Killer Queen started as a field game we designed for the Come Out & Play festival in NYC. We still occasionally run it at festivals, and we encourage you to as well! Here the rules.
By Joshua DeBonis and Nikita Mikros
A game for about 12 players of all ages. Approximately 2-3 minutes per game
- 6 blue pinnies or face paint
- 6 gold pinnies or face paint
- 10 foam or cardboard swords
- 6 crowns
- 2 plastic or cardboard shields
- 16 plastic buckets
- 36 fun balls
Killer Queen is a team-based field game akin to Capture the Flag. It’s usually played outside, but it can work in a large open indoor space too. Be prepared for lots of running, strategizing, and swashbuckling!
This game is intended to be played many times over the course of the day. Because it takes a relatively long amount of time to explain a game, we recommend that you explain the rules to a group, play a practice game, and then play a best-2-out-of-3 match.
Since there’s no regulation Killer Queen court, it’s important to adjust the game on the fly to accommodate different spaces, players, and environments. When we’re running it, we will often play a match or two, then think about what would have made it better for that setting, and then adjust things for the next match. Feel free to improvise and experiment!
Fill 6 buckets each with 6 balls and place them evenly throughout the field, focused around the center. In a small field, it may be better to place them all along the center line. Each team puts 5 empty buckets in a line. Behind that line is considered to be that team’s endzone. Leave 4 swords at each endzone.
Players form two teams: blue vs gold. Mark your team with pinnies or face paint. Each team starts in their endzone. The eldest female on each team is dubbed the “queen” and given a crown, sword, and shield. (Alternately, you can choose a queen by spinning a sword and letting it drop; Whoever it points at is the queen.) Leave the other two crowns in your endzone. The other players are all workers.
When playing at festivals or settings with large numbers of players coming in and out of the game, it’s often very helpful to have one or two referees that help with the rules during the game. We recommend you place one referee in each endzone.
There are three ways to win. The gambe ends immediately when a victory condition is met.
- Military – kill the other team’s queen 3 times
- Economic – collect 15 balls (3 in each bucket at your endzone)
- Bomb – carry the bomb to the opposing team’s endzone
Workers may pick up one ball at a time. They can drop it at any time, but cannot throw it. Soldiers and Queens cannot pick up balls. Once a ball is put into a bucket, it cannot be removed.
You can kill any player by tagging them with a sword on any part of their body (not including swords or shields). If you are killed, you must drop any food or sword you are carrying. Hold your arms up in the air to show that you are killed. You are out of the game until you enter your endzone.
If the queen is tagged by a sword, she keeps her sword and shield, but gives her crown to her killer. Her killer must immediately bring that crown to a ref. The queen must then immediately return to her endzone to retrieve another crown. The third time a queen is hit, she is dead and the other team wins.
Workers may become a soldier by holding a ball in one hand and picking up a sword with the other. Once they are a soldier, they stay a soldier until they are killed. Soldiers may not pick up balls or move the bomb.
There is a neutral volunteer that starts in the center of the field who is “The Bomb”. Workers can hold onto one the bomb’s hands, or onto their team’s players who are linked to the bomb. The bomb moves in the direction that has the most players. As soon as the bomb reaches a team’s endzone, the other team wins.
16 Player Variant
Alternatively the game can be played with 8 players on each side. In this case an economic victory is won with 18 balls (6 buckets) instead of 15. Add another sword to each endzone when starting the game.
Since the introduction of the snail into the arcade game, we’ve started experimenting with making the field game work similarly. To do this, replace the bomb with a volunteer who will be the snail. Place a target matching each teams color on opposite sides of the center line, just out of bounds. The snail moves just like the bomb, but instead of going toward the other team’s endzone, it moves left and right toward the targets. If you get the snail to your side’s target, you win a snail victory. It’s important that the volunteer walks very slowly in order to get the balance correct with this.
No-volunteer Bomb Variant
Here’s a variant we have yet to try but is an interesting way to play with the game without a volunteer for the bomb. Get as large and unwieldy of a ball as you can–probably a inflatable yoga or beach ball. It starts in the very center of the field. Any worker may carry the ball. While you’re carrying it, any player, including workers, can tag you to kill you. If you get the bomb into the other team’s endzone, you win a bomb victory.