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jamuspsi

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Keeping your friends
« on: August 19, 2012, 03:20:31 am »
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I recently bought the whole set (minus DA) physically, and I've been teaching everybody I can get my hands on the beautiful game that is dominion.

I usually open a game by picking the cards and arranging it so that there's a little of everything in it- a caravan or wharf, some kind of trasher, a reaction, terminal draw, a villiage or two... that kind of thing.

The problem is that I usually end up feeling pretty crappy when I end up pile driving the provinces.  It's kind of hard to sandbag myself because then I feel like I'm not giving them a good example.  On the other hand, I don't think it's very fun for them- that first game- to lose horribly.

So, does anyone have any advice on how to introduce your friends to dominion.. and keep them?
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Beyond Awesome

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2012, 03:25:26 am »
+1

I recently bought the whole set (minus DA) physically, and I've been teaching everybody I can get my hands on the beautiful game that is dominion.

I usually open a game by picking the cards and arranging it so that there's a little of everything in it- a caravan or wharf, some kind of trasher, a reaction, terminal draw, a villiage or two... that kind of thing.

The problem is that I usually end up feeling pretty crappy when I end up pile driving the provinces.  It's kind of hard to sandbag myself because then I feel like I'm not giving them a good example.  On the other hand, I don't think it's very fun for them- that first game- to lose horribly.

So, does anyone have any advice on how to introduce your friends to dominion.. and keep them?

Keep it simple. Introduce base so they can appreciate other concepts later on. If you introduce everything at once, it isn't special. Encourage them to try out different cards so they can learn on their own and grow into good players.
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michaeljb

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2012, 03:25:56 am »
+1

Use the recommended "First Game" set up from the base set when you're introducing the game, maybe play a couple times with it. Then introduce more cards from the base set, then add one expansion, and so on. Being thrown right into the deep end won't work for everyone.

Alternatively, think back to how you were introduced, and try that. Whatever it was, that method was clearly good enough to get at least one player (you) really into it.
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Beyond Awesome

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2012, 03:30:20 am »
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Use the recommended "First Game" set up from the base set when you're introducing the game, maybe play a couple times with it. Then introduce more cards from the base set, then add one expansion, and so on. Being thrown right into the deep end won't work for everyone.

Alternatively, think back to how you were introduced, and try that. Whatever it was, that method was clearly good enough to get at least one player (you) really into it.

I agree 100%. My first intro was Base Set "First Game," and I feel in love. I played like four more times that night. Then, I played Base for many months, and then discovered Intrigue and was blown away and a few months later I discovered Isotropic and then was really, really blown away.

Anyway, yah, don't introduce everything at once. Keep it simple.
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Pez

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2012, 04:44:01 am »
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I just taught my wife dominion. You need to start with the base set recommended cards. Play a handful of games. If your friends hasn't played a deck builder they need time first to understand the concepts. Also it's helpful if you play face up. Tell them exactly why you're doing what you're doing. Remember you have probably hundreds of games worth of experience and they have none.

I think next add seaside because duration cards aren't too bad, they aren't complicated. Add alchemy last. Maybe add prosperity after seaside. It has a lot of fun cards. KC is really fun card to play with.

If you want to add more variety, here's a game I designed myself for beginners: King's Court, Council Room, Lab, Tactician, Thief, Worker's Village, Treasure Map, Look Out, Warehouse, Light House. It works for both a Colony game and a Province game.

I like the game because it adds a lot of fun cards and some simple cards to show some concepts. It has plenty of buys but there will be turns where they can only buy one card. It has a really tame attack but if you KC that thief it will feel like a much worse attack especially to a newbie. Then light house of course can prevent that attack. It has +action but again you can still draw dead actions because you won't be able to always have the WV. It can definitely be augmented, but I've had success with this.
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yudantaiteki

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2012, 04:50:34 am »
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This is an age old problem that's been discussed on BGG and this forum for a while.

I've seen the following suggestions:

1. Use a handicap
Counter: People won't like playing handicaps because it won't feel like a true win
Counter: Depending on the handicap you use, people won't learn real Dominion

2. Intentionally play unusual or poor strategies
Counter: New players wanting to learn from a more experienced player won't be able to learn good strategies

3. Try to teach the new players
Counter: If you're playing more casual gamers, they're never going to reach your level even with teaching


I've found that even if you're playing against people who won't get angry or frustrated if you win all the time, they just care about the game less if they think they have no chance of winning.  They may not get mad, but they won't have as much fun nor will they really care that much about whether their strategy is improving or whether they're doing anything right.

