Tuesday, October 4, 2016


I have been playing a lot of Castles of Mad King Ludwig lately.  Most of my games have been with people who don't know the game and so there has been a lot of teaching.  Castles has a lot of complexity to it so I find that teaching the entire ruleset ends up being too much for people and they suffer from analysis paralysis.

The trick for me was to figure if it made sense to teach the entire game to new players or if instead I should cut corners to make it simpler.  I don't want to teach them bad habits or strategy by cutting out rules, and I don't want to make the game trivial.  I am hunting for a way to teach the game to people so that they understand how it plays without having so much to think about.

I ended up making two changes to the game and I think they are the right ones.  The first change is to bonus cards.  Normally at the beginning of the game you get three bonus cards and keep two of them, and then sometimes during the game you gain two more of them and keep one of the two.  I decided to just deal out the cards to people without choice - instead of three choose two, you just get two.  Instead of two choose one, you just get one.

This basically keeps the gameplay the same but means that players don't have to start picking cards and making choices before they have any idea at all what those choices mean.  It also means that I don't have to explain all the cards to everyone ahead of time - they can just muddle through and get their points at the end.  It does make the game more random but since they are playing against *cough* the second best player in the world *cough* that is good for them.

The other change I made is the random ranked bonuses that happen at game end.  In the base game four tiles are chosen randomly, each of which gives a particular type of thing that will grant bonus points at game end based on which player has the most of them.  What I did with my training version of the game is simply keep those ranked bonuses hidden.  At the end of the game we flip them over and lots of people get bonus points but people can't actually work towards them during the game.

This also pushes rules explanations to the end of the game which is a thing I like.  I often find that games that start with an enormous rules speech are frustrating for everyone when people really just want to get in there and start doing things.

Again the game gets more random with this change, but I think it helps make things simpler for the newbs and gets them into the fun of building a castle without quite so much calculation.  In their second game of course I would play by the standard rules.

If anyone has other ideas for teaching Castles or any other game please do feel free to comment, as is is a thing I am curious about.

1 comment:

  1. My challenge isn't the rules, it's getting to play the game. Despite having two copies at my house and two people who knew how to play!

    (or, having no copies and no people, which was a different game night)