Here are some questions that are often asked by new (and also not-so-new) UK turfers. See also the Turf Jargon Buster on this website. If you have any comments or further questions, please email esoc.turf "AT" gmail.com
- What is Turf?
Turf is a location-based online game, played on a smartphone using the phone’s GPS – you go to the physical location of a virtual turf zone to earn points.
- How do I get the Turf app?
To get started, go to turfgame.com/info and follow the instructions. The game can be downloaded from the Google Play store or Apple App Store. There are many games with “Turf” in their name – the one to look for has the Turfman logo and is simply called “Turf”, by Andrimon AB.
See also Should I change any of the settings in the app? at the bottom of this page.
- How can I find out more about how to play?
The Info page on the Turf website gives lots of useful information. In the app, clicking the question mark icon in the menu (4 dots at bottom right) takes you to a Help page with useful basic information. This includes a link to a list of all the Turf medals with descriptions.
- What do the different colours mean on the map?
Zones can be green, yellow or red. Green zones are the ones you are holding; red zones are held by another player; yellow zones are neutral (i.e. they have not been taken yet in the current round). You can take red or yellow zones, and yellow zones give a bonus of 50 points for being the first turfer in this round to take them.
When a player takes a zone, it is blocked for a short period, during which no-one else can take it – a blocked zone is striped, with a clock symbol. You can see how long it is still blocked for, by clicking on the zone.
- How can I centre the map?
To centre the map on your location, tap the turfman at lower left. The map will follow you as you move around, until you touch the map to move it or zoom – then you’ll get a message saying “Follow mode ended”. To recentre and start follow mode again, tap the turfman once more. Note that zooming in or out by using the +/- buttons does not affect Follow mode.
- Can I turn the map in the app?
You can turn the map so that it points the way you're facing, by touching the screen with 2 fingers and twisting. A small compass appears at the top right – touch this to restore N at the top.
- What do the numbers at the top mean, in the app?
The number in the middle is your latest points score in the current round. The number on the left (by the + sign) is your points per hour, i.e. the number of points you are accruing from the zones that you hold. The number on the right (by the z) is the number of zones that you are holding.
- Why are some zones worth more than others?
Zones with more activity earn fewer takeover points, and more points per hour: 185/1, 170/2, 155/3, 140/4, and so on up to 65/9. If you click on a zone in the app, you'll see its current points values. A program called the Fairy (because it makes things fairer) is run regularly, usually just before the end of each Turf round, and it assesses activity in that round. Note that zones set up during the round are not included. The Fairy upgrades busy zones by one or two steps, and downgrades quiet zones by one step.
- Why is taking a zone so slow?
Your takeover time depends on your rank. It starts at 29.8 seconds, and reduces by 0.2 seconds each time you move up a rank. You can speed things up by keeping your GPS on, which gives you a 5 second reduction in your takeover time. It is good practice to keep your GPS on in Turf, so that others can see you - then they can avoid blocking you, or can tell if you are about to take a zone they were heading towards.
- Why is my turfman in the wrong place?
Some zones are very difficult to take, often due to GPS problems, for example among tall buildings, in railway cuttings, or very rugged terrain. The turfman might jump around and stay outside the zone you're trying to take. This varies from phone to phone – you could be physically right beside another turfer, but nowhere near them on the map in the app. If you move to an open area, the GPS often settles down. Some zones work best approached from a particular direction, so it is worth experimenting. Failing that, try turning your GPS off and on again (press and hold the turfman at lower left to turn it off, then tap it again to turn it back on). If that doesn’t work, close Turf and restart it.
- What should I do if a zone doesn’t register?
Sometimes the bars at the side of the screen fill up, but the confirmation message doesn’t appear. This is usually due to lack of phone signal – in this case, you will see a flashing wifi symbol at top left indicating loss of data. The GPS still works even if there’s no phone signal. Turf recognises where you are, then the app issues the "taking zone" message and does the countdown, but you need the phone signal to transmit the take to the Turf server and receive the confirmation. Occasionally the signal is intermittent, and when you've given up, you get the "zone taken" message outside the zone, because the transmit did work but the confirmation didn't get through till you had phone signal again. Leaving the zone and re-entering it might trigger the message. If that doesn’t work, start again - close Turf and restart it. And if that doesn’t work, try rebooting your phone. If the zone still doesn’t register, you need to try again another day!
- How do the medals work?
You get virtual medals added to your profile for particular achievements. There’s a series of medals for the number of takeovers you have done, starting at Take-5, and also for the number of different zones you have taken, starting at 15 Unique. There are lots of different medals, for example Bridge crosser for taking 3 bridge zones within 30 minutes, Neutralizer, for taking 20 neutral zones in 5 hours, or Ghost minute for taking a “holy” zone type (e.g. graveyard) at midnight!
- How can I suggest new zone locations?
In the app, tap the lightbulb icon in the menu (4 dots at lower right). This allows you to suggest 7 zone locations each month – but note that there is nothing to draw new suggestions to the attention of the zone makers. The suggestions are all included on a map that the zone makers can see, and remain there until they are acted upon. If a zone is eventually created at or near to one of your suggested locations, you’ll receive an email telling you.
