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Demo Games for New Players

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I've run several demo games using 6 players with 500pt troops, all of them after a dragon. I have decided that this is not the best new player intro I can do.

 

Setup/configuration:

6 players, each with 2 troops - no mages

 

1st 10 minutes - explain card stuff: MA, RA, Mov, MAV, RAV, DV, etc.

1st 2 turns are generally movement up the hill to get the dragon.

 

 

Disadvantages:

  • With 12 troops, sometimes the cards can take a while to come back to your turn. It takes awhile for new players to understand their options on a turn. Hard for some to hold focus on the game when it takes a while to come back around to your turn.
  • Once the dragon is engaged, it gets very crowded at the top of the hill.
  • Takes 2-3 hours to run the demo.

New Thoughts:

  • Six players again, but really 3 1-on-1 games going simultaneously on the same table.
  • Simple objective - last man standing with the guy opposite you.
  • Smaller troops (200 pts each) - 1 sgt or captain, 3 grunts (generally), 1 archer - again no mages for a raw intro game.
  • Three different sets of initiative cards (2 card decks)
  • Simple terrain. Double table. (5' wide by 6' long) with the play area roughly in thirds (each combat would be on an area of 2' wide by 5' across). Couple of stone fences scattered around for the archers to use as cover.
  • Explain MA, RA, Mov, MAV, RAV, DV. Lightly touch on the rest (Dis, CP, MD)
  • This should be playable in about an hour. Most Cons are set up on 3 or 4 hour gaming schedules - would allow 'shifts' in each game slot.

Ok? Anything I missed?

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I think that getting a lot of new players involved at once is generally a hindrance to giving a good demo. One of the biggest problems is that even the gruntiest of grunt models still has a special ability or three to explain, and humans being what they are, they don't pay attention if they don't think what you're saying applies to them.

 

If you're using troops, a 1-on-1 game works best. Three 1-on-1 games happening simultaneously is just confusing.

 

If you really want a multiplayer demo to explain the core mechanics, try something like model vs. model warlord duels. It allows players to focus on learning mechanics instead of which model does what.

 

I do a 4-player demo with Dragons that is eye-catching, fast-paced, and still gets the d10+modifiers, two actions per activation, and initiative mechanics across very well. Each player only has one model to keep track of, even if that one model is ridiculously powerful. A four-player game with totally new players only lasts about 30 minutes, but it gets the point across very well.

 

Always have clear data cards ready for players to use. I like to have all the data for a single demo force on one sheet, including special ability and spell descriptions. Make it very clear on the data sheet which models belong to which troops.

 

And finally, are you a Member of Black Lightning? If not, why?!?! ::P:

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Thanks, never would have thought of a 4 dragon game. WOW.

 

hmmm, ideas for other monster only demos...

 

 

And yes, see my sig, I am BL #FL007 - 3 other BL's and myself just finished working MegaCon in Orlando. Attendance in the thousands. We ran over 350 through the paint-n-take, had Warlord & CAV1.5 demos and a Warlord Tourney.

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I've been tossing around the idea of running a Warlord demo game at Houston's sole remaining good sized con next February. Yes, it's a long ways away, but it's going to take me that long to finish painting the forces. The idea that I had was a 4 person, 4 way game, 500 or so points (main troop + a solo) centered around a tower.

 

I was planning on coming up with a company control sheet (or two) for each person having the appropriate data cards, but also blurbs explaining the important SA's for each company and also quick notes on what to be wary of in the opponent's forces.

 

So, for example, the Crusader's company control sheet would have the data cards, explanations on spells, brief explanations of Tough, Mercy, and then brief notes on the opponents like "the goblins' hill giant can hit multiple people in one swing".

 

Still very sketchy since I'm currently concentrating on painting enough units to field a decent company by GenCon.

 

Ron

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I usually run them even smaller then that. I take about 200-250 points Leader Model (Sgt) and 3 Troops say Arzaphan, no equip and 3 skeletal breakers, and something close from another faction. (I like using Arzaphan and the breakers because they are in the starter set) Games last 15-20 minutes playing without special abilities and just using the basic initiative, movement, and combat system. The local shop I run at most of the time usually sells 2-3 boxed armies (750 starters) and a Deluxe starter at most of the demos and it gets a quick influx of people in and out in no time.

With a 15-20 minute time frame I can snag someone from a break in heroclix or warhammer 40k and get them to commit to a quickie demo. It seems to work very well for me. I also use completely painted and based figures for my demo because I think it adds to the presentation.

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Other things that have worked well for me:

 

Convince the store owner to offer up a discount on reaper products to those that participated in the demo.

 

See about the possibility of offering up a free blister or two of product to motivate others to join (gamers love free junk!)

 

Be LOUD, Have fun! Laugh A lot! Joke A lot! Get others to do the same.

