14 August 2007

What scares off new players?

I have found that there are certain things, even in supposed "gateway" or beginner games, that scare off my group of friends. One of them is unfamiliar game mechanics. The way that many designer games work is counter-intuitive to someone who grew up on basic American games like Life or Uno. For instance, many of the card games like Bang! or Fluxx require a player to draw a card first and then make a play. This trips my friends up every time because they are accustomed to playing games where drawing cards is a penalty.

Another thing that puts my husband off are games where most of the instruction is on the cards. Before I started researching games, his favorite card games were Uno and Spades. In those games, the gameplay is pretty much the same for every player. I thought he would like the newer card games because he likes games with a bit of a "take that" aspect. How wrong I was! He found Bang! to be confusing, and Give Me the Brain! to be chaotic. The gameplay didn't move fast enough for him because everyone had to read their cards to figure out what to do next.

Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride are usually mentioned as good gateway games, the sort of games that will draw people into the hobby and prepare them to play more complex designer games. Just from reading the rules I can tell that these games would only frustrate my group of friends. If you are like me and don't have an experienced player to present games to your group, then you should look for a game that has only one unfamiliar mechanic. That way, you won't overwhelm your friends and they will be more open the next time you show up with a new game.

3 comments:

limey sponges said...

Settlers has a reputation for being easy, but that is largely in comparison to 'classic' avalon hill games (compared to Civilization, or it is cake). Ticket to Ride is significantly easier. It is kind of rummy (collecting sets) with some 'tile placement'(claiming routes).
If you are curious about it I suggest that you give it a try at www.DaysofWonder.com; you can play for free as a guest and see how simple it is. Maybe it isn't right for your group, but it is an easy way to give it a try.

Dani in NC said...

I still haven't worked up the nerve to try Ticket to Ride online. I'm afraid the other players would get frustrated with me as I try to learn the rules!

Limey said...

Just avoid games with names like "fast" or "1400+" abnd you should be ok. Aim for a game started by someone with a rating of less than 1300, as those are more likely to be the social gamers than the hardcore players that have memorized all the cards and do card counting. (there are people that do that. I can't bring myself to worry that much about the game though. Also, you can ask for help in the "lobby"; ask if some one is willing to play a learning game with you.

If you see me in the system, let me know and I will start one (Limey Sponge). (You need to be a member to start a game, but anyone camn play as a guest.)