Board games that tell stories

You can follow me on Twitter at @trzewik. This is BGG copy of my blog BoardgamesThatTellStories.com

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Footbal is coming home OR Euro2021 blog!

Ignacy:
#ENGSCO
Did we see goals yesterday? No.
Did we see brilliant passes? Not much.
Did we see dribbling, trick shots, special effects? Not at all.
Was it one of the best matches of this year? Absolutely.

It was football we call 'box to box.' It was football that, instead of special effects, brings passion, heart, and energy to the table. It's running with the ball from one side of the pitch to another, it's playing as it is your last game in life. It's 0:0 that is so much more interesting than 1:2 Poland versus Slovakia or 1:1 Czech vs. Croatia.

Sometimes fans make fun of England, and Football is coming home slogan. After yesterday's match between these two great teams, I must say: East or West, home is best.

Thomas:

Football's coming home. Or is it... soccer's coming home?

In Europe, most people don't like the word 'soccer'. Honestly, I'm not a fan of it either. It is what Americans use when they talk about 'our beautiful sport'. But why do we, Europeans, get grumpy when it is called that way? It probably has to do with the popularity of the sport, among other reasons.

To European football fans, there is only one sport you play with your feet. And that's football.

In the United States, there is another sport which they call Football. American Football. Europeans don't get it; Players wear strange outfits, and most of the time, they carry the ball instead of shooting it. And the worst thing: Théir football is called 'soccer'. It feels like their sport comes in second now. Not a great feeling.

Saying things like: "I like football, but I do like soccer as well", only makes it worse.

But where does the word soccer originate from?

It was invented in... Europe.

Modern football was invented in the 19th century in Britain. The more formal name of the sport was Association Football, to prevent confusing it with that other British sport, which was called: Rugby Football. The word soccer was old English slang based on shortening 'Assoc.'

Sorry, fellow Europeans, we invented the word ourselves.

"But our football is played with our feet all the time!" I hear you scream.

True. But I bet you never considered why the game was called football in the first place. Too obvious, right? They called it football because the game was played on foot instead of horseback. So, in that perspective, American Football is just as much a football game as our football is.

But don't worry, I will continue calling 'our football' football. But I won't mind if someone calls it soccer. I'll try to.

Now I'm going to watch England - Scotland at Wembley, London. Football's coming home! Right? Well, the Scots know better.




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Thomas Jansen is the designer of Eleven: the football manager game. Ignacy Trzewiczek is the developer of the game. They both will share their thoughts about EuroCup 2021 and also talk about the design or development of Eleven. Be with them every day during Euro! If you like football and board games, please, share the news about Eleven!

You can learn more about Eleven HERE!

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7 Comments
Sat Jun 19, 2021 10:53 am
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De Bruyne and Club Stories or Euro2021 blog!

Ignacy:
Today I pay respect to the Player. We often complain that celebrities earn too much. We complain that they are spoiled, that they are doing stupid shit, that they lost form, or lost engagement, or whatever.

And then, once in a while, they prove they can play. We can still complain about their salaries, about their celebrity status, we can complain about many things, but we must agree on this one thing – they became celebrities because they can play.

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In this situation yesterday, 999 out of 1000 players would kick the ball to score a goal. 673 would hit a defender. 247 would hit the goalkeeper. 13 would hit the goalpost. 62 would kick towards the sky, far from the goal, 3 would miss the ball, and Neymar would dive for a penalty.

And then there is Kevin De Bruyne, cold minded player, who ran into the penalty area, who made everyone think he is going to try to score, and then he passed the ball to another player who was in a better position.

Cold-minded brain with the perfect analysis of the situation on the pitch. That’s why Belgium scored, and 999 other teams would never score in that situation. That’s why Kevin earns that much.

Because when there is this one split second that defines the whole 90 minutes match, he makes a difference.

Thomas:
I believe it was 2016 that I decided to go for it.

For your information: I’m watching Belgium play Denmark right now, but I’m disappointed in our southern neighbors this time. 0 – 1 down, and boring lousy play. So I might as well type you a little story.

