No pithy titles for this post, because honestly what clever string of adjectives would describe such an arduous process.
Well I read a lot of rules, pretty much everyday I snatch snippets of time to read a few pages here or there of the games I want to play. For me this is not a arduous process it is a relaxing escape in a weird kinda way, but not without it perils.
First off I have the attention span of a three year old, every day I am on www.boardgamegeek.com (from here on referred to as “The Geek”) reading posts about games I am interested in. What usually happens is I read about a game I haven’t looked at in awhile and I read something on The Geek about it and get interested. Or a new pre-order will show up in the mail. I drop my current rule book starting read another, and another, you get the idea. I am usually cycling through three to five rule books at a time. There is also the games I am actually playing at the time which usually don’t have have anything to do with the rules I am reading.
I am talking about this because I have discovered some pitfalls and foibles that frustrate rule book readers. I have also been inspired by a post on The Geek (https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1758260/how-long-do-you-study-rules-first-play). So I thought I would chat about some strategies and tips for better rule reading since they are rattling around in my head anyway.
First off don’t try to memorize all the rules as you read them, it won’t work and you will get frustrated. A really good rule of thumb is have everything in front of you, not just the rules but the map (board), charts, pieces because now a days a lot of designers don’t put all of the rules in the rule book, I know crazy right? There might be something mentioned in the rules but to really understand what is happening you need check the details in the components of the game. I cannot tell you how many times I have been in bed reading a rule book and wishing I could lay all the maps out and see what the rule book was talking about. It really comes down to the fact game designers and publishers think that shorter rule books mean more sales. The problem being that you have to put all those rules somewhere, and sometimes that means making the rules seem shorter but putting key concepts in other places. The other problem with shorter rules is sometimes they don’t cover everything and you end up with situations the designer never thought of with no rule to arbitrate it.
I would suggest a quite, free from distractions area where you can lay everything out and focus on what you are doing. This may seem obvious but I felt an obligation to point it out. If you can you can use online tools like Vassal, or Cyberboard, or ZunTzu. These are online game boxes that simulate your favorite board games, save a lot on space and set up time. There is also a kind of video game called Tabletop Simulator you can load your board games into. It has a feature where you can flip the table over if you feel like it, I have never wanted to do that…
Well I hope that helps your rule reading regiment, and stay out of my ZoC…