Find the Future at the NY Public Library

Jane McGonigal, game designer and author of Reality is Broken, has created a scavenger hunt/gaming event to kick off the centenary of the New York Public Library

On May 20th, 500 people will be locked into the library overnight for the “Write all Night” kickoff event. They will “explore the building’s 70 miles of stacks, and, using laptops and smartphones, follow clues to such treasures as the Library’s copy of the Declaration of Independence in Thomas Jefferson’s hand. After finding each object, players will write short, personal essays inspired by their quest—for example, how would they write the Declaration? Winning the game means writing a collaborative book based on these personal stories about the future, and this volume will be added to the Library’s collections.”

On May 21st, other people will be able to participate online.

H/T: Scott Nicholson via Twitter

Troyes from Z-Man Games

Designers: Sebastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges, Alain Orban
Publisher: Z-Man
Players: 2-4
Ages: 12+
Time: 90 min.
Price: $55
Publication Date: April 2011

Z-Man will be publishing the US version of Troyes (published in Europe by Pearl Games) this month.

Medieval games always get my attention, but I’m looking forward to this one because of Troyes (pronounced “Trwah”) and its important place in history. The Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, which forms the major theme of this game, is one of the masterpieces of Gothic design. Begun in 1200 (which is the starting point for the game) it remains incomplete to this day. The city also has links to the founding of the Knights of the Temple of King Solomon, better known as the Knights Templar. Their founder, Hughes de Payens, was born nearby in the 11th century, and St. Bernard of Clairvaux created their rule and officially organized the group at the Council of Troyes in 1128-29.

Troyes is also important because of its connection Chrétien de Troyes, one of the greatest poets of the Middle Ages and the man responsible for a large chunk of the Arthurian legend, particularly the grail lore. The story of Sir Percival, the Fisher King, the bleeding lance (identified with the Spear of Longinus), and the holy grail (actually a serving dish, not a cup) all spring from Chrétien’s Perceval, le Conte du Graal. (There’s no reference to the grail prior this story, not even in the form of a grail-shaped beacon from Castle Anthrax.)

Chrétien, Pope Urban IV, Hughes de Payens, Henry I, and other historical figures all feature in the game, which spans 400 years. Here’s the official description:

Troyes is a strategy game in which you represent a rich family from the Champagne region of France, using your influence to recruit and supervise individuals from the three prominent domains: military (associated with the color red in every aspect of the game), religious (white), and civil (yellow).

Each domain offers different benefi ts: The military permits you to fight with greater effi cacy against invasions. The clergy focuses on completion of the cathedral, and education of the peasants and the military. The peasants toil to fill your coffers. The citizens of the city provide a work force, represented by dice. You use the work force in different ways: to perform various activities supervised by your tradesmen, to build the cathedral, to grapple with unfortunate events, or even to recruit new citizens. 

Each of these actions requires utilization of one group of 1 to 3 dice. In your actions, always regard the goals of the famous character that inspires your family. This individual is one of several very influential people whose principles have helped make the city what it is today! In fact, if you can figure out whose principles the other families follow, you can maximize your own fame, because each family will be scrutinized by all of these famous figures. The player who has garnered the most fame, in the form of victory points, will win the game!

Alan Moon on Airlines Europe

W. Eric Martin has done a terrific piece on Alan Moon and Airlines Europe, the upcoming redesign of Moon’s first game, Airlines.

“It’s sort of fun to work on an existing game and try to improve it,” says Moon, who started work on what became Airlines Europe in 2007. “The design has been around so long and been through so many different versions. I’d do something, then change something else. The prototype went back and forth between a railroad and airline game a number of times.”

It will be fascinating to see how Moon redesigns one of his earliest efforts after 20 years of experience, including certified hits like Ticket to Ride and Union Pacific (particularly since Union Pacific and Airlines are based on the same fundamental design). These are primarily stock trading games, with players scoring points for any stock they have in play.

Airlines Europe is due this year from Rio Grande Games.