As you know, if you’ve read any of my other recent posts or tweets, I am just starting out in the X-Wing Miniatures game. I played my first game the other day and had a really good experience and I thought how important the first few opponents are when you start out in a new system.
The first few people that you play when starting out define the first impression that you have of the game and, as importantly for me, the kind of people that play that game. I want to know that not only am I going to enjoy the game but that I’m going to have a good time playing it.
If you and a friend are both fumbling around a new system then that is different. I’m talking here about an established player getting someone into an established system. So what’s important? What makes a difference to the new player?
For me it is the little things:
“I should have…” – If the new player forgets to add a token or forgets a skill or ability then let it go. If the player remembers after the event then let them add it or perform it. If you notice that they forgot to use a skill then let them know.
Help the new player form good habits – If you have a tip or some advice about the gameplay then let the new player know as you do it yourself. So if you always place action tokens at a certain time, or always turn your players round after they’ve moved, then in a friendly way pass on this advice.
I won! – Don’t play your super killer list or run up the score. As the experienced player the win for you should be that the new player wants to come back and play the game again. More people talking about the game and getting involved can breath new life into your hobby.
Commentate – As you perform your actions do a little running commentary and support the new player in doing the same , ‘this player is shooting this player at this range so it’s this many dice’. It helps to reinforce the mechanics of the game and helps to clarify the thoughts that the new player is probably having. It works better with some games than others, but there are always ways that this can be done.
Just be normal – This can be hard for some gamers, but just be nice and normal. It’s difficult to meet new people and it can be daunting to pit your wits against someone you’ve just met in a new game. But just chat, make sure the new player is comfortable with the environment if they are new to the club, talk to them about normal things like a normal person. Don’t make assumptions that the person has the same depth of hobby or game love that you do. Find that out through conversation. You know that the person wants to get into this game so use that as common ground and work from there. Why do they want to start playing the game? Have the played anything similar? What other games do they play? Do that before you start talking about some obscure reference in a Horus Heresy novel.
What are your good and bad experiences of starting out in a new game? What do you do when introducing a new player to your favourite game?
So, next time you are teaching someone a game or playing someone who is just starting out, keep in mind the impact that you have on that person and their opinion of your game. You could have a new opponent for the future or you could turn someone off for good.