I had always been designing lighter games, such as UGO! and Tavern. I wanted to do something different. Something I really liked, without thinking of what would be commercially best. Not thousands of boxes, but only a couple of hundreds. Just to purely enjoy designing your own favorite kind of games.

I looked at my Kallax. It was full of more complex games and mostly solo. I looked at my pc. It got too old to do any of the newest games. I’ve always been inspired by pc games for my designs. What complex game would I really enjoy as a board game? Of course. It had to be a football manager. And it had to be solo. I published the game myself. Only 100 copies were made at first. I didn’t have to do anything! People told each other the game was good. Soon I did another 100 copies. The game stayed the same, but the quality got better. Again, they went all over the world.

One thing I was surprised about was the love of football in the US. I’m sure most of the games were played over there.

BGG said people still wanted the game. At a certain point, there were more people wanting it than having it. But I really wanted to do something different. And I already had sent a copy to Ignacy because I was convinced it fits Portal Games like a Polish football jersey.

In the meantime, I started my next project, ‘Everything Lost’, the same way. Never change a winning team. Although it’s a big cliche quote, this one proved right. (You should check it on BGG:-) )

But then I got this e-mail from Ignacy. It was very short. Something like:

“We really like your game. We want to publish it worldwide.”

From there, it all started. Eleven was born.

And I can assure you if you thought Club Stories (which was the original name) was good, Eleven takes it off from there. It will be playable solo and competitive multiplayer. It takes the good things of Club Stories and puts new layers on top of it.

I’m sure you will enjoy it.

In the meantime, I see the referee blowing his final whistle. A 2 – 1 win for Belgium. It’s not always necessary to play well to win a game. Mmm… did we add this in Eleven?


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Thomas Jansen is the designer of Eleven: the football manager game. Ignacy Trzewiczek is the developer of the game. They both will share their thoughts about EuroCup 2021 and also talk about the design or development of Eleven. Be with them every day during Euro! If you like football and board games, please, share the news about Eleven!

You can learn more about Eleven HERE!

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3 Comments
Fri Jun 18, 2021 9:30 am
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When we talk football, Germany always wins. Well, really? OR EuroCup 2021 blog!

Let’s pick up the subject which Ignacy talked about yesterday. He showed us stereotypes aren’t always right. But are they true at all? Let’s pick one.

“Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”

This is what Gary Lineker said after England lost the semi final against Germany during the World Cup of 1990.
It became a very famous quote, and although there wasn’t any evidence to prove it, it became a well known fact. I believed in it as well. I was brought up with it.
I remember my father warning me as a boy: “Don’t cheer too early, they are Germans, you know!” But I can’t really remember a moment in which this really happened.. Did Gary Lineker create a myth by himself?

Now let’s do some science.

In 2019 scientists at the Ghent university analysed more than a 1000 games in recent history, played in the Champions League and Europa League. And what do you know? German teams don’t score more goals in the final minutes than clubs from other countries.
Spanish and French teams are less likely to concede a goal in the final minutes.
The same goes for English teams… but only if they have an English coach. Sometimes facts can be just as fun as stereotypes.

How does this work in Eleven? We believe that form and morale can be of a big influence on a game. We’ve implemented it in Eleven. If you have a team with a high morale, you are more likely to score in the dying seconds of the game. And if your team is fitter, you will be able to give more, and increase your chances of winning by activating different abilities of the players.

Earlier Dutch Research investigated national sides. Argentina, Italy ánd Germany are more likely to score in the dying seconds, but Germany is also more likely to concede any goals.

Therefore: Busted


So, let’s change that quote: “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Italians or Argentines win.”

I guess now we know who’s gonna win the cup.

Yesterday's game against Switzerland only confirmed it.

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Thomas Jansen is the designer of Eleven: the football manager game. Ignacy Trzewiczek is the developer of the game. They both will share their thoughts about EuroCup 2021 and also talk about the design or development of Eleven. Be with them every day during Euro! If you like football and board games, please, share the news about Eleven!

You can learn more about Eleven HERE!

