works as a games teacher at a board game café and can teach around 150 different games off the top of his head, with 50 more games for which he can provide a basic overview.

Monopolatte suggests to lead with the objective of the game - and how do I wish that my friends followed this advice. Whenever we get together to try a new game, and someone is explaining to me the intricacies of the system, I too often find myself asking, "But what's the objective of the game?"

Discussing possible early actions, describing the phases of a round, and using the game's visual and physical pieces are some of the other points that Monopolatte goes over as recommendations. On his DON'T list, he leads with early discussions about exceptions - another sin my friends commit - poo-poos multi-tasking while explaining rules, and describes why it's a bad idea to overload players with too many strategies.

His TL:DR nicely sums up everything one shouldn't do while teaching a game:

"Okay, so you can talk about things. Like. You can talk about action points. Oh. The game is- the game is about- it's set in the present, and you're teaching games. You have to talk about games, so you can talk about action points sometimes. Except the cleric, who can't because it's a weekday but you guys aren't playing the cleric."

How do you and your friends fare when it comes to teaching games?

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Yeah i ran into this when i got asked to help teach new players MTG at my local shop because somehow I got roped into that. In terms of a "game" type magic is actually broken down quite nicely for you in some respects. Not introducing too many concepts at once is the best way forward. I've had some good advice like this before and it's a REAL savior when knowing where to start. Teaching a game to a completely new player is HARD. If i wasn't a fairly new player myself i would have found it impossible. It's amazing how many board games, role playing games and CCGs use similar action types.

I think knowing how the player is meant to experience the game, rather then the technical minutia, is very important too though. Like you can explain the phases of the turn all day but once you say "Turn thing sideways, Smash his life total till dead" people start learning through having fun with using functioning mechanics.

Incidentally i think this is also why WotC has made Magic more and more focused on creatures as time has gone on. I know many more elitist players malign that approuch but people understand a game better when it is "I summon my bear and it mauls you" rather than "I mill these ten cards off the top of my deck, tap and untap this thing fifteen times, shuffle my deck, tap and untap twelve times more aaaaaaannd you're dead. I win." Some types of gameplay are just more intuitive than others. That's why i think flavor and lore are actually essential to many games; they make complex mechanic based actions feel intuitive rather than just dry numbers.

Going back to my magic example i was describing a "Burn Spell" and the player i was showing it to instantly got the concept simply because it was fire killing a thing. I didn't have to explain targeting, the colour pie, instants and sorceries or any of that. Having the "I am i freaking wizard who can burn shit at will with fire!" idea was enough to make all that mechanical stuff make more sense. That is half the battle; actually getting a player engaged.

Of course, now i have to think of a method of properly explaining the stack without rambling like an idiot or someone getting a headache...

Scrumpmonkey:
snip

The stack can be surprisingly simple to describe just literally stack the cards causing the effects. Just put the first thing on the stack on the bottom than stack the next effect causer on top and say you work your way down. It can run into problems with multiple activation but those are rare enough that they should get the hang of it before its a problem.

zerragonoss:

Scrumpmonkey:
snip

The stack can be surprisingly simple to describe just literally stack the cards causing the effects. Just put the first thing on the stack on the bottom than stack the next effect causer on top and say you work your way down. It can run into problems with multiple activation but those are rare enough that they should get the hang of it before its a problem.

I can't believe i forgot about that one XD Yes stacking them in order of casting then resolving them from the top and showing how each effect causes the game to change before the next effect takes place is an excellent visual explanation thank you for reminding me. I also have to remember to work in how you can decide and stack the order of certain triggers to your benefit.

I'm surprised how many people can still benefit from unlocking different areas of the game-rules. During one of LRRs MTG streams i learned that many players don't understand how the 'end of combat step' or what used to be called the 'clean-up step' functions. I was trying to explain to people the trick that could be used with sac effects during combat namely Celestial flare where you can make them sac whilst things are technically 'still in combat' but stuff has already gone to the graveyard giving them less sac options.

I used this trick in M14 limited against a particularly salty opponent who kept insisting i was "full of shit" -_-. I find quite a few self proclaimed experts have neglected to actually figure out the implications of the game-rules in certain cases and just think they already know it. I guess this goes under "Knowing the game" but if you are teaching more advanced interactions you really need to brush up on your ins and outs.

I did two years of game demonstration/teaching at the Netherlands biggest (board)games Con (het Spellen Spektakel [the Games Spectacle]). I taught simple games and complex ones, but establishing the goal was always what I led with (preferably in a humorous way).

MtG has some logically weird effects due to the rules/stack at times though.

