Manhunt (urban game)

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Manhunt refers to a number of variations on the game of tag. The goal is to avoid being tagged by anyone designated as "it" or (for those already "it") to tag anyone who has not been tagged. It is played in the dark.[1][2][3][4] Some variations include teams and point scoring. Many variants exist, such as playing in teams you may use flashlights or light sources of any kind.

One vs many games[edit]

These games pit one player, with a unique goal, against all other players, who share a common goal. Players may be required to indicate their participation with a marker such as a bandana. Game play begins after one player has been designated (either as Manhunter or Hunter, see below) and given time to run and hide. Games are usually played with time limits and boundaries.

Regressive variant[edit]

This variation is called regressive due to the potentially exponential increase of tagged players[clarification needed]. One person—the "Manhunter"—is chosen to be "it", and everyone else—"Fugitives"—runs away and hides. When a Fugitive is tagged, he or she becomes an additional Manhunter, or if the Fugitive gets tagged a teammate who is untagged may tag them back in. The goal is to be caught last, to avoid being tagged until everyone else gives up, or optionally to stay untagged until a predetermined end time.

This is often played at night. Anybody who is "it" is usually permitted to use additional tools that aid him/her in their task to find the Fugitives. Popular tools are radio communication systems, flashlights, etc.

Base Variant[edit]

(This is basically "cops and robbers", but at night.) In this variant, two team captains are designated. This is almost always played at night. They take turns picking people one by one until the teams are chosen. If the teams are even, someone will step forward and decide if their team wants to hide first, but if there is an odd number of people playing, the team with one less person will choose to "hide or find."

Before the game starts, a base and a jail are both designated. (Ex. Trees, swing sets, slides, patches of grass/pavement,etc.) Boundaries are usually set in neighborhoods to make sure players don't go too far. If a player intentionally goes out of bounds, consequences will be decided; such as being "out". The cops/seekers count to a certain number, a 100 or so, while the robbers/hiders run and hide. The goal of the robbers is to get to the base without getting tagged. If a cop tags a robber they are out and have to go to jail. A robber can only be tagged out of jail if another robber tags them out. If all the robbers get to base, their team completely wins the round. But, for example, if there are 4 robbers on base and 1 in jail, the team captain or the entire team will decide if they want to end the round or try to tag the other robber out of jail, but risk getting out too. If they decide that they want to end the round there, the cops and robbers will switch positions and the game will continue. Points can be awarded for each robber that makes it to the base, or manhunt can just be played for fun.

Reverse variant[edit]

In this variant, one man – the Hunted – hides, and everyone else – the Hunters – tries to find him. Hunters may set up squads to search certain areas, try to scare the hunted into giving up, and arrange traps before the game starts. If there are multiple hunted and one is captured, the hunters may try to interrogate him.

In addition to running and hiding, hunted players may attempt to distract or draw off the attention of hunters, wear camouflage, or pretend to be on the hunting team. To win, the hunters must corner the hunted who then surrenders. If the hunted is surrounded and has no way to escape without fighting, he is caught.

Homefree variant[edit]

This game is played with one hunter, who must guard a designated "homefree" section of the playing field. The hiders must get past the Hunter and tag the homefree spot before they are tagged by the hunter. Anyone who is tagged becomes another hunter. The hiders usually team up and surround the hunter to allow many to reach homefree.

Spy variant (Splinter Cell)[edit]

This game is played with one hider (spy) and many hunters (guards). It is best done in a dark building. The guards are assigned areas/hallways/rooms to guard, with an object hidden in a room decided upon by the guards. The goal of the spy is to get in and out with this object. Guards can try to catch the spy even if he is outside but hasn't yet reached his base. If a lone guard sees the spy, they have to tag him. If two guards see the spy, they have to shine a flashlight on him, and if three guards see a spy, he is captured. The spy can take out guards by approaching them from behind and "choking" them. The choking is merely tapping them on the back. The guards are then out of play for five minutes (must sit on the floor). If they are found, they can be revived, but they cannot make any noise. The game ends when the spy is caught or the spy has retrieved the desired object.

Team games[edit]

All team variations involve one team or group tasked with hiding or running and one tasked with tagging or capturing the former. Team games may involve keeping scores, though the rules governing how points are scored may vary. Game play begins after players have been divided into teams and given time to hide or begin running. Team games usually involve team bases.

Graveyard widespread variant[edit]

There are two teams in this variant. The hunted split up and find each other at a designated spot. The hunter will team up with someone who is caught. In some rare occasions in the game the hunter will try to help the hunted by leading them to a hiding place or tricking them into a group of hunters who will catch the hunted. This is usually best played in bushes, trees, lots of cover, in the dark, a graveyard, or around urban areas like a parking lot or close to an alleyway. The game ends when all hunted are caught or the hunters give up looking for them.

