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Erik Arneson

Report from 2008 World Boardgaming Championships

By August 11, 2008

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The 2008 World Boardgaming Championships concluded yesterday, ending a weeklong event attended by about 1,500 gamers and featuring more than 100 tournaments. I've never been a big tournament player, and this year I only entered one: Football Strategy, a game most recently published in 1980 by Avalon Hill. In Football Strategy, the player on defense selects his formation (one of 10 possibilities) using a deck of cards, and then the offensive player announces his play selection (one of 20). The defender reveals his card and the players consult a chart to see what the outcome is. I played four games, finishing with a 2-2 record. All four games were dramatic, determined by a touchdown or less (20-14, 17-23, 13-8, 10-17). I'd rather play Pizza Box Football or Card Football, but I'm glad I had the chance to try Football Strategy.

In addition to the Football Strategy tournament, I spent a good amount of time at Cafe Jay (where Rio Grande Games was showing off some recent and upcoming releases) and in the open gaming area. Among the other games I played are:

  • Dominion, a deck-building card game for 2 to 4 players scheduled to be released by Rio Grande Games later this year. I've played this game about eight times already, and I am impressed with the way subtle strategies emerge each time I play.
  • Metropolys, a city-building game for 2 to 4 players. Like Nefertiti (below), Metropolys's central mechanic is an auction. However, the graphic design of the board is so distracting that it significantly diminished my enjoyment of an otherwise solid game.
  • Nefertiti, an auction game for 3 to 5 players set in ancient Egypt. I tend to enjoy auction games, so it was not a surprise that I enjoyed this one.
  • Tinners' Trail, a mining-themed game for 3 to 4 players designed by Martin Wallace (Age of Steam). This is an excellent strategy game that I would love to play again. Players must make tough decisions with limited resources on nearly every turn.
  • Utopia, a city-building game for 2 to 5 players. There are some interesting parts to this game, but in my one game the player who took an early lead ran away with the victory. I strongly suspect that the rest of us failed to do things we needed to in order to catch him, but it became a bit of a frustrating experience.
  • Vikings, an economic game for 2 to 4 players, each of whom controls a band of vikings and settles on islands off the coast of his home country. Players must make sure they have the right balance of warriors, fishermen, scouts, goldsmiths and nobles in order to score the most points. I enjoyed this 2007 release, which I had not played before, quite a bit.
  • Zooloretto, a zoo-building game for 2 to 5 players. Zooloretto was my pick as the #2 board game published in 2007.

In addition to the games, Jason Matthews (co-designer of 1960: The Making of the President) and I presented a seminar on election-themed games that seemed to be well-received by those who attended.

WBC 2008, as expected, was another excellent event. The staff and many volunteers did a first-rate job of making sure that everything ran on time and as efficiently as possible. I am already looking forward to the 2009 event.


August 12, 2008 at 12:12 pm
(1) mike c says:

Saw you in Cafe Jay, but you seemed so into what you were trying, that I did not want to interrupt you. I could not attend your seminar due to a conflict. Once again Ticket To Ride appeared to be the biggest event, though Atlantic Storm/Pacific Typhoon was very large also.

August 14, 2008 at 1:10 pm
(2) Kaarin E says:

I think Liar’s Dice had 199; Slapshot had about 172. It was all a lot of fun.

August 14, 2008 at 2:10 pm
(3) Steve says:

Did you manage to get a recording of the election games seminar?

August 15, 2008 at 4:39 am
(4) Erik Arneson says:

Mike: Always feel free to interrupt me to say hello!

Kaarin: Those 200-player tournaments are crazy. There’s nothing like the sound of 200 people simultaneously shaking their dice cups for Liar’s Dice!

Steve: We were not able to record the election games seminar. However, I will be posting an article or two that are based on the seminar.

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