In October I'm going to visit my family; my mother likes Dominion but she only plays when my brother or I am down there.  My plan is to try to give my parents some basic advice, but to also handicap myself.  I'm going start with skipping my first 2 turns.  Any time I win a game, I skip one additional turn, and if I come in last place, I skip one less turn.  Not perfect, but I think it can work OK.  I like the changing handicap idea because it gives the newer players a sense that they actually can do something by playing better even if they're not "really" winning.

(EDIT: I'm still vacillating between turn-skipping and adding untrashable blank cards to the deck; originally I liked the blank card idea but someone pointed out that it lowers the value of some attack cards like Militia.  On the other hand, I believe that opening buy strategy is less important when your opponent is skipping multiple turns at the beginning of the game, and opening buy is a really important aspect of the game.)
« Last Edit: August 19, 2012, 04:55:28 am by yudantaiteki »
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carstimon

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2012, 11:37:36 am »
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It's hard to find a good handicap for dominion.  Skipping the first two turns can actually be too much if there's any attack, I think. 

I like the blank card thing; the only thing it affects from the newbie's end is, as mentioned, it devalues militia.  I think that's not important and the blank cards can be adjusted well. 

Another possibility is restricting the kingdom cards for the handicapped.  Don't allow yourself kings court or hunting party or maybe 4 cards at random.  ("Ok, if I play with scout I can definitely kick your ass, so I'm just gonna not buy it because it won't be fun for you.")  This is a bit more "natural" in that it doesn't really affect the power of cards for the newbie.  The only way it does affect the game is that the newbie can get, say, 8 minions with no contest.  It can also be adjusted pretty well for difficulty; but this requires the person being handicapped to really know the game already.
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ednever

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2012, 12:15:26 pm »
+7

I introduced 4 people last week and it went very well (my best introduction to date):

1- play "first kingdom". Demo a few hands do they see how it works. Them play the game with no strategic discussion. I played smithy/bm and won easily.

2- debrief. Explain how smithy big money works. Explain the concept of dead draw. Explain the opportunity cost of not buying silver

3- play first kingdom again. Tell everyone that you will be playing a very different strategy. Again, no strategy talk during the game. Play Geronimo's optimized 1st game engine. Watch their faces when you consistently draw your entire deck and buy 2 provinces

4- debrief. Talk about engines. Talk about trashing and the importance of understanding your limits (ie 5 cards, 1 action, 1 buy)

5- game three: introduce a new board. Make sure it has workshop and gardens. As well as engine potential. People have a chance to build an engine, while you rush gardens.

6- debrief: explain "rush" strategies.

7- now just play random set-ups. First game should include a curser, otherwise just randon. We never repeated a card (and I would skip cards like Scout)

8- after a few games, introduce a colony game. Then a potion game

We ended up playing for 7 hours. Everyone loved it.

In 4p games, I won a lot, but came second a few times. One guy came last every game, but it didn't seem to bother him.

Both couples went out and bought 3 sets each immediately afterwards.


These people had all played Catan before, but otherwise were not hard core gamers.

Ed
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Beyond Awesome

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2012, 12:18:50 pm »
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I introduced 4 people last week and it went very well (my best introduction to date):

1- play "first kingdom". Demo a few hands do they see how it works. Them play the game with no strategic discussion. I played smithy/bm and won easily.

2- debrief. Explain how smithy big money works. Explain the concept of dead draw. Explain the opportunity cost of not buying silver

3- play first kingdom again. Tell everyone that you will be playing a very different strategy. Again, no strategy talk during the game. Play Geronimo's optimized 1st game engine. Watch their faces when you consistently draw your entire deck and buy 2 provinces

4- debrief. Talk about engines. Talk about trashing and the importance of understanding your limits (ie 5 cards, 1 action, 1 buy)

5- game three: introduce a new board. Make sure it has workshop and gardens. As well as engine potential. People have a chance to build an engine, while you rush gardens.

6- debrief: explain "rush" strategies.

7- now just play random set-ups. First game should include a curser, otherwise just randon. We never repeated a card (and I would skip cards like Scout)

8- after a few games, introduce a colony game. Then a potion game

We ended up playing for 7 hours. Everyone loved it.

In 4p games, I won a lot, but came second a few times. One guy came last every game, but it didn't seem to bother him.

Both couples went out and bought 3 sets each immediately afterwards.


These people had all played Catan before, but otherwise were not hard core gamers.

