This post was first published on my Tumblr on May 15, 2013, and is now updated with my experiences since then.
On the second of our recent chalet, only eight people remained and we decided to play Murderer (the Winking one). However, we had some problems with winking, so Lisa suggested a new way: everyone holds hands a people are killed by squeezing. With everyone chipping in ideas, the game slowly developed into what we now call Witch Hunt.
After doing some research, I found this: Squeeze Murder. This was the exact game we had eventually come to play, although we called it Witch Hunt, because I was very dramatic with my narration. I had likened it to the period of time when witch burnings were commonplace quite well, so we ended up with Witch Hunt as the name.
Since I found the exact game, this post will be more reflective of the flavour of the game as well as strategies and lessons we had learnt, rather than a rundown of the game. I’m going to hit the flavour first, because that was one of the key elements that made it fun for me. I loved the way everything fit so nicely.
The story starts with a little town doing everyday things. Suddenly, during the night, one person dies, then another, and it spooks the whole town. During the next day, everyone gathers for a meeting and decides that the murders were done by a witch. Since they don’t know who the witch is, they take a vote. Everyone is too scared to talk to one another, since whoever they talk to could be the witch and nobody wants to be accused of conspiring with a witch. The most they can do is execute the accused person and go to sleep, hoping that the murders will stop. The squeezes that the murderer/witch issues represent daily interactions with the town locals and the locals having nightmares/premonitions of someone dying.
I felt this game required a lot more thought and effort as compared to Wink Murderer, so I really liked it. This helped me practice my logical thinking and deductive reasoning. Between the intense concentration and my spooky narratives, emotions ran high and tension increased with each death.
It was very surprising to me how this game had evolved from a semi-mindless stealth game to a full blown intellectual and political game. I realized that there was some margin of error, especially when someone miscounts the number of squeezes. However, I eventually thought of a strategy to take advantage of this. Let’s say there are eight people. As the murderer, to kill someone on my right, I could squeeze one, nine or 17 times. Let’s say I chose nine times. This means that the squeeze will go around once and everyone will know who is supposed to die. However, as it passes me (the murderer), I could change the number of squeezes by adding one squeeze and pretending to look confused. Now the person next to my target will die instead. Everyone will think that my target was actually the murderer who made a mistake in counting and tried to cover it up by killing the next person.
Obviously, this is a little risky, as everyone will have some information, so I decided it should only be used when I kill for a second time. Remember that the town votes who to accuse as a witch and burn after every two murders.
Once I realized that this was a game of information, I knew that knowledge was power. If someone dies and you didn’t receive any squeezes, you had no idea how to deduce the killer. Also, lack of information made it scarier and more dramatic. My new strategy was to send two squeezes, say, to the right. Then kill the person on my right. This way, nobody alive has any information and voting is totally based on luck.
We had one extra rule that said that if two or more people were tied for votes, another round of voting would ensue. However, if by two rounds a conclusion is not reached, nothing happens. This was representative of available time during the day. There wouldn’t be any time to have a third voting session.
One thing we could have done was to switch off the lights instead of putting our hands under the blankets. It would have totally eliminated being able to see arm muscles flex, as well as set the ambience better. Imagine pitch black darkness and suddenly someone announces, “Okay I’m dead.” How scary would that be?
One aspect of the game which I found awesome was what we had dubbed the Ghost Council. The Ghost Council was made up of people who had died during the round and they could still play the game by figuring out who had killed them. Of course, they can’t say anything to the people who are still alive, but they can communicate within themselves. Usually the narrator is a member of the Ghost Council, since this method allows everyone to play the game. Though they can’t directly affect the game anymore, the Ghost Council can play a side game of taking bets to see if they guessed the murderer correctly. If we turned off the lights, the Ghost Council would not be able to see the squeezes, but they would be privy to the individual results of each voting session, thus their source of information changes.
Overall, I think this game was extremely fun and thrilling. There were politics involved, usage of logical and critical thinking, as well as heart racing moments. It requires little to no setup, just a pack of cards or pieces of paper to indicate the roles, and the game is relatively simple to explain.
Also, getting to hold hands with pretty girls is a definite plus. XD