Board game

Spotlight : Innsbruck, the Bridge Town

And here comes a new category of posts : the Spotlights ! My goal is to share some very basic knowledge I have gathered about the key destinations of the trip.

Obviously, Ludi Vojago is not supposed to take place only in big cities. I am perfectly open to smaller places as long as people are actually interested in playing and creating board games 🙂

But I have to start searching somewhere, and “WHOLE COUNTRIES” is a bit too large. So, after deciding the key points of my itinerary, I’m currently searching places to be hosted around big cities. I take the cities, find out what’s going on there, then search in the smaller towns around, say, a radius of 50kms or something of sorts.

But as I’m considerating passing by those cities, better do some homework about them, right ? I don’t know most of them, so I only gather minimal knowledge meant to be completed (or totally  discarded) by actually going there.

Let’s start with Austria, and the city of Innsbruck !

SpotlightInnsbruck

Innsbruck, actually meaning “The bridge over the Inn River“, is a city close to mountains. By “close”, I actually mean “very very close”.

The city is between MĂĽnchen and Verona, two other cities I’m planning to visit. Couchsurfing-wise, 1,974 people currently have a profile marked as living around Innsbruck, which is not bad at all :-).

About games : there’s a cafĂ© full of board games in the city, the CafĂ© Weli. There’s also a video game studio, Still Alive Studios.

Also, the city is quite touristic, and it’s quite easy to see why by looking at some pictures of local buildings.

And finally, some capital information from Wikipedia :

“In 1929, the first official Austrian Chess Championship was held in Innsbruck.”

Way to go !

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Some temporal schedule of the trip

Ludi Vojago has a couple of temporal marks kind of settled :

* The departure date : September 2014

* The length : 6 months

But how long will I stay in each place during those 6 months ? How long would last the workshops ? How can I manage to update the website after the workshops without slowing the trip down ?

I’m still working on these questions, but my first draft can be sum up by one (fancy) schema .

PlanningLV

Basically, I will altern between two types of weeks : the workshop week and the travel week.

The Workshop Week

First day : Installation

Several things have to be done to be able to start the actual workshops. For example meeting people I exchanged e-mails with to get the workshop place (or even finding the actual place). I also may ask some sponsors to send me board games packs (or material packs) by mail, so I would have to grab them before the workshop. I feel more comfortable by taking a whole day to set up “things” for the workshop.

5 days of workshops

“How are the workshops organized ?” is a pretty big question. In fact, it’s such a large topic that I gotta write a whole article on it.But not right now 🙂

Last day : Website update

The point of this day is to write an articleon this blog about the workshop week, as well as archiving the various games made. I will also take some time to answer the diverse messages sent during the week, which may lead me to uncaled places during the following the travel week.

It may also be the “tearful goodbye day” !

The Travel Week

Despite the name, the Travel Week isn’t only dedicated to travelling from point A to point B. It is however part of the job to reach my next workshop place.

I also may have some interesting things to do during this trip, for exemple meeting people eager to create games or attending some gaming events which are not near my workshop place.

Would people suggest me anything interesting on the Internet, this week gives me the opportunity of actually doing it, and not only answering “Yeah, great, but I have no spare time !”.

Where am I going ? – Mingling personal goals and field reality

Yet another tricky question is : where am I going ?

Without further ado, here is the first draft of my planned road: http://goo.gl/maps/WA81u. Now, here comes some explainations.

As I don’t have yet any official places to reach (meaning : media libraries, city halls, schools), I am very flexible. Still, I have to start somewhere to have an even remotely idea of the countries in which I would be searching hosts. Three main criteria then comes in :

1) How smoothly my board games workshops would be working;

2) Which countries are connected to each other to make a somehow linear trip;

3) Which places I would like to visit.

1) Workshop easiness !

This criteria is of course way the most important, as I’m definitely not putting my personal pleasure above the project’s goal (meaning : making board games). I guess it would be easier to start the workshops in some countries I would have less trouble creating board games, thus two sub-criteria : language mastery and board games general popularity.

As I basically speak English, French and a little bit German (as a sidenote, I’m also learning Esperanto), France, Belgium and Germany are really interesting. Board games also seem to be quite popular in those countries, hosting several big board games events (Cannes, Essen) and being motherlands of well-known very popular games, like Settlers of Catan, Seven Wonders, Dixit, Abalone and so on.

French creator, French publisher and German award.

The whole goal of Ludi Vojago is to make board games with whoever wants, so every place in the world is a possibility. Still, the odds of running a smooth and easy workshop are higher in France and Germany thanks to languages and board games popularity. Thus, it makes sense to start my trip in those countries as a “warm up”, to acquire extra experience before going in countries with more things to consider.

