Board games that tell stories

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Archive for Ignacy Trzewiczek

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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!

Board Game: Dreadful Circus
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Fri Aug 20, 2021 9:27 am
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You don't know it yet

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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 neighbor, 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)
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Fri Aug 6, 2021 10:20 am
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Dune: House Secrets Designer Journal's #3 - Structure of the game and Character development

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Dune: House Secrets is a story-driven campaign game that takes place on Arrakis. Players take the role of rebels in the resistance forces against House Harkonnen.

The game comes with a Prologue and three main Chapters. They are all connected and form one plotline that takes place over a few weeks in Tel Gezer. Besides this immersive plot, the campaign aspect of the game also influences the gameplay mechanisms as well in the form of Experience Points and a Final Report. Today we’d like to discuss these aspects.

After each Chapter (including the Prologue), players log in to the dedicated website and choose a path for the story to develop. It’s called the Final Report and it represents players coming back to their hideout in the desert and reporting to the resistance commanders about the events in Tel Gezer. Players are then asked questions about what the resistance should do next. Depending on their answer, players will influence the story and also gain some new pieces of information or even Resources. The story then continues in the next Chapter

The other campaign aspect of the game is represented by the Experience Points. At the end of the Chapter, depending on the location of the Consequence token on the Consequence track, players receive Experience Points (XP) as a team. They cooperatively decide which character spends them and undergoes training. That character receives an ability in the form of a sticker that is added to their player board. Abilities add new resources to the pool and — on a higher level — allow players to manipulate tokens and exchange them.

As explained in one of the previous articles, Dune: House Secrets is not only an engaging story to discover but also a challenging game in which managing Resources and the development of Characters might affect the final result of the campaign.



LEARN ABOUT IT and check last days of pre-order campaign here!
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Tue Jul 20, 2021 6:33 pm
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Day #5 - DUNE Game Designer's Journal #3 - Cinematic experience

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Dune: House Secrets is an adventure game that offers a fully immersive and interactive experience like none other. During the game, players draw Encounter cards to push the adventure forward, meet Non-Player Characters, and visit various locations in the city of Tel Gezer. In addition to cards, maps, and tokens, the game also comes with the website element. Today we’d like to discuss its role in the game.

The whole team here at Portal Games knows and loves the story of Dune. We know that many of you have read the novel and eagerly await the movie. We are also aware that for many players, Dune: House Secrets might be the first introduction to Arrakis and its story. We are using a dedicated website to help you understand the events in the game and enjoy the richness of the world. Here’s how it works.

Before each game, players log in to the website to watch a short introductory video, which presents the recent events in the city of Tel Gezer and shows the larger picture of what is happening on Arrakis. It’s a great way to start each mission with the right tone. The game builds the theme and rich narration within the first minute!

Later in the game, some of the Encounter cards give players access to additional videos. This part of the game is called History. It presents facts and events that player characters are aware of, but the players themselves may not be. These beautifully animated three-minute „cinematics” give additional background and help players understand the plot. Like many video games, such cut-scenes help explain the background of the story, present additional characters and their unique history. From these animated short videos, players learn about Giedi Prime, the conflict between the Atreides and the Harkonenns, and more.

The website is also used at the end of the Chapter, when players make an important choice and push the whole campaign in a particular direction. We will discuss this in the next update. Stay tuned!

Pre-order Dune: House Secrets to get a special limited edition of the game. ➡️ dune.portalgames.pl/en

Check out the update on Monday and see what bonus we’ll be adding to your copy of the game!
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Fri Jul 16, 2021 2:12 pm
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Day #3 - DUNE Game Designer's Journal #2 - Life of a rebel

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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.

Pre-order Dune: House Secrets to get a special limited edition of the game. ➡️ dune.portalgames.pl/en

Check out tomorrow’s website update and see what unique bonus we’ll be adding to your copy of the game!
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Wed Jul 14, 2021 4:53 pm
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Day #1 - Adventure game on Dune

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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
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Mon Jul 12, 2021 2:51 pm
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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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Mon Jul 12, 2021 1:33 pm
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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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Wed Jul 7, 2021 9:14 am
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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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Sat Jul 3, 2021 4:50 pm
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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!

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Tue Jun 29, 2021 10:36 am
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