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Rule Book Struggles

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Leeton
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Joined: 04/28/2013

In a few days my first playtest with four newbies is taking place. I am going to be there to observe and take notes, and help them if they really don't know what to do, but other than that I'm mute.

I'm trying to compile a rule book for them and I'm realising that it's not as straightforward as I thought.

For the most part, the rules are straight forward. But I'm trying to think of the easiest way to describe the point system. Maybe you guys can help?

In my game, Hero cards have 1-3 powers. They go on missions, which have 1-6 power requisites. It's a symbol matching game, so heroes go on missions that match their powers in order to meet the requirements. This alone is wordy enough. Then there's the scoring...

Here's an example:

The heroes match all four power requisites on a mission. They receive 8 points. (Mission requisite # x 2)
The heroes match three of the four power requisites. They receive 4 points. (Mission requisite #)
The heroes match less than three of the four power requisites. The team receive -1 points. ( [Mission requisite # - 1 ] / 2, then rounded down)

These numbers are quickly accessed as each card has the three different points on it. However, I'm trying to figure out how to word this.

Am I going to need pictures with arrows to explain what each term/result actually means?

rene.shible
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Joined: 01/30/2014
You're already doing a fairly

You're already doing a fairly good job of expressing your ideas clearly and concisely. If you think new players won't be able to understand your ideas easily enough, you can probably just explain the most essential elements first without going into to much detail.

"in my game, heroes go on missions to earn points. Missions and heroes each have a variety of power symbols. The goal is to match heroes to missions that share the same symbols. The more symbols you can match to that mission, the more points you will earn"

You can follow this with a scoring table or a diagram with the pictures, arrows, etc. to describe scoring further. Pictures and arrows are a reeeeally easy way to understand what's displayed on a card after all.

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
Rulebook design

I had much difficulty with my rulebook because the game is fairly complex. It has a lot of components, there are quite a bit of things you need to know when playing, etc. When I explain the game in-person, it's not too bad, players can understand what they need to do and how the game is played.

However what I found is that when you FIND a rulebook that has a structure you can follow, the rest is as easy as pie. In my case I had to explain a lot of *concepts* before describe how a player plays his turn. Those concepts are not particularly complicated but there are MANY of them. For example I need to explain what a "Space Lane" is or the different types of spaceships, etc.

All in all I have a pretty good rulebook of about 4,500 words. It spans 30 pages (smaller sized booklet). It has a table of contents and a index to help refer to the various topics in the rulebook.

I'm very happy that I found a structure that I could follow and use for my game.

And so my suggestion is to DOWNLOAD a bunch of rulebooks from different games. Then see what structure works for you best, which one seems the most natural. From there you should be able to properly document your game based on an example of a rulebook that is already completed and readable by new players!

rene.shible
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Joined: 01/30/2014
Oh yeah totally, I couldn't

Oh yeah totally, I couldn't agree with questccg more. The rule books I've been taking cues from for my current project are Summoner Wars, Lords of Waterdeep, King of Tokyo and Stone Age as I appreciated how concise they were and just how the rules were explained and structured. Super Dungeon Explore, Battlestar Galactic, Formula D and Marvel Legendary, to say nothing of the games, were my 'what not to do' rules. I just found those rule books hard to follow somehow. Maybe it's just me, but it's something I took to heart!

Just to be clear, Formula D and Legendary are among my favourite games, I just had a hard time with those rule books.

jvallerand
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Joined: 10/12/2013
When writing rulebooks, just

When writing rulebooks, just like when you explain a game, here are the steps I like to follow:

1- What is the goal?
2- How do I reach the goal?
3- What does a turn look like?
4- What are my choices?
5- When does the game end?
6- What is the goal again?

