My wife said — you will never play it again!

I am not allowed to play Bohnanza. It was 2009, we were on vacation at the Polish sea with friends, and I epically won Bohnanza. In the evening, when we get back to the room, my wife Merry, with a solemn tone, said to me: ‘I forbid you to play this game ever again. You embarrass our family.’

Since then, over the past 12 years, I have played Bohnanza twice. Secretly, so Merry doesn’t know. I am petrified of her anger.

***

She forbids me from playing this game and many other games where you need to talk a lot and negotiate because, in these games, I somehow turn into a crazy salesman that yells, outtalks everyone at the table, begs and threatens other players, throws money, grabs cards from people’s hands… I cannot explain it. Something is happening with me. I lose control. It’s pure madness. It is really embarrassing. 

***

My wife Merry didn’t playtest Dreadful Circus. If she did, though, she would be proud of me. Over the years, I grew as a player. I don’t yell. I don’t grab other player’s cards. And I still win. Because instead of yelling, I think. In Dreadful Circus, there are so many layers to discover and then take advantage of. Let me explain. 

In Dreadful Circus, in each round, two players put one of the cards from their hand on auction. The rest of the players can make an offer for these cards. If a player wins the bid, they add the card to their tableau. These cards modify final scoring. It’s super simple – see what cards are offered, pick the one you prefer, and make an offer. 

And then there are these beautiful layers and levels of thinking the player who sells the card discovers. Should I take a better offer? Or should I be satisfied with the smaller bid but be sure that the offered card won’t end up at John’s table? Should I sell this card to Martha because this card has no synergy with her other cards, so basically, I will get money, and she gets nothing?

Nice. But what about we take one step backward. Before you choose offers… You look at your hand. You see what cards you may offer for sale. Do you go with the card that Robert would loooove to have, and you expect to earn good money? Are you going with the card that would help Mathiew? He is in a terrible position, and with this card, he could come back into the game. Will he pay a lot for it? 

Nice, huh? But what about we take one more step backward. The setup is done. You have 7 cards in hand. You will put one of them in your play area now. It will tease a bit of your strategy for this game. You will sell four of these cards to other players during the game. These will help them score points. You will play the sixth card in your tableau at the end of the game. And you will discard the 7th card. No one will get it.

You smile? You see yourself building the strategy when you get the cards. And then in each round, you are adjusting strategy, and you put differently than the planned card on auction. You see how players’ tables are growing, what they need, and what you have in your hand. 

Dreadful Circus is a brilliant set collection game with the perfect mix of planning, negotiating, and outsmarting opponents. Bruno Faidutti did something exceptional here. 

And most importantly, Merry allows me to play it!

You don’t know it yet.

It was 2001 when everything changed. My parents, who never were very enthusiastic about my passion for fantasy and science fiction literature, suddenly started talking about Gimli and Legolas. Suddenly they knew who Gandalf was. Suddenly they were passionate about Nazguls. Suddenly they needed answers and were asking me about the Gondor, Saruman, and what happens to Merry and Pippin next.

Peter Jackson’s movie made the Lord of the Rings novel a worldwide phenomenon.

Today everyone, your aunt, your brother, your mother-in-law, literally everybody knows words like a hobbit, shire, Gollum. Everyone discovered this fantastic story. The story we geeks already knew for years.

***

Ten years passed.

It was 2011 when everything changed again. My wife’s sister, who never read a single fantasy book and has nothing to do with us, nerds, suddenly started talking about Ned Stark. Suddenly she knew who Daenerys is. Suddenly she was passionate about Lannisters. Suddenly she needed answers and was asking about Arya and what will happen to her next.

HBO’s epic show made Game of Thrones novel a worldwide phenomenon.

Today everyone, your uncle, your sister, your father-in-law, literally everybody knows words like Westeros, Iron Throne, Night’s Watch. Everyone discovered this fantastic story. The story we geeks already knew for years.

***

Ten years passed.

It is 2021 when everything will change again. Your friend, who never read a single science fiction book, suddenly will start talking about the Fremen. Suddenly he will know who Stilgar is. Suddenly he will be passionate about Harkonnens. Suddenly he will ask you questions about Thufir Hawat and what will happen next.

Upcoming Denis Villeneuve’s masterpiece will make Dune novel a worldwide phenomenon.

This fall season, everyone, your cousin, your father, your neighbour, literally everybody will know words like Melange, Bene Gesserit, mentat. Everyone will discover this fantastic story.

The story I already loved for years.

You don’t know it yet, but I already know – you will fall in love with Dune. I am happy for you.

