The Teach

Trajan by Stefan Feld

Teaching games is difficult. When I was creating more content on this site than I am now (sorry about that), I was going over rules in many of the videos. It was only a 30,000 foot view — just an overview. I didn’t go into every little detail. I mean, if I did, no one would watch any of those videos, right? Likewise, if someone was explaining a complex game to me and they took an hour or more to do it, why would I want to play it? Teaching games is inherently the most important thing in this hobby we are in. Learning new games is what keeps this hobby alive. But all too often the method by which others teach new games can often leave something to be desired.

Teaching games is an art form; it truly is. A friend of mine (we’ll call him Drew) is an expert at teaching games. He explains the context of the game very quickly — just a couple of sentences to set the scene and the context of the game, and then states the objective/victory condition — what do we need to do to win. Then, he proceeds to game play, sequence of play, what actions you can do on your turn, and tips for someone who is just starting out playing the game for the first time. He has an immense amount of patience which I attribute to his very analytical mind. He can break a complicated game down to its constituent parts and go through each one methodically. I can be pretty patient teaching a game but I admit I am not very good at that and need a lot more, well, that’s what comes next.

Teaching games takes practice. Drew has well over 400 games in his collection and has played them all many times. He hosts several game nights a month ranging from game days of run of strategy standards, to heavy Euro weekdays, to social deduction nights! He’s played a lot. And, more importantly, he’s taught a lot. Having that many games in one’s collection, how can you not be an excellent game teacher, or in the very least, an above average one? I admire him for his expertise in his abilities and I’ve tried to model my teaching techniques after his. Admittedly, I need more practice. Way more!

Although we don’t necessarily have to teach others to play games, that is if you don’t want to introduce your friends, family or game group to a game that you want to play, we are probably going to have to learn to teach. Some do it better than others and that’s OK. The only advice I can give is using the brief aforementioned strategy and to keep doing it. Keep practicing. And most importantly, be patient and demonstrate grace while you do it. You will get better. It just means we have to play more games! And that’s not a bad thing.

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