11-year-old ‘Cannon’ wins again

Top finishers in 2019 MetaCheckers tournament receive next generation games, MetaCheckers: Battlefield

“I figured out his cannon strategy,” said Aaron Kaltman after capturing Ian Moffit’s king with a Knight roll in the third heat of the 2019 MetaCheckers tournament at the World Boardgaming Championships.

But Aaron would later lose to Ian’s dad, Craig Moffitt, in the heat final, and Ian would win the fourth heat so that father and son would both advance to the semi-finals.

Repeat MetaCheckers tournament champion Ian Moffitt, 11, with his brother, Eric, 6, who came in 6th place in the Juniors MetaCheckers tournament. Ian won a copy of MetaCheckers: Battle 4, a four-player version of MetaCheckers: Battlefield.

Ian Moffitt, 11, won the 2019 tournament finals against Steven Raszewski – the father of previous MetaCheckers champion Bradley Raszewski – to become the first repeat champion in the game’s history.

The key to his strategy is “the cannon.” Ian’s technique is to get a few checkers into the midfield of the board, then use high-numbered rolls to repeatedly attack the center defenders protecting the opponent’s king.

That runs against typical MetaCheckers strategy. Usually the player who is more aggressive early on tends to lose more pieces quickly. This leaves them at a disadvantage. So, many expert players prefer “The Turtle” strategy in which more defending checkers are brought into the center to give the king extra protection. (Similar to the turtle formation used by Roman armies.)

“I think you’d be less successful if you were more skillful,” Craig told Ian, then suggested that in future years he might start using the turtle. “I’m not turtling,” Ian said.

But victory did not come easily for Ian. Steve Raszewski had five or six shots on Ian’s king checker, giving Ian a series of risky situations. But Steve failed to get the roll he needed, and Ian got ahead on the number of checkers.

As he did in 2018, Ian won the 2019 MetaCheckers Juniors tournament as well.

In MetaCheckers, checkers move like chess pieces based on a roll of special dice. One die has chess symbols. The other has standard pips to indicate numbers. Roll a king, pawn or knight, and the player can choose any checker to move as a king, pawn or knight. Roll a queen, rook or bishop, and the numbers die dictates how far a piece must move as a queen, rook or bishop. Players use these moves to try to capture the opponent’s king checker.

Top winners in this year’s tournament received copies of the next generation of the game, MetaCheckers: Battlefield.

The new version will use the same mechanic as classic MetaCheckers, moving checkers as chess pieces based on the roll of the dice, but with new features:

  • The classic chess board has been broken into tiles of four squares. Players take turns placing the tiles to create a unique board shape.
  • The checkers do not start off in a standard formations, but are placed as needed strategically.
  • 3 and 4 player games (perhaps more) now possible.
  • Recommended to play with all kings in “stealth mode” – flipped over to look like ordinary checkers.
  • Kangaroo die recommended. This is an expansion die that had not been used in tournament play, but it now becomes essential. Whenever a 6 shows up on the standard d6 die, the player can decide to give up the roll and re-roll with the Kangaroo. This results in new moves such as hopping to another part of the board, flipping an opponent’s checker to your army, moving like a knight twice, moving one of your opponent’s checkers or capturing multiple checkers.

Other highlights from the 2019 tournament:

  • In the first heat, Mark Love defeated former champion Dalton Versak in an aggressive rematch of the final of the first MetaCheckers tournament in 2016.
  • In the second heat, first-time player Bert Schoose drew Steve Raszewski’s king into the open. “”He got my king out early, but I ran to safety,” said Steve, who earned an early advantage on checkers that proved to be key to victory.
  • Also in the second heat, Steve played a difficult game of cat and mouse against Francios de Bellefeuille, but Steve again earned the numerical advantage and won.
  • In the third heat, Trevor Schoenen prevailed against Evan Boone in a careful “Battle of the forts,” another kind of turtle defense by both players. But Trevor got his chance and won with a Rook 2.
  • Also in the third heat, Bradley Raszewski gained an early lead against Matthew Wilde. But then he lost all but his king, which survived for a while until being cornered.
  • In the fourth heat, Evan Boone lost all but his king checker to Bradley Raszewski but managed to survive 10 moves on Bradley’s side of the board. Evan played aggressively, repeatedly getting to a position where all he needed was a knight to win. Bradley ultimately won with a King roll.
  • Huston Johnson defeated Bradley by getting a checker next to Bradley’s king on the back row. Bradley’s king escaped to the middle of the board, but then was killed with a Queen 5.
6926 Ian Moffitt  
SECOND PLACE Steven Raszewski 2721
THIRD PLACE Craig Moffitt 1409
FOURTH PLACE David Schneider 7007
FIFTH PLACE Huston Johnson 4738
SIXTH PLACE Mark Love 1236

