What do you find is the best way to teach the game to new players?
My opinion is that it is best to let them play the British, as attacking is more straight forward and feels like “doing something.”
To defend is a little more subtle. It also lets you “let” the new guy finish better, maybe even victoriously. It is critical when introducing someone to the game to not completely pants them.
Every time I’ve asked a new player which side they want to be, they always pick Washington. Is that good?
Well, I on the plus side it’s good to let them play the side they have an interest or affinity to. Most Americans at least would want to be George Washington!
Another plus is that it is a bit easier to watch and learn by being on the defense. You can sit back, watch the attacks roll in. Learn how it is done. Then start reacting. A couple of minor mistakes while you learn can usually be overcome later.
It is harder to be the attacker in a new game. The burden is on you to kick things off and hit hard. If you make a critical mistake in your opening offensive, the whole game can fall apart very quickly. It is tough to strike boldly and decisively when you are new and uncertain of exactly how the game works yet.
On the negative side, the poor Colonials are badly out maneuvered in this battle. They are on the defense. Most new players don’t enjoy getting beat up on the whole game. Even an experience player can feel shocked and overwhelmed by the opening British attack. Add a poor opening setup on top of that and a new player can immediately feel like winning the game is hopeless.
On top of that, the Colonials are badly out classed! The British have many elites. The Colonials have a Pennsylvania Militia. Even if a new Colonial player sets up well and quickly moves in to good defensive lines in good terrain, they can still get blown out by British elites. This can again result in hopelessness or a new player feeling like they suck at this game.
So what is better? Players like games they win. They tend to not like games they lose. (or get totally stomped in) Given this, I’d strongly urge them to play the British. At least if they lose the game, they can at least feel strong and like they are winning for awhile. Their elite units might be able to cover for some of their amateur blunders.
I would even go a step further. The tendency is to drag your feet if you are uncertain. Make sure you emphasize to them before you start, the importance of striking hard and fast. Time is against the British. The game is only 5 turns. You don’t have time to think of something, try it, pull back, think some more and then try something else. They need to decide before the battle. They need to move as fast and aggressively as possible. Keep reminding them how many turns they have left to take a road. Keep them focused on their goal. Warn against delaying and foot dragging. What did Patton say? “A good plan executed now is better than the best plan executed tomorrow.”
I would also definitely help and guide them through the first 2 turn orders. These can be very critical. In general, both players want to move last on turn 1. They also want to move first on turn 2. Make sure they understand why and help them make the right HQ rolls to achieve this.
Usually I end up losing when I’m teaching the game to a new player. I don’t throw the game on purpose. I’m usually just distracted with my own game and strategy because I am focused on helping them avoid major blunders. That is probably a good approach.
One final tip: don’t sit and read the rules to them before you start. I hate that! They mostly don’t listen. They can’t remember everything. It mostly just wastes time and makes their first impression of the game be: ‘boring’. Just jump in and start playing. Explain as you go. Just tell them it’s a practice learning game. No pressure. You can play a real game later. They can even be Washington then! 🙂