Father H. Todd Carter, pastor of Holy Innocents Parish, Neptune, proudly displays the plaque he was awarded for taking first place in a Battles of the American Revolution tournament at the World Boardgaming Championships in July.  Photo courtesy of Father Carter
Father H. Todd Carter, pastor of Holy Innocents Parish, Neptune, proudly displays the plaque he was awarded for taking first place in a Battles of the American Revolution tournament at the World Boardgaming Championships in July. Photo courtesy of Father Carter

Fulfilling a passion that has extended to his parish family, Father H. Todd Carter, pastor of Holy Innocents Parish, Neptune, recently turned his board gaming hobby into competition triumph.

In a tournament of the World Boardgaming Championships – a convention of tournaments with more than 100 games during a weeklong period in July – Father Carter ultimately defeated his opponents in the Battles of the American Revolution (BoAR), gaining first place in the game he has enjoyed for more than six years.

“[Playing] board games … really helps me to appreciate the time I spend with others,” Father Carter said. “It’s a great activity that requires collaboration and skill. I specifically like war gaming, because it helps me appreciate the history and reasons why decisions were made.”

These games are a breed apart from family staples of years past like Monopoly and Scrabble. The games, many by GMT games, require strategy and knowledge beyond rolling a die, paying rent and having an advanced vocabulary. The final match alone was almost 12 hours long.

 “They’re more of a specialty than a store game. It’s something you sort of have to fall into,” Father Carter explained. “About 22 to 24 people were playing in this tournament; they’ve been holding it for more than 20 years.”

Father Carter has been part of that competition since 2015, and until this year, had never won a tournament. “I was really surprised to get into the finals, and even more surprised to win,” he admitted. “It’s a great time.”

His prizes for winning included a commemorative plaque, a Tri-Pack of the BoAR war games (which he intends to give to the next aspiring player who needs it) and a Big Board LLC version of the Brandywine battle, first edition. He plays many games, but the BoAR series he began playing in 2013 is his favorite.

“At the first board gaming convention I ever went to, I walked into one of the rooms, and they were playing the Battle of Monmouth,” he recalled. “I thought, ‘I’m from New Jersey, that’s my local war battle.’ It’s a bit complicated, and I never played a war game like that before, but the designer was there, he was very friendly and inviting, and he showed us the ropes.”

Father Carter noted that competitions like these require a dose of humility. “When you play games like this at this level, you have to get used to losing a lot,” he said. But the camaraderie is immediately apparent. “The real reward of doing all this is the joy of playing against super-skilled opponents,” he attested. “One of the things I like about the tournament is the great guys who play this game. They have been exceptionally welcoming and knowledgeable.”

In Holy Innocents Parish, Father Carter has instituted board game nights in the school cafeteria once a month on Fridays.

“I invite anyone who wants to come play – not just parishioners, but from the general community as well,” he explained. “We have passed it on to our Cohort, in case anyone wants to include in their bulletin, and I try to share it on Facebook.”

The variety of games, with an age range of at least eight and older, includes titles that may be unfamiliar to many.

“We play all sorts of things – Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Scythe, Godfather: Corleone’s Empire,” Father Carter listed. “What people were playing 40 years ago is what people think board games are – but it’s different now, it has evolved. More than 3,000 board games are released per year.”

Children are welcome if accompanied by an adult, he said.

Mainly Father Carter wants his parish family and community to have fun with board game nights. Most nights about 21 show up, he said, but some evenings have seen as many as 50 participants.

“It’s something I enjoy, and I want to share it – people do what they love, and it’s something I love doing,” he explained. “I’m always trying to find more and different people to play; it’s a way to invite others into the hobby. The more the merrier!”