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Thu Jun 17, 2021 10:09 am
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Stereotypes are always wrong, but sometimes are funny OR Euro 2021 blog!

We are after the whole first round, so I thought let’s do fun experiment and confront stereotypes we all know about the teams with the reality and how they played in the first round. Shall we?

DISCLAIMER: By using stereotypes I don’t mean to offend any nation. I know that stereotypes in many cases are unfair.

***

Stereotype:
Turkey is always underestimated in big tournaments. Can play great offensive football. Hakan Sukur was a great player.

Italy is always defending its 1:0 lead. Plays boring football called catenaccio.

The Match:
Turkey 0
Italy 3
Turkey played blandly. Italy plays offensive football. Both stereotypes proved wrong.

***

Stereotype:
Wales has one good player. His name is Gareth Bale. He can win a match alone.

Switzerland has one good player. His name is Xherdan Shaqiri. He cannot win a match alone.

The Match:
Wales 1
Switzerland 1
I have no clue why Bale is still playing football if he clearly doesn't enjoy it anymore. Shaqiri haven’t won the match for Swiss, though. 50% of stereotype accuracy!

***

Stereotypes:
Denmark means energy and always does a good performance.
Finland. No clue.

The Match:
Denmark 0
Finland 1
Till the moment Eriksen fell on the field, the stereotypes were on point. The rest is history.

***

Stereotypes:
Belgium is called Red Devils. Is playing offensive football, always are considered pretenders to win tournament. Rarely do, though.

Russia is unknown. You never know how they play. They have potential due to the size of the country and the amount of talent, but did they win anything in history?

The Match:
Belgium 3
Russia 0
Belgium confirmed the pretender position. Russian confirmed being an unknown. Both stereotypes on point!

***

Stereotypes:
England (and the football) are always going home... far before the final. Generation after generation, all those Scholes, Beckhams, Gerrards, always great players, always going home.

Croatia has heart. Never gives up. Team that leaves heart on the pitch. The team that wins your heart on the pitch.

The Match:
England 1
Croatia 0
Where is my Croatia? What happened? What the hell happened?!

***

Stereotypes:
Austria wishes they play like Germany.
Northern Macedonia... sorry your data transfer is suspended. No stereotype found.

The Match:
Austria 3
Northern Macedonia 1
In the end, I think Germany wishes they play like Austria.

***

Stereotypes:
The Netherlands is like Belgium but actually with some spectacular successes. They play beautifully for the eye. Always had players we loved, Berkamp, Overmars, Van Basten. Everybody loves The Netherlands.

Ukraine is Shevchenko. Yes, I know he doesn't play anymore. He is a coach now. As I said, Ukraine is Shevchenko.

The Match:
The Netherlands 3
Ukraine 2
We still love The Netherlands. And we always will love Shevchenko.

***

Stereotypes:
Scotland! Place to live, place to love! Kilts, red hair, castles, rain, bagpipe, and… what? Ah, football. Sorry, no data.

Czech is the team to respect. Always good, always solid team. Not as strong as France, England, Germany, but among the medium strength teams Czech excels.

The Match:
Scotland 0
Czech 2
Love to Scotland confirmed. Czech class confirmed. Stereotypes have never been more accurate!

***

Stereotypes:
Poland means boring, chaotic football and Lewandowski. Noone in Europe believes Lewandowski really is Polish. Neither do I.
Slovakia means no data. No stereotypes. Sorry Slovakia.

The Match:
Poland 1
Slovakia 2
It’s your fault. You should know better before you turned TV. Wasted 90 minutes of your life. Stereotypes fully confirmed.

***

Stereotypes:
Spain plays tiki taka and we all hate it.
Sweden has Ibrahimović. They don’t? Oh, so I don’t watch.

The Match:
Spain 0
Sweden 0
Spain had 85% possession. Scored 0 goals. We all hate tiki taka.

***

Stereotypes:
Hungary used to play a great football. Like 100 years ago or so.
Portugal has Ronaldo. Portugal can do anything with this card in hand.

The Match:
Hungary 0
Portugal 3
Apparently every 100 years Hungary has a new injection of talent. They played pretty awesome. Portugal had Ronaldo, but decided not to play this card. Stereotypes missed this time.

