It’s Friday and day 19 of RPGaDay, hosted by BrigadeCon, today’s question is: What is the best way to learn a new game?
I have good success of taking the game with friends and just playing it. You get to experience the mechanics and the feel of the game. You also learn what parts of the game you struggle with and what questions you have. You can note those questions for future reference.
The group you play with can either be folks with some experience or not to the game. Those with experience usually teach the game to others. With my group, I usually read the game and thus my experience comes from that. It’s a theoretical experience as I’ve only read the rules rather than actually played it. I’ve gotten a mixed bag of rules which were interesting to read weren’t great to play or they were as amazing to play. I’ve also had the experience of confusing rules to read were equally bad or were amazing in play. Thus, reading the rules has no bearing on how interesting the game actually plays but it does help me prioritize games I wish to play. Right now, the top 5 unplayed games I wish to play after having read are: The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen; Lords of Gossamer & Shadow; Annalise; tremulus; Ars Magica 5th edition.
When you play the game, you get to see the mechanics in action and how the group gets rewarded for their decisions. You get to feel the flow of the game, personalized to your group. Everyone in the group will put their own life experiences into the game which is the beauty of games, especially rpgs. Playing with different groups will give different experiences. Games with powerful mechanics will drive the play experience while those with subdued or weak rules, the group will drive the game experience. It is a balancing act for games where each game designer decides on where they stand. I personally enjoy games which cooperate with the group.
When you play for the first time, you will make mistakes and forget the rules. I have enough game play experience that I usually make a ruling during play and note to check out the rule later if we ever play this game again. The only rules that I check are specific character abilities which might not be listed on the character sheet. The player get agency from those specific character traits and helps make decisions in the game. I don’t check situational rules as they are transient.
How do you play new games? Where do you do it?