(illustration comes from book cover for the new print run of Dune)

Life of a rebel — Dune: House Secrets Dev Diary

Dune: House Secrets is an adventure game that takes place on Arrakis. It thrusts players into the midst of a conflict between two great houses and allows players to play a small part in Dune’s history.

Dune: House Secrets is inspired by the award-winning Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, but unlike its predecessor, it’s an adventure game. Players are not playing as investigators, detectives, or cops — they are rebels, part of the resistance forces fighting against House Harkonnen.

This brand new angle gives a fresh, unique turn to the gameplay. Players won’t have access to files and FBI databases. They won’t be allowed to visit crime scenes or question suspects. The whole game changes into an exciting adventure, where stealth, bribery, and sometimes brute force are the only tools available. It’s reminiscent of a good old-school RPG where a small team of heroes must complete a quest. Players eavesdrop on guards and soldiers, sneak behind their backs, and spend Resources like Water or Spice to get to places normally unavailable to them. Some of the Encounters resemble classic video games like Thief or Dishonored rather than modern crime shows. In some missions, players must commit the crime rather than find out who did it.

Do you have the strength to oppose House Harkonnen? Are you ready to join the resistance? Welcome to Arrakis, rebel.

Learn more about Dune: House Secrets at https://dune.portalgames.pl/

Dune: House Secrets – adventure game on Dune

Dune: House Secrets is an adventure game that takes place on Arrakis. It’s set during the events described in the novel and allows players to play a small part in Dune’s history.

The game is inspired by the award-winning Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game. It’s a card-driven game in which players have three unique Chapters to complete. Each chapter is a series of Encounters represented by cards that, based on the player’s choices, shape the game’s story, just like in RPGs.

Each card in the game represents one Encounter. It might be spying on somebody, talking to merchants, breaking into a mysterious warehouse, or following a spice transport. Each Encounter pushes the story forward, reveals new choices, and gives access to new Encounters. Players will gain new allies, new enemies, and with each card, they will learn more about the story.

To resolve Encounters, players may need to spend their Resources: Water, Spice, and others. Sometimes they use them to bribe a guard, but they could also use them to fight their way through. To add to the theme of the game, Resources are limited, just like in the merciless desert of Arrakis. Players start the game with a Pool of Resources, and the supply
doesn’t replenish unless they gain Experience Points (XP) at the end of the mission and spend them on training. In Dune: House Secrets, you not only pursue leads to reveal the story, but also manage your Resources to survive another Chapter on the planet. If you spend too much of your Resources, or if you don’t gain enough XP for training, your adventure may end sooner than expected.

Welcome to Arrakis. Are you ready for an adventure?

Check out tomorrow’s update and see what bonus we’ll be adding to your copy of the game!

LEARN MORE AT: DUNE WEBSITE

Italy won, England lost, or EuroCup blog

Ignacy:
I always supported England. I was a die-hard fan of the team with Joe Cole, with Frank Lampard, with Steven Gerrard, with David Beckham, I loved them all. I remember the epic shot from Steven Gerrard that was a goal, but there was no goal-line technology back then, and we all in front of TV saw a goal, but the referee did not. I remember myself taking bets that David Beckham will have the most assists in the cup. I remember the anger I felt when Sven Goran Eriksson lost the match that was basically won, but he decided he will do the substitution…

I always supported England. Always, but not this time.

Rahim Sterling’s dive in the match against Denmark was a disgrace. I couldn’t accept it. I turned my back on England for the first time in my life.

England scored a quick goal against Italy and stopped playing. From the 10th minute of the game, they decided that they want to keep the score. No ambition to score again. No motivation to create a spectacle. Just stone cold Mourinho style game. It was a disgrace. The whole world watching and you just defend the 1:0 score. I couldn’t accept it. I felt it was good I turned my back on England this time.

English fans attacked Italian fans on Wembley, including kids. The video spread like crazy on social media yesterday. It was a disgrace. I couldn’t accept it. I felt it was good I turned my back on England this time.

English players took off the medals they won the second they got them showing disrespect to the achievement. It was a disgrace. I couldn’t accept it. I felt it was good I turned my back on England this time.

I discussed in this blog a few days ago my First Martians case. I discussed Pride as a deadly sin.

England was drowned in Pride yesterday.

Congratulations to Italy. You played great football over the course of the whole tournament.

Thomas:
That’s it. The Eurocup ended yesterday.

In England, people woke up this morning with an eternal hangover, on a more depressing Monday than ever. In Italy, people are just about to go to bed. The hangover will probably come too but has a different cause.

For a fan, watching your team win Eurocup is something you will always remember. You know where you were, what happened, and how it happened. At this moment, you never realize how long you have to wait until next time. I myself remember that moment in 1988 very well. I was 11.

