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Ahead of ‘Game of Thrones’ premiere, international contest comes to Wausau

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By David Stenklyft

‘Game of Thrones,’ set to premiere its eighth and final season Sunday on HBO, has inspired a new style of gaming that drew more than 100 people from 22 states and four countries to Wausau last weekend.

Wausau was the host city of the international Game of Thrones board game contest on April 6 and 7, hosted by the Domino Bar. The gathering is the brainchild of Jesse Carpenter, who organizes the yearly contest from wherever he lives at the time.

The game, created in 2003, is based on the book series and started as a collectible card game. The second and current edition of the game arrived in 2015.

Most of the players — 99 of the 115 who competed — came from out of the area, but the players know one another well.

“We’re a very tight community,” Carpenter said.

Last year’s contest was held in a very small community in southern Illinois, and Wausau is a better location because of hotel space, more activities and a bigger venue.

The competition begins with a fantasy-based draft, much like fantasy sports competitions. Each player drafts his or her team, then competes in house-based games that are 55 minutes apiece.

For the first seven rounds, the games are played in teams. But after that, individual players compete to be crowned champion.

The Wausau event was the largest North American tournament to take place, Carpenter said. The largest tournament, the World Contest, typically draws in about 130 players and is held at a castle in Germany called Castel Stalek. A handful of players from Wausau attend the tournament each year.

Wausau, in fact, has two world champions, Carpenter said.

“It’s crazy to think about it, but Wausau has two world champions, nearly another, and it is a mecca for game players,” Carpenter said.

Johnny Cee Cards in Schofield is also is also recognized as a top flight card destination for players.

Jenny Schafer, who competed in last week’s Game of Thrones event, said the store is a top choice for local gamers.

“There are maybe five other stores in the country that have the selection for cards that they have,” Schafer said. “It’s one of the best stores in the world.”

Top photo: Jenny Schafer and Jesse Carpenter pose for a photo April 7, 2019 at The Domino, 740 Washington St., Wausau. Credit: David Stenklyft/Wausau Pilot and Review

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