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"Help to New Players at Conventions" Topic


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390 hits since 21 Jan 2013
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Comments or corrections?

Stryker Inactive Member21 Jan 2013 10:53 p.m. PST

I am running Johnny Reb III at conventions in the mid-west.
What do you think about having a "Help Card" that each player at a convention game will be given to have the judge help them make a decision for a unit? Each player given 1, 2 or 3 "Help" cards that when they would like a suggestion or help on what action or which units they should shoot at. Maybe 3 for beginners and 1 for a player who has played before. This would not be a help to let them know where to avoid hidden units or knowledge of a new unit coming on. Instead to help with one unit on maybe telling them to attack this unit ahead or go down south further to flank them.
Any suggestions or what do you think of this?

Personal logo Streitax Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 12:44 a.m. PST

I prefer to advise players of options if they are having trouble and pointing out the pluses and minuses. I don't like it when the judge steps in and directs the action. Just my preference.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 3:41 a.m. PST

What Streitax said. I think its a decent idea for
kids, but the times I've tried to offer suggestions
to adults, I was (politely) told 'I'd rather figure
out my own options' or similar.

corporalpat22 Jan 2013 4:29 a.m. PST

Having a QRS so players know the rules is fine, but GMs should avoid telling players how to play. It's generally considered bad form especially at conventions.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 5:20 a.m. PST

You should always help new players to the rules with game mechanics. I think new players (new to mini gaming) should also be shown some options. For more experienced gamers I'd be more inclined to say, What do you want to do? Okay, here is how we do that." I honestly don't like the card idea. If a player needs help, they need help. The GM is there to help them have fun, not tell thyem they can onlt ask two questions.

Personal logo Jlundberg Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 6:13 a.m. PST

I agree that in a friendly learning game, the GM should be able to explain the rules mechanics of any action.
"I have this unit of fresh troops in charge range of this line of battered troops.
How does it work if I charge, advance to close range, hold my position in the woods and fire."
For Johnny Reb, the conversation needs to take place confidentially since the orders the other commander chooses make a difference in how it turns out.
It turns into a if you do A and he does J, then ……

GROSSMAN Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 6:33 a.m. PST

Beyond explaining their options, I would let them learn while they burn. Understanding the rules is different from understanding tactics, and in some cases new players no nothing about either. I would leave coaching to another player on their side who can explain the situation and how the rules affect what they want to do, but aside from that let them learn the hard way.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 7:25 a.m. PST

I love JR and am glad to see new folks being introduced to it.

That said, I HATE playing with (or against)newbies because there are so many not-obvious tactics that the rules allow, so an experienced player can get far more out of his units. JR has a fairly steep learning curve.

Just as an example, a long range artillery shot at a flank is often much better than a close range shot at a front. In a multi-player convention game the smart player looks for ways to help his teammate, often by precisely that, shooting at a flank of an enemy that is not even opposing his own troops.

Another example: elite troops with BMP2 or veterans at BMP 3 and a leader can exploit the skirmish and reform movements to do almost magical maneuvers against flanks or through gaps.

I have no opinion about the HELP cards, but new players who are trying to figure JR out on his own will be at a great disadvantage if facing an experienced player.

Billy Yank22 Jan 2013 7:36 a.m. PST

I would offer advice with the mechanics whenever asked, but let them figure out their own tactics. Perhaps assign a more experienced player as a CINC for each side. Then the new guys can go to him for tactical advice.

Billy Yank

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 8:28 a.m. PST

Ditto to what Billy Yank said. If I see a player doing something that is going to turn out badly for him, only because he does not know the implication of what will happen in my rules, then I step in and give him some options and then let him make his choice.

For example, in my rules, it is much better to fire at a unit than to charge it or it is better for SYW era infantry to remain in line, rather than form a square, when facing cavalry.

Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 9:21 a.m. PST

I have been a GM many times and I regard a huge part of my job as making sure everyone enjoys the game. It is pretty common for folks to use conventions to play rules and/or periods they have never played before. There should be no limit to what newbies can ask. Also the experienced players should help out when necessary (I'm only one guy, for pete's sake!).

Think of it this way. If you like playing Johnny Reb, or Fire & Fury or Biblical Hack or (you get the idea) by helping newbies you may be creating a fun opponent for the next time.

JCBJCB22 Jan 2013 10:54 a.m. PST

I'd be grateful for the help, and the cards sound like a nifty idea.

Personal logo Endless Grubs Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 11:21 a.m. PST

I like the card idea and, after the game, let the players keep the QRS and make sure it has the name of the rules, edition, and your name and email in case folks want to refer back to it and/or ask you related questions down the road.

Arrigo22 Jan 2013 12:29 p.m. PST

Mastered at a lot of convention and always tried to point out things. It is not a competition. I think the cards are silly, looks like you bother to cater to the player only if they show you the card.

In my view a convention open game is a game were you meet some people who are really passionate about a topic and a rule set and you enjoy a game with them. The more I was chatting with the players the better.

Thus I prefer quick scenarios at conventions were players play, enjoy, and then move forward opposed to large giant scenarios (these works only with proper GM, and in my case usually it was me and my cousin, and if my cousin was in good mood he was very helpful, otherwise not). I am not against large scenarios, but they require more staff effort and staff quality. Plus I have realized often convention player are scared of too long games.

Another thing that help a lot is having scenario where people can quickly understand the situation and their role. Tried heavily scripted long scenarios and they were quite bad. Not worth the effort me and the 'family' put into them and usually they quickly the scripting was going out of the windows. Instead I have done some 'exploration' scenarios, usually in urban setting where the human players were all on one side and the game (with my help) was running the Opfor. In this case the scripting was working (with 'random' events happening) and because the players were a team and I usually was quite supportive of them there were much less problems about huge tactical errors.

I have reached the conclusion that open games at convention cannot be straight red vs blue situation with people interested to win at all cost on both sides.

Arrigo22 Jan 2013 12:33 p.m. PST

By the way, even if you tell a player is about to do a war winning (for the other side) mistake, he will often not listen to you. Saddest moment in my gaming life was when a player started to cry because he lost his armored column. The game had opposing players (the scenario was supposed to be played Blue vs the system but a previous blue player asked me if he could have tried the red) and it is a thing I never want to repeat. Time to time I have the Opfor doing something silly just to see the reaction of the players.

Stryker Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 5:01 p.m. PST

That is why I love this forum.

You can throw out an idea and see what others say and get info from others that have experience.

Thanks for all the input!

coastal222 Jan 2013 5:17 p.m. PST

Not a fan of the cards idea. I usually let it be known that I'm open to any and all questions and/or discussions. I also keep a eye on the players and if I see someone who is struggling (particularly with the rules) I'll just start a casual conversation. Often its only a question of how to do X withing the confines of the rules, sometimes just being a sounding board for the player on a particular move. The primary idea is to make it an enjoyable event for everyone.

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