World Boardgaming Championships

Run by the Boardgame Players Association, the World Boardgaming Championships attract about 1500 players a year to Lancaster, PA. The heart of convention is the tournament track, with more than 150 games for various skill levels from beginner to expert.

The 2010 WBC begins with some pre-gaming events this weekend, but the convention itself runs from August 2nd through the 8th. 

WBC also offers open gaming from a large game library, teaching demos for new games, and gaming opportunities for kids 12 and up. The vendor area attracts many of the major game companies, and an auction gives attendees a chance to pick up used and older titles. Eurogames, Avalon Hill titles, classic American-style games, and historical simulations are all represented.

For more information, check out the BPA website.

Definitions: Meeples

Meeples are, simply, the little wooden people used in Eurogames. If you hang around BoardGameGeek forums for more than five minutes, you’re almost certain to encounter the word. Since most people don’t hang around in BoardGameGeek forums, it seemed worthwhile to explain some basic terminology, and “Meeple” is one of the most common.

The most popular shape of meeple originated with Carcassonne, and has since been used for many other games. It has become an iconic image for Eurogames in general. I even tossed a couple into the photo I took for this blog’s header image.

There were even Meeples Choice Awards, chosen by polling the members of the Spielfriek discussion group. (“Spiel” is another bit of Eurogame lingo that gets tossed around. It’s German for “game.”) The Meeples Choice site claims that the word was coined (at least in its modern usage) in 2000 by a gamer named Alison Hansel, during a session of Carcassonne. In the absence of a better etymology, that’ll do me.

As symbols go, it’s a darn good one: it’s oddly appealing, identifiable in silhouette, and easy to draw. It’s also attracted a cult following all its own, as you can see by the products offered by

PS: Right now, Amazon is offering a terrific deal on the original Carcassonne (only $20, which is 45% off), so if you don’t have it … well, you really should have it. It’s a core Eurogame and a great entry-level game, with countless expansions and variant editions. (Gamers love their expansions.)

App O’ the Mornin’: Bird Strike

Bird Strike was on my Touch for a little while before I really spent much time with it. It seemed to a bit Doodle Jump-ish, and I didn’t feel a burning need for a bird-themed Doodle Jump.

In fact, it’s not much like Doodle Jump at all. Both fall into the brand-new App-created subgenre of Vertical Climbing Platformer with Tilt Controls (note: this is a not a real subgenre), but the similarities end there.

In Bird Strike, a rather nervous-looking blue bird named Gerald needs to be launched into the upper atmosphere, but he must find the rockets to carry him, grab the lemons suspended in midair, and dodge the obstacles in his way. It would have been easier to launch Gerald on his journey somewhere other than urban alleys, but not nearly as fun as dodging all of the construction, beams, laundry lines, and other obstructions on the way up–and then pulverizing it all on the way back down.

And please don’t even ask why lemons are suspended in midair, where they can be conveniently grabbed for extra points. If you have to ask questions like that, then you haven’t been playing enough apps.

Gerald begins the game perched on a wire, which you can drag down and then release to shoot him in the air. He only flies for a little while until gravity begins to take over, so you need to use the tilt controls to steer him over rockets. Each rocket is just powerful enough to propel him to another rocket. If you grab all the rockets, snag all the lemons, and avoid the obstructions, Gerald will make it all the way into space … where orbiting alien invaders shoot him with a paralyzing beam. He then plummets back to earth, trashing all the obstacles and racking up more points along the way.

There are four locations, and each location has three to four levels. Each level is like a high-speed horizontal obstacle course with an almost puzzle-like quality. The folks a PikPok have done a great job with this one, and appear to be supporting it with updates and extra levels, all for the low-low price of $1.

You can find it here. (Warning: link will open iTunes.)

UPDATE: An astute reader pointed out what your nearsighted reviewer missed: those are seeds, not lemons. Now that I look at it again, I don’t know why I ever thought they were lemons.  Just because they’re yellow?