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Hockeyzombie

Teaching a new player

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Next Saturday I'll be teaching someone how to play Armada. He's not new to miniatures games, so he should learn fairly quickly. I was thinking 300 point lists without a lot of the more complicated cards. I don't want to just run a core set game, because I find it a little dull and it doesn't really feel like a full game of Armada*. I'm thinking I'll mostly use long or medium range ships, since they're more forgiving than a Gladiator or MC30. I'm also planning to go light on squadrons for both lists. I do know I want to include an ISD and one of the MC80 variations in the lists, but I could be talked down if someone can convince me that I shouldn't. 

My plan is to build two lists and give the other guy the option to play whichever he'd prefer. 300 is what I'm leaning towards but I'm interested in hearing suggestions. I'm also debating just building two identical lists but since they'd be Imperial I'm wondering if it would just turn into a brawl without a lot of strategy beyond praying to RNGesus for good rolls. 

 

*I know that it isn't a full game of Armada but using just the core set doesn't seem like an accurate representation of what it's like to play a real game of Armada, hence the 300 points and simple upgrades approach. 

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The core set does not represent the full game BUT it does give a new person the ability to understand what is actually quite a complicated process of moving and firing, giving orders and how they all link into each other.

 

may at be worth running core set for a few turns.

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Uhh.... so I've been demoing games the better part of twenty years, getting people hooked on them, and my honest advice is...

Start with the Core Set game. Make sure to explain that it isn't a 'full' game of Armada, but rather one that teaches the basics of movement and dial placement and so on. Maybe make some bad moves intentionally to show him the importance of thinking ahead in the game - I've found that it's a lot easier to lose as Imperials then Rebels in the core game. Vics are unforgiving.

That shouldn't take long; what, half an hour? That way he's got the basics under his belt. THEN move onto a 300-point game as you planned, without a lot of upgrades.

Good demoing of a game takes it in slow stages.

1) VERY cut down, bare minimum of play possible within the constraints of the system, culling anything but the basic elements on the tabletop itself - gets them used to the basic ideas of the game.

2) Basic game at some small, rarely used level of play - adding in some extras, including some things that are actually NECESSARY for legal play (in Armada's case the Leader cards), but keeping the complicated interactions to a minimum.

3) Actual game, with complicated interactions and some level of meta play.

 

Malifaux's Starter Box does this curve near perfectly (though it drags it out a bit IMHO). First scenario, just two basic Minions in melee so players learn how cardflips and damage works. Then, two Minions on each side so players learn how charges and movement works. Then, adding Henchmen in charge of the Minions, each carefully designed to showcase a different mechanic so players learn how these mechanics work without overloading them with new information. Then, adding one complicated model to each side with a lot of options so the players learn what actual Malifaux minis are often like: overburdened with choice. THEN, finally, a real game with the last honest-to-Ghost rules added in.

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At the very least I'm likely to double up, as if we were using two cores. That way the Victory doesn't have to spam navigates just to avoid getting flanked. I suppose we can get through it reasonably quickly. Still, any suggestions on things I definitely should/shouldn't do for the 300 point game? I want to introduce at least one upgrade with a critical effect, as well as commanders. Squadrons will probably be simple but I might give each side an ace. Luke and Howlrunner probably. 

Edited by Hockeyzombie

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But it's not a real game. It's a teaching game meant to get concepts across - and if spamming Navigates is important to the Victory-class, then that's a good concept to get across, no?

You're making a classic mistake - "If I don't show them what the REAL game is like, they won't be interested in it." But really, if keep it to small steps, you let them get a feel for the game FIRST as a friendly one with few crucial decisions, then gradually build up.

For the actual game... Doubling the basic game doesn't sound like such a bad idea. It keeps your newbie to ships that he's already used once, though with Victories it might be a negative play experience, so maybe swapping one Victory for a Gladiator (without Demolisher title) and/or an Arquitens might be a good idea.

Howlrunner and Luke are good - really, at this point you want to get the idea across that "Some squadrons want to attack enemy ships, some squadrons want to protect their ships" so the X-Wing/TIE dynamic is good at that. Maybe even change the Rebel group to mixed X-Wings/Y-Wings (to make Escort more interesting and introduce Heavy) and the Imperial group to TIE Fighters/Interceptors (to introduce Counter and use the entire movement ruler).