Ed

Awesome!
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Tmwinand

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2012, 01:07:58 pm »
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It's definitely worth doing a set/expansion at a time.  It's hard to play with casual friends because knowing the cards is a huge advantage.  When I play base against my one friend it's always close because she has the unofficial iPhone app and knows those cards, but when I introduce expansion cards she gets overwhelmed and usual sticks to te base cards or attempts to mirror my strategy. That's why I'm excited about Goko, buying half expansions at a time will really help the people I play with learn the cards much more easily.  This way when we play IRL they know the cards an aren't overwhelmed and just copying my buys!
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Beyond Awesome

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2012, 01:36:41 pm »
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It's definitely worth doing a set/expansion at a time.  It's hard to play with casual friends because knowing the cards is a huge advantage.  When I play base against my one friend it's always close because she has the unofficial iPhone app and knows those cards, but when I introduce expansion cards she gets overwhelmed and usual sticks to te base cards or attempts to mirror my strategy. That's why I'm excited about Goko, buying half expansions at a time will really help the people I play with learn the cards much more easily.  This way when we play IRL they know the cards an aren't overwhelmed and just copying my buys!

I sometimes try a non-optimal strategy at first. I think the important thing about Dominion when someone is new to the game and cards is that they play around with the cards and make mistakes. That is how you grow and learn and become a better player. I mean, honestly, how many of us thought Thief was the most powerful card when we first started playing Dominion.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2012, 02:35:57 pm by Beyond Awesome »
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Tombolo

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2012, 02:13:37 pm »
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I hit Province with Saboteur two or three times in my first game (which was 3-player).  I STILL think it's underrated, consarnit!
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GendoIkari

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2012, 02:37:35 pm »
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Here's another thread on this topic, with some helpful hints:

http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=988.msg15120#msg15120

There might be another thread as well; not sure though.
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Jedit

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2012, 02:55:25 pm »
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It's hard to find a good handicap for dominion. 

With a beginner, spotting them two Provinces in the "Island zone" would be a decent handicap.  Effectively winning 7-1 isn't always easy.
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Ozle

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2012, 03:28:36 pm »
+2

Part of the problem, and a very small part, is that you are cherry picking the game cards to make them 'interesting'

This means you know the possibilities of the set waaay better than you do.

Also, if every game has a bit of everything, then you are stifling thier ability to learn somewhat, because there is just too much going.

Try it with some random sets, you will still win, but they will get better faster!
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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2012, 04:38:27 pm »
+1

The best handicap IMO is just not spending all of your money (as in not showing it all).  So maybe you hit 6 on turn 3.  Just lay down 5 and buy a silver.  Now they don't know you aren't playing optimally, and you can do this enough to stay close but once they start getting the hang of it, your "bad luck" ends.
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engineer

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2012, 07:20:46 pm »
0

I introduced 4 people last week and it went very well (my best introduction to date):

1- play "first kingdom". Demo a few hands do they see how it works. Them play the game with no strategic discussion. I played smithy/bm and won easily.

2- debrief. Explain how smithy big money works. Explain the concept of dead draw. Explain the opportunity cost of not buying silver

3- play first kingdom again. Tell everyone that you will be playing a very different strategy. Again, no strategy talk during the game. Play Geronimo's optimized 1st game engine. Watch their faces when you consistently draw your entire deck and buy 2 provinces

4- debrief. Talk about engines. Talk about trashing and the importance of understanding your limits (ie 5 cards, 1 action, 1 buy)

5- game three: introduce a new board. Make sure it has workshop and gardens. As well as engine potential. People have a chance to build an engine, while you rush gardens.

6- debrief: explain "rush" strategies.

7- now just play random set-ups. First game should include a curser, otherwise just randon. We never repeated a card (and I would skip cards like Scout)

8- after a few games, introduce a colony game. Then a potion game

We ended up playing for 7 hours. Everyone loved it.

In 4p games, I won a lot, but came second a few times. One guy came last every game, but it didn't seem to bother him.

Both couples went out and bought 3 sets each immediately afterwards.


These people had all played Catan before, but otherwise were not hard core gamers.

Ed

This is the way I do it.  I've only gotten the chance to teach 2 people so far (most of my friends thumb their noses at board/card games), but this strategy has worked well in both cases.

Edit: I'm also insanely jealous that you already have a half dozen friends with which to play dominion IRL.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2012, 07:23:57 pm by engineer »
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Beyond Awesome

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2012, 09:34:38 pm »
+1

Let me tell you a story of how not to teach Dominion.

