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.
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 email@example.com.
- Ed Bond
Here’s some of our favorite photos from the tournament and visit to Seven Springs.