I think that the crit effects are something you could leave until a later game, once they're used to how different ships move and interact and how to out-activate an opponent. I'd keep the weapon upgrades to "Roll more attack dice" and include one exhaust effect like Wulff per side. I actually like the basic box upgrades (Leia, Wulff, and so on) for being very basic, but still teaching you to pay attention to what wins games: Commands and command tokens.

For commanders... well, there's always the core box ones, but I think that Darth Vader and Mon Mothma both are good commanders which showcase how commanders change up the game without being a static, somewhat boring upgrade (Motti, Rieekan) or giving TOO much choice and complication (Madine, Jerrjerod).

Just some thoughts. I'm no veteran Armada player, but I've been wargaming for long enough to know how - and more important how NOT to - do demos.

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I'd also highly recommend using the core game only to do a demo/learning game first with.
Best to start with the learning scenarios fleets, then a small game with minimally upgraded fleets, and then if they want more/are interested build up into bigger games.
Starting with a more "normal" sized game with multiple ships and upgrades and non-generic squadrons can get very overwhelming and frustrating very quickly even for those with gaming experience and can result in a loss of interest.
 

Let the player you're teaching choose being Rebels or Imperials.
I was taught playing as Imperials (because Star Destroyer, duh...) and I didn't find it as a disadvantage to run the Victory and generic TIEs.
It is also better to learn using generic squadrons and ships and then if they want more you can add on the named squadrons and upgrades later.
Best to learn how the generics and the game in general functions before using things that break the normal cycle(like Demolisher or Rieekan...).

If they want more after the intro game, give them a link to one of the online fleet builders, like this one:
http://armadawarlords.hivelabs.solutions/

Then let them build a fleet based on what they like and what you and they(if they buy anything) have and play games from there.
They will figure out their own play style and interests fairly quickly if Armada is a game they want more of.

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I run demo games at our local store and the best way I've found is 400 points keep the fleets to one upgrade each and basic fighters Ties xwings ywings etc

Let them choose which fleet to play and crack on

Then slowly progress the game upwards after that 2 upgrade fleets more variety of fighters then 3 upgrades etc.

Depends how many demo games you get with a new player course.

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1 minute ago, Ma22a said:

I run demo games at our local store and the best way I've found is 400 points keep the fleets to one upgrade each and basic fighters Ties xwings ywings etc

Let them choose which fleet to play and crack on

Then slowly progress the game upwards after that 2 upgrade fleets more variety of fighters then 3 upgrades etc.

Depends how many demo games you get with a new player course.

I'm expecting to have time for somewhere around 2-4, depending on heavily on how the first one goes. If I do end up just using the contents of a core it and then using two cores, it could go pretty fast. If I use larger fleets that will naturally slow it down a bit as more ships will require a lot more thought. 

 

1 minute ago, Ginkapo said:

Explain your gameplan before you start. Dont surprise them with unexpected play. 

 

Yeah, I'm thinking I'll have a couple of basic 200 point lists ready and then ask if he wants to try the core set only, or play with the 200 point lists. Upgrades would be minimal and just do things like grant rerolls or extra dice. He's played X-Wing and a lot of different RPGs so I know he can handle complexity, and he's presumably pretty familiar with the 'exact words' nature of most upgrade cards. I'll leave objectives out of it at first just because the basic ones usually require playing towards a given strategy or would otherwise provide too much of an advantage to me. I'll leave those for when he has a feel for the turn structure and everything. 

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@iamfanboy This is all really good advice. I've been wondering about the same stuff when teaching new people, and even though I'm pretty new too, I really like learning all the rules and stuff so it can be difficult for me to judge what makes a good learning experience for people. You make some excellent and helpful points, so thank you.

Edit: And everyone else too! I had the tab open for a while so I hadn't seen all the new comments yet. Good stuff.

Edited by Villakarvarousku

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There is nothing wrong with teaching the core set for learning. That was the idea of it after all. Very important to let them choose which faction they would like to play. Explain the advantages of 1st vs 2nd player as it relates to activations, then give them the option to pick that as well. Less important that this is random in future games vs trying to make sure you cover simple core concepts command/shoot/move/squadrons.

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I agree just go with the core set starter game and keep it simple, armada is very complex and they are going to enjoy it more if you keep the game very simple. Anything else is likely to over face the person.