So, my brother learned from some friends. His first game was Alchemy, Prosperity with Black Market thrown in. I think they were playing with the big box. He told me about that game and said he didn't like Dominion at all. Which is unfortunate because I love Dominion, but now my brother won't play against me. I didn't get a chance to teach him first because he lives in a different state but he is visiting for summer break.

So, don't introduce Black Market in the first ever game. Don't introduce an alternative cost like Potions in the first game. Save that stuff for later.
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yudantaiteki

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2012, 09:47:11 pm »
+1

This probably goes without saying, but playing slowly is important for new players too.

I remember my first game -- on the third or fourth turn, I made my buy and then had to reshuffle and pick up my five cards.  I was just starting to look at what I had drawn when "Hey Chris, it's your turn, and you need to resolve 2 bureaucrats against you before you go." 
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sitnaltax

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2012, 11:35:16 pm »
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I agree with Ozle: By constructing the set yourself, you are making a set that you understand. Try a random set (or one from the back of a rulebook) and then if you see a strategy that is going to lead to degenerate or miserable games, like FV/Torturer or Minion rush, switch a couple cards out for something harmless like Oasis.
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Kuildeous

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2012, 11:04:19 am »
+1

I'm starting to think the best way to teach new players is to not play at all.

If you have only have one player, then this is moot. If you have two or more players than have them play against each other and watch. You can give commentary to each player as they decide on what to do...or just leave them alone and let them discover their own combos. After a couple of games, they should have the gist of it and can now learn how to get their asses kicked.
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Kahryl

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2012, 02:18:38 pm »
+6

Two things.

1. DO NOT TEACH YOUR FRIENDS DOMINION. Ignore advice above that asks you to. When I'm learning a new game the last thing I want is a master player yammering at me about engines and BM and greening phases and cantrips. Stick to clarifying the rules WHERE THERE IS CONFUSION and answering tactical questions WHEN THEY ARE ASKED.  When they open with Estate, bite your tongue. Bite it OFF if you have to.

2. Handicap yourself, then play to win. My favorite way of handicapping is to simply skip a turn every x turns. Have x start at 2, then increase it slowly as friends learn (by thinking for themselves, learning from their mistakes, and watching your plays, not by being lectured at).
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 02:21:04 pm by Kahryl »
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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #22 on: August 20, 2012, 02:39:30 pm »
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I have to agree with Kahryl, even though I fall prey to the mistake of 'teaching the game' myself. Much of the joy of dominion is the revelation of discovering tactics for yourself anyway, and having some guy tell you what to do all the time just reinforces the idea that you're a novice, which isn't fun.

The best thing you can do is foster an environment where they enjoy playing it, however you manage that, because the only way you're going to get a good match is if somebody becomes passionate about the game but of course this depends greatly on the people involved, and you may find you simply don't have any mates who will do that. If they are the right sort of player then they will be curious about advanced strategies and naturally be inquisitive. If they do not go in this direction then really what can you say other than they are not the opponent you are looking for.

Two tips:
1. If you really think someone will like dominion, then consider just buying the damn thing for them to let them find out for themselves. "Oh, yeah, you should check this out by the way, I think you'll like it." Don't hype it up, just let them discover it.
2. I would second the consideration of not playing, simply moderating/refereeing - this lets two people relax a lot more both competitively and also in terms of getting the rules right because they know you'll step in if something is amiss.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 02:41:13 pm by Octo »
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Ozle

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #23 on: August 20, 2012, 03:41:05 pm »
+1

Also, teach them by playing the basic kingdoms, they are perfect, completely not flashy and easy to grasp.

I dont agree with the idea of handicapping yourself, you do that and they win then they think their way of playing is good, thus stunting further growth.

Play the base sample games until they get the hang of it, it'll be boring for you, but not for them!
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Kahryl

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Re: Keeping your friends
« Reply #24 on: August 20, 2012, 04:20:42 pm »
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Also, teach them by playing the basic kingdoms, they are perfect, completely not flashy and easy to grasp.

I dont agree with the idea of handicapping yourself, you do that and they win then they think their way of playing is good, thus stunting further growth.

Play the base sample games until they get the hang of it, it'll be boring for you, but not for them!

If they win easily you're handicapping yourself too much. Do just enough that they gotta rethink.

Not handicapping yourself is a bad way to teach, too; no matter what they do they'll lose by a landslide. How are they going to judge what's better in that environment?
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