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10-year-old takes risks to win

2018 MetaCheckers champion Ian Moffitt also won Juniors tournament at World Boardgaming Championships

Why do you win Ian?

“Because I play chess a lot,” says Ian moments after rolling a Rook 5 to defeat Trevor Schoenen in the MetaCheckers final on July 26. Ian had been able to get an attacking piece into Trevor’s back row, where the king could not escape.

Ian’s dad, Craig, disagrees. “He’s had a lot of luck,” Craig says. “He is a risk taker.”

Earlier in the final, Ian had taken a big risk in an attack. He sent his king checker into Trevor’s back row and luckily Trevor’s knight roll was not enough to capture the king.

Ian Moffitt vs. Trevor Schoenen in the MetaCheckers final at the World Boardgaming Championships in Seven Springs, Pa on July 26, 2018.

Ian then pulled his king checker back to relative safety and later attacked with a different piece. Two days earlier, Ian had defeated Rita Polcen to win the first Juniors tournament of MetaCheckers by achieving numerical superiority and cornering her solo king, winning with a Queen 2. Ian is the first juniors player to win the MetaCheckers tournament.

Ian Moffit with his prizes.

In its third year at the World Boardgaming Championships, the strategies of MetaCheckers have become more sophisticated. In MetaCheckers, checkers move like chess pieces based on a roll of special dice. One die has chess symbols. The other has standard pips to indicate numbers. Roll a king, pawn or knight, and the player can choose any checker to move as a king, pawn or knight. Roll a queen, rook or bishop, and the numbers die dictates how far a piece must move as a queen, rook or bishop. Players use these moves to try to capture the opponent’s king checker.


Experienced players have learned a conservative strategy is best. The player who goes on offense with constant attacks towards the king often loses pieces quickly and has no defense later in the game. Instead, players have developed other methods, such as a hit-and-run, where checkers attack and withdraw before they can be captured. Or they may try to swing the checkers from the wings into the center of the board, creating an extra-strong defensive shield reminiscent of the turtle used by the Roman armies.

In his first MetaCheckers tournament, Allan Jiang had advanced to second place in the third heat, mostly using a defensive strategy. He then won a playoff among second place finishers – against 2017 MetaCheckers champion Bradley Raszewski – to win a spot in the semi-finals.

But in the semi-final, Ian bulldozed into Allan’s defenses with a series of powerful rolls. Ian took advantage by attacking at Allan’s center. A Queen 6 attack put yet another checker next to Allan’s king. Allan rolled a pawn, leaving his king helpless. Ian rolled a Rook 6 to win the game and head into the finals.

Other highlights from the tournament:

  • Trevor had defeated frequent MetaCheckers top finisher Mark Love in the third round of the first heat. “I had really good dice at the beginning and he had really bad dice,” Trevor says. “And that’s what put me up early in the game. My strategy was to attack and draw back. That put the onus on him to go after me.”
  • In the first round of the second heat, Mark Love had lost all but 3 checkers to Steve Raszewski’s 8 checkers. But then Mark got to the front of Steve’s king and won on a Rook 4.
  • In the third round of the second heat, GM Ed Bond played against Bradley
    Bradley Raszewski’s Roman Turtle defense (light checkers).

    Raszewski. Bradley’s “Roman Turtle” strategy proved to be too much for Ed.

