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The rule book of a game is essential to learn how to play when you incorporate a new game into your playroom. However, on many occasions you find that the rules are not well explained or that there are many misprints that cause confusion.

It is really not an easy task to explain how to play to a third party through a book of instructions. I myself spend a lot of time when I invent a new game in writing the regulation.

It was precisely after making the Review of my new prototype of the game Quetzalcoatl with my friend and collaborator Cristian Becerra that this debate emerged:

What are the key principles that a good manual has to have?


Principle 1. Structure

A good structure is basic to explain the rules of a game from the beginning to the end. In my opinion a good manual would have to follow this basic structure:

  1. Components and preparation.
  2. How to start and who starts.
  3. Development of the game.
  4. End of the game and who is the winner of the game.

It may seem obvious to you, but some rule books sometimes begin to explain the house to you the roof or make reference to explanations that are outside the logical order.   


Principle 2. Images

Including images in the rule book not only helps to understand the explanation (a picture is worth a thousand words), but also a way to have a visual reference when consulting the rules.

I believe that including images of all the components and how they are used during the explanation of the game is another basic rule for any good manual.

Of course, a wrong image can give rise to a greater confusion, so you have to pay A lot of attention when using the images. 

Principle 3. Orthography

I am the first one that even if I read and reread everything I write, there is always some misspelling that I miss. Even this would be totally permissible, especially if it is a small publisher that does not have the resources of large publishers.

However, there are blunders of translation in some manuals, and they are not from fairly small publishers. In some cases they seem to use Google Traslate.  


Principle 4. Examples

One of the things that helps a lot in rule books are the examples. I consider that a good rule book has to have clear examples in its rules to help to solve any doubt.  


Write to the publisher

While it is true that as a consumer you have the right to criticize if a rule book has failures, but I think you can contribute positively by writing to the publisher respectfully to tell him what errors you detected, the doubts, and even your suggestions.

The publishers are the first who want to make perfect and understandable rule books. And any errata and clarification of the rules in later editions has a direct impact on the player community, so that we can all enjoy the games in the most effective way.

Lastly, I would like to say goodbye to this article, thanking all those who, like my friend Cristian Becerra , share the Reviews of the Games that teach to play and help to solve so many doubts of the games. Do not hesitate to contact us if you found mistakes or doubts in a manual. We will pass it through the “translator machine” of my laboratory.

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Doctor Frikistein

Author Doctor Frikistein

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