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.
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.
|METACHECKERS TOURNAMENT CHAMPION|
|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|
CLIP FROM FINAL GAME
ACTION FROM THE FOURTH HEAT
FAST AND FURIOUS ACTION FROM JUNIORS TOURNAMENT