HOW TO TEACH BOARD GAMES TO NEW PLAYERS
Introducing games to new players can be a challenge
When you make the decision to bring out a brand new game at game night, you have to be prepared to properly introduce and teach the game to your guests. The success or failure of your choice will largely depend upon how well you prepare beforehand. So, if it's the day of game night and you still haven't taken the shrink off the box, resist the urge to wing it and go with another game you are familiar with. Your guests will thank you!
If you don't have a lot of experience in teaching board games to others, don't worry. We have put together a detailed guide below to help you through the process.
TOP 5 TIPS FOR TEACHING BOARD GAMES TO NEW PLAYERS
KNOW THE GAME INSIDE & OUT
If you plan to introduce a game at game night, you absolutely need to have played the game at least once, but preferably multiple times beforehand. Not only does this make the game easier to teach but you will better understand what is a good strategy, which will help you coach players through the game successfully.
In addition, playing the game multiple times in advance will help you with memorizing the rules. Of course no one expects you to not have to look at the rule book at all, but the more rules and scenarios you are prepared for, the more impressed your guests will be and the smoother experience you will have.
We can't stress enough how important this is!
SET UP IN ADVANCE
If at all possible, you should have your games set up before your guests even arrive. Not only does this cut down on awkward silences while you stack markers and meeples, but it will give your game room a nice "wow" factor when guests see a neatly set up game waiting for them on the table.
If time or space do not allow you to have all of the evening's games fully set up, prepare as many of the components as possible and place them back in the box in such a way that will minimize set up time. For instance, shuffle all cards in their respective sets, or prepare player bags with player markers and starting resources to make set up a breeze!
GIVE THE GAME A PROPER INTRODUCTION
Setting the stage for new players helps to get them into the right frame of mind for a game. Before you jump straight into the steps of a turn, take a few minutes to introduce the theme of the game and the ultimate goal. Don't be afraid to be cheesy when setting the stage - you might feel silly, but it will really help set the mood and enhance the game's experience.
For instance, if I was introducing Viticulture, I certainly wouldn't begin by explaining the different types of workers. No, my introduction would sound something like this:
"In this game, we are all hoping to become the best winemakers in all of Italy. We have just inherited a patch of land from our mama and papa, and we are excited to get started. There's just one problem - we don't have a lot to start with. We have three workers, a tiny cellar, a couple of crush pads, and that's it. It will be our job to build up our vineyard with larger buildings, more workers, and a wide variety of grape vines to harvest, crush, age, bottle, and ship to customers. We probably won't make any money for several years, and we are competing with workers from other vineyards to get the best guests, grapes, and workers. Winemaking is a tough business. But, if we assign our workers to the right tasks throughout the 4 seasons of the year, we just might realize our goal of owning the most successful winery in Tuscany."
See, cheesy right? Sure. But you can see how spending a few minutes to inject some theme into a game before jumping into the mechanics can really get people interested and ready to play. Besides, everyone enjoys a little cheese with their wine!!
EXPLAIN THE RULES (BUT DON'T OVERDO IT)
It is certainly important for new players to understand the rules of a game before diving in, but it is very easy to spend far too much time explaining every possible scenario. Find the right balance between the two. You need to provide enough of an explanation that players can grasp the core concepts, but spending time explaining scenerios that might not even occur in the game will serve to only confuse new players.
Whatever you do, be sure to let players know that you will explain as many rules ahead of time as you can, but that some rules will be better to talk about when we get to that point of the game. That way they don't think you are making things up as you go!
BE AVAILABLE TO COACH DURING THE GAME
It is important that once the game begins you don't focus too much on your own personal strategy. When you are introducing a new game to someone, most of your time should be spent observing each player and offering help or clarification whenever needed. But be warned, not everyone wants a coach! Some people are happy to listen to the rules being explained and then left to figure out their strategy on their own. So don't feel like you have to force your advise on someone who clearly doesn't want it! But if a player is open to your help, don't hesitate to make their gaming experience that much smoother.