Usually when I play a game, I do it by myself. Just to learn the game so it’s easier to teach later on. When I teach a game the first play never counts either way. I need to see that some of the mechanics click for people. Because I alsp need to see that first game and feel some things click for me too.
I recentlt palyed Santa Maria for the first time with my fiancé. She kicked my behind and won, but man was it a good game. Many things to keep track of but never feeling overwhelmed. Using blue dice to activate building left to right, white dice to activate up to down and maybe uae some coins to activate specific buildings. Lets just say that some of the reason I lost was my wheat empire… It was not a solid strategy! Who woulda thunk?
But back to the topic. I feel many games are hard to really grasp before completing a game that uses points as a winning factor. Before you see potential multipliers, negatives and so on. The first time new players play 7 wonders it is especially clear to me. Even if you say it, people tend to forget what goves points, how they gain multipliers, that depending on which age you are in you get more and more points for military victories and so on.
This is why I have adapted the “session zero” idea from role playing games. The first time you play a game, it does not count. After that… You are on your own. Well, not really, if I see someonenmake a wierd move I usually ask. Maybe the see something I don’t. Maybe they want to try something out. If not, I try to be helpful. Depending on who I play with and what game it is. If it’s a cutthroat versus game I might be less inclined to help. 🙂 But at the same time, a friend of mine wants to learn how to fly in formation in X-Wing, of course I let him redo his turns to a certain degree. But when he has learned it better he will be a huge threat and I will use his mistakes against him. As he will use mine against me.
Then we gave the games that can’t have a session zero. For example Twilight Imperium. A game that takes that long can not have this. You will have to learn during. I have only plsyed it once, I loved it, I know some of the mistakes I made. I will be better next time. That is one cutthroat game… player elimination can ve a harsh mistress. And in this game she can be more harsh than in most other. It feels wrong to eliminate a player in this game, that is basically the only reason not to do it. A game that can take 12 hours the first time you play and maybe get eliminated after 3 hours… Oh the joy. Let us play this again please. It was so much fun sitting there watching you play…
Or the first time I played Wingspan. We were 5 people, but the game does not take that long to play. None of us had played ut before and we all sat down and listened to the rules as we went on… Even though it is far from the mhe most advanced games any of us had played, it was clear that this is not the way to play. 🙂 Still decided to buy the game afterwards… after spending 4 hours on one game of it… because it was obvious that we liked it.
This is why I sit down by myself and play the game by myself. Even if it does not always work and my head almost explodes for all the possibilities that two players can do (Cooper Island). That and you can easier see how many points something can give. Even if I read it, it does not stick until the points are counted.
How do your first impressions of a game look?
Play more games!!!