A more effective way to suggest zones is via the Turf forum.You must register before posting on the forum. On the Board Index page, scroll down to the United Kingdom section, click on Zones, then choose the appropriate sub-section. In the forum, you can suggest multiple zones, maybe some zones in an empty area, or a series around a loop.
Note that zones need to be at least 20m x 20m and should be no less than 200m apart. A zone suggestion should ideally be in an interesting place, not on private land, and certainly not anywhere dangerous (not on a road) or difficult to access. Please include details of where exactly it is, such as a screenshot with the proposed location and existing zone(s) shown, or latitude/longitude coordinates, or a what3words location code. Or use the method described by Kingslayer in this post on the Turf forum.
- Can I message other turfers?
Yes, the in-app chat function is useful for getting in touch with other turfers, perhaps to arrange Assists (see What is an Assist? below), or to work around each other. It’s also useful for people to ask questions. There are message boards for your current Region, current Country, and World. You can access the chat via the speech bubble icon in the menu (4 dots at lower right) - swipe left or right to see the different message boards. To contact a specific turfer, start your message with their turf username (this is case-sensitive) with a colon at the end, or to reply to someone, tap their name in the messages. If they have the Turf app running, they'll be notified of your message. NB: All messages can be seen by anyone – they aren’t private.
In Edinburgh Southern Orienteering Club, we also have a very active WhatsApp group for members who are turfers.
- Can I turf with someone else?
Of course it's OK to go turfing together, but not for multiple people to go separately, at different times, using the same phone. And it's definitely not OK to have the same username on different people's phones. Sharing an account between multiple people is against the rules.
- Is it OK to turf by car?
You can turf any way you like – the rules say “All legal means of transport are allowed”. However, car turfing generally isn't very efficient, because you have to keep finding somewhere to park, and often can't take the shortest route. It's not much fun. Also, you don't get the benefit of the exercise. Most turfers cycle, walk or run, and some regard car turfing as cheating. (Though it's fine to drive to another area in order to go turfing.)
- How does a round work?
The game is played in monthly rounds, starting on the first Sunday of the month. The leaderboards, known as toplists, for each region and country can be displayed on the Turf website or in the app. At the end of a round, the top player in each region receives the Region medal (if there are 5 or more turfers in that region), and the top player in each country receives the Country medal (if there are 30 or more turfers in that country). The top 3 players in the world are awarded a bronze, silver or gold medal.
- What happens at the start of a new round?
Each monthly round starts at 12 noon Central European Time (11am in the UK). All the zones are reset to neutral, and they turn yellow, ready to start again. Your round points are reset to zero, though your overall points total continues.
- What is a Revisit?
You can revisit a zone held by you once you have held it for 23 hours. You get half the usual takeover points for this, and the zone is then blocked for 5 minutes. Revisits do not count towards most medals, but they do count towards the Daily series of medals, and (of course) the Revisitor medal!
- What is an Assist?
When two or more people are taking a zone at the same time, the person with the shortest takeover time will take the zone. They get the takeover points, and also the points per hour until someone else takes the zone. The other person gets an Assist – this gives them the takeover points, but no points per hour. If the zone is neutral (yellow), both players get the 50 point bonus. An Assist can be done on any takeover. You can also assist someone doing a revisit, in which case you get more points than they do – a revisit gives about half points, whereas the Assist gets full points. You can't assist someone taking over a zone that you hold though. There is a series of medals for Assists, similar to the Take medals.
Carrying out Assists isn’t easy, because it requires a lot of coordination, especially if the people involved have very different takeover times. If one person is about to take the zone too soon, they can pause their GPS by pressing and holding the turfman at lower left, then touching it again immediately to turn the GPS back on.
Assists generally count towards medals in the same way as takeovers (NB: not the Neutralizer medal).
- What is a Crowdy?
A Crowdy is when multiple people take a zone together. There’s a series of medals for being in a group of 1 or more assisters when a zone is taken. Note: You need one more person than the number on the medal, because one person takes the zone, and they do not get the Crowdy medal.
- How does the League structure work?
Everyone playing Turf is automatically entered in the league, starting at level 11. Each level has multiple groups, with 10 players in each group. The Elite league and League 1 have 1 group each, then League 2 has 2 groups, League 3 has 4 groups, League 4 has 8 groups, and so on all the way down to League 10, which has 512 groups! League 11 is where new turfers start, and it has more groups all the time. At the end of each round, the top player in every group is promoted to the next level (except for Level 1, where the top 2 players are promoted to the Elite League) and the bottom 2 are demoted. Players are randomly reallocated to groups within their League for the next round.
To view your league group in the app, click on the icon with a star above 2 lines, in the menu (4 dots at lower right). This displays the toplists as well as the league - swipe right or left if necessary.
- Can I set up my own mini-league with my friends?
If you are a Supporter, you can create your own group and invite any other turfers to join it, to set up a leaderboard with your friends. To do this, swipe left on the league page in the app until you see “New”, then follow the instructions. You cannot change the group name once you have set it up.
- How do I get the end of round email?
