How To Teach Board Games

I play games often, so I end up teaching others how to play often. And while some games are pretty easy to explain, there are some with hundreds of steps in one turn, and then hundreds of turns to end a game. But, I have found a way to best teach others to play games they’ve never played before.

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Start With How To Win

What is the purpose of this game? What are you trying to accomplish? Those are the very first questions you should answer when starting to teach a game. For example the goal Sushi Go is to have the most points at the end. From there, you can start going into how this is done, but more on that later.

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Explain The Very Basics

What happens during a turn? What do the cards mean or the dice accomplish? What options do you have during a turn? These basics are important for the actual game play and make the game actually possible to play. This is specifically the game play section, not strategy.

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Do A Practice Round

Have a full practice round, where everyone does their turn and you step by step explain what to do. Going through the motions helps engage the learner more, instead of listening to you go on and on about the 7 different ways you can win Ticket to Ride. Play a round that doesn’t count so they have a basic idea of what to do.

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Start The Game and Prepare For Questions

Get started! Don’t take too long trying to explain everything, especially in very complex games. When something comes up and a question arises, answer it and help them out. Yes, you are official in the game, but don’t let competition prevent your from teaching the game. Once you are all in it and playing, they will be more willing to learn and progress through the game.

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Don’t Give Strategy Unless Asked

Strategy is the fastest way to confuse new players, so don’t give strategy tips unless they ask for it. This is the area where you can list all the different ways to win the game or play a turn based on your style, but I guarantee it will turn off new players from playing because strategy is overwhelming. Let them get mechanics down before talking strategy.

What is your favorite game to share with others? Share in the comments below.

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10 thoughts on “How To Teach Board Games

  1. Great tips! Rick is usually the one teaching the games and because strategy is the most important thing to him about games, that’s where he usually starts (or imparts constantly and unpromptedly), but I agree that it’s better to leave that for direct questions.

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  2. Great write-up. I also end up teaching a lot of game and I agree with everything you wrote here. I’d like to add that I often let players choose their color and give them their respective pieces (they want to pick something up anyway).

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  3. This is a really great posts, because with the variety of board and card games these days…they aren’t so easy to teach. I tried to convince my family to play Munchkins with me but they wouldn’t because they think it’ll be too hard to learn. I think maybe introducing every game with an encouraging, “It’ll take you a bit to get the hang of it, but it’s not too hard” might be a good strategy…

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  4. These are awesome tips – I usually suck at teaching things so I needed to read this 🙂

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  5. Love the tips! I find that trying to teach board games to newcomers is usually easier than trying to teach tabletop RPG games to someone who is unfamiliar with the style of gaming.

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  6. These tips are great! My group of friends loves complex board games, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to ask after a long explanation, “But how do you win?” For me at least, a quick explanation of the end goals and a couple of quick practice rounds are the easiest way to learn.

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  7. Nice write up. I’m often in your position and pretty much do exactly what you said. Getting players hands-on learning is often quite helpful

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