Hand to Hand

From Ludocity
Hand to Hand
Designer: Kevan Davis
Year: 2008
Players: 10-30.
Stuff required: One or more decks of playing cards with stickers, or printed index cards.
Crew required: One.
Preparation: An hour or so to customise and print the cards.
Time required: Half an hour or more.
Place required: Any large, explorable area with places to hide.
Activities: Chasing, hiding, strategy.
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?)

Every player is dealt a hand of five rock-paper-scissor cards, each with its own ability to defeat others, or to change the rules of the game. Hunt down other players, lay traps and distractions, gang up or split up, run or hide, and do everything you can to build up your hand.

Setup instructions

Prepare a deck of cards. Each card has some effect text on it, so it's worth printing them out - you'll can either print straight onto cardboard, or onto address labels which you can then stick onto blank cards (or playing cards).

Each card is either a Rock, Paper or Scissor, and has a title and a unique effect if the player wins a duel with it (a general design rule was that Scissors cards had "steal an extra card from your opponent" effects, Rocks had restrictions for when they could be played, and Paper cards had weird effects). The actual cards are available in the handouts section, but to give some examples:

  • Rock: Brick - You can only play this card if you were in contact with a wall when the challenge was made.
  • Paper: Teleport - Name a landmark within half a mile. You must both walk there, and can't issue further duel challenges until you're there.
  • Scissors: Pickpocket - Look at your opponent's hand and steal a card of your choice from it.
  • Rock: Adaptive Shield - You can only play this card against a player you've already duelled against.
  • Paper: Seeker - Your opponent must close their eyes and count to a hundred, before continuing with the game.
  • Scissors: Stun - Steal a random card from your opponent. They cannot challenge you to a duel for two minutes.

The game at Hide and Seek 2008 used 168 cards. There were three or four copies of a lot of the cards, and only one or two of the weirder and more complicated ones.

You'll have to customise the cards to fit your environment - several of the cards from the Hide and Seek game made reference to the area around the Southbank Centre (or required players to stand on grass or mud, or stand under a roof). You'll also need to decide on a "safe zone" around the starting area - this is an area in which players can't challenge one another, to avoid any unfair ambushes at the end of the game.

Player instructions

Each player starts with a hand of cards, and will spread out around the playing area. You'll need to find one another and fight duels to win more cards. Whoever has the most cards at the end is the winner.

You must keep your cards visible in your hand at all times, so that other players can spot you. You can stray as far as you like, but the further you go, the harder it'll be to find opponents.


If you see another player, you can approach them and challenge them to a duel by holding a card out, face down, and saying "Challenge!". (If they make a run for it, you must chase them down and tag them; once they're tagged, they have to stop and fight the duel.)

In a duel, the challenger will have already chosen a card from their hand, and will be holding it out face down. The victim must choose a card to play in response, and both players reveal the cards that they selected. The duel is resolved as per standard rock-paper-scissors - if one card beats the other, then the winner gets to both:-

  • Apply the specific effect written on their card.
  • Optionally swap their winning card for the opponent's losing card.

(If it was a tie, nothing happens and both players keep their cards.)

If a player runs out of cards, they can try to wheedle a card or two from one of the more successful players, to get back into the game.

You can't start a duel inside the safe zone. And you can't challenge the same player to a duel twice in a row; you must challenge someone else first and then come back. If your opponent challenges you straight back, though, you can challenge them straight back after that.

An example duel

Alice plays Mudlark (a rock card that reads “Play only if you're carrying a twig or stone.”) and Bob plays Freeze (a paper card that says “Your opponent must stand absolutely still for the next sixty seconds.”). Paper beats rock, so Bob's card takes effect, and Alice has to stand still for sixty seconds. Alice's card was beaten, and has no effect.

Bob thinks the Mudlark card would be useful, so decides to swap it for Freeze, before walking victoriously away, leaving Alice frozen.


At the end of the allotted game time, you must return to where the game started. Whoever has the most cards in their hand at the end of the game is the winner.


Handout thumbnail for Hand to hand handouts.zip.

Download Hand to hand handouts.zip
A zip archive of rules and cards in OpenOffice .odt format, to be edited and printed.

It's up to you how you design your own cards; we picked three distinct fonts for rock, paper and scissors, and printed the titles in those fonts.

Play history

Hand to Hand ran at Hide and Seek 2008, and again (with the South Bank specific cards taken out) at Sandpit #7 and Sandpit #8.