  • In the next round of the second heat, Hein Hundal defeated Bradley to win that heat. Hein says, “We pecked at each other and he did not roll well.” Hein got 2 pieces ahead. “Then I just was able to exchange pieces.” This whittled Bradley down to only his king, with Hein still having a half-dozen pieces. This forced Bradley to attack with his king checker, and Hein won on a knight roll.
  • In the third heat, Bradley and Brian Mountford battled down to king vs. king, sparking the first “crushing walls” scenario in a MetaCheckers tournament. In the 2016 tournament, a draw had been improperly declared after players were left with only their kings and several moves without a result. “Crushing walls” had been created to avoid a draw in MetaCheckers.

In “crushing walls” the players with solo kings have 10 turns, and if a win has not occurred, the walls of the game would “crush” in on the board. To do this, the players would fold the edges of the cloth to cover the outer rows and columns of the board, creating a smaller 6×6 board. Any king caught in the now-covered outer squares of the board would be “crushed” and the opponent would win. If neither is caught in the crushing walls, the game would continue on the 6×6 board with each player given another 10 turns before the walls “crushed” again.

In their game, Brian captured Bradley’s king with a knight roll five turns into the crushing walls scenario.

In addition to copies of MetaCheckers for the top finishers, the top 3 also received custom-made prizes. Ian won a MetaCheckers dice tower, which had been laser-cut from birchwood. Trevor won a MetaCheckers dice cup and third place finisher Hein Hundal won a set of MetaCheckers coasters, which include the WBC logo on the reverse side.

DreamGames hopes to bring MetaCheckers back for the 2019 tournament and to demo additional games in the future. We need your votes!

6926 Ian Moffitt  
SECOND PLACE Trevor R. Schoenen 6152
THIRD PLACE Hein Hundal 5524
FOURTH PLACE Allan Jiang 7419
FIFTH PLACE Bradley Raszewski 2720
SIXTH PLACE Brady Detwiler 7513

MetaCheckers Tournament Report Form WBC 2018

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MetaCheckers: Soccer Casting Call


Do you like soccer?

Or do you like board games?

Would you like to help bring a fun new soccer board game into the world?

Want to help put Horseheads on the map as the town where MetaCheckers: Soccer got started?

Then we need you to help with a promotional video that will be used on Kickstarter.

This is a casting call for volunteer actors to show how much fun this game can be to play. Participants will need to sign standard release forms. Any one younger than 18 will need the signature/approval of a parent.

MetaCheckers is a board game patented in 2014 that combines chess and checkers. Checkers move like chess pieces because of some special dice. The goal is simply to capture the opponent’s king checker.

MetaCheckers: Soccer takes that same mechanic of moving checkers as chess pieces and applies it to the game of soccer. Now, instead of capturing the king checker, the king checkers are the goalies. The object of the game is to get to checker with possession of the ball into the goal.

Any play you can imagine on the soccer field can happen on the board for MetaCheckers: Soccer. We need volunteers to demonstrate the soccer action on and off the field.

What we are going for is a faster-paced, more exciting version of my first attempt, here:

But feel free to check this video out to get an idea of how the game is played. Or you can follow this link to download a test version you can print out and try at home.

Sorry, we don’t have money for actors. This is a volunteer effort. Copies of MetaCheckers will be given to any participants. Copies of MetaCheckers: Soccer will be sent to any participants if/when the game is funded on Kickstarter. Food/snacks will be provided.

Filming will likely be Monday and/or Friday evenings at the Holding Point. But we can’t move forward until we hear positive interest from you.

If you are interested, contact Ed Bond at edwardbondny@gmail.com or playdreamgames@gmail.com


More WBC players try MetaCheckers tactics in second world tournament

Enemy attacks exposed both kings in the early stages of the 2017 MetaCheckers final at the World Boardgaming Championships in Seven Springs, Pa. Victory hung on which could reach safety.

The showdown between Bradley Raszewski and Huston Johnson concluded a tournament with plenty of narrow escapes, “slugfests” and calculated defense. Players kept returning to heat after heat to get a chance at the final.

Johnson had been eliminated in the third rounds of the First and Second Heats before finally winning the Fourth Heat to reach the Semi-Finals. He won that match against alternate Mark Love to face Raszewski for the championship.

But when both king checkers lost their defenders in the final, Raszewski’s king made it back to a stronghold and Huston’s ultimately got trapped in a corner by two attackers. Raszewski of Pasadena, Maryland, finished him off with a Queen 6 roll.

