The World Board Game World Championships - OF THE WORLD!
Chris Marling
United Kingdom
Cambridge
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For the past three years my partner Zoe and me have had a board game competition. Essentially we both pick half the games each, plus a tie-breaker game just in case (always one that was duplicated on our choices list), then play them throughout the year: we tend to pick about 25, so it's a couple of games per month. I've mentioned it to a few people and they've really dug the idea, so I thought I'd share it here.

It's a great way to ensure we play a good variety of games, play some things we don't often play, and get reminded of some of the more obscure titles - but it also adds a nice little competitive edge. There's obviously a little bit of picking games we're good at, but Zoe can veto any games she really doesn't like (it's largely my collection, so no need for me to veto anything!).

The prize? Bragging rights

I won the inaugural competition, with Zoe taking the crown in the second year. I breezed to victory in year three, so the pressure in 2015 is on Zoe to even things up again.

This is the story of year 4 of The World Board Game World Championships - OF THE WORLD, which is being played out over 27 games - 12 picks each, two we both chose, plus a tiebreaker we also both chose if it goes all the way. I'll add more plays as we go throughout the year, so feel free to subscribe if you want to see how it pans out.

(And yes, the title is a gentle ribbing of minority sports who have 'world' championships in which only one or two country realistically takes part)
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1. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:12]
Chris Marling
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Zoe's choice

Chris wins (1-0) 229-175

I'd lost our last two-player game of Castles but nailed this one. I got some strong early points, spent the mid game getting some good scoring yellow tiles as Zoe caught up, then pulled away at the end with some big end-game points. It's a game Zoe usually plays well and she was certainly off her game tonight - maybe the pressure of the world was on her shoulders - first night nerves. But who cares - first blood!
 
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2. Board Game: Notre Dame [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:217]
Chris Marling
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Chris' choice

Chris wins (2-0) 44-40

The second of four Felds in the competition (we chose two each) saw me stretch to a two-point lead, but it didn't look likely until the last couple of rounds. I tried to do the hotel strategy but got into a hole with rats and floundered around in the mid game. But this ended up paying off, as my last few turns saw me up on both hotels and gardens while Zoe got a frustrating few pairings of cards that rally didn't help her. I scraped home, but a win's a win.
 
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3. Board Game: Kingdom Builder [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:450]
Chris Marling
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Joint choice

Zoe wins (1-2) 50-36

Occasionally I'm OK at this - but normally, like tonight, I'm awful (but I still love it). I don't want to take anything away from Zoe's victory as she played well; I'm more explaining why I was so far behind! She outscored me on castles and all three scoring cards, which is pretty hard to take. About half way through I just looked at the board and thought, what the hell are you doing? A deserved beating.
 
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4. Board Game: Maori [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1657]
Chris Marling
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Zoe's choice

Zoe wins (2-2) 45-27

Much like Kingdom Builder, occasionally I have a good Maori day: this was not one of those days. Early on it was looking OK, with Zoe shell-less and with a redundant looking leis; then one risky decision and I was toast. By late on it was me that was shell-less - and well outnumbered on boats - while that leis had a shiny partner in crime. I filled my board, just, but it was over well before the final round. At least it is out of the way now!
 
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5. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.24 Overall Rank:8]
Chris Marling
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Zoe's choice

Zoe wins (3-2) 118-116

This one went right to the wire! Zoe played Halflings to my Dwarves (we both tried a new race) and took an early point lead as I failed miserably to score any racial points and concentrated possibly a little too much on end-game points. At the finish I made up 14 points with biggest settlement and winning three of the cult tracks, but Zoe scored heavily on trading houses - maxing out on them scoring on both a temple bonus and a end of round bonus. Three straight wins for Zoe now and this is one I thought I'd get, dammit!
 
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6. Board Game: Pizza Box Football [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:2705]
Chris Marling
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Joint choice

Zoe wins (4-2) 17-14

A classic, in brief: Zoe fails suicidal 4th down attempt on her own 21 in Q1, leading to 7-0 to me. Start of Q2 I throw an interception; Zoe picks it up on my 18, 7-7 at HT. Zoe FG at start of Q4, 10-7. She then marches 85y on her next drive for 17-7. I immediately reply with my own TD for 17-14 and go for the nearside kick - need a 10, roll a 9, Zoe wins. As always there was so much more that happened - this is definitely the most awesome rubbish game ever. I'm not sure my nerves could take more regular plays. My only consolation is we've still only played one of my personal picks - but I've now lost both of our joint picks.
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7. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:630]
Chris Marling
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Zoe's choice

Zoe wins (5-2) 2-0 (best of three)

Sometimes you just have to bow your head and admit to defeat against the player that's clearly sold their soul to Satan. We decided to go best of three. Zoe took game 1 nailing 2s and 12s in no time, then doing the 11s just to rub my nose in it. I got the 8s and was two short of both the 4s and 9s, so wasn't far behind via a more traditional route. But game 2 was just ridiculous. She again nailed the 2s and 12s in about the first four turns, getting three 12s in two rolls, but that was just the support act. On her next turn, from having no 11s, she rolled six 11s in 16 dice (one more than she needed) to beat me 3-1, 3-0. Humbled.
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8. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:38]
Chris Marling
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Chris' choice

Chris wins (3-5) 80-33

A four month wait since our last play - not quite as bad as the eight-month gap last time, but just as bad for Zoe if not quite for me. I got a head start on the god tracks, getting a big half way lead on the scoreboard. I got three skulls down and a god track end game bonus, crushing Zoe 80-33 in the end. Zoe likes the game and is getting really frustrated at not being able to 'get' it - she seems to leave scoring points too late after getting an engine going by about the three-quarters stage. Hopefully next time!
 
