Tuesday, 5 June 2012

I have +10 in my Demo lesson skill...

Tuesday Tutorials

Listen up!

So Once upon a time I wrote a little post about Demo games and how to keep them simple. Now I'm going to put my money where my mouth (typing fingers?) is and give you a little tutorial on how to run a demo game. Now teaching a new game is like taking a test with a hangover.  You know what to cover (dice, models, rules, opponent), but OH MY GOD HOW DO I DO IT?? (*Vomit noises*)

Follow the leader and we'll get you there safe and sound.

First order of the day. What not to do:

Now, one major mistake people often make is jumping in with both barrels blazing, spouting advanced rules left and right, with no concern given to the newbie player. THIS DOES NOT WORK. The newbie player is like a baby, they can learn how to play, but it takes perseverance and practice, and above all, patience to teach them the ropes. While advance rules like alternate ammo types, TO Camouflage (TO Camo), Scouting moves, Outflanking maneuvers and Aerial Deployment (AD) are awesome, trying to throw those rules into your demo games of 40k, Warhammer Fantasy, Infinity (or whatever) is just asking for trouble. You need to teach the newbie how to move before they can outflank, which end of the gun fires worry about what kind of ammo does what (other than make their opponent dead).
In essence, they need to get a strong idea of the basic rules (movement, shooting, assault, Orders, AROs, short and long orders) before they can even begin to worry about all the cool stuff.

Hey mister... How do i roll the dices??

The other major mistake players often make is playing "tough" against newbies.  This is a huge no no. The newbie could very well get turned off as they get their butts stomped into the ground and just give up then and there. Don't Club the baby seals. It's just bad form.

 First rule of the day: Keep it Simple.

 Focus on how the rules work and how the models interact with each other.
  • How to move (this model can move ___  inches/cm. This is measured center of base to center of base.)
  • Shooting at a model (roll this many dice. Is the model in cover? you need this result to hit)
  • Reacting with the model (Infinity: shoot ARO, dodge ARO, etc. Armor saves. Removing dead models)
 DO NOT worry about  strategy and tactics, even if the new player seems to be picking things up really easily. That can happen later as there will always be time for that after (if the demo goes well).
Also note: Winning your first demo game is awesome and creates good feeling for someone who's never played the game before. I'm not saying let them win, but don't club that baby seal.

Second Rule: Keep the battling armies equal in power (you hear that GamesWorkshop?? EQUAL!)

Well shit...
 Troop Selection
Start with equal units.  If you're using 5 troops (line infantry) and 1 big guy (Terminators, Heavy Infantry, Commanders, etc), the new player should be using them too.  Having army lists with unit/weapon summaries is extremely helpful here.  To quote another one of my teachers from waaaaay back "Repetition means Learning". You can use the army lists to do reference each action you do:
"I'm shooting you with my Rifle. If you look that up on your list there it'll tell you how many dice I get to roll under it's Burst value. How many dice do I roll?"
By referencing the sheet, the newbie will not only learn what the army entries for their units look like, but, through repetition, you are reinforcing their knowledge of what each entry does in their list, speeding up their turns and meaning you'll have to repeat yourself less.

 When you are choosing what units to use, choose basic units. In addition, you'll not want to use all of the units special rules (remember, you'll have time to use those in the next demo with that person). It's not cheating if you don't use all the rules a model has, especially if the other player has no idea they had the rules you didn't use!

Turn Order
Spend the first turn showing your opponent how to move.  Leave some models out of cover. For 40k or Warhammer Fantasy, explain how to move units and how you can join a character model to units (and how they can leave the squad as well). If you are teaching Infinity, use this turn to explain short skills, and why you're model can move twice with a single order. Now have the newbie do their moves for their models. Yes this means you've missed out on your shooting and assault turns (if you are playing 40k) but who cares? Repetition is learning!

Boom Bang Pow! Aka Shooting 
In turn two show the new player how to shoot.  He/she'll probably want to shoot those models you left out in the open (you'd think this was planned or something?). For 40k and Fantasy Use this turn to explain shooting ranges and mass rolling (and modifiers). For Infinity you will want to use this turn to explain how shooting fits into the short skills you explained earlier.  You can also use this opportunity to show the new player how shooting works in ARO.
This is now the time to explain how armor/ARM rolls work. Remember to continually reference the army lists. Show them where to find the values, what needs to be rolled (3+ on a d6, equal or beat 13 with your dice roll plus your ARM value (1), etc). Visual representation helps a LOT!

One important note: Try to let the new player work out all the totals on his/her own.  The more practice the newbie gets now, the more they remember how to do it later.

ARM/Armor rolls and Cover
Lastly you will want to spend the third turn teaching the new player about Cover. In 40k/Fantasy, this is where you will also include invulnerable/magic saves. For Infinity, since you will have already discussed bonuses for shooting and ARM rolls, handling Cover should be easy peasy. Just remember to make sure that the newbie is aware how much of a model's base needs to be obscured to provide Cover, as this changes from game to game (40k/Fantasy just touching it or having it in the way provides cover, whereas in Infinity, the model must be physically touching the cover with it's base).

Rule Three: TALK to the Newbie about the rules of the game

After the Game
Ask the new player if they think they understand how game you just played works.  Ask them what they'd like to see next.  IF they want to play another game (and have the time) try to incorporate other rules, like Lieutenants, Retreat, Camouflage and Special Ammo types (for Infinity), or Special wargear, magic items, special movement types (Scouting, Outflank, Flyers) for 40k or Fantasy.  If they agree, then while playing warn them about what you're using, show them where on the lists the ability is located and tell them how it works before you actually put it on the table.

Rule Four: Not everyone is the same

 This may seem like it's obvious, but too many times I have seen people teach games the exact same way to a 12 year old as they do to a 40yr old. Cookie-Cutter Demos DO NOT WORK!
You want to make sure that you tailor the game as best you can to each person you teach.  If you know that the person is quick on the uptake, then speed up the game. IF the player seems to have issues with distances, show them how to measure correctly and reinforce range brackets when it comes time to shoot.
Demoing, like teaching is a fluid practice, and as the teacher, you must adapt to your audience.

Remember the number one rule of any game:

 you are playing a game, and it's meant to be fun.  

This face means you've failed young Padawan.


If you are not having fun, neither are they, and a new player won't come back no matter how cool the game is!

Alright. That's it. Pretty simple right?
Now go out there and show the world (or at least that person who's been snooping around your models) how awesome your game is!

Until next time,
Repetition is Learning!
Bean out~

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