Soho Stag Hunt

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Soho Stag Hunt
Designer: Minkette, Alex Fleetwood, Holly Gramazio, Tassos Stevens
Year: unknown
Players: 10 to 30
Stuff required: At least five balloons per player, half red, half white; one set of wearable antlers or a hat with loops of ribbon (a viking helmet might also be suitable). The hat must be firmly attached.
Crew required: Three
Preparation: Some.
Time required: One hour.
Place required: Large outdoors area with no low bridges.
Activities: Chasing, running, finding, sneaking, teamwork.
This is a playable game - it's finished, tested and ready to play.
This game is made available under an Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons licence. (What does this mean?)

Two teams of players chase a stag through city streets or a large park, desperately trying to tie dozens of helium balloons to its antlers.


Choose a large area with clear boundaries. A big park or a square mile of city streets with explicitly defined boundaries is suitable. There should be a base camp within the area, ideally with a roof, at which the helium balloons can be safely kept; and a finishing point, some distance from the base camp.

In addition to 10-30 players you will need one Stag, to walk around the playing area wearing the hat; one Stag Warden to guide and assist the Stag; and one Balloon Warden to guard the balloons.

Instructions for the Stag

Set off ten minutes before the scheduled start of the game, and head away from the base camp. Throughout the game you'll need to walk around the playing area, being careful to stay within the boundaries, while the players chase you and try to tie balloons to your antlers. For a harder game, you can sneak and try to stick to alleyways; for an easier game, or if nobody's found you in the first fifteen minutes, you can walk across more open spaces and down more roads. The less silly your hat, the harder it will be for players to find you, and the more important it is for you to give them a decent chance of doing so.

When players find you they will try to stop you so that they can tie their balloons to your antlers. You only need to stop and let them do this if they show you three balloons at a time, in a triangle configuration. Bear in mind that each player should only be carrying one balloon, so you don't need to stop for, say, a single player who's somehow managed to get three balloons: just three players with one balloon each.

If the players are taking more than about thirty seconds to get their balloons attached, or you sense that they're dawdling deliberately to allow other team members to catch up, feel free to stand up and move on.

During the game, you should walk at a steady pace, not too fast, and try to cover as much as possible of the playing area, making sure you visit each quadrant. If you wish, you can switch to a faster jogging pace, if you feel at any point that a loud noise or a large cluster of balloons has "spooked" you (this can help break things up, if you find yourself surrounded by a large number of players all jostling to offer their balloons). Towards the end of the game you will head to the predecided finishing point.

You should not speak during the game.

Instructions for the Stag Warden

Your job is to keep pace with the Stag, and to offer advice and commentary to the players as they offer their balloons. Play it by ear; sometimes you'll need to help the Stag out when it's judging the balloons, sometimes you'll need to help the players out by offering an explanation of why the Stag might be spurning them. You should also guard the attached balloons to prevent unscrupulous players from stealing or popping them.

If the Stag is moving at more than a walking pace, and if you're using a full-on head mask for its costume, keep an eye out for any kerbs or banana skins that might not be clearly visible through the eye slits.

Instructions for the Balloon Warden

Guard the base camp balloons. Players will return to collect fresh balloons when they've surrendered their own to the Stag. Make sure each player has no more than one balloon at a time.

Instructions for Players

A stag has been let loose! As a member of the Red/White team, you need to find the stag and adorn it with as many Red/White balloons as you can, before the dastardly White/Red team beats you to it.

Starting off at base camp, take one balloon each. You want to find the stag, stop it, and tie this balloon to his antlers; but the stag will only stop if you can show it three balloons at once. This means that you will need to be with two other players to successfully tie your balloon to the stag, and although you're free to run around on your own while you're trying to find it it's generally a better idea to stick in groups of three.

Once you've found the stag, stand in front of it with two other players and show it your balloons, holding them close to each other in a triangular configuration. The stag will stop, and possibly bend over to help you in your task; tie your balloons to its antlers as quickly as you can. You must not untie or pop any other balloons.

To get another balloon you will have to return to base camp.

Note: Small children tend to look sadly at players' balloons while their parents say "no, those aren't for you". If you like, provide three colours of balloons, and allow players to carry a balloon in the spare colour in addition to their team balloon, so that they can give the spare to a small child.

Possible variants

  • Run three or four teams instead of two.
  • Don't require three balloons at once to stop the stag.
  • Make one team attach balloons, and the other try to get photos of the stag, which must be returned to base camp and logged three at a time. Each photograph, like each balloon, is worth a point.

Player videos

Alex explains the rules at Hide and Seek 2008.
Team Purple attach a balloon.

Flickr gallery

<flickr size="t">ludocity%3Agame%3Dsohostaghunt</flickr>

(These are the ten most recent Flickr photos of Soho Stag Hunt. To add your own, just add the "ludocity:game=sohostaghunt" tag to your Flickr photos.)


Play history

The Soho Stag Hunt was created as part of the finale to The Soho Project ARG, and was replayed with some modifications at Hide and Seek 2008.

The game was run in Oakland in July 2010 (photos), and featured at BARG's "Taste the Game" in August. Pittsburgh's Steel City Games featured the Black Stag variant in August 2010.