Final move in MetaCheckers tournament: Bradley Raszewski kills the king with a Queen 6 to defeat Huston Johnson. #bpa_wbc17

In MetaCheckers, checkers move like chess pieces based on a roll of special dice. One die has chess symbols. The other has standard pips to indicate numbers. Roll a king, pawn or knight, and the player can choose any checker to move as a king, pawn or knight. Roll a queen, rook or bishop, and the numbers die dictates how far a piece must move as a queen, rook or bishop. Players use these moves to try to capture the opponent’s king checker.

In its second year at the WBC tournaments, MetaCheckers saw more players enter and more games played. Player starts jumped from 60 the previous year to 108 in 2017. Of the 31 players in this year’s tournament, nine played in the First Heat, 16 in the Second Heat, 12 in the Third Heat.

“We brought you more players!” said Zarabeth Goddard at the start of the Fourth Heat, which had 20 entrants. Of those, 14 had played in earlier heats.

“MetaCheckers is a fantastic game,” said Goddard, who had played in the 2016 tournament. “It’s great for all ages from 80 to 5. It’s a super easy game to learn.”

To win the game, “think ahead, but not too far ahead,” she said.

In the First Heat, Bradley Raszewski defeated his father, Steven with a Knight roll. That led to a game against Trevor Schoenen, which he won on a Bishop 6.

“He was very good,” Bradley said of Trevor. Bradley had fallen behind on pieces and lost all but his king checker before the win.

“It was quite exciting,” said Trevor, who finished in Fifth Place.

Kevin Wojtasczyk won the Second Heat against the 2016 Second Place finisher, Mark Love. A Queen 6 won the game for Wojtasczyk after a long battle of attrition in which at the end Kevin had five pieces to Mark’s two.

Brian Mountford, who had been the 2016 Third Place finisher, defeated 2016 champion Dalton Versak to win Heat Three.

“He was in a strong position,” Brian said of Dalton. “But I got in the back row.”

This left Versak’s king in a vulnerable position with an enemy piece in a spot difficult to attack. Multiple pawn rolls by Dalton doomed his king.

Huston won Heat Four with a double-diagonal attack against Gordon Stewart. He had taken a piece protecting the king checker on the diagonal, and that had another piece backing it up on a diagonal line behind it. Stewart rolled a pawn, and his only choice was to use his king checker to capture the first attacking piece. Then Huston rolled a Bishop 6 and the second attacking piece took the king.

Stewart finished in Sixth Place.

Because of a schedule conflict, Mountford could not make the Semi-Final and Mark Love stepped in as alternate. Huston Johnson defeated Love on a King roll in the Semi, and Bradley Raszewski defeated Kevin Wojtasczyk with a Rook 6 to set up the final between Raszewski and Johnson.

As this year’s champion, Bradley won a copy of the Kangaroo edition of MetaCheckers in its new 6-inch tall, red-and-white canister. The Kangaroo die, which is not used in tournament play, is an expansion, which adds 6 extra moves to the game. The next 5 finishers also won games as prizes.

DreamGames hopes to bring MetaCheckers back to the WBC in 2018. If the basic game can be voted into the tournament, we may be able to submit our new game “MetaCheckers: Soccer” as a trial game next year.

NOTE: A rules issue from the 2016 tournament may have a solution. What to do when all checkers but the kings are eliminated? When this situation arose in a 2016 game, a draw was improperly declared after several moves without a result. But later it was determined a win would still be possible in this situation so long as both opponents were earnestly trying to capture the enemy king.

But this solution offers vague direction to the players. So, here is the new idea: “Crushing Walls.”

This would take advantage of the cloth board used in MetaCheckers. When all but the king checkers are eliminated, the “Crushing Walls” scenario would begin. Both players would have 10 turns, and if a win has not occurred, the walls of the game would “crush” in on the board.

To do this, the players would just fold the edges of the cloth to cover the outer rows and columns of the board, creating a smaller 6×6 board. Any king caught in the now-covered outer squares of the board would be “crushed” and the opponent would win. If neither is caught in the crushing walls, the game would continue on the 6×6 board with each player given another 10 turns before the walls “crushed” again.

This was tried at the vendor booth, and it seemed to work well.

What do you think of this solution? Let me know at edwardbondny@gmail.com.

