Greetings fellow Wargamers! My name is Rarkthor, and I am a new writer here at talkwargaming.com. I am excited to join the ranks of these esteemed authors, and I hope that you will enjoy my articles!
I decided to write this article for two reasons. The first, of course, is the desire to spread knowledge of the game to anyone who is interested! I have seen this scenario too many times: young guy/gal sees the models on the shelf. They are wowed by the color and aesthetic. They are really interested in the models, and they find out there is a game associated with it. They see the rulebook, and man, it’s almost like a college textbook! Trust me, it is easier to teach than a college course. Second, I am a teacher by degree, and I feel it is worth trying to help those placed in the “tutor” position. Everyone can learn more by teaching, and I think these tips can really help. Every teacher needs a good lesson plan, and this article will, hopefully, provide the base.
Let’s move onto the How To then!
Gather your materials.
Let's take a look at this all too familiar box set. Now it is not entirely necessary to have this box set specifically, but we can learn something from the models presented in this beginner box.
The set includes dice, scatter die, a measurement tool, templates and, of course models. This should provide a guide as to the tools needed to make a good demo game. Be sure to have all of the materials available to demonstrate to the student. Luckily, this provides visual and manipulative tools to help explain the game effectively.
Now, this is where the individual student preferences come into play. If your student is interested in Chaos Space Marines or Dark Angels, then you already have a list ready to rock! If they are more interested in Orks or Daemons, then you, as the teacher, should try to acquire/borrow a small group of models for them to use. Different armies have different units, of course, but here are some guidelines to help you pick specific models and wargear.
- Be sure to include units that demonstrate both the Flame Template and the Blast Template (Small or Large)
- Be sure to include a variety of unit types such as Walkers, Bikes, Infantry, and Characters.
- Try to balance the points between the two opposing forces. A force around 300-400 is recommended. Minimum size squads would be best to teach unit coherency, but prevent on overwhelmingly large number of models.
Now we are ready to teach the game!
Teach the Game Through PlayingPre-Game set up is an important part of Warhammer 40,000. You have already set up the battlefield and the lists, so you can move right into Deployment. Since you are using a much smaller place space, be sure to scale down the battlefield. On a normal 6x4 table, normal deployment involves a 12 inch deployment zone. Applying this same 25% ratio, a 2x2 table would be 6 inches for deployment.
Use a loosely predetermined set up. It is much easier to learn how a checker board or a chess board is set-up compared a free form deployment. You should, however, have your student manipulate the units. This is a time to teach unit coherency and how to measure out deployment zones. Once the deployment is finished, you can teach how to determine First Turn and Seize the Initiative.
From there, teach the game in its phases. The phases provide a natural order to teach the mechanics of the game. I won't get into the nitty-gritty here; if you are taking on the task of teaching the game, you probably know all (or most of) the rules already! Try to strike a balance between too much information and too little information. This is difficult to do for any subject, but it really depends on the student. If the student is familiar with other games that share a similar structure, use those other games as a reference point. When teaching, it is best to relate back to already established information; we call that activating prior knowledge.
I have a few recommendations for the phases and teaching elements within the phases:
- I would avoid the psychic phase for the first few games. If the student has learned enough and can handle the extra phase, then use a very simple Psychic Power Tree. I would recommend Pyromancy for teaching; the powers are simple, and it is easy for the student to “picture” casting a fireball.
- If the student is adept at math, help them figure out the calculations for determining die rolls. If not, reference the charts to help them remember the appropriate values. Draw them out or hold a bookmark on the cheat-sheet in the main rulebook.
- Let the dice fall as they may. Don't try to alter the flow of the game artificially. Dice are fickle, and it is best for a new player to learn this themselves!
- Be sure to explain how the game is won and lost. Often a new player will focus on killing all of the units; this is OK for a first game, but consider introducing objectives to help focus the game on more than just “Kill Things.”
- Finally, have fun and be positive! At the moment, winning or losing is unimportant. The learning experience is the most important part of these first tutorial games. Save any griping or GW hate for later. This doesn't mean be unrealistic; honesty is the best policy. But the player is interested (presumably), so help them to explore the possibilities.
I hope this advice helps you to expand your player group, and bring new players into the fold!
Written by: Rarkthor