But as the smoke clears, people start to look at the club football again. The clubs are already playing their practice matches again. It’s really relaxing to go and watch one of your clubs. No tension, no fight for championship or against relegation. You need that on a holiday. Just watch new players trying to work themselves in the first team. Look at a couple of goals. See your friends again and discuss the best lineup, as if you were managers. A little relaxation during the summer holidays.

In Eleven you will also discuss your best lineup with your friends. But only after the match. You don’t want to help your opponent of course. It’s always nice to give your friend a little advice after he messed up. It’s not only about the victory points. It’s about honor. Of Course, you know more about football tactics. In Eleven you can prove 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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Friendly match or derby? EuroCup blog!

Tonight Italy played against their friends and rivals Spain.

There has always been some kind of bond between Spain and Italy. At the same time, it created some rivalry between the two. I guess you can compare it with a Netherlands – Belgium match, or Everton – Liverpool.

Every club football fan is looking forward to the match of the season: The game against their local rivals. Winning this match is almost as important as winning the league. How many underperforming coaches have been fired after losing against their rivals? Or have delayed their dismissal by winning the clash?

We all know the famous derbies:

Manchester United vs Liverpool
Celtic – Rangers
Barcelona – Real Madrid
Boca Juniors – River Plate
Borussia Dortmund – Schalke 04

But do you probably know a few smaller ones too?

Millwall – West Ham United (England)
Vitesse – NEC (Netherlands)
Red Star Belgrade – Partizan (Serbia)
Union Berlin – Hansa Rostock (Germany)
Hibernian – Hearts (Scotland)

They are often more intense than the big ones. You can’t watch these games on tv.
Only when present, do you experience the tension, the atmosphere, the noise. You’ve got to be there yourself.

In Eleven we touch the subject too. It can be one of the objectives the club wants you to fulfill. They are happy if you win the match. But of course, it’s even better to defeat them by a big margin. It will earn you even more victory points.

Sometimes the board sees an opportunity to work together with your rivals. It will earn you money or will develop the team. But do you think the fans will like it? What would you decide?

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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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Expectations. Realistic? Never! OR EuroCup2021 blog

England always faces 2 opponents: The team they’re playing against, and the high expectations of the fans.

Why is it that everyone in England always expects their team to become champions? Is it realistic? It’s understandable. The country has enough people to grow talent, there aren’t many countries where football is more popular, it has the biggest league in the world, and the country is seen by many people as the home of football.

And yet, England only won one big prize (World cup, 1966). Most English wasn’t even born then.

About ten years ago, I read a book which was called ‘Expensive strikers don’t score’. The writers tried to find the answer. They came up with some arguments which could be true. Or not:

Because of the high level of the Premier League, it is really hard for English players to get in. A lot of foreign players took their positions in the big teams and only a relatively small number of players have the chance to prove themselves.

More than in any other country, football is a working-class sport. Rugby is for the upper class. There is not a real mix of classes, which could have an impact on the sport. They even suggested that average English players could be less intelligent than the ones in other countries.

Why do you think England seems to underachieve?

In Eleven, expectations of the fans are high as well. If you lose a lot, you will lose popularity, and eventually, it results in empty chairs in the stadium. You also need to deal with accidental dilemmas in which you have the opportunity to please the fans. But as in real life, nothing is free.

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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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Why French players should play First Martians!

First Martians is the best game ever designed. That was my only thought and approach every single day when I was working on it. It has 6 unique, extremely different, and thematic scenarios based on real NASA projects and simulations. Additionally, it has 5 mission-long story-driven campaigns with twists that no one did in board gaming yet. On top of that, it has another 5 mission-long story-driven campaign with an incredible story, twists, and voice-over and narration done by Hollywood actor Rich Sommer. It’s three years of my life, day and night, weekdays and weekends. It’s the best game ever designed.

Only that, it is not. BGG website rates it with an embarrassing score of 6.5. First Martian became my most famous and spectacular failure. It also was the best thing that happened in my professional career.

How’s that?

Pride (Latin: superbia) is considered the most serious of the seven deadly sins. Known also as hubris (from ancient Greek ὕβρις), or futility.

It is believing that one is essentially and necessarily better, superior, or more important than others. It’s refusing to acknowledge one’s own limits, faults, or wrongs.

It is believing that you can design the best game ever designed. It is creating 6 unique scenarios and 5 more, and 5 more, and with each of them showing off your design muscles, changing rules, adding twists, hoping to blow the mind of players every time they play the game. First Martians is a pride in the cleanest form.