2) Countries connection !

This is obvious. There is little point in going to Germany THEN Finland THEN Croatia THEN Moldova !

3) Places I would like to visit

This is the “scales tipper” criteria to make choices between similar options. If there’s no reason to go in a particular country or another, then I’d rather go somewhere I want to discover.

I had wonderful opportunities to travel around North-Central Europe those years. By no means do I know everything about those countries of course, but on the other hand I don’t know anything about South-Central Europe. Countries like Slovenia and Croatia got my attention, and I’d really like to go there. Thus the post-MĂĽnchen trajectory to the south.

Means of transport : Bike vs Not-bike

The main goal of Ludi Vojago is definitely to create board games with folks around Europe. While the whole “creating board games” concept is as clear as it’s hard to properly set up, the “around Europe” part shouldn’t be overlooked either.

Among the numerous things I still have to clarify, one of my main question is the way I’ll travel. Using a car or a van is out of question for three main reasons :

1) I’m an apprentice driver, so the driving insurance for a van would be ridiculously high;

2) It’s obviously not eco-friendly, and this bothers me a lot;

3) I kind of hate driving.

I therefore have two main possibilities to travel : walking/hitchhiking or biking.  Both have pros and cons, and I’m still hesitating. By the way, feel free to help me by leaving a comment, an e-mail or something.

So, let’s analyse this “bike” thingie…

Pros !

Extra carriage room : Without any bike, I’m basically limited to what my travelling bag can contain, which means around 80L max. With a bike however, I can still carry this bag (yeah, not exactly comfortable, but manageable), plus two extra bike bags, plus a little basket in front of the bike.

Blasting cute.

Apart from the extreme sex appeal provided by the basket, the storage room is quite a big deal for this project. I need to carry some games to provide some references and because, well, playing is the core concept of the project. I also need to have some specific material, such as pawns, dices, hourglasses… things which can’t be found easily, unlike scissors, cardboard and so on, which I’ll manage to find somehow.

Way faster than walking : That’s the other main point of a bike. I think my average walking speed would be about 25kms a day (carrying a big bag never helps) versus 75kms a day with a bike, maybe more in flat areas.

I generally won’t be in a hurry, as I see no real point at rushing my way during a trip, but it would be easier to reach important deadlines which might occur, like attending a board game event, catching a plane etc… Plus, the project is focused on creating games, not strolling on the roads – even if I personally enjoy this :-).

I still can take some trains : Fortunately, I can put my bike in some trains. Not every of them of course, but I assume taking the train despite having a bike means I would be in some sort of dire situation where I really need to take a train, so I would be ready to wait for the right one.

Cons…

Wrong time, wrong place : I already own a trusty bike. I used it to bike my way from Reims to Utrecht to Scherpenzeel some years ago, which was a great experience. However, there’s some slight differences between biking near the Netherlands during summer, and biking not so far away from the Alpes during winter.

Price : Even if I have the bike, several expenses will be inevitable, such as extra air chambers, oil and possible mechanical failures. No bike, no extra charges.

Makes hitchhiking almost impossible : Obviously. This considerably offsets the speed gain provided by the bike, and makes some mountain crossing even more worrisome, as I won’t have any real back-up plan between 2 railway stations. Except of course if I cross the road of a truck driver able to open his truck, but it still lower the odds dramatically…

I can’t take every train : Taking trains would require extra attention. I’m rather familiar with French trains and which ones allow bikes, but I can’t say the same thing for other countries. So, I may find myself in a situation where I would struggle to understand if I actually can take one specific train. Shucks.

Parking : Let’s suppose I have to take a plane to spend Christmas in France with my mum. Or let’s say I have a day off and I wanna hit this beautiful grotto I can only access by walking. I can take my bag with me, but where should I park my bike ? Shall I put it in a street and somehow lock up my bike bags ? The bike can end up being a deadweight, which would be counterproductive.

So. Even if lots of cons could be smoothed with some help of people I would meet (people owning a van to give me a lift, people able to stock my bike for several days…), the scale seems to be tipping in favor of NOT taking a bike.

If I go this way, my main objective would be to offset the pros a bike could bring me, namely storage and speed. While speed is not a real issue as I can hitchhike my way to places without any railway stations, storage will be a problem I have to solve.

I have some ideas in mind, but I’m pretty sure you, dear reader, have some trick up your sleeve you would be eager to share with me… 🙂

Cheers,

Aurélien