One of the major hurdles in showing this game to new players is the difficulty curve. There's not much we can really do about it, as the game is complex and strategies can get intense. Congress: The Board Game is a game that should take a little while to learn. At the same time, we don't want to make getting into a session difficult enough that it turns some people away from playing at all. In short, we like it the way it is but we realize that we can get more people to like it if we made the learning part a bit easier for those who aren't hardcore hobbyists.
We've come up with a plan and tested it out last night amongst ourselves, just to see if the game still worked. Here's the rule: remove the action cards from the game entirely. Action cards are a major part of game strategy, but they are very easy to understand. Just do what it says on the card. By removing them, players can focus solely on the rider cards and the game flow is more or less uninterrupted by all the shenanigans that happen when action cards are present.
We feel that a major part of the game is missing, sure. But for a group of people who have never played before, it's a way to get a hang of the game loop in a "safe" environment. Games without action cards will always allow players to use their state and senator powers, will never change the turn order (since emergency bills never appear), will never require special elections, and are entirely scandal-free! It's not realistic to actual Congress, sure. Don't worry, though - this ruleset is entirely optional and many hobbyist gamers will likely play as proscribed. Still, we believe adding these rules can allow for people who are less comfortable with complex games to learn the ropes before trying a full experience.
After that we rewrote the rulebook. For several weeks we've said that we were in the middle of rewriting it but we think it's safe to say we've put down the final version of the text. There's now a "first time" section that details the optional rule above, as well as a "quick play" section that summarizes the entire game loop on a single page. That way, if you're still new to the concept you can play with one page open and only go to the in-depth rules in case there's a question. We tried to get the rulebook down to size but with pictures and formatting it's not possible. It's actually a bit smaller than a lot of hobbyist games' rulebooks that we've seen, but we like rulebooks to be short, sweet, and to the point. Saves trees that way.
Finally, we would be remiss if we did not remind everyone of our plans to Kickstart this game. We'll mention it every chance we get. At the moment the set date is vague so we are just testing the waters. If everything goes well, we plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign in late March/early April. Be watching for news as we approach, and we will definitely send out e-mails as the date gets closer.
That's all for now! Thanks for following along!
The Weather Gage Team