***

Stereotypes:
When Zidane ended career, France won’t win anything for the next 20 years.
Germany always wins at the last minute of the match.

The Match:
France 1
Germany 0
Sometimes, my friends, stereotypes are wrong.


WHAT STEREOTYPES I GOT WRONG? WHICH ONES I MISSED?


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Thomas Jansen is the designer of Eleven: the football manager game. Ignacy Trzewiczek is the developer of the game. They both will share their thoughts about EuroCup 2021 and also talk about the design or development of Eleven. Be with them every day during Euro! If you like football and board games, please, share the news about Eleven!

You can learn more about Eleven HERE!

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Wed Jun 16, 2021 9:07 am
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When football is bland and boring even for the fan OR EuroCup blog, part 3

Ignacy:
We discuss tactics. We argue if 4-4-2 is better than 4-5-1, we debate about choices managers make, we spend countless hours talking about who should play on that position and that position and if this player is better from that player. We discuss football all day long, and there are as many opinions as there are fans.

Poland lost against Slovakia yesterday, and as you can imagine, the whole country is debating. We debate manager personal choices. We debate tactics. We debate if our goalkeeper made a mistake. We argue why Lewandowski didn't score a goal. The Internet - as expected - literally exploded after the match.

That's all bullocks. Tactics, personal choices, individual player mistakes are all bullocks if there is no heart left on the pitch. There is no tactics that win the game if you don't run. There is no winning personal choice, if the team plays no pressing. There is no football without giving everything you got on the pitch.

The heart makes a difference.

That's why Ukraine, which lost against the Netherlands, gained thousands of new supporters last week.

That's why no one could care less for Poland after their bland, boring, uninspired performance.

We should not discuss tactics. We should not discuss personal choices. We should discuss if that's the performance of a person whose lifetime dream was to play in the National team during the EuroCup. Did we see that? Did we see the fire, the passion, the manifest of the moment of their life.

In Eleven we have Team Spirit stat. It breaks the rules. Unlike all other stats, it has no fundamental function, no general description. It's freaking magic. It allows you to do everything. It allows you to break almost any rule in the game. If your team has high Team Spirit, you can do crazy things.

Watching my National team having Team Spirit on level 1, the lowest possible, was a dreadful experience. I am sorry if you also had to watch it.



Thomas:
19-year-old defender Jurriën Timber was in the Dutch starting line-up in the game against Ukraine. At the start of this season, he only played in the second division of the Dutch league. What is it that makes a player grow?

In Eleven we have young players as well. They are eager to learn from the other players on the pitch or from a good coach. Make sure you put them in the line-up, train them, and they probably will become better.

At the beginning of the game, your veteran players form the trusted core of your team. They are essential for the team. They have great abilities, but will get older once you use them. Soon there will be other players developing themselves to take over their roles.

(of course, we are still in the middle of the development of Eleven, so keep in mind things may change!)

This Euro2020 day I watched 2 matches. I missed the one between Sweden and Spain.

The first match of the day was Scotland - Czech Republic. It was played at beautiful Hampden Park. It is home to Queens Park, the oldest football club in Scotland that still exists. After Rangers and Celtic, it has won the most Scottish cups (10), all won during the 19th century. The stadium is also home to the Scottish national team.

It all started well. The national anthem of Scotland was played, and all 15 000 Scots in the stadium sang loud and proud. Beautiful.
The absolute star of the Scottish team was Robbertson. He led his mates in battle. They were the better team in the first half, but it didn't bring them any goals. And just before halftime, Bayer Leverkusen's striker Patrik Schick scored at the opposite end of the pitch.

It was a great start to the second half, with chances on both sides. But then Schick struck again. He saw the Scottish goalkeeper was outside the penalty box and took a shot from a great distance. It resulted in the best goal of the tournament so far.

I liked the Scottish way of playing, but they lack a world-class striker. The Czech Republic has one. He goes by the name of Patrik Schick. I will remember him.

