Saturday, October 04, 2008

Puerto Rico as an Intro Game

We had Nadine and Yael over for dinner. Nadine is a long time game groupie and Yael is a new student of Rachel's with no particular game experience. Somehow we convinced her to stay for a game after dinner.

I was nervous about using Puerto Rico as the first game for a new player thinking that it's complications would scare her off. Nadine argued otherwise. She said that Puerto Rico's very difference with other games is interesting to new players and she has experience explaining the game to new players in a way they can understand.

As usual I was appalled with the way Nadine explains PR. She start by handing out barrels to the player, taking some herself, laying out the ships, and then walking through shipping. Then she backs up and mentions production buildings and plantations and colonists, and then a little about buildings. Then she points to the roles and privileges and starts the game.

This is nothing like what I do when I explain the game. I explain the goal of the game, and the primary means of acquiring these goals. Then I mention the basic round structure, a little about each role, and the privileges. Then I review explaining how to combine the roles and rounds into the two major paths (to building and to shipping), and where the challenge of the game comes in. Then how and when the game ends. Then we start the game.

Somehow new players still manage to do well with Nadine's method, although she continues explaining parts of the game through the first few rounds. I also continue explaining during the first few rounds, but only to explain implications of what the choices mean, and the idea behind which buildings to consider.

Anyhoo ...

Usually the new player wins the game but this time Nadine won at 52 points. She had Factory and Guild Hall. Rachel and I tied exactly at 48 points + three items. I had an early coffee and Harbor. Rachel had Harbor, too. Yael ended with 42 points. She had Factory and a tobacco monopoly for much of the game.

Yael enjoyed herself. I still think that For Sale, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, etc. probably make better intro games.


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