(Salvaging some bits and pieces from the old Fire Hazard blog, in preparation for writing a lot more about games)
The Strategy Point
I start with nothing, which is confusing and no fun at all; rule discussions with other players cause tension.
Then I learn the rules and the game runs more smoothly, but I'm still playing at random. I have the 'what' but not the 'why'. If the game is physical, then I can have some fun here.
Then I devise the strategies. Now I'm playing with intelligence, and I get an achievement rush when I plan something and it comes off successfully. This is fun.
Games need to minimise the time it takes to get to step 3 by having simple rules and obvious strategies - or maybe even a discussion of simple strategies along with the rules. The first time I played the Comfort of Strangers, I didn't understand strategy at all until nearly the end.
I'm confused that many games, particularly technology-based games, deliberately extend Step 1. Perhaps I'm atypical?
The Lay Of The Land
Hand To Hand can be played anywhere, but that doesn't mean that the terrain doesn't make a difference. Certain cards can be played ("powers invoked") only under certain conditions, like "in sight of a CCTV camera" or "standing under an overhanging roof".
I love this. Absolutely nobody used it strategically - see the Strategy Point - but if we had, it would've been amazing. Suddenly, the familiar world takes on a whole new shape.
Me, But More Awesome
People want to play as cooler versions of themselves. Most people can't act, or don't want to. There are lots of ways to do this - I really like the "extra senses" provided by Comfort Of Strangers and Always Something Somewhere Else.