Next up was Poland - Slovakia. All members of the Portal Games team were probably watching this one nervously. Unfortunately, the game wasn't of the highest quality. The best players on the pitch were Zielińsky (Poland) and Hamsík (Slovakia). They brought movement into the teams and functioned as a connection between midfield and front. Poland had the most of the possession, but Slovakian winger Mak scored the first goal.

Right after halftime, Poland got back into the game by scoring the 1-1. Poland got their hope back. But then Krychowiak got his 2nd yellow card, and a couple of minutes later, Slovakia scored again. Poland tried to fight back. Bednarek missed the biggest chance in the 91st minute to equalize. Full time 1-2. Without having great players, Slovakia managed to defeat better quality players by playing organized and being a better team.


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Thomas Jansen is the designer of Eleven: the football manager game. Ignacy Trzewiczek is the developer of the game. They both will share their thoughts about EuroCup 2021 and also talk about the design or development of Eleven. Be with them every day during Euro! If you like football and board games, please, share the news about Eleven!

You can learn more about Eleven HERE!
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Tue Jun 15, 2021 12:23 pm
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Playing a Tactic card or EuroCup, day 3

Thomas:

Let's get back to football and board games today.

After 2 days of the tournament, I am most impressed by Belgium and Italy. To me, Belgium is getting more and more used to the fact they belong among the big ones. They have an experienced team, with great talented players. Lukaku was great against Russia. He contributed both in attack and defense. Italy made a good impression as well. But it took a while to break through the Turkish wall. For the neutral football fan, these kinds of matches can be intriguing...

When you play Eleven, you can send scouts to watch the opponent's team. This way you learn if it is a strong team and in which line up they play. If you are about to meet the favorites for the league title, you may choose a defensive lineup with defensive tactics. One of them is called ‘Play for a draw’. It boosts your defense and decreases your attacking power at the same time. lt often saves you, and sometimes you even steal the victory. Imagine the Turkish own goal didn’t happen and Turkey scored in a counterattack.

Have you ever been on that side as a fan? Remember how you exploded in joy? Or burst into tears, if on the other side. That's football.

I bet Turkey would have chosen these tactics too if they had the card available.

Of course, yesterday I was looking forward to the game in my home country: The Netherlands.

I remember the first moment I got interested in football. It was in 1988. The Dutch team won the Euros that year. I was... Eleven.

I literally remember every single game. For us, the semi-final was the real final. We won against Germany with a superb goal from Marco van Basten. For the Netherlands, it was revenge for the lost World Cup final in 1974 against Germany.

This year our team is OK. We've had a better team, but they can definitely grow during the tournament.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to watch England - Croatia. I took my kids to the playground. We had a great time. Some things are more important than the beautiful game. Nevertheless, England managed to win without me watching. Raheem Sterling scored the only goal. They took their revenge for the loss against the same opponent in the World Cup semi-finals 2 years ago.

I was really interested in North Macedonia. I'm an underdog man. And I hope they will do well. And become... 2nd in the group. Right behind the Netherlands of course.

They played against Austria, a team which is ranked about 40 places higher in Fifa ranking. The first half was full of mistakes but was entertaining. Austria had better players, but North Macedonia fought hard as a team. Austria opened the score with a beautiful goal, but Macedonia scored the equalizer in a way that looked more like pinball than football.

In the second half it could have gone both ways, but substitutes Gregoritsch and Arnautovitz showed why they should have been in the lineup by both scoring one more goal.

Full time: 3-1. I have been entertained, but I don’t expect these teams to reach the quarter-finals.

I put on my orange 2010 World Cup finals jersey. I was ready for the game. In the first half, the Netherlands were off to a good start. 3 chances in about 7 minutes. But the blue wall got thicker each minute. Sometimes it opened in a flash and the Ukrainians came out for a dangerous counterattack. It was clear the Dutch had the better players, but Ukraine used the ‘play for a draw’- tactics card with thought.

