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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Teaching Games

Lately, we've had an influx of new players into our Warhammer Fantasy group.  That's a great thing to have happen.  However, I've been trying to figure out how to best go about teaching new players about the game.

Does one go with a "burned hand teaches best" method of gaming, and just play normally in teaching games, rolling over the new opponent?  Or should I mollycoddle new players with easy play until they find their footing?

I'm inclined towards the latter, but in my last teaching game, Warhammer decided to remind me that it was indeed Warhammer.  My dice went red hot, and his went ice cold.  It didn't matter that I was fighting Saurus with Gor, for the Gor rolled like lords of war and smashed everything up in front of them.  I need to get rolling like that in some tournaments!

Anyway, I've got more teaching games coming up in the future, and was curious as to others' thoughts on the best methods to use.


  1. I have found that the best way to teach the game is to include every possible unit type on the table-top. Much like a White Dwarf battle report, a teacher should devise lists that use magic, skirmishers, fast-cav, heavy-cav, monsters and shooting. Once the players understand how all of differing unit types interact with the rules, and other troop types; the players themselves should be able to deduce the how's and why's of the game.
    Another point to reinforce; is that Warhammer is a table top wargame and that the actual table, with terrain, is integral to the enjoyment of the game. Do instruct the players to use the terrain and scenario generators.

  2. I think that it really depends, and a lot depends on the new player.

    In general, I think starting with less is more - show them a few basic blocks (with some missile weapons) against a few basic blocks to understand turn sequence, movement, shooting, combat, morale. Once they understand how things generally work, start introducing things that break the mold - cavalry, esp. fast cav, skirmishers, warmachines, magic, flyers, ItP units, etc. Once they understand how it all works, I do agree that learning games from that point on should focus on including a lot of different things. "Mirror match" games can also be good, as they can see how you use the same stuff they have.

    Once they understand the rules, but not yet how to really play, I think the player type is more important. If it's just a guy who likes the models and just wants to do the games for the spectacle, maybe take it easier on him. If it's someone who wants to start going to tournaments and beat face, throw him in the deep end - he'll want to know all the dirty tricks and combos, and the best way for him to learn them is to see them in action.

  3. I find the best way to teach WHFB is to play with "open hands". Just play as you normally would on your turn and explain why you are doing what you are doing.. what the thought process is. Then let them play the way they want to and interject when they ask for opinions and/or help (or before they do something really dumb).

    I also encourage folks who want to learn to play to watch a few games being played before they attempt it themselves.

  4. I would suggest taking a fairly unusual army for yourself, so that you can make it a learning experience on both sides. I've also got to echo Robbie's comment that it would be best to use as many different unit types as possible.

    Of course, different approaches would be needed for a player new to wargaming entirely compared to one new to this ruleset (but familiar with other games).

  5. Guys,

    Thanks for all the great suggestions!