My work and personal interests often force me to explain game rules to people. And since I tend to play a bit more complex games than Alias, this is usually a large dilemma: The more information a player has, the greater his chance of winning the game is. But there is only so much information one can frontload to the players at the start of the game. So the question is: How much information should you frontload to new players?
Explaining stuff takes ages. Let’s take Battlestar Galactica as an example: You need to explain the turn order, the loyalty card mechanic, space combat rules, skill challenge mechanic, titles, different locations, character properties, cylon activities and general strategy. I have seen only few people internalize Galactica completely on the first explanation. Everyone else will forget pretty much everything and ask mid-game.
Then the other end, just playing the game and taking in the rules as they come. This is an easier and faster method, but it will almost certainly cause the new player to lose. Case in point: Game of Thrones, second edition. The game has a boatload of tiny little rules that you need to be aware of. Like Ports and retreating rules. The first game is going to be a learning experience, and players who know the rules already have a clear advantage.
These are the two extremes of rules explanation. My own tactic is to just explain the turn order and things you can do to the players, and let the larger strategies unfold. I rarely explain things that do not need the input of the new players, in order to decrease the rules load. This works somewhat well, and usually confusion arises when several people explain the game. In those cases everyone pitches in some mechanic, usually not in any specific order, and chaos ensues for the new player.
Games&Tales acknowledges this dilemma, and tries to incorporate a tutorial system for our more complex games. A simple and easy-to-explain game mode, which takes a lot less time to complete. More rules modules can then be bolted on top of this core module, creating the final game. This also enables the players to select the level of complexity they want to play the game with. Because we can.