For example, when I explain Dominion, it goes (roughly) as follows:
"The goal of the game is to have the most points, represented by those green cards (1). In order to do that, you must create a deck which allows you to acquire those cards more efficiently than other players (2). On your turn, you have 3 phases: first, you may play an action card; second, you play your treasure cards, and may buy one card from the supply; third, you take all cards you played, your remaining hand, and cards you bought, put them in your discard, and draw to 5 cards. If your draw pile is empty, you shuffle your discard and create a new draw pile from it (3). The possible cards you can buy change each game, but in this instance, [explain cards] (4). When three piles are empty, or if the Province pile is, then game ends at the end of the turn (5). Then, we each count the number of points we have in our deck, and the one with the most points win (6)."

Rulebook would therefore follow this sort of pattern:
- Brief overview (covering 1 and 2)
- Turn overview (3, and most of 4)
- End game (5)
- Scoring (6)
- Appendix: all cards (remainder of 4)

Then again, you don't have to do it like that. It's just how I do mine.

jvallerand
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Joined: 10/12/2013
Leeton wrote:Am I going to

Leeton wrote:
Am I going to need pictures with arrows to explain what each term/result actually means?

During my training as a teacher, they thought us a rule of thumb: every time you explain something, 1/3 of those who receive the explanations won't get it. If you explain twice, 1/3 of those 1/3 still won't get it. After 5 explanations, 1/243 still won't have gotten it.

My point is that students are dumb. Corollary to that, people in general are dumb. You're better off explaining it one time too many than one time too few.

Leeton
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Joined: 04/28/2013
I'm off to hunt my old rule

I'm off to hunt my old rule books... I used to have a good few in a box purely because I enjoyed reading them. I hope I still have that somewhere...

The more I go into it the more I realise a few pictures will make it far clearer and quicker to grasp. It's not a hard game to grasp, just some cards have a lot of different (colour coded) numbers. A few arrows on a picture would sort it out. There goes my hope of not needing a proper sized rule book! The game has now moved from a tuck box to an actual box, purely to fit the rules in. :P

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
For new players

It's better is your rulebook is a little bit bigger with more images and explanations then having a rulebook that does not provide sufficient explanations for new players. You might feel very comfortable with your rules because you designed the game. And as you already know, being there to *coach* players may be good with personal playtests, you cannot do that with the people who will be buying your game. So your only recourse is to have a GOOD rulebook which explains the game clearly.

If you cannot find your rulebooks, I suggest Googling for rulebook or manual for specific games you may already have played and liked. One site that allows you to download manuals for the game is Victory Point Games (http://www.victorypointgames.com/). You can check them out also.

Take Aliens vs. Zombies (http://www.victorypointgames.com/details.php?prodId=229). If you scroll to the very bottom of the page, you will find a link to Rules, Game Map and other downloadable links.

Leeton
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Joined: 04/28/2013
questccg wrote:It's better is

questccg wrote:
It's better is your rulebook is a little bit bigger with more images and explanations then having a rulebook that does not provide sufficient explanations for new players. You might feel very comfortable with your rules because you designed the game. And as you already know, being there to *coach* players may be good with personal playtests, you cannot do that with the people who will be buying your game. So your only recourse is to have a GOOD rulebook which explains the game clearly.

If you cannot find your rulebooks, I suggest Googling for rulebook or manual for specific games you may already have played and liked. One site that allows you to download manuals for the game is Victory Point Games (http://www.victorypointgames.com/). You can check them out also.

Take Aliens vs. Zombies (http://www.victorypointgames.com/details.php?prodId=229). If you scroll to the very bottom of the page, you will find a link to Rules, Game Map and other downloadable links.

Hadn't thought of searching for them online. I just assumed they wouldn't be up there... Thanks Quest :)

truekid games
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Joined: 10/29/2008
I would say for the scoring,

I would say for the scoring, you don't need to explain the math to the player. either provide a chart (you've only got values from 1 to 6, with 3 possible results, so it would be a relatively small one), or put the succeed/fail value on the card, and say you still earn half points if you're only short one symbol.

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