An essential part of any game evening, nailing the ‘teach’ is defined as the start of a wonderful evening. Understanding it can help save valuable time, increase accessibility for new players, and cut down on your workload.

But what exactly is ‘the teach’ and how can you optimise your approach to nailing it and enjoying a quality evening with your friends?

What is “The Teach”?

Describing how easy the rules of a game are to pass on, ‘the teach’ is how efficient and effective a game is for new players to comprehend. This can range from games that are fundamentally easy to grasp like Carcassonne all the way to absolute monstrosities such as Mage Knight that come with umpteen caveats and considerations.

Going into a session knowing how difficult your teach is can help you plan better, make the right calls about the games you play, and improve the quality of your group’s time. Failing to consider a game’s teach can result in anything from wasted time to an evening going off the rails entirely.

Mastering the teach is part science and part art, with different groups needing different concessions and each game differing from the next. While it’s essential to build experience (and confidence) over time, understanding the process can bring about improvements to your game nights with minimal effort.

What can slow you down?

If your sessions keep ending up delayed or tougher than you need to be, it’s worth taking some time to consider the obstacles in your path. Some of the most common pains in the neck include-

Lack of Prep: No matter whether you’re hosting or playing, failing to do a little legwork beforehand can quickly create issues. Players may not know the rules, never mind the genre of a game, or fail to roll up characters or other ‘busywork’ that then ends up stealing a session’s momentum.

Inherent Complexity: Some games are just tougher to explain than others. While a game’s key mechanics may be simple, the size of the decision space or how key elements interact can lead to confusion and a difficult teach.

Attention Deficit: It’s undeniable that boardgaming requires effort and energy, no matter how experienced you may be. All too often, a hard day of work, lack of food, or other issues can make it easier for players to pick up rules or stay focused…even when they absolutely want to.

What are some helpful tips?

If you’re struggling to get your teach under control, there are a number of quick and simple tips that can make a massive difference to every group. These include-

Printing your BGG Notes: If you’re looking for helpful extras, BGG is swamped with printable crib notes, documents, and rules breakdowns that you can pass out to your players. Doing so can help keep them right or make learning the game quick and clean.

Sending Out Videos: With so many sites dedicated to covering games and teaching rules, its never been easier to simplify your teach by passing on videos to your players. While few people may have time to watch a forty minute rules explanation, anyone can spare some time for a five minute breakdown or watching a review over lunch to help better understand the context of play.

Set the scene: If you’re looking to instruct your group, having your space put together can have a massive impact. Always clear, clean, and tidy your space alongside removing any distractions that can draw the eye. That means no Netflix, video games or other elements. Choosing the right playing surface and space can also help the group come together and pick things up with ease. Our line of options even has helpful extras like tablet stands for screening explainer videos or replaceable leaves if you want to stop for a refreshing meal or pause the game for another time.

What games have a good teach?

4 | Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion (2020)

Designed to be an introduction to Isaac Childres’ Gloomhaven line, Jaws is specifically designed to help players learn the rules in a way that works. Beginning with a simplified ruleset, parts and pieces are added from game to game until your group are making complex calls and calculations with ease. This helps streamline the teach for a notoriously complex series and have your group up to speed just in time for Frosthaven!

6 | Mechs vs. Minions (2016)

Praised since its release, Mechs takes all the learning from its developers work in video games and applies it to this marvellous programming masterpiece. Played over a series of sittings, the game not only elegantly helps teach the rules with fantastic handouts and materials but adds an additional wrinkle to each game, making learning something new part of the experience.

2 | Scythe (2016)

While the game may be infamous as ‘complex catan’, Stonemaier games have done an exceptional job in making the game as easy to teach and learn as possible. The instruction manual is quick and clear and sponsored sessions from experts like Rodney Smith. Add in the Rise of Fenris expansion’s approach to teaching additional rules through a bespoke legacy format, and the game is truly hard to fault.

1 | Cockroach poker (2004)

Sometimes, it’s just better to learn by doing. Even the simplest of games can be tough to teach in abstract, which makes setting up an example extremely effective. Choosing two players at your table to walk through a dummy turn instantly cements the experience in your player’s minds and get the ball rolling on a night of fun with your pals.

Do you have any other tips or suggestions?! Tell us in the comments below :)

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