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Honestly @Hockeyzombie - you and your friend are the best judges of what your excitement and skill levels are...  If you find the Core set game boring and not a good starting point - that lack of excitement will show, and it won't be a good hook.

If you think your opponent is going to be able to grasp things quickly, with a good expalanation - then go for the larger, but more stripped down upgrade game...  Give a little variety, and somewhat.   

You are the better judge of that.  

Ideally, speaking from a game design to game learning territory - you should showcase core concepts.  What makes Armada Different or Defines it as a game.  If I were to list that, I'd go with:

Shoot-Then-Move

Multi-Dial Command Stacks

Ships vs Squadrons vs Squadrons vs Ships

Basic Rules Dicking-around with Upgrades.

Objectives

 

Cover those points, and you're giving a solid primer in a single game.  They can occasionally be better presentedin multiple escalating games (Malifaux style), but if Time is Short and/or Learning is expected to be quick - get them going and get them playing.

If they're interested, half of the Battle is Won....

 

All the Power to you, @Hockeyzombie :D

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Current plan is to be ready for a game with simple upgrades, and ask if he'd rather do that or the core set. Either way I'll give him his choice of faction. I'll also have three fairly basic objectives picked out for the first "real" game with fleets that can use them, something basic like Advanced Gunnery or Opening Salvo. Either way I'm going to keep it simple on squadrons. TIE Fighters, X-Wings, maybe Y-Wings and TIE Bombers. Maybe Luke and Howlrunner just to demonstrate the unique squadrons but I think that can wait for the second game. I'll probably find time to build the lists at work, so I'll probably toss them up on the fleet building forum and see what people think of them. After all, if he does want to start with just the core set (or two) I can always just pull that stuff out. If he's up for a more advanced tutorial I'll need to be ready. 

...That and playing a house-ruled Corellian Conflict is showing me that building lists under unusual restrictions can be fun. At the very least I'm gonna build a couple basic 300 point lists just to amuse myself at work. If he wants to do a core set game first I can just use these lists as a sort of "final exam" or something like that. 

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I've taught numerous intro games of Armada. I've started to find that the starter box is really not a great experience, as it either generally comes down to:

Imperial player loses all TIES , loses on squadron points.

Rebel player loses one ship, loses on those points.

Imperial player gets tabled.

Also, the back-and forth turn order is very poorly illustrated, and the dial game is not well iterated.

 

I've started doing more mixed sets to begin with. Even with those only experienced with boardgames.  The last game I ran was:

Rebels:

-MC80 Command Cruiser

-CR90

-2 x-wings

-2 y wings

 

Imperial:

-Victory II

-Arquittens Command Cruiser

-TIE A

-2 Bombers

-2 Fighters

 

The lists were a bit over complex on the fighter side, I believe Heavy and Escort were the biggest issues. Also there was a heavy favor to the Rebel Player (fortunately that was the new guy) By the end, he was starting to pick up the ideas, but I'm looking to tweak the list to something more along the lines of:

Rebels:

-AF MkII

-Nebulon B

-4 Z95s

-2 Y-wings

Imperials

-Vic II

- Arq CC

-4 TIE fighters

-2 TIE bombers

Equalizing the play field a bit. It gives each player two ships, each that require plenty of planning. Fighters and Bombers in their squad contingent, to show the two basic squadron  functions, and each player has a strong front-arc and strong side-arc ship.

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This has been a good thread to read. I plan on teaching the game to a guy tomorrow and was already googling around looking for good newborn-friendly lists that have synergy. I saw some old threads that didn't warrant a bump but I missed this one several times over the past day while doing general reading of the forums. I figured I'd build two lists and we'd run them after going over the rules, but this thread has me now thinking about just running a small core set game first with no upgrades and non-named squadrons, and then trying out a 3-400pt game. I'm still pretty new; I've only played four games so far, but I think I've got a good grasp on the rules with how much research I've done over the last few weeks. The person I'm playing plays X-Wing and Attack Wing, so there are some things that will be different (shoot THEN move, activating whichever ship versus X-Wing Pilot Skill levels, etc), but there are still a lot of similar concepts across both X-Wing and Armada, so I'm not worried about him. 

