You guys ever try playing Risky Settlers: Knights and Allies of the Lords of the Dominion of Earth (Pandemic Edition)? If you’re reading this comic, you probably have (at least in a metaphorical sense). These games we play are stupidly complicated. The rulebooks bear a suspicious resemblance to textbooks, and even simple mechanics have a way of disappearing into the vast sea of text known as “The Combat Chapter.” No matter how clever you are or how much of a grognard, you’re bound to miss a step or two. I think that learning to live with that is as much a part of the hobby as dice or Mountain Dew.

Now all that said–and I mean this in the nicest way possible–I will come across the table and bludgeon you with my dice bag if you ask “which one do I roll?” one more time. Yes, the game is complicated. Yes, we all make mistakes. But at some point it’s on you as a player to know the basics. This is the difference between forgetting a step in the grapple flowchart (understandable) and forgetting how a sword works (less so). If it’s the thing that your character does over and over every turn of every combat, you should probably jot down a note-to-self about to-hit and damage. If it’s a spell, you should probably have it bookmarked. The rest of the table will thank you for it.

Of course, all of the above gets a bit complicated in practice. If you’ve been playing with the same group for over a year and Andy still can’t remember how to make an ability check, I think that’s Andy’s problem. But if Betty is new to the game, or has a learning disability, or gained a new power last session and is just now trying to figure out how it works, maybe cut her some slack. Nobody likes hearing “What do you do?” followed by an exasperated sigh and an eye roll after five nanoseconds.

So what say we hash this out in the comments? Where do you guys draw the line between, “Learn to play!” and, “Dude, can I have a second?” When does the burden shift from GMs needing to be patient to players needing to learn the game? Let’s hear it down below!