City of Play: Kill Him and You Will Be Famous

I ended up playing quite a few games at City of Play but the one that stuck with me was a field game called Kill Him and You Will Be Famous.

The Rules

The rules are fairly simple: at the start of the game, an Honorable Master is chosen. The Honorable Master, in the style of many kung-fu movies, is surrounded by the other players and must defend him or herself against their attacks. The object of the game is to kill the Honorable Master.


  • a large open space
  • several dozen small, throwable foam balls
  • two larger foam balls
  • a backpack or container with open top
  • note cards numbered from 1 to n where n is the number of players

First things first: Everyone picks a note card. The number on their note card denotes the order in which they get to attack the Honorable Master. Next, everyone picks up two of the small foam balls, or Energy Orbs. The rest of the balls are strewn around the playing area.

Next, an Honorable Master must be chosen. At this point the person explaining the game will traditionally ask the assembled players if they know the origin of the name of the game (it’s a line from Naussica and the Valley of the Wind). The first person to guess gets to be the Honorable Master; if no person can guess, the Honorable Master is chosen by the game master.

The Honorable Master is then equipped with two larger, hand-sized foam balls and an open container strapped to his back. The other players form a circle and the Honorable Master stands in the center. The Honorable Master states his name to which the other players yell “Prepare to die, Master <name>!”, signaling the beginning of the game.

The game master will now begin calling out the numbers assigned to the players starting at the beginning. When a ninja’s number is called, she will step into the ring and have 15 seconds to defeat the Honorable Master. The game master will count down from 15 and announce when her time is up. If she can get one of her foam balls into the container on the Honorable Master’s back without it bouncing out, she has killed the Honorable Master and thus becomes ┬áthe new Honorable Master. As long as she has a ball in each hand, she is invulnerable and cannot be killed by the Honorable Master. If she throws one or both of her balls, however, she can be tagged by the Honorable Master. The Honorable Master may only tag with his foam balls; he cannot throw them.

If the ninja is tagged by the Honorable Master and she does not have a ball in each hand, she is dead. Additionally, if the ninja does not have a ball in her hand, she cannot use that hand to defend herself against the Honorable Master; the only thing she can do with that hand is pick up another ball from the ground. The ninja is also dead if she flees outside the circle before her 15 seconds are up; her fellow ninjas will kill her for cowardice. At the end of her 15 seconds, if the ninja has failed to kill the Honorable Master she must drop both of her Energy Orbs and flee to the safety of the circle of ninjas within 3 seconds or she is dead.

The game continues until all ninjas are dead or the Honorable Master has been killed. The game restarts with either of these events.

My Experience

I had a ton of fun with this game; it was fairly simple but a lot of fun. It succeeded in keeping people engaged even when they weren’t actively participating as the current Honorable Master or ninja; watching the bouts was fun. The matches were both long enough to give the ninja a fighting chance and short enough to keep the game going and keep everyone engaged.

I got to be the Honorable Master three times–once when I guessed the origin of the name, once from skill, and once from trickery. Another ninja from across the circle pretended to be getting ready to jump in on my turn and I was able to sneak up behind the Honorable Master without him seeing and drop my Energy Orb in his backpack. I found it to be a lot of fun and also quickly exhausting; each time I had to fight against a fresh ninja I got more out of breath.

Since this game has such a solid base, it presents a great opportunity to expand upon it and add new game modes. For example, a friend who was playing with me noted that the game is more difficult for shorter people. A fun potential augmentation to the game might be that if any ninja is nose-height or shorter than the Honorable Master, she may choose a Ninja Companion. When either ninja’s number is called, they both get to attack the Honorable Master at once. The addition of different kinds of orbs, tag-team Honorable Masters, or differently terrained play environments could all make the game more interesting in later rounds.

Anyway, this game was great. I highly recommend it and would play it again.

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