21 May 2014

Hosting a Demo Game by Cliff

A few weeks ago I mentioned that a guy named Cliff was trying to revitalize/ start the X-Wing scene here in Evansville, Indiana by doing some demo games at the local stores. I attended one of his demos and he has a pretty interesting way of getting new folks into the game without overwhelming them. He's done a write-up of his system that I'd like to share with y'all. Take it away Cliff!

I have recently volunteered to host a series of demo games at 3 stores that sell the X-wing game. As I write this, it occurred to me that I’ve taught this game in multiple informal settings prior to the store demos. I’ve taught it to nephews at different family reunions and I’ve taught it at Boy Scout summer camp to about a dozen teenagers. I’ve taught adult co-workers, fellow archaeologists, when we were out on an excavation with not much going on at night when the work day was done. Some of the players I’ve taught had not even seen the movies, but they could tell from the excitement around the table that they too wanted to play this game.

I’d like to share a few tips that I’ve come up with to help explain the game to noobs. First, the game owner needs to do some prep work. Don’t just bring your collection as is. To break the game down into bite size chunks I created a bunch of 50 point packets. In each plastic bag is also all the tokens that each player will need. (That’s a great time saver by itself.) I don’t want to overwhelm a new player and about 50 points is all they should be expected to keep track of. Remember 50 points can be 4 Tie Fighters and that’s a handful! For the store demos I preplanned a 3 vs 3 game for 150 points on each side. In one demo that was a perfect fit; in another a vetern player showed up, so that person fielded 100 points while I and the new player simply picked 2 pre-packaged packets (and I gave the new player choice of the 3).

Another thing I do is to not overwhelm the new players with too many rules before the first game even begins. An example being all discussion of pilot skill can be eliminated if the game owner prestocks the movement bases with the number tokens in squential order. No longer am I X-wing # 8 because its my favorite number, but because I’m the 8th ship to move.

(As shown in the photo this is how I bring my stands to the demo game. It’s a great time saver to not have to dig through your collection looking for a specific ship’s base thus creating more game time.)

Another tip for not overwhelming a noob with rules is to delay talking about collisions until one happens. I say something like “Don’t hit the asteriods, but WHEN you do we’ll talk about it.”

I also simplify the Target Lock tokens. I have some from a 3rd party vendor that are numbered and sometimes I’ve had to put a sticker on the tokens that came with the game. So now Target Lock #2, matches ship #2 and that ship is the second pilot to move. That’s much more straight forward than the alternative of having: Pilot skill 6, moves 3rd, is labeled 9 and has a Target Lock of G.

I also like to designate the more powerful ships with 2 pegs and the peons with 1. That way the players can remember which X-wing is Luke at a quick glance.

The next thing I’ve done is to create a poster that explains the card stats, the symbols on the dice and has a turn Sequence listed. In the 3 vs 3 game at the most recent demonstration I could see the players looking at it to answer their own questions. Later on when the game was almost finished, I was still in teaching mode; whereas, the players had mastered the sequence already so ironically I was slowing down game play instead of enhancing it.

A couple memorable sound bites are: Spin your Wheels, Move Up, Shoot Down. Those phrases are great shorthand for what happens in a turn.

(The above poster was made with an oversized card from a tournament promotional pack)

So there ya have it. Let Cliff know what you think of his demo system in the comments! 

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