Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Philosophy and Games: The Ten Commandments of New Players

So a short update before next Monday. I'll start with a bit of recap of the results, and then get into the Philosophy.

Well, Tuesday's Mordheim session almost didn't happen. I was in a car accident. No one was hurt (thank god) but my car is going to that great junkyard in the sky (Tube City Scrap, next to the Target on the top of the mountain near my work).

So we had to play a vastly reduced session, however much fun was had by all. Not only the two guys who played, but also quite a few lookie-lous who stopped by to take a peak.

So here's the Philosophy part of it to me;

The best part of it is that everyone won. I had designed a 'capture the flag' type scenario (which I will post later). It worked out really well. In each game, one person walked away with the flag, and the other walked away with a real win (a failed rout check for the opponent). That was the best of all situations for me, because no one got horribly trounced and discouraged. If someone had walked away with both the flag and the rout win, that would have been bad. Well, kinda bad. Just very discouraging for the other guy.

That's my game philosophy, I want new guys to have a tough but fair battle. There are philosophies that say to trounce the new guy. I remember when I heard about the 'beginner's battles' that GW put on for 40K, back in 3rd Ed. From what I understood it was five tactical marines vs. 5 genestealers. Started at 24 inches. A couple rounds of shooting, and then the genestealers would kill the hell out of the marines. It wasn't a fair scenario. The new player with the marines would ALWAYS lose. From what I understood that was policy. It was supposed to make the new guy want to go out and get his own models and try to get back at the employee.

Er. How is that supposed to work? I don't know about you, but when I get my ass kicked at something, I don't want to do it anymore. Which is why football never really appealed to me (to play that is), I got my ass kicked HARD in football (literally, I got knocked down and the rest of the kids in the neighborhood ran over my prone body).

Winning is good, and loosing is bad. Winning is awesome, however people aren't stupid. They realize when you are GIVING them a win (like when my wife tries to get me to play Monopoly). People don't like that. It makes them feel like you are treating them like a child. Not even children like that. Children ESPECIALLY don't like that. Pulling punches does not work. After your new player goes home, and they think about it, they'll wonder why you didn't use that tank the whole fight.

That's why I think the best thing you can do is give them a fair fight. Something where they have a decent chance to win, but might not. If you win, that's to be expected, you are a veteran player. If they win, all the better. The best thing that can be done is a fight that can end very closely. A close game is always exciting, and it keeps people on the edge of their seat. An unbalanced game does not provide that to people. Especially when one side trounces the other throughly. That's great when you've spent months planning and modelling your army, not so great when you have no personal investment to the army, which is exactly the place that the new player is coming into. They have no emotional connection to what they are playing. The point of a new player game is to CREATE that connection.

Here are my Ten Commandments for introducing new players, some of these are obvious, but I like to beat people over the head with the known.
1. Play fair.
2. Allow the new player to pick which side they want. This proves to them that neither side is superior or inferior, just different.
3. Keep it simple. You might want to leave the odd units and models out of it for now. Introduce things over time. Maybe start with just infantry, then add seige weapons, and then whatever.
4. If you nerf a rule for a new player, nerf it for yourself. An example of this is to not play 'touch' rules in chess.
5. Walk the new player through every step, every turn! If they start leading it, so much the better. They are NEW, so they don't know the rules- don't expect them to. It is hard to keep going over the same thing over and over, but it is so helpful to a new player.
6. Unlike a regular game, you need to point out stupid things they might be doing. 'Hey, you don't want to move that guy, if he moves, he can't shoot!'.
7. Explain what you are doing as you do it. This gives them insight into things they can do during their turn as well. 'This guy is hiding behind the wall so you can't shoot him.'
8. Bring the pretty pieces, and some not so pretty ones. Showing very different levels of prettiness is important. A just assembled model, a primed one, a color base one, and a completed one. That why the new person can see the process up close and personal. The color base is really important. It is the simplest paint, but it still looks not bad. It gives a new person a glimmer of what they should be able to do straight out of the gate.
9. Post game review. I love to throw this one out there. After the game talk to the new people about what went right and what went wrong. Don't shy away from pointing at your own shortcomings.
10. Never blame the dice. It might be tempting, and you might do it on a normal basis, but resist the urge! If the new player realizes that you never got the dice rolls you needed, so much the better. Do not say it yourself. If you played fair and played right, they should by now realize what hurt you (or them) and what helped!

1 comment:

  1. Ten commandments? I'll drink to that, those look good.

    Having watched a few people play intro games in GW recently, I have to say they seem to have moved away from that, and more towards 'bend a few rules in favour of keeping both sides in the game' and 'staff member as referee, if two people come in, get 'em both playing'. I'm not if solo intros work the same way.

    That outcome for your intro game is indeed the best of all possible worlds though. The only thing better than a draw is when both sides win.