It was an article on the BBC news website that got me interesting the taking up a game called Turf. It features a mother of four from Edinburgh, turf name Féarglas, who had clocked up some 317 hours of cycling over 1400 miles in November 2020, gaining a Silver Medal for the November round of Turf, a virtual mobile phone based game where points are won by taking as many real-world locations, or zones, as you can.
A quick search took me to the Turf website and after reading all the pages and articles I could find, was more than just interested, I wanted to do this. The overall idea is very simple. You download a small app to your mobile phone, create a username for yourself and sign in. I’ve used PlanetGary as mine, after the name for this blog.
The app then displays an aerial map showing all the many designated zones around the world. With luck there should be some zones near your own location. A zone is simply a small area of ground, perhaps beside a feature such as a bridge, church, viewpoint and so on. I’m fortunate living near Edinburgh, a relatively new “hot spot” for turfing activity and there are thousands of zones and even a few zones only a stone’s throw from my house in Bonnyrigg, Midlothian. The number of zones is increasing all the time as more are added.
To take a zone, all you need to do is go there, and you can get there by any legal means, by car, on foot, by bicycle or kick scooter, wait for 45 seconds and the phone app does the rest, assigning you as the owner of the zone and adding points to your total. You also get a few points for each hour you are the owner of that zone. The zone is not yours for keep, however, and can be taken after a short time has elapsed by any other turfer. After a set time has lapsed you can re-take the zone again yourself, gaining the points that that zone again. You can also, after 23 hours have passed, re-visit a zone you already own and add more points, though about half the points you got when you originally took the zone.
As you start collecting points, you are also given a rank, starting at Rank 0 – Newbie, all your way up to Rank 60 – Turfalicious. The game is played in monthly rounds, starting at 12:00 Central European Time or Central European Summer Time (when applicable) on the first Sunday in every month. At the start of each round all zones taken are reset to neutral and you start from scratch new each month. You do, however, retain any points, rank and medals you’ve collected.
In addition, you can also gain virtual medals for various activities or achievements, for example, Dark Ninja – a medal awarded for taking at least three zones between the hours 02:00 am and 03:00 am, Eager Weasel – taking at least 10 zones within 15 minutes, and Ghost Minute, taking a holy zone between 00:00 and 00:01 am.
Of course, that’s just the bare bones of Turf, there quite a lot more to the game and the main Turf website and the official Turf Wiki are the places to go the for all the information you will ever need to play Turf. For my own game playing, as well as taking zones to gain points and medals, I also want to keep an on-going blog of my turfing activities.
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