Quick, easy, cute what more can you ask from a board game? I know, how about an excellent tutorial that teaches the game in very easy to digest chunks that enforce the basics of the game? That would be excellent. Given the number of board games that I have played just in the last five years you might think that games with excellent tutorials would be common. Unfortunately, in gaming teaching someone how to play seems to be an afterthought.
Many games toss the entirety of the rules at a player, expecting or hoping that someone reading the rules not only learns the game well enough to play, but well enough to teach others. This rarely happens as many game companies do not have someone on staff who understands how to create easy to read and understand instructions…[cough, cough]…a technical writer with a specialization in rules and instructions….[COUGH, COUGH] like ME!
This may go a long way towards explaining why I am disappointed at many rules I read and do not teach games to others unless the game is outstanding (witness the number of games I have tried vs the number we regularly play). Video games have the right idea more often than not. A simple walk through, while annoying goes a long way towards ensuring that players understand how to do things and why things work the same way. Tabletop games tend to skip those steps and that is sad to me, because people are less interested in teaching to others when learning on their own is a pain in the butt.
So game designers, want your game to take off? Start thinking of better ways to introduce players to your game. Well designed and written tutorials go a long way to establishing that you care about the people who may play your game. More importantly, establish that you WANT people to play your game.
Which is why I am spending as many posts as I have been talking about Krosmaster Arena. Today was Barb’s turn to play. Normally when I want to play a game with the family, I have to read the rules, work through the rule, then try to teach the rules to someone, go back read over the rules, and continue rinsing and repeating until I have the rules down. The amount of rinsing and repeating varies on the game.
Krosmaster has been one and done. Yes, you read that right, ONE and DONE. Other than finding the powers, which was detailed here, teaching Krosmaster Arena has been ONE and DONE with everyone. How is this possible? A seven part tutorial that breaks the game down into manageable chunks. The tutorial is printed in the rulebook (the first 3/4) with rules of the tutorial on one side and a mini-map on the other (see photos). Good example, the first tutorial teaches movement, the meaning of all of symbols on a die, combat, damage, and locking and dodging which is a special action when two figures are next to each other.
Sounds like a lot, but it is not and understanding how and why go a long way to establishing the next six tutorials, culminating in a full on game. The tutorials are slightly lop sided allowing someone who has played through them to ensure that the learner play on the winning side; always a plus. One tutorial at a time, adding one or two new concepts each time until the players are ready to play a full game on their own.
Even better, after the tutorials are rules that add to the game or flesh out parts of the game in a easy to understand fashion without causing confusion or wondering why this rule or that rule were not included in the tutorials.
Krosmaster is an investment in money, but the designers took the time to invest in their game to ensure that you will learn how to play and hopefully by the end want to play. Good game design all around.