Black Stag

From Ludocity
Black Stag
Designer: Tim Sweetster
Year: 2010
Players: 9+
Stuff required: One black and one white mask for each Stag. A tremendous amount of balloons, in three colors.
Crew required: Three.
Preparation: An hour.
Time required: One or two hours
Place required: An urban environment.
Activities: Running, chasing, tagging, hiding, 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?)

The black stag is roaming deep within the forest. With your team, hunt the stag down and capture him. Balloons are tied to the stag to signify your victory. Beware, though, for the dying stag requires nature's vengeance, and his spirit emerges as the white stag, swearing retribution on the players who slayed him.

History and Influences

This is a variation on the Soho Stag Hunt that includes rules for chasing, tagging, and a second stag. It was compiled by Timothy Sweetser in July 2010, based on ideas and feedback from Obscure Games Pittsburgh members.


  • Helium balloons, with as many balloon colors as there are teams
  • Four stag masks, two black and two white
  • Three walkie-talkies

Playing Space

10-12 square blocks, for three five-player teams. Adjusted based on team number and size, and for game speed. The blocks should include a variety of terrain and blind spots.

Number of Players

  • Three 5-7 player teams.
  • Two stags

Gameplay and Rules

Start of Game

The players are split up into teams and given their respective team's balloons.

At least ten minutes before the start of the game, the black stag and white stag head off from the base camp in opposite directions.


  • Each player is given a balloon of their team's color
  • Hunting groups of three players are formed
  • Fast players should be used to scout for and chase down the stag
  • Slower players can help flush it out and capture it
  • If a player loses their balloon, either by scoring a point or getting it popped, they must return to base camp for a new one

The Black Stag

The black stag wears the black mask and is the focus of the hunt.

  • Walks around outdoors on the playing field
  • Allowed to bolt if he sees a balloon, but cannot cross any streets while trying to evade capture
  • Resumes walking around the field if he loses his pursuers

Halting the Stag

  • One tag to halt the stag
  • Stag starts count to 20
Capturing the Stag

Once the stag has been halted, teams can attempt to capture him. The first team to make the necessary number of tags wins the point.

  • For 4-6 person teams, 2 tags total
  • For 7+ person teams, 3 tags total
  • After capture, the point is scored by tying a balloon around the stag's arm
Failed Capture Attempts

Capture attempts fail under the following conditions:

  • If no team makes the necessary capture tags in the allotted time
  • If the stag can't determine the tag order
After Capture Attempt
  • Captured black stag switches roles with current white stag

The White Stag

  • Can run around the playing field
  • Avoids sight of the black stag
  • Tags players to halt them and pop their balloon
    • Can pop any number of balloons, of any team color, at any time

Gameplay Adjustments

Pacing should be roughly one capture every 7-10 minutes. The game runner can make the following real-time adjustments based on pacing and feedback:

  • Adjust the "halted" count and the number of tags required to score
  • Both stags to switch to black stag (hunting season)
  • Both stags to switch to white stag

End of Game

After 1 1/2 hours of play time, the teams and stags return to camp. The team with the most points wins.