In my third article about teaching games, I want to talk about light games. The advantage of these games is, that they are easy to teach and quick to learn – and often also quick to play. So, this article should be rather short, but as we know, the easier something is, the better you have to execute it and given that lighter games are usually the sort of games new people to the hobby will come in contact with first, we need to do a good job teaching these types of games or we may miss a chance to grow our hobby. So, no pressure.
Continuing in my series of articles about how to teach games to others, I want to talk about maybe the best approach – and that is getting your games group to learn a game together. After all, for many of us, playing board games is a social activity and at the very least, it’s a hobby we share. So it makes sense to also share the burden of teaching, or rather learning, how to play a new game.
Teaching someone the rules to a board game is never easy. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert when it comes to teaching, but over time I’ve learned a few things that have helped me to become a better teacher. I found that different types of games require different types of teaching. So I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned so far and maybe you pick up some ideas that help you with teaching new games to people.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know how much I like small box games. From wallet games to mini mint games to mint tin games to Oink-sized games to a deck of cards to any game that you can repackage into a smaller box and take with you anywhere. The other thing I like are games that are very quick to teach and learn and very quick to play, but still provide a lot of fun and excitement and many small box games provide exactly that. So in this article, I want to discuss why small and quick games are sometimes the better choice than big, heavy and long games.
It feels like a long time ago now, but thinking back to AireCon, which took place last month, still puts a smile on my face. It meant a long car journey for me, travelling over five hours from the South Coast all the way up to Harrogate in deepest Yorkshire. I started early, around 6am, on the Friday, because I was aiming to get there by lunchtime. I wanted to see a few people who were going to be there – one of my wonderful Patreon supporters, a game designer who I got chatting to on Twitter and who was demoing his new game at the event, a more established game designer who I was hoping to arrange an interview with, as well as the board game “celebrities” who had made their way from across the pond. It was going to be busy.
Text and board games are inextricably linked. You find text in various places in every board game to a greater or lesser extent. I can’t think of any game that doesn’t have some text somewhere, but feel free to prove me wrong in the comments below. At the very least, there will be text on the box, stating where the game was made or what its player count is. At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find games that are text-heavy. I want to look at the varying levels of use of text in modern board games.
Growing up, I played a lot of tabletop games with my parents and brother. Yes, there was Monopoly of course, as well as other roll and move games such as Winnetou, but also tableau builders like Ogalala and a stock market game called Die Börse which required a little more strategic thinking. It was mostly my brother who would teach us these sort of games, and my parents would teach us trick-taking games like Skat and Doppelkopf.
In a world where every tree is inhabited by its own gentle and benign spirit, it is your important task to ensure that every sapling grows strong and big, and offers a home for as many small creatures and plants as possible, thereby creating harmony and balance in the forest. If you can work in harmony with the seasons and nurture the worms, fireflies, flowers and mushrooms that grow on the tree that you have been tasked to look after, you will come out as the best caretaker and will be generously rewarded with health and happiness by the tree spirit, the kodama, that inhabits your tree. It is this work that you carry out in Kodama: The Tree Spirits by Action Phase Games.
There are a lot of great things happening in the tabletop game community, which is great and for a lot of us, playing games is about meeting new people, having fun and sharing a hobby. Yet, growing the community and showing people, who have never heard about board games, what it is that we all love about playing them, is a different thing and often seen as something that is up to boardgame cafes, tabletop evangelists or game publishers’ marketing teams to achieve. However, we all can do something to grow the hobby and share with more people the joy of playing games.
Chess, draughts, cribbage, bridge and many other traditional games are completely abstract in nature. Yes, sure, there is a theme in chess. There are two fighting armies facing each other in the battlefield, and it makes sense for the peasants, i.e. the pawns, forming the biggest part of the army and being the most dispensable – but it pretty tenuous when it comes to how these pieces move. Draughts, on the other hand, is a completely abstract game of course. Many traditional games have great depth and complexity, showing that there is no need for a theme in a good game. So let’s explore this some more.