  • Ed Bond



Here’s some of our favorite photos from the tournament and visit to Seven Springs.


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Debut of the new MetaCheckers

Our trip to the World Boardgaming Championships in July was not only the first international MetaCheckers tournament.

It was also the debut of the complete version of MetaCheckers at a major event. In our previous convention appearances, MetaCheckers had been played on standard tournament chessboards. While players still got a taste of the game, it was unsatisfying to only be able to sell the checkers and dice.

Selling tournament chessboards would be too expensive, and they also didn’t fit well with the MetaCheckers motif. MetaCheckers is not chess or checkers. It is a unique fusion of the games. It deserved its own look. Its own utility. The players I talked to wanted something portable, easy-to-carry and affordable.

Having boards printed and packaged in game boxes would also drive up the cost. But I gave it a try anyway. The result looked good, but I winced at the sticker shock. The boxes and boards could double the price.

At the Hudson Valley Comic Con in May, someone mentioned he usually carried his game pieces in a bandana so he could play anywhere. This prompted me to start experimenting with various cloth versions. With my limited sewing abilities, I made prototypes with iron-on patterns to created a zippered pouch.

Another thought was just to use snaps or cords to tie it all together.

Finally, I just went with the simple bandana approach. I found a company that screenprints custom images on bandanas in bulk. So, I sent them an order.

I got this, and was very pleased:


Yes! Simple, portable and affordable. A unique look that sets the game apart from chess and checkers. This is what MetaCheckers is all about.

Then it was a matter of the packaging. The cloth boards just barely fit inside the bag with the checkers and dice, but it was too tight a fit to make it user-friendly. After some advice and trial-and-error, we came up with a system of wrapping the cloth boards around the checkers bag and holding the whole thing together with a paper band.

So, it came out looking like this:



The response at WBC was very positive. People liked the unique, fun game that was low-cost and came in a Xmas “stocking stuffer” size. Yes, some customers were already looking ahead for holiday presents.

The game is now available on Amazon and local stores in the Elmira area. Now that we have a good format and the game passed its first major audition, we will be expanding to more stores and vendors soon. Keep an eye out for MetaCheckers near you!

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First International MetaCheckers Tournament


Dalton Versak (left) vs. Kevin McCaffery in Heat 2 of the MetaCheckers tournament.

Dalton Versak strongly disagreed with the MetaCheckers slogan on the kiosk.

“This is NOT easier than chess,” he said as he struggled with a decision in Heat 2 of the MetaCheckers tournament at the World Boardgaming Championships in Seven Springs, Pa. on July 28.

And yet, Dalton of Philadelphia survived to become the first international champion in MetaCheckers.

In MetaCheckers, checkers move like chess pieces based on a roll of special dice. One die has chess symbols. The other has standard pips to indicate numbers. Roll a king, pawn or knight, and the player can choose any checker to move as a king, pawn or knight. Roll a queen, rook or bishop, and the numbers die dictates how far a piece must move as a queen, rook or bishop. Players use these moves to try to capture the opponent’s king checker.

This sounds simple enough, but as the game develops, players are forced to make some tough choices. Sometimes the best available checker to eliminate an attacking piece is also guarding the king from another direction. So, they have to make a decision. Which attack is more likely to kill the king? Which defense will save it?

On the other hand, since any checker can move according to the roll of the dice, this means even the king checker can move as a knight … or a rook … or even a queen. So, the kings can participate in their own defense, attacks and escape. A player could be down to only the king checker against multiple pieces of the opponent and still win.

This is what happened during Heat 4 for Mark Love, who finished second in the tournament. About his game against Terry Masten of Delaware he says:

“My opponent eliminated ALL of my pieces except for my king. For a moment, I thought how silly it would be for me to prolong the game by trying to run and hide, since he had 5 Easy Pieces. After he took my last other piece, I got a bishop move and moved my king from my right center area of the board to the other side of the board, directly toward his king, with his other pieces all around me. Oddly, none of his pieces could take me out in that position. He got a king roll, and moved a non-king piece to try to get a better shot at me. I got a knight roll, which was exactly what I needed for the win. We were both shocked.”

Mark went on to win second place, losing when Dalton rolled a Rook 5 to capture Mark’s king in the final. At the end, Mark had 4 pieces left, and Dalton had 6.

