Three Tips on Demoing Board Games
I’d like to share
two three tips on demoing board games to people:
#1: Play the most basic game possible
Perhaps the game you want to introduce your friends to has some expansions that make your experience better, or there’s a higher difficulty mode. That’s great for people who have the lingo & pacing of the game down, but don’t introduce that right away.
Yeah, I know some of you will respond with “but that makes the game better!” Sure, it does. But if learning it is overwhelming or extra-difficult, then the people you’re introducing the game to will likely end their first time playing with a negative emotional context. And if your goal is to bring people into the game so you can play with them again, don’t do that.
Here are some magic words: “Okay, if you thought that was fun, wait until you check out what we’ll add next time.” Think of it like being a dealer; the first hit’s easy to get.
#2: Don’t be competitive
There’s a guy I’m acquainted with. Let’s call him Bob. What Bob does is find people to try new games with, explain some of the rules, and then play hard and win because of some obscure rule or combo that he didn’t explain.
He’s notorious for that. And it’s like being a cougar looking for weak prey. There are people who don’t want to play those games now, and that’s lame. Don’t be a Bob.
I recall an experience at Gen Con many years ago, when the History Channel game Anachronism came out. The guy demoing it for me was a total ass, what we would today in this enlightened age call a “bro”. He seemed proud to beat me, a guy learning the game for the first time. I wrote him off as a cockbite, but I didn’t let it dissuade me from the game. (As gaming is research for me.) But others would. And that’s, again, lame.
Be open. Teach people the game throughout play, not just at the start. Get them closer to the same page as you, and then get competitive after that first game’s done.
#3: If you’re learning the game as well, be upfront about that
In the comments, Jesse pointed out a good thing that is worth editing this post from two to three tips! :D
If you don’t know the game you’re playing, be clear that this is a learning experience for you as well. Let people decide whether they want in on that or not before you sit down to try the game. (For more, read the comments.)
What are your tips?
Add in the comments!
 Take your pick.
 And since the URL doesn’t have the number in there, I’m thankful for that accidental foresight.