The rules of a game literally define it. In videogames, they are intrinsic limitations. In tabletop, players must enforce them. In all games, players need to learn them. There are good and bad ways to teach a game. From awful tutorials to unparseable rulebooks, elegant demos to hour-long slogs, join us for a mechanical discussion of how game rules are (and should be) written, how players learn games, and why so few people are willing to read a 100 page rulebook (nevermind the appendices)!

Brandon “Rym” DeCoster [Producer, GeekNights], Scott Rubin [Host, GeekNights]

Presented at PAX South 2016!


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  1. An innovative and educative Board game designed by my 9 year old son Veer on Corona. Pls encourage

  2. Once more for the people in the back: If any adult person can read your rules and disagree with any other adult person about what they mean, you have failed.

  3. Man with the glasses is way too excited for an adult and way too imposing. Needs to shit up a bit more.

  4. Whats wrong with me? I get excited every time there is a rule book to read….I usually read a rule book at least twice before a first play through.

  5. If you're stuck playing Monopoly, instead of being the boring rules stickler, suggest that you put candy or shots in the middle for Free Parking.

  6. Agricola's beginner mode worked for getting my dad into a game session with me. Hands down, pun intended, he would have been overwhelmed by occupations and gotten lost or tapped out before getting some workers down and getting a feel for how the game played. Two food for the occupation spot and three minor improvements was a good number for him, and we could start to work into the game without completely bombarding him with concepts and information.

    Some people haven't really played board games before, let alone a euro, let alone a euro with an ending that is very difficult to foresee when picking up the game for the first time like a heavy worker placement point driven game.

    I agree that for most people, learning on a beginner mode is a waste of time, but for people who are on the fringe and might get turned off easy, jumping in with a little less can help bring someone into the genre by allowing them to play a more complex game once through to get a holistic idea of how the game plays out without being completely discouraged. I think that having one page or a small paragraph with a beginner mode option can function as a scaffold to help people who are not big game players learn a game without overwhelming them.

    Another example is of a friend who played Caverna once with my two other friends. I saw his score the other day, as we keep all our scores, and it was a 29. I wasn't there that day. However, I know that he is not too into board games, and that experience completely turned him off to them. He has a background in Magic: The gathering so abstract and involved rules aren't a huge problem for him, but a three hour experience running lost in a forest of layered and synchronous decision making is simply not enjoyable for some people.

    What really works well, are player aids. People can become autonomous players who can bypass the tradition of learning from someone else by quickly looking up the answer to their question in the same amount of time that it would take to verbally ask a question and listen to a response. This really helps bring people into the game without lengthy explanations or a full rule book read-through pre-play.

  7. Here's the thing about video games: you need to have the rules coded. CPUs tends to be discreet. If you don't try to put in the rules in right way, it's often called a bug.

  8. "You're going to fail"
    Shut the fuck up. If that's how you view it, don't host a panel.
    Go fuck yourself Scott, let your co-host speak.

  9. Stay around for the final 8 seconds of the video for the re-mix. On a serious note, thanks for the tips, much appreciated!

  10. I love reading rules 🙁 I bought several rpg manuals and never played them, yet I don’t feel sad about it because I enjoyed reading all about it. If a manual is missing anything about moment to moment gameplay I always catch it within a couple of hours since starting my first reading (for instance, I immediately caught that the The Witcher ttrpg, which I will soon get to actually play, isn’t very clear about how you recover energy outside of combat and how survival works i.e. effects of hunger, lack of sleep, how the weather might affect travel etc. Fortunately, I’m a very experienced DM, so I have an idea of how to make that stuff work, but that is a bit of an oversight).
    I find that reading all the rules gets me pumped about playing like just about nothing else. Even when I play a tabletop game I can’t wait to get my hands on the manual and read away.

  11. Bruh, my brother, he never reads the rules and he always wants to change the rules, there's a game like bean Bonanza or something, bro can't even play it with any of my family because he taught them to play

  12. Well if you read monopoly rules it states that if you want a faster game do not play with "house rules" so…house rules are a part of monopoly and no one was playing it wrong.

  13. Holy hell orange shirt is a dumbass, he believes instead of playing the game and trying to beat the person beating you, you just want the game to end so you lose right away??? What logic is that?


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