MetaCheckers was invented in Horseheads, N.Y., by Ed and Jack Bond, who founded DreamGames. This is their first year bringing the game to conventions for sales, demos and tournaments. The players at the World Boardgaming Championships tested the game to its limits.

At other conventions and demos in the Northeast, games typically finished within 10 to 15 minutes. At the WBC, determined players pushed games to 20 minutes or more. And although it had been thought that draws were not possible in MetaCheckers, Dalton and Francois de Bellefeuille of Montreal proved that wrong. In a semi-final game, Dalton and Francois eliminated all pieces except their kings.

Dalton Versak and Francois de Bellefeuille battle it out King Vs. King in a semi-final game which was eventually declared a draw.

While this would make a draw automatic in chess, in MetaCheckers a victory is still possible. However, after 20 moves without a result, the players and GM agreed to declare a draw. Francois then lost to Mark Love and Dalton eliminated Brian Mountford [With a Bishop 5 roll; Brian with only his king at the end] to set up the final. However, the next day other players reported a non-tournament game that came down to just kings but eventually had a winner. That game took 30 minutes to finish. So, even with only kings, victory is possible so long as both players are earnestly trying to capture the opponent’s king. This may require a minor adjustment in the rules or the use of a time limit in future tournaments.

We had a great time and were very happy to see so many turn out to play a new game in its debut season. DreamGames plans to bring MetaCheckers back for future tournaments and hopes WBC members will vote to support it. MetaCheckers can be played with 4 opening layouts and 5 game variations. By next year, we should have 2 or 3 additional games to unveil.

Here’s some of our favorite pics from the tournament:

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Complete results



Hudson Valley Comic Con

Jack had to take the SATs this weekend, so the Hudson Valley Comic Con became the first event I worked alone. I also learned how different Comic Cons are from game conventions.

The difference is this: Gamers come to game conventions to play games, but not so much about buying. [Especially at colleges with starving students.] Attendees at Comic Cons don’t come to play games, but are ready to buy.

They both have a value. At game conventions, we may spend hours waiting for players while they go to other events, but when they do sit down, some will play dozens of games and give all sorts of feedback, criticism and ideas. Gamers enjoy complexity and working out the diverse possibilities. At the Comic Con, the visitors seem to be running a stop watch in their heads. They want to know quickly if they should move on before they miss something else because there is so much else to do.

So, it’s a game conventions that you work out any niggling issues with your mechanics or your pitch. It’s at the Comic Con that you find out whether your elevator pitch works. I actually had someone at the Hudson Valley Comic Con walk up and say, “Ok, give me your elevator pitch.”

They say in romantic movies that if she looks back after saying goodbye, she is interested. Convention tables seem to work the same way. People walk by. Some will not give the checkers, boards and dice a second look. But if they look again, I just say the hook, “It’s chess you can play with checkers.”

If that makes them stop, they will most likely listen to the basic rules. After that, about two-thirds will be willing to play a game. It is after the first game that I tell them about the Kangaroo Die, and then if they play with the Kangaroo, they are hooked.

I have been amazed at how popular the Kangaroo has become. I think it has become the feature that sells the game more than any other. Hudson Valley could only give me one table and two chairs, and this forced me to streamline the presentation.

But what I learned was – especially in this crowd – they didn’t need to see all the alternate layouts and special games. Just setting up with a standard chess layout and the Kangaroo Die was enough. Some bought the game before I could finish the first sentence.

I’m very encouraged by all of this, and if I can solve the issue of the game board, I think MetaCheckers can go far. But I want a board that fits the personality of MetaCheckers – unique, clever, simple and affordable. I’ve had some good suggestions recently and am working on prototypes, so hopefully I will have news to share about that soon.

Here’s some pictures from the event. I was very busy the whole time, and I didn’t get a chance to walk around and take in all the sights because I was chained to my table. So, I got a pinhole view of what looked like a very good first event for this group.

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Broken … Broken … Broken again!

Westley Nottingham, Rene Coles, Alice Fawcett and Chris Fairchild playing MetaCheckers at Mepacon in Scranton.

Creating MetaCheckers was a bit like taking chess and checkers and smashing them together. We broke both games, but then created something new.