Finally, in the second half, the Dutch broke down the wall. Wijnaldum and Weghorst each scored a goal within 5 minutes. Everybody waited for the third Dutch goal, but instead, Ukraine scored. Twice! They tried the ‘play for draw’ card again, but it didn’t work. In the 85th minute, Dumfries scored the final goal of the game for the Netherlands: 3-2. Ukraine worked hard, but the Dutch took the victory in the end.

Satisfied, but a bit worried. I‘ve seen some good attacks, but although they played with 5 defenders, defensively it didn’t look great.

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Thomas Jansen is the designer of Eleven: the football manager game. Ignacy Trzewiczek is the developer of the game. They both will share their thoughts about EuroCup 2021 and also talk about the design or development of Eleven. Be with them every day during Euro! If you like football and board games, please, share the news about Eleven!

You can learn more about Eleven HERE!
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Mon Jun 14, 2021 8:13 am
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All`s Well That Ends Well - EuroCup, day 2

Thomas:

And then you realize: In life, there is one thing more important than football and board games: It’s life itself.

During the game between Denmark and Finland, Christian Erikson suddenly fell down on the pitch and had to be reanimated. He was fighting for his life. Thousands of people in the stadium, friends, and family, and millions of people watching at home, were shocked. Erikson was brought to the local hospital. After a while, rumors suggested, Christian was conscious, but no one knew for sure. About an hour later, the good news came out: Christian Erikson was awake and was even able to talk. A huge sigh of relief.

I couldn’t imagine the rest of the game would be played that night. But it happened. Players decided to play again. It was said, Erikson also wanted the game to continue.

It was great to see the fans of Finland and Denmark, sharing their emotions together. Shouting Erikson's name. When the Danish team entered the pitch again, the Finnish players applauded for them. It was a terrible event, but there were some beautiful moments.

I once experienced myself, there was a situation with a fan who had to be reanimated during a match of my hometown club. It’s shocking, but at the same time, it’s great to see how many people want to help.

Of course, Denmark was shocked. There’s only one subject to talk about on the streets today. For the Fins it was a strange evening as well; This, being their first-ever match in a big tournament. They will never forget. But of course first of all it's about Christian and his family. I hope they get through this and I wish them well.

Finland won the game 0 - 1. But who cares today. I hope Denmark will pick themselves up and play a fantastic rest of the tournament.
Tomorrow I will talk about board games (Eleven) and football again. Somehow it feels less important today.

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Thomas Jansen is the designer of Eleven: the football manager game. Ignacy Trzewiczek is the developer of the game. They both will share their thoughts about EuroCup 2021 and also talk about the design or development of Eleven. Be with them every day during Euro! If you like football and board games, please, share the news about Eleven!

You can learn more about Eleven HERE!
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Sun Jun 13, 2021 8:58 am
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EuroCup, day 1

Ignacy:

The whole world is watching—the opening ceremony and then the first match—the highest pressure possible. It’s the start of the four weeks worldwide event, the first of 51 games. It’s the hour you were waiting for your whole life. I cannot imagine what’s happening in the dressing room, what’s happening when you walk out of the tunnel and enter the pitch. What’s in your mind when you hear the crowd and realize this is it – the opening match of EuroCup, and you are in. The moment you will remember your whole life.

It’s your hopes and dreams. It’s all the fans, supporters, media, everyone’s hopes and dreams to be part of the great game, to experience something exceptional, to see goals, and saves, and tackles, and beautiful passes, and smart plays, and effort, and heart, and drama too.

It’s the first game. The whole world is watching.

Thomas will write and analyze yesterday’s match below, so let me diverse from Euro for a second and talk about the first game… in board games.

When I told my friends and playtesters that I signed a football manager game, they were more than intrigued. Many of them work with me on my designs for more than a decade. Martin was helping me in 2009 with Stronghold, and then in 2010 with Pret-a-Porter; Maciej, on the other hand, was my main playtester for Imperial Settlers. He also designed a solo variant for Imperial Settlers.

They have trust in the games Portal is doing. They are with me for years, being one of the most trusted playtesters I have. It’s a great team of geeks.

They are also football freaks. We play football every Monday forever. We share two passions – board games and football.

So as I said, when I told them that I signed a football manager game, they were more than intrigued.