At the end of each round, an email is sent out to players summarising the results, and it includes Turf news. It is sent to the email address that you gave when you set up your username. To check this, log in to the website, then click the cogwheel at top right, which displays your settings. The details include your email address, and there's a box for opting out of emails if you wish. If you aren’t receiving the emails, check that you haven't opted out by mistake.
- Why do some people have a lightning bolt on their avatar?
Those people are Turf Supporters – they have paid a modest donation to support development of the game and running the Turf servers.
- What do you get if you are a Supporter?
In the app, Supporters can view their personal statistics, can see the full league-based leaderboards, and can also set up their own leaderboard and invite other turfers to join it. If you’re a Supporter, there are various options to customise your turfman in the app – a lightning bolt on your front, santa hat (in December), and other accessories associated with some of the medals. Supporters can make up to 21 zone suggestions per round. And on the website map, Supporters have an option to highlight their own unique zones (i.e. any zones they have previously taken).
- How do I become a Supporter?
In the app, click on the lightning bolt symbol in the menu (4 dots at lower right). You can buy one or more Supporter months – each month is 30 days. For Anroid users, one month costs £3.09, 3 months costs £8.49 and 12 months costs £30.99. The Supporter option (lightning bolt symbol) shows how many days you have left. You can also donate Supporter days to other turfers.
- What is Warded?
A third-party website that provides various interesting and useful statistics from Turf. You can access it from the Info page of the Turf website, or from here.
- How can I find out all the different zones I’ve ever taken?
Log in to the website, and go to Warded. Click on your username at the top of the screen, where it says [Logged in as xxxx], and it will display various details plus links to further options, one of which is Map of my unique zones. Clicking on this link displays the map. The zones you have visited (takes, assists and revisits all count) are shown as coloured blobs, which are colour-coded to indicate how many times you have taken them. If you zoom in, you can see the number of visits for each zone. This map defaults to your home region – a dropdown list allows you to select another region you have visited, or Global, which displays all regions.
- How can I see the zones currently held by another player?
In the app, tap the player (or their name, when looking at a zone they’ve taken). This displays a list of the zones they currently hold. Then tap the pentagon icon at the foot of the screen on the left. This displays a map, showing their current zones highlighted with a white circle.
On the website map, if you click on a player, it displays their statistics and highlights the zones they're currently holding.
- What should I do if a zone is inaccessible?
Sometimes a zone becomes inaccessible due to building work, or perhaps a new zone has been placed in a private garden or another unsuitable place. In this case, raise an issue – this is easier on a PC than on a phone. First, log in to the Turf website. Click the link to issues.turfgame.com on the Home page (on a phone, switch to "desktop view" first). You’ll need to describe the problem, ideally including a screenshot to illustrate it, with suggested solution. A zone can be moved, but not deleted.
- Can I see the routes others have used for Eager medals?
The Eager medals are awarded for taking 10 zones within a time limit. For 20 minutes or less, the time taken and route are listed in Warded - select Beaver history. There’s a box allowing you to select the region you’re interested in (Scotland is near the bottom of the dropdown list).
- Should I change any of the settings in the app?
To see the settings in the Turf app, click on the menu (4 dots, lower right), then the cog wheel (just above the 4 dots). This displays the Turf Settings menu. The settings appear under different headings, depending on whether you have Android or iOS.
Two important settings are:
- Always enable GPS on startup - If this is set to ON, your turfman will appear on the map as soon as you start up the app. So anyone looking at the map can see you. You might prefer not to be visible (e.g. if you turn the app on at home) - if so, change it to OFF. This is especially important for kids turfing. With this setting OFF, the small turfman icon at bottom left of the screen is white when you start up the app; touch this icon to turn on the GPS, and it then turns yellow. You can turn the GPS off again at any time by pressing and holding the icon, and then touch it again when you want to turn the GPS back on. Your turfman is only visible when the GPS is on.
- Enable Background Turfing / Turf Background Service - If this is set to ON, the app continues to run in the background, even when your phone has gone dormant. With Android, ON is the default; with iOS, OFF is the default. With this setting ON, your turfman stays visible on the map all the time, and you can turf without taking your phone out of your pocket. When turfers can see one another, it's more fun - they can avoid unnecessary blocking, and can approach one another to carry out Assists, so it’s quite sociable. It is considered bad form to turf without your turfman being visible all the time, because no-one else can see where you are. This is known as ghosting. As encouragement, you get a 5-second reduction in your takeover time for leaving the GPS on.
Some mobile phones turn off GPS when the screen is turned off – if you want to avoid this, you need to change the phone settings, as well as the setting in the Turf app.
Also, the battery saver function on many phones is triggered at a certain battery level. When this happens, the GPS will repeatedly turn itself off after a few minutes. It is worth checking your battery saver setting and changing the threshold to a lower value if it is too high.
Note that if Enable Background Turfing is ON, you need to remember to turn the app off when you have finished turfing. If Enable Background Turfing is OFF, the app will not keep running once the phone locks. Again this is useful if kids are turfing – the app cannot be left on by accident.
LAST UPDATED: 18 August 2023
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