Teaching the Game to newbies

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Cpt Ric

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Teaching the Game to newbies

Post by Cpt Ric » Wed Jul 08, 2020 8:37 am

Folks I've had a difficult time getting new folks in to this wonderful game. The big hurdle is the icons. They look at a card and I can see them go into the twilight zone as they try to decipher all the icons. :exert :heroics :ev :use :reaction :limited :ready :complication :contract Oh my!

Clearly giving them a cheat sheet to look them up helps. But has anyone come up with any techniques that seems to enable folks to grasp these icons faster? Many of the folks I game with have never played a game like this, which I suppose is also part of the hurdle. They (like me) have no context to put some of these icons and terms in.

Thanks much!

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Re: Teaching the Game to newbies

Post by pvanniervp » Wed Jul 08, 2020 11:34 am

I, for one, don't see this is an issue at all.

Yes, it will take a bit of time to learn the iconography, just like learning what road signs mean when you learn how to drive. It's just a part of the process.

After two or three reads of the rule book, I found that the icons became second nature. I was even self-testing my knowledge of them by covering up the meaning and trying to remember what they all stand for. Perhaps you can try that too with your play group - turn the learning process into a game of its own!
Last edited by pvanniervp on Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Teaching the Game to newbies

Post by Traveller-Jake » Wed Jul 08, 2020 12:16 pm

The icons are something of a barrier, but at least these are well-designed icons. I played Fantasy Flight's Star Wars RPG for a year and still at times had to stop and think before i could decipher all the icons on their dice. And their rulebooks all use them too, which can make for difficult reading.
Despite having many more icons I find the icons in this game relatively easy to figure out. :use and :distance are perhaps the most difficult.

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Re: Teaching the Game to newbies

Post by Cpt Ric » Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:20 pm

pvanniervp wrote:
Wed Jul 08, 2020 11:34 am
I, for one, don't see this is an issue at all.

Yes, it will take a bit of time to learn the iconography, just like learning what road signs mean when you learn how to drive. It's just a part of the process.

After two or three reads of the rule book, I found that the icons became second nature. I was even self-testing my knowledge of them by covering up the meaning and trying to remember what they all stand for. Perhaps you can try that too with your play group - turn the learning process into a game of tis own!

I like that make a game out of them idea. Maybe I'll make up flash cards.... Yes once you get into it, I find that the Icons are very useful. It's getting folks over that "hump" that can be the trick.

As Traveller-Jake points out most are intuitive-ish to understand their meaning. I'd say that :dv :jump :distance aren't the best. For the defense value a shield icon would have likely been more intuitive then the globe looking thing. For JUMP and DISTANCE, I'm not sure what would be better, but the icons to the casual observer don't give anything obvious about it's meaning. I do sometimes slip up on :initiative vs :jump . Because I think of the stop watch for initiative as "speed", as in how fast you get from here to there.

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Re: Teaching the Game to newbies

Post by Horizon Jeff » Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:46 pm

The presentation of the icons definitely isn't ideal for everyone, and can be a challenge for the new player experience. When I demo Traveller, I explain the icons as a picture matching game. Rather than worry about what each one means.

This works pretty well, though it is less effective for the icons that aren't resources, but instead represent game effects (like :use and :distance as was already mentioned).

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Re: Teaching the Game to newbies

Post by Cpt Ric » Thu Jul 09, 2020 4:03 am

Horizon Jeff wrote:
Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:46 pm
The presentation of the icons definitely isn't ideal for everyone, and can be a challenge for the new player experience. When I demo Traveller, I explain the icons as a picture matching game. Rather than worry about what each one means.

This works pretty well, though it is less effective for the icons that aren't resources, but instead represent game effects (like :use and :distance as was already mentioned).
HI Jeff, yes the skills and capacity icons are a snap to get. It's more the others that are difficult for most folks, the Adventure attributes and Game concepts being the hardest. I think just using them (as in playing the game) is the only way to get them into your psyche.

I personally still don't understand fully the intent of the :use icon. To me it often seems redundant. As an example the Babel, TL-11 Translator :gear :gadget . For the action phase is has this text -

:use , Jettison: resolve target :linkopen :complication :social :linkedclose

Why the :use before Jettison? Does that mean the :crew still gets the :social- for that round even though it's been Jettisoned? As I write this, I think that is the nuance that I've been missing, the :use is an "action" you do before you do the next thing in the text. I had been thinking that the USE of the item was the action of Jettisoning it (for this example at least).

Thanks much - Ric

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Re: Teaching the Game to newbies

Post by Traveller-Jake » Thu Jul 09, 2020 8:09 am

The :use indicates that the :crew equipped with the :gear also has to :exert before the :gear is jettisoned, which restricts somewhat the other actions the :crew can take for the rest of the turn.
And no, the :crew won't have the :social- benefit of the Babel translator during the Resource phase if they jettisoned it during the Action phase to remove a :linkopen :complication :social :linkedclose .

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Re: Teaching the Game to newbies

Post by Cpt Ric » Thu Jul 09, 2020 9:10 am

Traveller-Jake wrote:
Thu Jul 09, 2020 8:09 am
The :use indicates that the :crew equipped with the :gear also has to :exert before the :gear is jettisoned, which restricts somewhat the other actions the :crew can take for the rest of the turn.
And no, the :crew won't have the :social- benefit of the Babel translator during the Resource phase if they jettisoned it during the Action phase to remove a :linkopen :complication :social :linkedclose .

Ah, yes I see this in the rules on page 11 and 24, clearly I missed that before. Thanks for helping me on this. - Ric

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Re: Teaching the Game to newbies

Post by Horizon Jeff » Thu Jul 09, 2020 9:08 pm

Cpt Ric wrote:
Thu Jul 09, 2020 4:03 am
I personally still don't understand fully the intent of the :use icon.
There probably was a more intuitive or user-friendly way to go about this. The issue we were trying to solve was that we knew :crew taking :action on :gear would be a common occurrence, and it would also be something we'd want to modify (like the :crew Thulse). If we had a specific icon for employing :gear abilities, it would allow us to avoid having to type out :action on a :gear or trying to shoehorn it into something like :linkopen :gear :action :linkedclose .

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Re: Teaching the Game to newbies

Post by korric » Thu Jul 30, 2020 12:07 pm

pvanniervp wrote:
Wed Jul 08, 2020 11:34 am
I, for one, don't see this is an issue at all.
Whether you see it as one or not, it is an issue. There are players who do not want to wade through getting these icons down. I can see why a lot of people love the game, Race for the Galaxy, but I will never enjoy it because I find the iconography unintuitive.
Some of the iconography on Traveller is fairly intuitive, and some of it is not. For me, it was worth it in this case to learn it and enjoy the game. That is not the case for everyone, and a lot of people will be turned off by the iconography.

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