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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Team spirit in Eleven OR Euro2021 blog!

You can have the best players in the world, but if the fans aren’t happy, morale is low, or the players aren’t fit, they will never become the European champions.

I can think of several examples in both the Euro cup and World cup. Can you?

As an ‘Eleven manager,’ you need to consider this too. You can only become a champion if everything is perfect. On the contrary, I definitely recommend just letting all the bad stuff happen. Just for once. Just for fun. It makes up a good story. Great to tell your fellow players. You need to be able to complain once in a while, don’t you?

Here are some examples of things you would be able to say to your friends:

“Oh no! My striker got a red card again! He started a row on the pitch. Now he is suspended for two weeks! What a ………!”

“No way, my players don’t listen to my coach anymore! Total anarchy! I can’t use any tactics!”

“My fans say I don’t listen to them! They told us we’re playing in an empty stadium next match! But I do care for them! I just think they are all glory hunters!”

I’ve always been a fan of a good story. Of course, I’d like to win, but if the story is good, I don’t mind losing, as long as I’m responsible for it.

In Eleven, you create a story. Your story. After you play the game, you can tell the story of the season as if it really happened. I think it is an amazing experience.

***

Decision day in group A. I think Italy is the well-deserved winner of the group. For me, Turkey is the disappointment of the tournament. I really think they could do so much better—unfortunately, a well-earned 4th place. Wales and Switzerland are two equal teams. I can live with this final table.

Yesterday I talked about the bad stuff that can happen to your club if you take things too lightly in Eleven. You’ve got to control team spirit (morale), popularity, form, and income. Of course, you can take the actions needed to keep these stats up. Unfortunately, you are not the boss at the club. There is a board that makes important decisions as well. They have a meeting each week. If I were you, I would try to attend those meetings and tell those board men and women what you think. Maybe they will listen and don’t mess up.

For example: Playing a friendly match for a sponsor will bring you income but will lower the team’s form. What do you think is wise? Do you think we should play the match? If you don’t convince them, the board will make the decision for you.

It’s important to have the right people on your board. Some see your club as a company and will do anything to earn money. Others have a good relationship with the fans and will do anything to make them happy. And some just want to have the best team in the world.
Who do you want to hire?

Decisions, decisions…

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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!

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!

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.

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!

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!