 

Offer a tourney or painting demo the same day so your old school and established Reaper guys are there to show the game is currently active and supportive. I ran my last demo before a tourney and most of the participants stayed around to watch the tourney and marvel at the participants painted figs.

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I run a game store. For me, the entire point of a demo is to get a player interested in learning more about the game. If they buy some, that's cool, too. But if you can't get them interested enough to learn more in a short demo, that's not the game for them.

 

I usually see two types of gamers:

 

1) People that like to tell stories in their head, usually with themselves as the star

2) People that like to play optimal strategy, and thus want to know the rules so they can analyze their options.

 

I find that if you slant the demo towards the story-tellers, you win their hearts. The analytical player can pick out the rules from the story, but the reverse is not true: it's hard to be the star of a movie that's simply a dry recitation of rules.

 

So, I find that regardless of the game, the best demos have the following attributes:

 

- The demo tells a simple but engrossing story.

- *Act* the story. Florid language and enthusiasm are the primary means to quickly getting people involved in the storyline.

- Duration is 15 to 20 minutes.

- Get the players making decisions and rolling dice *before* explaining the whole game. Start telling the story, and explain why they are rolling the dice right now - and then have them roll right now.

- Game mechanics are explained to sufficient detail to allow the player to grasp a few aspects of tactics or strategy, but not exhaustively.

- Rules should be used accurately, but frankly, they should be bent if necessary to keep duration short and the story interesting. In particular, rules of army composition are beyond the scope - focus solely on the actual game play. Play illegal armies if necessary to keep the story interesting yet short.

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As a store owner, here's some advice for convincing store owners to pony up for demos: Ask for a 'try it, buy it, and I'll sweeten the deal'.

 

'Take a demo, get some free stuff' is one thing. While I have been known to just give stuff away, there are better methods.

 

'Take a demo, and if you buy a $40 starter box the store will throw in a $10 blister' is much more appealing to me. Plus, be aware of the follow-on factor - it often takes a while to decide to invest in a new game. To facilitate that, I've been known to give out certificates at the demo, allowing the customer to buy the starter and get the free blister at a later date.

 

Convince the store owner to offer up a discount on reaper products to those that participated in the demo.

See about the possibility of offering up a free blister or two of product to motivate others to join (gamers love free junk!)

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The first thing to remember is that when you are demoing to perspctive players these are people that have probably never seen the game before (whether they are experienced gamers or not).

 

So, the first thing I do is throw points out the window. And concentrate on making things generic and balanced.

 

Something like give each player:

 

1 sgt

1 archer type

1-2 warrior types

1-2 breaker or reach types

 

You are not trying to explain every single miniature and/or their abilities, just the game play. You have to give them enough to parch their throats and get them thirsty for the game, but not so much that you try and drown them in water.

 

If everyone has the exact same figures (other than say different factions making their numbers just sligtly different) then explaining things is easier as it does apply to each person even if you can only help one at a time. And it goes quickly.

 

If they like it and want a follow up demo then you take it a step further by changing to a captain and throwing in spellcaster. And start introducing the faction SAs here. Oh, you'll get questions related to magic or the faction SAs in the first demo, but that is usually a sign that you are on the right track, cause then you can hook them for a second "game". In the beginning when there were only core rulebook faction SAs it was easier to include these from the get go, but now with the books, I find it better to save the faction SAs for later after you have hooked them into multiple games, even without them there are plenty of just SAs to explain away as it is.

 

But, one thing. I almost always try to have them switch to a different faction for each demo game. They way they can immediately start seeing how many new options they could have simply by choosing a different faction. Even though the models chosen represent relatively the same units.

 

I tend to try and leave "scenarios" out of it for beginning demos as it lessens the number of things the player has to keep up with and speeds things up.

 

Oh, and I agree whole heartidly with Cap, get players playing.. and rolling, not just standing there listening to you babble. Yes, you have to babble to explain it, but its the doing that catches them. So, explaina small bit then get them to do it, then explain a little more then get them to do it. Especially for those "know it all gamers that already knows the rules simply because it is a game and they are gamers and so all games must be alike"...

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One thing I do on demos is figure out what abilities you can explain as they come up and make that part of the demo. That cuts down on the glazed eye look when you start rattling off every single ability. Also try to get largely overlapping abilities between troops and ignore faction abilities if need be. What I have found is that people have a better reception the faster you put the dice in their hands and let them start killing.

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I ran my last demo before a tourney and most of the participants stayed around to watch the tourney and marvel at the participants painted figs.

 

 

AHhahaha! That's hilarious, man. Painted figs? :blink: I guess there were a few painted figs. How many painted armies? Oh, right, just mine. ::D:

 

In case anybody cares- It was a "braggin' rights" tourney, so I get to brag.

 

I do enjoy the way hunter runs the tourneys.

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