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Over the past few weeks, I enjoyed three opportunities to watch small groups of people who were new to board wargaming play Brandywine, a game from the Pub Battles series.
The first of these took place in a workshop designed to improve the teaching skills of US Marines assigned as instructors. The other two were meetings of the Decision Game Club at the Marine Corps University.
In the course of these three sessions, I was struck by three things. The first of these was the speed of play of the game. Once the players were up and running, the game moved quickly. The second was the fact that, even when rules are simple and well-written, people who are new to wargaming find it hard to translate them into a vision of how the game is actually played. The third was the benefit of having a person who can explain the game to new players, free players from minor mechanical functions, and serve as umpire.