This first game of Eleven was like opening the Euro. Excitement, hopes, dreams. Martin came to my house to play it. I set up the game, explained the rules, and we played.

That very evening, the first time I showed him Eleven, we played only one round. After the last phase of the round, Martin smiled and gave me that look. It said everything.

This look said, ‘It’s really good.’
This look said, ‘You lucky bastard.’
This look said, ‘I’m in. I want to be in the dev team.’

We talked for an hour about the game and were super excited about upcoming months of work.

Eleven delivered. Eleven was everything Martin hoped for. Eleven is a football manager game we all waited for.

***

Thomas:

For me, Euro2020 started yesterday, right after work.

I like football. My main focus is on club football. Especially the smaller clubs. They were part of the inspiration for designing Eleven. The fight against relegation has intrigued me just as much as trying to become champions. I enjoy the stories behind a season of small clubs. Not being relegated at the end of the season can feel just as good as becoming a champion. I wanted players—when playing Eleven—to experience these dramatic emotions in one of the scenarios of Eleven. Just try not to relegate. Easy, right?

After a disappointing season with my club, I had to change focus. So, I went into a supermarket and bought the ‘Guide to Euro2020’. I read about all the national teams, star players, and stadiums. I really got excited. This is going to be great. I picked my favorite countries, mostly underdogs, and I was ready for the tournament. Ready to watch the first match between Italy and Turkey the next day.

Of course, Italy was the favorite to win this match. If it was about the national anthems, they are definitely finalists to me. What a great song! But it’s not. And Turkey has a dangerous team. They took 4 points from France during qualifying. They beat the Netherlands with a deserved victory. They are fast and deadly. Unfortunately for Turkey, as the first half progressed, the Italians got more and more dominant in the game, resulting in lots of chances. The Turks weren’t able to counterattack, which is normally their strength, due to the fast intervention of the Italians.

But Nevertheless, 0 – 0 at halftime. After the break, Italy got their well-deserved goal; unfortunately, it was own goal. I felt a bit sorry for Turkey because they defended quite well and were unlucky here. After the goal, it went loose. The Turkish wall collapsed. Full time: 3-0.

Italy has shown its strength, and I definitely think they will become the group winner. Although Turkey failed both in defense and attack against a different opponent, they may be able to play the game they like and still end up as number 2 in the group.

I enjoyed this game! I have seen worse at the start of a tournament. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s games!

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Thomas Jansen is the designer of Eleven: the football manager game. Ignacy Trzewiczek is the developer of the game. They both will share their thoughts about EuroCup 2021 and also talk about the design or development of Eleven. Be with them every day during Euro! If you like football and board games, please, share the news about Eleven!

You can learn more about Eleven HERE!
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Sat Jun 12, 2021 11:15 am
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Soaking the spy theme

I received the story script and several additional pages of rules for the game from Jakub Łapot and Przemysław Rymer. I read them and was really impressed by the new concepts. The idea of different zones where players could act, the exposure rules, and even the death of the agents! There was a ton of theme in that first draft.

I built the prototype and played it by myself to see how it all worked.

An hour later, I had my answer. None of these ideas worked—literally, nothing, not a single piece functioned as planned.

Was I devastated?

Not at all. That's how it all starts. Every damn time.

***


It took us another few months of research to make a comprehensive list of ideas for the mechanisms of a spy game. I watched lots of movies and TV shows about spies. I read books. I read comic books. I did the same gig as always—I soaked with the theme. I had a notepad full of ideas.
What's important for the spy theme:
- codes
- secret messages
- gadgets

I combined it all with the initial ideas from Łapot and Rymer. I was ready to build a set of rules that would work. Testing began.

***


Rymer wanted to use real code cards from the Cold War era. I was skeptical. I was afraid it would be too difficult for players to understand. But after all, it wasn't that bad. And I admit, when I gave playtesters a real code card from the Cold War and told them it was real shit, they were ecstatic.

This is a real thing. We are receiving messages from the CIA. We need to decode them. We are spies.

