Maybe Board Game Rules Can Suck Less Now

The best thing about playing board games is sitting around a table with some beers and playing board games. The worst part is having to learn the rules beforehand.

Unnngh, even writing about rules makes my eyes roll over. A good rule book is as important a piece of design as a game mechanic, seeing as it’s vital to the speed and smoothness of a group’s first playthrough, yet so many publishers seem oblivious to this. They’ll omit quick start guides, or write rulebooks out of order in terms of how a turn resolves, and aaahhhhh here we go again my head hurts.

One way to fix this is to ask more people to copy companies like Fantasy Flight, who (usually) do a fantastic job with their rules. Another, more elaborate way is for an app like Dized to come in and try and be all the rule books, all at once.

Successfully Kickstarted last week, Dized is an app/service that is looking to combine the three most popular ways of learning how to play a game: flipping through the actual rule book, watching a tutorial video on YouTube and frantically searching a FAQ on a publisher’s forum. Only here it’ll be faster and all in the one place, combining interactive guides with full digitised copies of rules (that include searchable FAQs):

It won’t be to everyone’s tastes, I know, but as someone who regularly lives through game nights where one person (Hi Sam!) has a rulebook open on his lap while someone else skips through a YouTube clip looking for a rule clarification, putting all of that in the one app sounds super handy.

A service like this will live and die on the number and quality of games it supports, of course, but it’s promising that loads of the biggest publishers in board games have signed up to Dized, from CMON to IDW to Stonemaier (there’s a full list here).

Some of the stuff available in Dized will be free, but most of it will cost money, with users able to buy individual “game packs” for a single title or pay monthly fees for access to everything on the service.

There’s more info at the Kickstarter page. Dized is currently available on app stores but online in limited fashion; the money from the Kickstarter will be fleshing out the roster of included games as the year goes on.


    They’ll omit quick start guides, or write rulebooks out of order in terms of how a turn resolves, and aaahhhhh here we go again my head hurts.

    These are my main pet peeves and part of the reason I game less with my friends. Ideally we want a one page guide in simple English that we can read quickly and get into the game. And as you say the guide should flow logically not jump about.

    If it's a more complex game then I'd love to see them literally split the guides up into multiple documents/pages. Something like "setup", "turns", "movement", "combat" and so on. That way you could grab the one you need and find the info rather than slogging through 30 pages trying to find the right section.

    If it's a board game, especially a social (ie: not deeply strategic) one then laminated guides would be awesome too. No more "oh shit I spilled my beer on the instructions".

    Back to the app... I'm not that keen on using a phone for a game. Though I guess it would have the advantage that it's updated where printed rules are static. And every player could easily look at the rules on their own phones. I'd be worried that it's a distraction though.

    Or you can be lucky enough to play with a group like mine who are super intelligent, learn the rules really quick and just tell you if what you are doing is a valid move or not.

      Hell I find the smarter people are the more arguments we have over rules. Largely because people are always trying to find loopholes and exploit them.

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