Scrumpmonkey:

zerragonoss:

Scrumpmonkey:
snip

The stack can be surprisingly simple to describe just literally stack the cards causing the effects. Just put the first thing on the stack on the bottom than stack the next effect causer on top and say you work your way down. It can run into problems with multiple activation but those are rare enough that they should get the hang of it before its a problem.

I can't believe i forgot about that one XD Yes stacking them in order of casting then resolving them from the top and showing how each effect causes the game to change before the next effect takes place is an excellent visual explanation thank you for reminding me. I also have to remember to work in how you can decide and stack the order of certain triggers to your benefit.

The tricky part is not teaching them how the stack works, it's explaining what the hell priority is and how THAT works, especially whilst multiple things are already on the stack and you keep wanting to add more.

Also you'd be amazed how many people, even experienced players, don't understand some rather basic keyword abilities, like regen, protection from colours, or the one I keep running into at my local, Heroic. Far too many times I've had to expliain that no, your triggered abilities do not trigger heroic, no, your copied spell does not trigger heroic, and yes, your heroic abilites resolve before the thing that triggered them.

Many a rules headache has been had.

Hawk of Battle:

The tricky part is not teaching them how the stack works, it's explaining what the hell priority is and how THAT works, especially whilst multiple things are already on the stack and you keep wanting to add more.

Also you'd be amazed how many people, even experienced players, don't understand some rather basic keyword abilities, like regen, protection from colours, or the one I keep running into at my local, Heroic. Far too many times I've had to expliain that no, your triggered abilities do not trigger heroic, no, your copied spell does not trigger heroic, and yes, your heroic abilites resolve before the thing that triggered them.

Many a rules headache has been had.

Was this when it was a new mechanic? . Players can be forgiven for misunderstanding new mechanics if it's only the first or second time they have played with them. We had trouble with heroic back at the prerelease/ launch events and at some causal events but generally that got ironed out. The "Whenever you cast a spell that targets" is pretty clear in my mind; the new templating of cards makes the words on those cards reflect the rules and how they work.

The problem i had recently was in my possibility storm deck when even some people playing modern couldn't untangle the Emrakul, the Aeons Torn "Casting" ability from an ETB -_-'. Then again possibility storm is a riles nightmare for people who've never seen the combo :P

Scrumpmonkey:

Hawk of Battle:

The tricky part is not teaching them how the stack works, it's explaining what the hell priority is and how THAT works, especially whilst multiple things are already on the stack and you keep wanting to add more.

Also you'd be amazed how many people, even experienced players, don't understand some rather basic keyword abilities, like regen, protection from colours, or the one I keep running into at my local, Heroic. Far too many times I've had to expliain that no, your triggered abilities do not trigger heroic, no, your copied spell does not trigger heroic, and yes, your heroic abilites resolve before the thing that triggered them.

Many a rules headache has been had.

Was this when it was a new mechanic? . Players can be forgiven for misunderstanding new mechanics if it's only the first or second time they have played with them. We had trouble with heroic back at the prerelease/ launch events and at some causal events but generally that got ironed out. The "Whenever you cast a spell that targets" is pretty clear in my mind; the new templating of cards makes the words on those cards reflect the rules and how they work.

The problem i had recently was in my possibility storm deck when even some people playing modern couldn't untangle the Emrakul, the Aeons Torn "Casting" ability from an ETB -_-'. Then again possibility storm is a riles nightmare for people who've never seen the combo :P

No, the heroic confusion has been going on for a year now. I dunno if people just don't use it enough themselves or if they don't face it often enough to rememeber it or what. Of course, my own heroic deck combines Fabled Hero and Hidden Strings, which confuses and enrages people endlessly when I basically get to cast it 3 times in 1 turn, targeting 6 things, trigger a bunch of heroic, taps down their initial blockers on the first cast, then gives the hero pseudo-vigilance, making everything bigger and/or drawing me a card or 2. For 2 mana.

Yeah, double strike and cipher effects are broken when they're that cheap and combined with heroic.

I guess knowing the rules of 150 games must be par for the average Board Game Geek user :D. (i Know I can teach every game in my collection of 400).

However, The amount of games you know is not a credential to be a good game teacher (although it doesn't hurt).

All you need is to know the game rules, have interest in the issue (in this case, games) and be a good teacher (which apparently this guy is, regardless of quantity).

I once made an experiment hiring great teachers (of several disciplines) to teach other things. With a little of preparation they managed to teach other topics just as well.

zinho73:
I guess knowing the rules of 150 games must be par for the average Board Game Geek user :D. (i Know I can teach every game in my collection of 400).

However, The amount of games you know is not a credential to be a good game teacher (although it doesn't hurt).

