Stride Is an Addictive Runner Game, Thrilling Territory

I run in the morning, usually doing the same boring loop around the neighborhood every time. But today I found myself in a nearby park, carefully studying the map and coming up with the best way to grab as many tiles as possible for my team. I played a game called Stride and I noticed that it was addictive.

The app is free (for basic functions) on iOS and Android , and the mechanics of the game are as follows: the world is divided into hexagonal tiles, and wherever you run (or walk, or travel in a wheelchair), you can claim a tile. If your route takes you on a closed loop, you will also get tiles in the center of that loop. Each tile “belongs” to the one who has visited it the most.

If you enjoy fighting for the right to show off your KOM (king of the hill) on Strava, you can rate Stride for its distinct flavor of competition. The difference is that Stride tiles are won by number of visits, not speed – you might be the slowest runner, but if you walk the same park trail every day, it might be yours.

What is it like to play Stride

The game is new, at least for my area. When I open the map, I see that most of the hexagonal tiles are unclaimed, with the exception of clusters here and there: the district park, a few random neighborhoods. Everyone is on the red team, like me (you can change the team anytime, but the app said the red team needs members, so I’m here).

My first thought was to take the app for a regular morning run, but it starts and ends at my place. Unlike Strava, which allows you to log public or private activities, Stride is a public card. So I went to the park instead.

One of my favorite jogging spots in the park turned out to be unclaimed, so I headed there. You see the tiles that you are applying for when you run, so instead of just driving on autopilot and traveling in a normal circle, I paid attention to when I was at the edge of the tile. At times, I might require an extra hex by taking a side road or taking a longer path instead of a short path. After a two-mile walk, I became the proud owner of 10 previously unclaimed tiles.

Not satisfied, I went back to the car and aimed at a large piece of tile belonging to a teammate named Mangler. I parked in an unclaimed area and ran to the tiles that belonged to him. I took a few of them, then pulled over to the side of the road and finished my run to see the results. I caught five Mangler tiles, and I also grabbed five of my own. The stolen tiles now had a two-person leaderboard: Mangler and I visited them every time, but I was the winner as I did it very recently. (Mangler probably got notice of this, so we’ll see if they come out soon to pick them up.)

Determined to defend my new territory, I restarted the application. Earlier, I noticed that on the way back, I only got one visit per tile, even if I crossed it twice. So I started a fresh run before getting back to my car and logged two visits to some of the tiles as a result. The more visits, the more reliable my rating is.

And in the end, even if Mangler regains his territory, at least I know I helped my team by capturing additional tiles for us.

Technical aspects of playing Stride

If you own a Garmin device, you’re in luck: the Stride app can import the trails you track with Garmin. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t sync with any other apps or devices (like the Apple Watch), so when I went out for a run I had to turn on the Stride app and let it track me.

It was difficult to understand the map at first – I’m on the red team, but all the colored tiles were blue or green. It turns out there is one map for teams (in which the red team territory is red) and another for individuals (in which my tiles are green and all others are blue).

You can play the game without purchasing a subscription, but detailed leaderboards and team statistics are only available to members (becoming one will cost you $ 8.99 per month or $ 44.99 per year). If the game becomes popular in your area, coordinating with your teammates to capture territory can be a fun way to plan your runs and keep in touch with fellow runners.

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