Enemy attacks exposed both kings in the early stages of the 2017 MetaCheckers final at the World Boardgaming Championships. 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.
Huston had been eliminated in the third rounds of the first two heats before finally winning the fourth heat to reach the semifinals. He won that match against alternate Mark Love to face Brad for the championship.
But when both king checkers lost their defenders in the final, Brad’s king made it back to a stronghold and Huston’s ultimately got trapped in a corner by two attackers. Brad, 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, 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, 12 in the third.
Thanks to the help of Zarabeth Goddard, the fourth heat had 20 entrants. Of those, 14 had played in earlier heats.
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. Trevor was very good, as he had taken all of Bradley’s checkers but the king checker before Bradley could secure the win. Trevor finished in Fifth Place.
Kevin Wojtaszczyk won the next heat against the 2016 Second Place finisher, Mark Love. A Queen 6 won the game for Kevin after a long battle of attrition where 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. Dalton had a strong position but Brian was able to get in the back row. This left Dalton’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 the fourth heat with a double-diagonal attack against Gordon Stewart. He had taken a piece protecting the king checker on the diagonal that had another piece backing it up on a diagonal line behind it. Gordon 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. Gordon finished in Sixth Place.
Because of a schedule conflict, Brian Mountford could not make the semifinal and Mark Love stepped in as alternate. Huston Johnson defeated Mark on a King roll in the semifinal and Bradley Raszewski defeated Kevin Wojtaszczyk with a Rook 6 to set up the final between Bradley and Huston.
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, they may be able to submit their new game, MetaCheckers: Soccer, as a trial game next year.
As a 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.
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 6x6 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 6x6 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. Let Dream Games know what you think of this solution by contacting them at firstname.lastname@example.org.