Board games that tell stories

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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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