At Mepacon in Scranton this weekend, we broke MetaCheckers again and again, each time creating something new.

After inventing this game, I had eventually realized there was no reason keep to the opening layout for a checkers game, even though that is how it started. Pieces could be set up as if for a chess game, or as if for checkers, but with the pieces offset from each other. Or setup with the pieces already engaged in battle.

With the basic idea of moving checkers like chess pieces, based on the roll of a pair of special dice, we discovered 4 alternate games, which are included in the original Stealth Checkers iOS app.


At UBCON last week, Jack and a player named Eric rotated 2 boards and overlapped them at a corner, creating a double diamond layout. They added an extra numbers die to give the pieces more mobility. Also, the rotated layout forced them to give the pawn 3 options for moving forward, letting it capture on any move.

Jack called the game “Valley” because the pieces must fight their way through the narrow strip that connects the two boards. As I played it at Mepacon, we realized it was very much like the legendary battle of Thermopylae between the Spartans and the Persians. But Thermopylae seems like too long a name. Perhaps “Spartan”?


On Saturday night at Mepacon, Alice Fawcett stopped by and played Rescue the King. Even though I had invented Rescue the King, it was a challenge to play. The kings start on the wrong side of the board and have to fight their way home. But the pawns still go in their original direction, so at first kings and pawns move opposite of each other.

To me, Rescue the King has become like playing MetaCheckers while hanging upside down. A challenge to keep everything straight. But it was after the game, that Alice came up with another alternate game called Spawn.

In her version, you begin the game with only the kings on the board in their standard positions. The board is split into two territories onto which each side can “spawn” a checker where you want. The players decide ahead of time how many checkers total each side can have in total. On each turn, you can either roll the dice to move a checker on the board or spawn a checker onto the board in any position on your side of the board.

As the game progresses, you may find an enemy checker threatening your king. Your king needs help. Can you spawn a checker on top of the enemy and destroy it? We decided you could, but only if you could predict odds or evens on a single roll of the numbers die. Win that roll and you can land on and destroy the threatening piece, lose and you had to land somewhere else that may protect the king.

However, the king would lose the ability to spawn pieces around it if it left its side of the board.

Spawn has a very different feeling to it. More like poker or a duel than standard MetaCheckers.

As we have for the past few conventions, we offered a free set of checkers and dice to whoever won the most games. By the end of Saturday at Mepacon, it seemed that Chris Fairchild of Hazleton Pa. was unreachable with 12 wins. But then Sunday morning, Westley Nottingham and Rene Coles of Watertown in NORTHERN New York showed up and played for several hours, eventually trying out every variation including Rescue the King with the Kangaroo Die!

I had never played Rescue the King with the Kangaroo Die because I figured it would just break the game. But it can work with a stipulation that you cannot use the Kangaroo on your king until after it has been rescued. But Westley discovered that the Princess roll can be devastating to the board as she flies over multiple squares, capturing any enemies below. “A little girl with a chainsaw,” as Jack says. But she has daddy issues, so she still cannot capture the king.


Alice came by Sunday and showed Spawn to Westley, and together they came up with a new variant called Pillars. They used pieces of index cards cut into squares to place immovable pillars on strategic – but fairly balanced – places on the board. No checker can pass through or over the pillars. They would have to go around them. This dampens the power of the Princess and accentuates the value of the Knights.

So, in Pillars, accounting for the terrain has become part of the game.

Our table at Mepacon had become a testing lab for many ideas, some of which also came from a conversation I had with Dan Hundycz of DPH Games. But I’ll hold off on some of those because I need to work out the mechanics first.

But this all led me to another idea. For future conventions, we may offer a Game Design event for kids. I’d be curious to see what variations in boards and gameplay kids will come up for checkers that can move like chess pieces.

Who won?

Yes, I almost forgot. Westley and Rene each piled up a bunch of wins and had tied at around 11, but then Rene had to leave for another game. Westley went on to tie Chris in wins, and  then did play against each other once. Then they went on to play more games against others. In the end, Chris won 16 and Westley 15. A very close contest. Again, the record for most games won in a weekend has been broken.

I look forward to bringing the game closer to Watertown so that Westley and Rene can play again.

