Being both a teacher and the main gamer in my house, it means that I get delegated the task of teaching pretty much every game my family plays. While I sometimes play at public game nights, the majority of my gaming happens with my family so I am frequently teaching new games. While it is something I don’t mind doing, there are definitely some games that are easier to teach than others.
Unfortunately, all of these games are games that I absolutely adore playing, but I find rather difficult to teach for a variety of reasons. Due to having a rather large collection though, we may only play these games once every few months, meaning that each time we do play them I have to reteach the game, and get through explaining it all over again. This means I am less motivated than I would be otherwise to get these to the table. Are there games you struggle to teach? Any tips for how to best teach these games?
The first game I love to play but hate to teach is The Gallerist. It is one of the heaviest eurogames in my collection, and I fell in love with it because of the theme. I am a huge fan of art and I love the components that are included with The Gallerist. Beyond the theme, I am also a big fan of eurogames and the resource management that comes along with The Gallerist.
That being said, there is a lot going on with the game. Every time I go to play the game, I have to spend a couple hours relearning the rules, set up, and scoring for the game. While I am able to pick the rules up pretty well after that time, condensing the rules so I don’t bore the pants off everyone I am playing with proves to be a difficult task. Players either complain that too much time is spent on the rules in the beginning, or they would have done better if the rules were explained more thoroughly and they were confused for some portion. It makes me anxious to teach the game.
Opposite of The Gallerist, I consider Euphoria to be on the lighter side of games on this list. Euphoria is yet another game that caught my eye because of the theme of the game. Dystopian societies are a favorite topic of mine, and I don’t think there are enough games that touch on this theme. Even my students will begrudgingly admit that my excitement about dystopian novels rubs off even on them…and they’re middle schoolers who are not prone to reading. Seeing a topic I love so much in a board game brings me a lot of joy.
However that being said I still find it somewhat difficult to teach. There are a few reasons for that, but mainly I think it can be difficult to wrap a person’s mind around a few of the aspects of game play. For one, I have found that some players struggle with the concept of dice as workers, and the fact that higher rolls can be bad news during play. The other thing I find my players struggle with is the difference between resources and commodities. For a medium weight eurogame, there is a lot going on in Euphoria, and it can lead to confusion especially for inexperienced players.
Game of Thrones
This is a game that is deceptively heavy, and also difficult to explain. I love Game of Thrones. I have watched every episode multiple times, and own multiple games based off the series. However, I frequently find myself frustrated because my non-gaming friends are always attracted to the Game of Thrones board game. While it is a very fun, tense game, it is not one I would suggest for someone new to gaming.
There are a lot of finicky rules to how boats are placed and how territories are controlled. It is also a very long game, and many new players are not prepared for the length of game play. There are a lot of moving parts in the game, and often times players miss parts of those strategies when teaching the rules. When playing a shorter game, this can be frustrating, but when playing a game that can take from three to six hours, players often get very angry if they had a bad start and feel defeated as the game drags on.
A Feast for Odin
Another great, heavy eurogame with a lot of moving parts. A Feast for Odin almost feels as though it is a larger game created from several smaller games. While experienced gamers should be able to pick up on the different aspects of game play fairly easily, it is still time consuming to teach. A Feast for Odin is another one that takes me about an hour to remind myself of the rules before game play.
While explaining the rules doesn’t take as long as The Gallerist, I still find that people tend to miss little things here and there. It can be difficult to make sure that everything is covered when going over the game. I have been prone to missing rules occasionally when teaching the game.
I don’t consider Caverna to be terribly heavy, well at least not in complexity. If going by weight…well then I would debate that sentence. It plays similarly to many other worker placement games, and if players are familiar with worker placement, it shouldn’t be overly difficult to understand.
However, I generally find that players get overwhelmed with all the stuff in the box. There are a lot of components to Caverna, and when it is set up, it takes up a lot of table space. While the mechanics with most of these components are very easy to explain and generally commonly seen in eurogames, the sheer amount of things going on can be a distraction to someone learning the rules.
The flow of play in the game is actually fairly easy to follow, but I do find that players can become confused with the different options for action spaces. Player also get frustrated when they are not able to feed their dwarves, especially if they missed the fact that each dwarf needs two food instead of one. With a lot of small details in the game, it can be a daunting task to teach the game. It is important to me that my players enjoy the game and sometimes it feels like the many small details can take away from that the first game or two.