Teaching Board Games

Sometimes you really want to play a board game but no one knows the game. So now you have to teach people to play the game or to play a game that maybe you don’t want to play as much. If you decide to teach the game, what are some tips and tricks for teaching a board game?

Image Source: Me!

  1. Don’t just read from the rule book.
    This seems pretty obvious, but the amount of times people just start reading verbatim from the rule books is way to high. Instead know the rules yourself, and be able to teach them in the order that makes the most sense to you, and in the detail that you think your players need.
  2. Show and Tell is Key
    Don’t just say, there are four types of cards, pull out one of each of those types of cards and point to them as you talk about them. Maybe there is a certain way a character moves, in that case, move the character on the board so people can see how they move.
  3. Have Players Help
    How can you help if you are learning the game? Well, maybe there is a deck of cards that need to be placed in a certain spot after being shuffled, give that out as a job to someone. Or maybe there are resources that need to be placed out in certain spots that are fairly obvious, once you’ve taught about the resources, have a player or the players put them out.
  4. Save Special Rules
    This might be just me, but I recommend that you save rare rules until the end or until they happen. If the rule is going to be common enough, but isn’t tied into any part of the game, save that rule until the end. If the rule is going to only come up in a given situation that is rare, save it until it happens as long as it isn’t too mean. You’ll have to be the judge of what too mean is, but if it’s going to seriously hurt a player or knock them out of the running, you have to decide if you’re either going to mention it at the start or if you’re going to let them undo the turn.
  5. Let them Undo Their Turn (or part of it)
    This isn’t going to be something that players can do often. Once a player has made a mistake once, players don’t get free passes any more because they’ve heard the rule while you were teaching and seen the rule in play. Also, if it’s a complex turn, don’t let players undo their whole turn just because they forgot or didn’t understand a rule because that will slow down the game too much. Just call it a practice game or first game mistake, they are understandable.
  6. Explain the Theme/Story of the Game
    Do this with the game at the very start of explaining the rules. This is going to keep people interested from the start. Along with that, tie stuff in to the story or theme of the game as you go along. In SeaFall, they have information about how to do an event for exploring (forget the title of it) and you do the same thing for other events besides exploring. Instead of just call it by it’s generic name, tie it into exploring as you explain and then tell what else it can be used for at the end. Since it’s tied into theme, people are likely to remember it better.

    Image Source: Board Game Geek

These are some of the big tips that I would give for teaching a game. I don’t always love teaching games, so understand that you might not always want to. Then the decision is with you do you want to struggle through it some, or do you want to play a different game? If you’re the leader of your board game group, you’re going to have to get used to teaching. So determine what is going to work best for your group. Maybe you can get into the small details of the game and that’s fine for your group, maybe you have to play a sample game so that people can see how the game works that way, but learn from experience and expect to still have to teach as you play.


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