All you need is to know the game rules, have interest in the issue (in this case, games) and be a good teacher (which apparently this guy is, regardless of quantity).

I once made an experiment hiring great teachers (of several disciplines) to teach other things. With a little of preparation they managed to teach other topics just as well.

Excellent point! Some people are just great teachers. I always disliked how universities get expert mathematicians to teach mathematics. HEY, just because he's amazing at math doesn't mean he's amazing at teaching it to me!

Hawk of Battle:

No, the heroic confusion has been going on for a year now. I dunno if people just don't use it enough themselves or if they don't face it often enough to rememeber it or what. Of course, my own heroic deck combines Fabled Hero and Hidden Strings, which confuses and enrages people endlessly when I basically get to cast it 3 times in 1 turn, targeting 6 things, trigger a bunch of heroic, taps down their initial blockers on the first cast, then gives the hero pseudo-vigilance, making everything bigger and/or drawing me a card or 2. For 2 mana.

Yeah, double strike and cipher effects are broken when they're that cheap and combined with heroic.

Unfortunately heroic is too fragile for the steamroller of hero's downfalls and D-Spheres in my shop's pretty tough meta. It's nice that you got a Heroic standard build to work though, i tried a variant on 'american' coloured heroic a few times using things like hidden strings and more recently strive effects and every time the removal/bounce made it soul-destroying. It's like "Haha! I have a two 12/12 double strike guys! What now? **Casts D-Sphere getting rid of them both** Sadness resolves on the stack. Or they just kill them early when you're tapped out removing that starting presence. Once you start losing board presence Cipher is completely useless. Going all in on your threats means losing thath beefy encoded guy is GG. Heroic, in my experience, is a pretty miserable experience in standard. Sounds like without a card-draw engine that deck would run out of gas seriously fast. It also sounds just flat cold to control decks.

Teaching people that a 8/8 big beefer is actually a useless bulk rare in a meta is also quite hard. "This is why this is a bad card even though it looks sweet" is a hard conversation to have. A lot of people just tilt and leave the game when their deck gets eviscerated by some more tuned decks. I used to see it ALL the time at the larger shop i used to go to. People would come in with their half-formed net-deck, lose horribly because they don't understand sideboarding or how to play their deck, tilt out and leave without completing their matches never to be seen again.

Scrumpmonkey:
Unfortunately heroic is too fragile for the steamroller of hero's downfalls and D-Spheres in my shop's pretty tough meta. It's nice that you got a Heroic standard build to work though, i tried a variant on 'american' coloured heroic a few times using things like hidden strings and more recently strive effects and every time the removal/bounce made it soul-destroying. It's like "Haha! I have a two 12/12 double strike guys! What now? **Casts D-Sphere getting rid of them both** Sadness resolves on the stack. Or they just kill them early when you're tapped out removing that starting presence. Once you start losing board presence Cipher is completely useless. Going all in on your threats means losing thath beefy encoded guy is GG. Heroic, in my experience, is a pretty miserable experience in standard. Sounds like without a card-draw engine that deck would run out of gas seriously fast. It also sounds just flat cold to control decks.

That's what God's Willing is for! And heroic players always have a Gods Wiling in hand beofre they play their best dude. Always. Also you can just get some insane aggro if you curve out right. I've pretty much won games on a single Favored Hoplite before now, pumping him up to about 9 power and making him unblockable. The card draw engine btw is Triton Fortune Hunter and Ordeal of Thassa. And nothig is quite as satisfying than a turn 2 Hero of Iroas, followed by a turn 3 2 ordeals of Thassa and an Ordeal of Heliod, swing for 8, draw 4, gain 10 life. That was a good day.

Of course, we have some control decks in our meta, but they're cold to most every deck because, yano, control -_-. Especially when one of them goes and steals a Kruphix and Sphinx's revs for 16...

Teaching people that a 8/8 big beefer is actually a useless bulk rare in a meta is also quite hard. "This is why this is a bad card even though it looks sweet" is a hard conversation to have. A lot of people just tilt and leave the game when their deck gets eviscerated by some more tuned decks. I used to see it ALL the time at the larger shop i used to go to. People would come in with their half-formed net-deck, lose horribly because they don't understand sideboarding or how to play their deck, tilt out and leave without completing their matches never to be seen again.

It gets worse when you have to explain that the deck they're using has some totally god awful stuff in it and they should really, REALLY get rid of them and run ANYTHING else. I've seen people trying to run 3/3 flyers that cost 5 mana, and maindeck Cancel. Cancel! In a format that has both Dissolve AND Dissipate! Some people just don't help themselves.

 

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