So a while ago I was looking at different methods of explaining board games. Having some kind of consistency is pretty good and it is something people are notoriously bad at. One such method goes as such:

1. Explain the setting/background, if important (so skip when playing Dominion), in less that 60 seconds.

2. State the main win criteria (hold X forts, get Y points, be the last survivor)

3. Explain how is the win criteria reached (buying point cards, killing enough goblins, attacking your opponents etc).

4. Show turn structure (in MtG this will be untap, upkeep, draw, main1, battle, main2, end).

5. Explain possible choices during a turn (for TI3 this is activating a system and thus moving/attacking/building, using the strategy card or transfer).

6. Do some example turns.

7. Alternate win criteria, if applicable (DEFCON loss in Twilight Struggle, flatlining/running out of cards in Netrunner, destroying the ring in War of the Ring).

8. Do setup (let them look at cards, fiddle with the pieces etc.)

9. Questions?


I want to put this down somewhere more easily accessible for one but also maybe examine it. Looking at this for a game, the agents.

  1. You are somewhat of a shadowy puppet master enlisting agents and manipulating factions in order to gather enough intelligence to securely cement your position.
  2. The game ends immediately when a player gains 50 information points.
  3. Information points are mainly gained by having completed data tokens on cards pointed towards you or meeting mission criteria at the end of your turn. (this would go much better with the cards in front of someone to show what your talking about admittedly). Free agents can also give you or an opponent points when you use them. Finally some agents have the ability when used to let you steal information from another player, or have a cost of giving information to another player when you use their ability.
  4. so there is the buy phase where you can buy up to 2 agents for 1 point each and 1 mission for 3 points. Then there is a trade in phase where you can discard any number of agents and/or mission cards, then you draw as many cards of those type as you discarded. Then there is the action phase. you get 2 actions during the phase you can use either to place an agent to one of your factions, which lets the player the command is facing towards activate it immediately, or you can re-activate the ability of an agent whose command is facing towards you. Then you have a mission phase where you can rearrange the mission cards you have on your factions, move mission to your hand or play mission cards from your hand down. you can only have 2 missions on the same faction and you can’t have 2 of the same mission on the same faction. Then you collect points for agents and missions and your turn is over.
  5. I accidentally did some of this one in 4 but also you can play free agents which instead of sticking around on factions have an effect immediately and then discarded. For this you choose a player you face them towards and which orientation they will have. So you can use the ability yourself and give someone points, or give yourself points and give another player the option to use the ability.
  6. Buy phase I spend 3 points to draw a mission. Trade in phase I choose to discard the 2 agents I have and draw 2 new ones. For actions phase I play a paramedic on the left with the command facing towards an opponent who now has the opportunity to revive an agent but no valid targets so they get nothing. Then I place a gunner on my other faction giving the player on that side of me an opportunity to kill an agent in their other faction but again they have no valid targets. For my mission phase I hold onto my mission card because I don’t meet the requirements for it. At the end of my turn I collect 4 points for the 2 data arrows pointed towards me that match in color. The next player also buys a mission and plays an agent on either side of them but then plays “we chosen few” on their left which gets them points as long as their other faction has more agents. since that one only has one while they other has 2 (the one I played and the one they played) they get the points for the mission in addition to to agent data token points…
  7. No alternate win conditions for the base game of the Agents
  8. the rest of these only make any sense at all in physically located sense.

What methods do you usually take for explaining board games? Do you just kind of wing it or do you have a method? Is there anything you think should be added, removed, or reorganized about this one?