I'll continue looking for some good lists. I've got all of wave 1 and wave 2, plus a set of Gozantis and the Imperial Squadrons II pack. He has at least one of everything released, minus the Corellian Conflict. So we can build some diverse lists. 

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I mean I just kinda jumped into it with little to no experience and tried to do everything.  It worked but I didn't have any habits from other games.  The best advice I can say is just start with just ships and fighters no upgrades except commanders.

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On 5/7/2017 at 2:50 AM, iamfanboy said:

You're making a classic mistake - "If I don't show them what the REAL game is like, they won't be interested in it." But really, if keep it to small steps, you let them get a feel for the game FIRST as a friendly one with few crucial decisions, then gradually build up.

This.

I am still not overly comfortable on the bridge myself, and I haven't delved into the depths of large and/or complicated squadrons, flotilla use or the recent activation (controls or whatever) the top players do that is so crazy powerful. Anyway, I truly enjoyed playing the Starter game many times with quite a few friends before getting enough ships to play 300 on a side. Heck, I still have two Imperial Light Cruisers and a Raider still in their packaging.

Take it slow and they'll just want more, overwhelm them and the might not want or understand what they have. Enticement of more is always better.

Edited by clanofwolves

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I'm going to agree with iamfanboy and clanofwolves here.  The more basic you can make the starter game, the better.

 

In the intro game you want to be teaching:

  • Game phases
  • Command Dials/Stacks
  • Commands
    • Engineering
    • Navigate
    • Concentrate Fire
    • Squadron
  • Tokens
    • Engineering
    • Navigate
    • Concentrate Fire
    • Squadron
  • Maneuvering
    • Speed
    • Yaw
  • Firing Arcs
    • Range ruler use
  • Attack Sequence
    • Dice Pool
      • Anti-squadron
      • Anti-ship
      • Dice modification
    • Dice Effects
      • Damage/Crit Damage/ Accuracies vs ships
      • Damage/accuracies vs squadrons
    • Defense Tokens
      • Redirect
      • Brace
      • Evade
        • Long Range/Medium Range/Short Range
    • Damage and Critical effects
    • Shield Damage
    • Hull Damage
  • Squadrons
    • Squadron movement
    • Squadron Special Abilities
      • Bomber
      • Swarm
    • Squadron attacks
      • Anti Squadron
        • Damage/Accuracies
      • Anti Ship
        • Standard: Damage/ Accuracies
        • Bomber: Damage/ Crit Damage/ Accuracies

Which is to say...the basic rules of the game.  This is an exhaustive list, and is already plenty overwhelming, even for someone who has played X-Wing.  Keep it as simple as possible, do not use any upgrades, you can get to that in their third or fourth game once they have figured out the basic rules.  Heck short of a commander you never REALLY need any upgrade cards, so just leave them out.

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I've taught a couple of my friends how to play Armada. So far, the best experience I've had has been:

Ships

Commander

No Objective

 

That's it

 

No squadrons, no upgrade cards, no fluff. Just the base bones simplest aspect of a game about big ships blowing each other up. There's enough to keep track of for a new person between hull zones, firing arcs, command dials, defense tokens and whatever a commander does. I've played these simple games with 2 different people, and both of them want to play again... a lot.

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7 hours ago, thestag said:

I've taught a couple of my friends how to play Armada. So far, the best experience I've had has been:

Ships

Commander

No Objective

 

That's it

 

No squadrons, no upgrade cards, no fluff. Just the base bones simplest aspect of a game about big ships blowing each other up. There's enough to keep track of for a new person between hull zones, firing arcs, command dials, defense tokens and whatever a commander does. I've played these simple games with 2 different people, and both of them want to play again... a lot.

While I like and value squadrons, there certainly is some value to leaving them out of an intro game.  After all, you spend however many minutes explaining to your student how the ship side of the game works, sometimes that leaves them feeling overwhelmed.  To then go and explain the squad side, that ignores pretty much every rule you've explained to them so far....

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So a good stepladder game might be:

1) Victory-II Star Destroyer against the Neb Support Refit and a CR90B.

2) Nebulon Escort with 4 X-Wings against a Victory-II and 3 TIE Fighters.

3) Full-sized game, introducing the commanders and a few upgrades.

I think I'd like, allowing for a wider range than the core box, the first game to be Raider versus CR90 - very similar ships with radically different dice.

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