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Twilight Struggle» Forums » Variants

Subject: Mulligan threashholds for teaching new players? rss

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Aaron Brogdon
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I have a few friends that I would like to start teaching this game to. However, I know that a bad hand can be very difficult to deal with and, while it can be an interesting challenge for someone who is experienced, to a new player it could potentially turn them off to the game. I would like to try to avoid this.

I'm curious if there is a consensus on good mulligan thresholds for players who are learning such as three scoring cards or an ops value of 12 or less. I would obviously look to drop these as soon as they are comfortable, but I want to make their first experience as positive as possible.
 
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Casey H
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brog5108 wrote:
I have a few friends that I would like to start teaching this game to. However, I know that a bad hand can be very difficult to deal with and, while it can be an interesting challenge for someone who is experienced, to a new player it could potentially turn them off to the game. I would like to try to avoid this.

I'm curious if there is a consensus on good mulligan thresholds for players who are learning such as three scoring cards or an ops value of 12 or less. I would obviously look to drop these as soon as they are comfortable, but I want to make their first experience as positive as possible.

Honestly, if it's an experienced player vs a new player, I wouldn't mulligan at all.

Any player should understand that one of the core mechanics of the game is hand management. Until a new player really knows the cards, the difference in experience will show.

With a new player, I'd focus on three things:
1. The new player understands the mechanics of the game (mostly the different ways to use cards and why one way might be preferable, but also DEFCON suicide and how the China card works/what it allows)
2. Letting the game go to at least Mid War (don't just steamroll, show how adding new cards to the deck works and how important Mid War regions are)
3. Answering questions the new player may have, even if it involves sharing information that wouldn't be shared in a normal game (e.g., he shows you a card to ask clarification).

With every new player I've taught, I try to leave them with the feeling of having learned the game well enough to be more competitive in the next game, even at the expense of the competitiveness of the first game.
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Alex Drazen
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I'd add: they're new. Instead of a mulligan, demonstrate to them the different things that can happen through your own first-turn play, even if it's somewhat to your own detriment.

Example: Space Race, playing D&C as Soviets, triggering an event, coup, realign, influence, etc.

And talk about what's happening, and why, a little bit.

They're new, you can handle a small handicap, unless they're an extremely quick study.
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Seth Homa
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If they are new, have them play as USSR. No mulligan that way.
 
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Henrythesecond
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I'm genuinely surprised the way this discussion has gone. To my mind, there should be no consideration of a 'competitive' element to an individual's first game. If I'm teaching a friend, indeed anyone, a new game, I couldn't care less who 'wins'. This is particularly true of a game such as Twilight Struggle where knowledge of cards and events to come is absolutely crucial to the strategy.

When I teach Twilight Struggle, or any game involving hidden information such as card hands, I play with hands on show, explaining the why and how of options, until the new player is comfortable with making his/her own decisions. Then, I play a turn or two with just my hand, and therefore my decision-cycle, on show. Then it's all in for a turn or two.

Generally, the game will be unrecognisable from a game between experienced players and skew the strategies a little unrealistically. But at that point, the game gets reset and you can start in earnest...gloves off, but with a little influence-weighting to taste.

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