I wanted players to also decipher KGB messages. That was, for sure, the task players would not be able to do. We had to come up with a supplementary idea, something that would feel like deciphering the message and yet, would be doable by a random geek who’s not working in secret intelligence. I bought Ken Russell’s books about puzzles and looked for some ideas. Few hours into reading, I had my first Soviet cipher. I used simple mathematical tasks and equations to challenge players. I tested this idea with the playtesting group a few days later. It worked awesomely. First try, the first score, touch down.

I also wanted players to look for the secret words and sentences in the intercepted messages and understand the additional meaning of what was said. This is yet another essential element of all spy movies. They always say something like: "King beats Bishop on C4," which means that explosives are prepared, and assassination of the cardinal is in the works! Stuff like that is always a part of the spy movies! KGB agents don't talk like that, but nobody cares—it's the theme, it's how it’s done in books and movies. We did the same in the game—players must intercept messages, listen to them, and then think about what was said and what each word meant. That's silly fun, that's us, geeks, being smarter than Soviets, that's what being a freaking spy is all about!

***


Vienna Connection. Decoding real code cards. Deciphering secret messages. Reading between the lines. We put it all. We build the experience. We made you a spy.

Are you ready, agent?




***
More about the game: https://portalgames.pl/en/vienna-connection/

My vlog: https://www.youtube.com/c/PortalGamesStudio/videos
My Twitter: https://twitter.com/trzewik
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Tue May 25, 2021 11:52 am
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Uncharted territory

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I met Joel in person for the first time at Gen con 2012. I was running demos of Robinson Crusoe. I knew him as a YouTube reviewer and was very excited when he came to the booth to learn the game. He didn’t say a word for the whole game, and frankly speaking, I was terrified. He was really silent during the game, and I was pretty sure he was bored to death with it. After the game ended, he said he loved it, congratulated me, and left.

I think the word that describes my feelings at that moment is “perplexed.”

***

I met Joel the very same day, in the evening. I was invited by fans to play a football board game and when I came, I realized that Joel was invited too. I sat next to him. We played.

He was calm with his emotions again but opened a little more. And he regaled me with super funny comments about football and the game through the whole night. His sense of humor was right in my alley. That game night was a blast. It is still one of the highlights of all my gaming.

***

I mention Joel today because last week, he recorded a new episode of his vlog, a celebration video – it’s been 10 years since he started his channel. Quite the anniversary! It’s one of the most respected review channels in our hobby, with a great audience. Joel doesn’t go for clickbait content, doesn’t run to review all the hotness; he does his thing, deep, thoughtful reviews of games he plays. I respect that a lot and love the content.

In the anniversary video, he said words that struck me, and I wanted to follow up today on what he said – that is how discovering new games and genres is an important part of our hobby. It’s the search for the spark, as Joel said, it’s entering the uncharted territory as I’d describe it.

I remember myself in 1993 when I read about RPG for the first time. Had no clue what it was, but it sounded so amazing and was like nothing I saw before. More than a year later, after long months of reading about it and trying to figure out how to play RPG, I finally played it, and it changed my life. I fell in love and became obsessed with RPG. And then I discovered something called Warhammer Battle, and that was new uncharted territory. I discovered miniatures, terrains, rulers, and all that jazz. And then I discovered board games. And then I discovered historical war games. Each step in these unknown territories was like a beginning of an epic adventure, it was Sam leaving the Shire, it was the beginning of something new.

You’d say I saw it all. You’d say there is no uncharted territory anymore. You’d say it is over.

You’d be wrong.

The spark is here. It’s called Rangers of Shadow Deep, I discovered thanks to Joel’s channel. It’s called Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, I discovered thanks to Grant Rodiek. It’s called Risk Legacy I discovered thanks to Rob Daviau. It’s called The Mind. It’s called solo gaming and Arkham Horror LCG…

Been in gaming since 1993. Thanks to brilliant designers, I’ve been exploring uncharted territories for all that time.

P.S. Joel's anniversary video here.

***

My vlog: https://www.youtube.com/c/PortalGamesStudio/videos
My Twitter: https://twitter.com/trzewik
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Tue May 11, 2021 12:59 pm
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