Here are some of my favorite pics from the convention.

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Clarifying the rules

So, after the demos at UBCON last weekend, I was able to give some more thought to the rules questions we had.

There had been a debate about whether someone who had put the king into Stealth Mode could later on check to see which piece it was. What it comes down to is this:

  1. Yes, you can but you will probably lose any advantage because you are giving away the position to your opponent.
  2. If you do go into Stealth Mode, you better plan on moving your king frequently. Otherwise it will be too easy for your opponent to track the king.

So, if you go into Stealth Mode and don’t move the king, there is no advantage to doing this.

I also played against a gamer last weekend who was not impressed with Stealth Mode because for him it was too easy to keep track of the movement of one piece. However, it seemed to have an advantage for me in other games. I think it comes down to the opponent. If you think your opponent will lose track of the king, then do it. If the opponent will not lose track — or if you think you’re more likely to lose track than your opponent — then don’t.

The other question was whether the Princess could capture the king. The bottom line is: No, she can’t.

The Princess is spoiled. She almost always gets what she wants. So, where the Queen is stopped when she makes a capture, Princess keeps going as far as the dice allows and captures multiple pieces. However, she does not capture the king by flying over it. That gives her too much power to end the game. The point to the kangaroo moves is to add more fun and unexpected outcomes to the game, but not end it quickly.

But at SIMCON in Rochester, a player suggested that maybe the Princess could capture the king, but only by landing on the king directly with the proper number on the dice. It was a worthwhile idea, so I gave it some thought.

But after playing some more at UBCON and with an new experimental layout we tried out, I realized if we allowed that in some situations, it was possible for a Princess to capture the king using a checker that had not even been moved. That gives the move WAY TOO MUCH power.

So, the Princess is spoiled, but she has daddy issues and cannot capture the king in any situation. So, if the dice roll would otherwise allow her to land on the king, the Princess will land one square short of it.

In the end, the rules remain as written.




A Real Nail Biter at UBCON

Jill Meyer, a Buffalo State psychology major, expresses relief as Rod Pierce’s roll failed to capture her king in a sudden death MetaCheckers playoff at UBCON.

Jill Meyer covered her eyes. A knight could kill her.

Rod Pierce rolled the dice.

Pawn. The room gasped and laughed.

They had each won more games of MetaCheckers in one weekend than any one had before. Tied at 12 games a piece, they faced off against each other in a sudden death game. Jill won a coin toss and chose the format: Standard Chess layout MetaCheckers with the Kangaroo Die. The Kangaroo Die adds six special moves to the game.

Late in the game, Rod had backed Jill’s king into a corner. Move after move, she was forced to calculate the position with the most survivability. Even though Rod had the advantage, in MetaCheckers you never know who will win until the final roll of the dice.

A few moves after Jill was spared from the knight attack, she rolled a 6, which allowed her to bring in the Kangaroo Die.

She rolled Turncoat. This flipped one of Rod’s pieces to her side. A 2-2 parity switched to a 3 on 1 attack and Jill quickly won.

Jill with the 32-piece set of MetaCheckers and Kangaroo Die she won.

Jill’s win capped a weekend of MetaCheckers at UBCON at the University at Buffalo. For this convention, MetaCheckers was placed in a classroom with a Spanish lesson written on the chalkboard.

We had arrived late on Friday, and I found myself standing in front of rows of desks explaining the origins of MetaCheckers to a group of bored-looking people. This triggered uncomfortable memories of my previous career as a college professor. Not what I wanted.

But within minutes, the chess boards were set up and the organizers set up an extra table. We converted the space from a classroom to a place for fun. Although we were far from the main board game room for the convention, the extra space allowed us to set up 6 boards and demonstrate most of the variations of the game. Plenty of people came looking for us, curious about this combination of chess, checkers and dice.

Jack and another gamer even used the professor’s desk to develop a new variant by overlapping two boards.

I will remember UBCON for the armies of cosplayers and the Cosplay Chess in the courtyard across the street from us, Quidditch, Jack playing Dungeons and Dragons, and the Nerfgun wars that raged through the buildings. Dan Hundycz of DPH Games taught me the value of scouting hallways and corners for Nerfgun fighters.

Here’s some of my favorite pics:

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