I failed. I failed and I learned my lesson. Humble is the word that lives with me since 2017 and is my most trusted companion. I believe I became a better designer, and I hope I became a better human being after the First Martians case.

I mention this today because I wonder if French players will become better after the game against Switzerland. I couldn’t help – watching the match – but think about the pride. About this terrible force that makes you so self-confident, so assured that it no longer is your strength. It becomes your biggest weakness.

This Euro had great moments of underdog teams stood up against bigger teams. Moments of humble effort and hard work on the pitch. Moments of team spirit and team play winning against superstars or at least, holding fast, like Scotland against England.

It’s a great Euro to teach about one of the greatest virtues – humbleness.

Denmark. Czech. Austria. Switzerland. I applaud you.

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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!

Ronaldo and Lewandowski are out OR EUROCUP blog

Ignacy:
The photo of crying Robert Lewandowski after the final whistle of POL SWE was heartbreaking. His performance against Sweden was outstanding, but you cannot win the game singlehanded. You need a team. You need support, you need quality and effort on the pitch, so you can make a difference.

We saw it so many times.
We saw Cristiano Ronaldo leaving WorldCup in Russia.
We saw Lionel Messi leaving WorldCup in Russia the very same day.

We see the legends, magnificent players pushing their teams forward, one after another through the stages of the tournaments, but at some point this is it. At some point you realize, cannot push any stronger. You won’t win. You can score two goals, but your lousy defenders will lose 3. You reached the limit.

And as much as I will miss Lewandowski and Ronaldo in the tournament, I am happy. I am happy because as for now, the team spirit wins in Euro. Denmark, Italy, Austria, and Czech showed a great performance. Teams without one-man celebrity, the gang of dudes fighting for each other like demons. That’s the football I appreciate. That’s the effort I want to watch.

Thomas:
Last night the Netherlands lost against the Czech Republic. A red card turned everything around. Coach De Boer substituted Malen for Promes. He took off the most dangerous man on the pitch. Why?

It brings back memories.

Along with Portugal, the Czech Republic has been an ‘angst gegner’ for the Netherlands this century.

For the Netherlands, Euro 2004 in Portugal started off with a 1-1 draw against Germany. Not bad, but it was important to win the next match against the Czechs.

It all started great. Beautiful football, and within 20 minutes it was 2-0 for the Dutch. Köller got one back, but after that, the score didn’t change for a while. The absolute star on the pitch was Arjen Robben. He was the engine of his team in many ways and he powered up the others.

But then it happened. In the 58′ minute, coach Dick Advocaat decided to take Robben off and put on an extra defender. I was in a room packed with people dressed in orange. All shouting: “No! What is he doing!”

After that, it completely collapsed. The game was lost (2-3).

Songs were written about it, many jokes were made. Although the team still reached the semi-final, which was lost from that other angstgegner, even now, people still talk about that bad substitution.

In Eleven some players can be very important to the team as well. Their presence on the pitch can make others stronger. Some players are experienced and help the younger ones to grow. A good midfield player can make the whole formation stronger. In Eleven it’s not only about the strength rating of one player. Like in real football, there’s more to it, to select the best 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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A butterfly effect caused me to design Eleven

Thomas:
For a lot of teams, the Eurocup story ended. The group stage is over and we will tumble into the next round. It must feel a bit like relegation to leave the tournament right after the group stage. Although for some participating in the Eurocup was the prize itself.

I’ve already told you the reason why I started to design a football manager game. In short: I wanted to do something different, a bit more complex, and a solo game. It had to be a football manager. I wanted players to start as nobody. I’ve always hated it when people started their pc manager game with one of the big clubs. What do they think? Why would this club pick you as a manager? So, in my game players had to start at the bottom to prove themselves.

I designed the first scenario. You had to fight against relegation in the lowest pro league. It really worked. When I designed the game, I had the English leagues in mind. They were the real inspiration for the game. And that love for the English leagues came from one old documentary. I bet if I hadn’t seen this, there wouldn’t be any Club Stories and Eleven.

It was called: That final day (2003). Made by Dutch presenter/journalist and football lover: Tom Egbers. It’s still on Youtube. Just type the name and the year and you’ll find it. Although it starts with a short intro in Dutch language, almost everything else is in English. You should really watch it!
It’s about Exeter City and Swansea who played in league 2 at the time, which is the 4th division. They are both at the bottom of the league. One of them will be relegated that day. Of course, the documentary is about the clubs, but it is mainly about the fans. People who work hard during the week, to see their clubs play on the weekends. The documentary makers follow every moment of that final day. And then the final whistle blows.

I know thousands of Dutch people fell in love with English lower league football after watching this.

That’s what I call a butterfly effect.

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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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