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Thursday
Nov102011

MNzero has a Date

We spend most of our time running games for our inner children, but not this month. Over Thanksgiving weekend, MNzero will be running games for other people's outer children. Which is to say, actual children.

Play Date is a 24-hour family gaming event devoted to boardgames, puzzles, and activities of all kinds. MNzero is responsible for that last one. We're developing several running-around games, some improv games, and even a couple of anytime games that will be active throughout the event.

We'd love a little of your time and/or creative energy. 

  • Volunteer for a total of 6 hours and play the other 18 hours for free.
  • Review our games, send us comments, and pitch your own ideas.
  • Donate your old boardgames to the cause.

If you're interested in attending, you'll find full registration and hotel information at theplaydate.org.

Thursday
Sep082011

Journey to the End of the Night comes to Saint Paul!

The city spreads out before you. Rushing from point to point, lit by the slow strobe of fluorescent lights and dark streets. Searching for a stranger's signature. Fleeing unknown pursuers, breathing hard, in awe of the landscape and the multitude of worlds hidden within it.

For one night, drop your relations, your obligations, all your mundane motives for movement and action, and get drawn in by the seduction of the chase and the encounters you find there.


Journey to the End of the Night is a free street game from MNZERO. It's like running a relay race through the living city while being chased by hungry zombies. Come and play with us for the first time in Saint Paul. Gather at Cretin and Mississippi at 7 PM on Saturday, September 17th. The route will end somewhere in downtown Saint Paul and awards will be distributed at midnight.

Want more information? Check out http://totheendofthenight.com for the rules.

Want to help? Have questions? E-mail minnesotazero@gmail.com. We need volunteers to make this happen!

Sunday
Aug212011

Post-Mortem: Asylum

On Saturday, August 20th, about a dozen espionage enthusiasts turned out to play a game of Asylum, where two teams of covert operatives compete to whisk a defector out from under each other's noses. We tried a version of the game where everything from team assignments to extraction planning happened on-site with zero prep. It wasn't exactly a success, but good lessons were learned. 

What Worked...

Shadowing people is still fun. A lot of fun. (We might want to run a game without extraction teams, where a single "fugitive" tries to escape from a surveillance team any way they can. Anyone know a good traceur?) 

The extraction team's first checkpoint was pitch perfect. The Defector got on a city bus, where an extraction was waiting for them. They made the pass and the agent got off the bus at the very same stop. Quick, hard to photograph, very nice.

 

The surveillance team did a great job swarming the Defector. They maintained a 1-2 block dragnet around her at pretty much all times, and she took them on a merry chase! The couple of times when she almost lost us, and we had to scramble via text message to pick up her trail, where some of my favorite moments.

 

What Went Wrong...

The game flew off the rails after that excellent bus maneuver. The Defector couldn't find the next checkpoint, so she lead the surveillance team on a wild goose chase for about twenty minutes. That, plus longer-than-expected planning sessions, pretty much ate up all our time for the second round.

This exposed a need for better error-recovery mechanisms in the game. At the very least, we need set start/stop times for each round, so everyone knows when to pack it in and head back to the starting location. Even if the Defector had made it through all five checkpoints, the extraction team had no way to signal victory; set end times would solve that problem, too.

Players expressed some dissatisfaction with the planning-on-site approach, as they felt it would've been better to scout the location and make their plans ahead of time. I couldn't agree more. It might be wise to switch back to a more Tradecrafty model where team leads recruit their agents ahead of the game and get them more involved in the planning. Fly-by-night players could still show up on the day of the event and get assigned to teams as additional manpower and/or to even out the numbers.

 

That's all she wrote. Thanks again to everyone who came out and we hope you had a great time. Our next event is Journey to the End of the Night (Sat, 9/17). If you'd like to be a chaser, or help run the event, there's still plenty of time to volunteer!

Thursday
Aug042011

Asylum - August 20th

We've set a date for the first official round of Asylum: Saturday, August 20th, from 4-6pm. Everything from team formation to ops planning will happen on-site, so bring only yourselves and a willing to commit nefarious deeds!

See the event page for more info or find us on Facebook.

Tuesday
Jul192011

Come Out and Play Field Day

Last weekend, we attended a day of experimental games hosted by Come Out and Play, New York's annual street games festival. Teams of intrepid game designers converged on Governor's Island with boxes full of foam swords, hoola hoops, wolf masks, airplane wings, and traffic cones. Lots of traffic cones.

We only got to play a few of the games on the docket, but we were floored by the diversity of game mechanics on display. Our impressions can be found below, but see also the CoaP Field Day website for reasonably detailed descriptions of most events.

 

Wild Blue Yonder

Freeze tag with balloons and airplane noises! (We may have been the only ones making airplane noises. Shame on everyone else.) Players adorned themselves with cardboard wings and plastic aviator scarves, then played freeze tag for control of balloons scattered across the playing field. The props breathed new life into a familiar play experience.

 

Into the Woods

A collection of games centered around a folk tale premise: human villagers vs hungry wolves. The first round was essentially a game of "Are You A Werewolf?" (aka. Mafia), where the players took turns accusing one another of werewolfitry. In another, two blindfolded players, one villager and one wolf, tried to navigate a "whispering forest" formed by their teammates. The remaining rounds were played in a circle with villagers and wolves facing off in the center. It was a great format for party games: simplicity, variety, and social interaction. We were particularly impressed by how well each game supported the general theme.

 

Hoola Hoop Obstacle Loop

Everything's a challenge when you're falling-down drunk or, in this case, dizzy. More of a race than a game, this one demonstrated how easily fun can be assembled from simple props. Players had to spins themselves around a hoola hoop ten times, then throw some balls through a hoola hoop and run a boot camp style obstacle course... made of hoola hoops.

 

 

And The Rest

We missed Suntrial and Mont Trottoir (the sidewalk parkour game) in their entirety, but at least snapped a few photos of Hunter-Gatherer and Killer Queen (the boffer game with balls). 

 

Thanks to the CoaP crew for orchestrating the event. We just wish we could've spent the whole month in NYC and played their street games, too.