I have run a couple of Demo games now for a Spartan game.
The first two which were Firestorm, the second of which was Dystopian Wars.
Now I thought (in my not so infinite wisdom) that allowing people to play with the whole box of goodies was the best way... but not when its two hours of learning the rules... a bit much like school was the way it came accross.
So I tried Demo'ing it to my middle Brother... and he basically told me, he wanted a demo not two hours of his evening gone.
That got the three of us (Me and both Brothers now the gamer and the non gamer) thinking about how best to demo it.
So we decided on the following:
Restricted Game Length
No Fog of War
With these four points we were able to cut down on the duration of a game. My brother and I played a this version in less than an hour, although that is with two people who know (well sort of know) whats going on.
Now let me break down what those four points mean:
For this my Brother did a quick model Air Field, stuck it on top of our Island and said... he is what we are fighting for! Sounds easy, but adding in that objective makes the game easier to Narrate, and the players know what they are gunning for.
Restricted Game Length
In this case we are looking at around 3 turns. With only a 4' x 4' table in use the game does move on rather quickly, and at the end of 3 turns you can always offer to the players to continue gaming (if no one else wants a demo) or you can wrap it up to allow someone else to try their hand at it.
No Fog of War:
The Card Deck is cool... it gives you cool abilities that work very well. However it is also intimdating for people to read what the cards do when they don't know how the game works.
The Starter box comes with 7 Squadrons (minimum) thats including your Tiny Tokens. That in itself is intimidating. We decided instead to cut back the squadrons to only 4 per side.
The way we did it was:
2 Medium Bombers
5 Tiny Tokens (as Dive Bombers)
This gave us a good range of the things you can do in the game, and incorporating the flying elements means it isnt just a Futuristic Demo of Uncharted Seas (I know they have fliers too now, but probably not in Demo games).
This got our turns down to around 15 minutes for all 8 activations. You can even ignore the fuel rules on the Tiny Tokens and just have them be able to do one Bombing run then be removed from the table... really depends on how you want to run the demo I guess.
It still took around an hour for 4 turns, which to me could be a bit long for a demo, but is considerably better than the 2-3 hours I have tried in the past.
I didn't want to reduce the number of models involved anymore as this gives people a good selection.
Let me know what you think, and if you have any hints or tips from running your own Dystopian Wars Demo.