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9. Board Game: Archaeology: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1117]
Chris Marling
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Chris' choice

Chris wins (4-5) 2-1 (best of three)

In game one I pushed my luck - and I failed. Early on I was one (read: any) card short of 30 points and yup, out came the sandstorm. I then pushed full on for crazy luck to get back into it and got a few scores, almost pulling it back, but ended up losing to a relieved Zoe 130-112. But back I came! I nailed both the next two games to win 2-1. Both were close, low scoring games (I won by 8 and about 10), and I even managed to score the Pharaohs in game two - the luck was definitely with me that game, as I drew 6 of the 7 maps.
 
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10. Board Game: Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 1 – Team Asia & Legendary Asia [Average Rating:7.72 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.72 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.72 Unranked]
Chris Marling
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Chris' choice

Zoe wins (6-4) 117-111

I enjoy this map as it's quick and often nasty, but this was one of those two-player games where your routes don't really intersect and it becomes a quick battle of efficiency and card luck. Well, it did until I misread a route and thought I'd finished it - only to realise I needed a train card. It then took me 16 random card picks to find one, in which time Zoe managed to complete her long route just in time - and win 117-111.
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11. Board Game: Reiner Knizia's Decathlon [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:2944]
Chris Marling
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Zoe's choice

Zoe wins (7-4) 227-224

Zoe loves to push her luck, while I tend to be more cautious, so our games of Decathlon tend to depend on whether her crazy calls pay off or not. But today she was a little more reserved and it was crazily close throughout - in fact after seven events it was a dead heat. I edged the pole vault, Zoe the Javelin, leaving a one-point lead going into the 1500 metres - but crucially I had to go first and a poor set of rolls left her an easy target and a 227-224 win.
 
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12. Board Game: Ancient Terrible Things [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:1414]
Chris Marling
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Zoe's choice

Chris wins (5-7) 28-23

Wins at dice games against Zoe are always hard fought, but this one was closer than I would have liked after taking a strong lead. I took some good early wins but of course that leaves you lower on tokens, which almost did for me near the end - but I managed to control things just enough and stumble home 28-23 in a low scoring game. But she really had me on the ropes, defeating her last two critters to more than double her score when she looked out of it.
 
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13. Board Game: The Rose King [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:995]
Chris Marling
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Chris' choice

Chris wins (6-7) on a 361-point area

This is definitely a game I'm pretty good at, and love, while it's not really Zoe's thing quite as much - probably because of its abstract nature. She knows what to do, and when her head is in the game she plays well, but sometimes she zones out and makes poor moves - which you simply can't afford to do. I got into a strong position, pretty much meaning she had to play her judges early, and letting me build a 361-point area late in the game. We didn't add up the rest of the scores...
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14. Board Game: Copycat [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1172]
Chris Marling
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Zoe's choice

Chris wins (7-7) 118-94

It's been too long! A great game with us separated by a point on 80/81 going into the final round, but I had the leaner deck and got the perfect draw to nail 28 points in the final round. Played the 'use a worker twice' card to draw six cards, one of which was draw three cards, leaving me with a 10VP to double and loads of cash to buy my diploma. Zoe drew crap having had a big round the turn before - job done, and all square!
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15. Board Game: Bora Bora [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:154]
Chris Marling
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Zoe's choice

Chris wins (8-7) 170-161

We hadn't played for way too long and I particularly made way too many stupid mistakes - but still managed to pull a win from nothing. Having little going on I tried - and succeeded - in getting all my huts out. Zoe only had 2, neither of which scored for the fish at then end, meaning I got an uninterrupted 36 points for them at then end, to win on 170. I won by 9 - so if Zoe had scored just one five-point hut she'd have deservedly won. Another game for the 'must play more often' pile - but more importantly, I'm in the lead for the first time since game three!
 
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16. Board Game: The Manhattan Project [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:216]
Chris Marling
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Zoe's choice

Zoe wins (8-8)

Well that lead was short lived! I felt on the back-foot from round two when I realised Zoe was already a step ahead, despite me going first. I continued to feel as if I was falling behind throughout until I got a nice plant combo going and could work on both types of bomb - and as always I would've hit 71 points on the turn after Zoe had scored 73. A deserved win for her - especially as we hadn't played in ages as she nailed it (could've been 78). The one thing working in my favour is we have way more of my picks left to ply - so hopefully I'll be good at some of them!
 
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