Team tag variant[edit]

There are two teams that alternate between hiding and seeking. One team hides and has about one to two minutes to hide in the proximity of the base. Once the hiding time is up, the seekers try to tag all of the hiders they can without letting any return to the base. Each hider that successfully gets to the base without being tagged scores one point. Once a hider is tagged, they are out of the round and must return to the base without scoring a point. No players in the base can assist any other players in hiding. Players can hide in groups or individually. The round is played until all hiders return to the base safe or not. The team with the most safe players at the end of the session wins.

Capture/Jailbreak variant[edit]


This variant consists of two teams: "hiders" and "seekers". The object of the game for hiders is to remain uncaught for the duration of the round. The primary goal of the seekers is to tag (capture) each of the members of the hiders' team before the round is over.


Prior to starting, participants must be split into two teams. One team will be hiding, and the other will be seeking. The seeking team is generally allowed tools, such as two-way radios or flashlights, to help them in their task. The game is usually played at night or in the dark and in locations with a variety of hiding places, such as inside a school building or in the woods. A time limit, boundaries, and any disputed rule variations should be agreed upon by both teams before round begins.


Getting caught[edit]

A hider is "caught" when he or she is tagged by any member of the seeking team. Once caught, the hider must accompany a seeker (usually, but not necessarily, the one who caught him or her) to the seeking team's base ("jail") and may not rejoin the game until they are freed by a teammate or until a new round is begun. Captured players cannot try to free themselves when caught, while en route to the "jail", or while in "jail". Generally, one or more members of the seeking team may remain in or around the "jail" to make it more difficult for hiders to be freed.

Getting freed[edit]

There are two variations on how hiders who have been caught by a seeker can be freed, both of which require a hider who has not been caught to attempt to enter and leave the seekers' base ("jail") without being caught. One variation requires one hiding team member, who is not currently caught, to enter the jail and while touching a predetermined object, shout "Manhunt" (generally, seekers who are tasked with supervising the caught hiders may not "guard" said object or stand too close to it until a hider attempts to reach it). Another variation requires the hiding team member to tag those who have been caught. Once tagged, those hiders are free.

End game and win conditions[edit]

A round ends when all members of the hiding team are concurrently captured by the seeking team or when the predetermined time limit is reached.

In some variations, the following win conditions apply. Other variations rely on scoring across multiple rounds (see below).

  • The seeking team wins if and only if all players on the hiding team are concurrently captured within the designated time period.
  • The hiding team wins if and only if at least one member of the hiding team is not captured when the round finishes.

When playing for points, scoring is computed as follows: Any players not found or caught within the time limit will be counted for points. The more people not found or caught, the more points awarded. Points are accumulated over a number of pre-arranged rounds. Anyone caught or spotted outside of the boundaries is automatically out and must stay at the "jail", either until the next round or for an amount of time determined prior to the game and agreed upon by both teams (such players may not be freed by their teammates). If any injuries occur during game play, the injured must sit out and cannot rejoin until time is up.

Go to court[edit]

Go to Court is a variation of tag involving "fugitives" and "marshals". The marshals consist of approximately 1/5 of the total group and in either a dark house or neighborhood. After the countdown, the marshals pursue the fugitives. If a fugitive is spotted, a marshal may shout "Go to court!" whereupon the fugitive must go to a designated spot and await physical contact from another fugitive to resume part in the game. The marshals win if they successfully gather all of the fugitives.

Scottish variant[edit]

The Scottish version of the game, known colloquially[where?] as "Code" or "Blue Murder", is played with two teams. The hiding team thinks of a word that has the same number of letters as players. Each person is given a letter and may be forced to reveal it when caught. If the hunters correctly figure out the word within a time limit, they win.

Texas variant[edit]

This version of the game is played with multiple teams of four or five people each. Each team is designated a color and a base. Each player wears two team bandanas, and each team captain wears three. At the start of the game each team is given a designated amount of time to hide, after which they may begin hunting each other. When a team member is caught one bandana is removed. All collected bandanas are kept in the team's home base. If a player loses all of his bandanas, he must return to his home fort where he must stay until he receives a replacement bandana of his own team's color and may guard the collected bandanas while there.

Four wildcard bandanas are also hidden across the playing field, which can also be given to players who have lost their bandana(s). If it is used, it should be replaced by a team color bandana if one is available, and then the wild will be re-hidden. To win, a team must collect ten bandanas of a single color, as well as two of a different color. A single "wildcard" bandana may contribute to a winning score as the eleventh or twelfth bandana. Players must wear their own team bandanas and carry bandanas they have collected.

A to B variant[edit]

This variation is played with a group of hunters and a group of runners. The point is for the runners to make it from point A to point B without being caught. Hunters search the area for runners. Neither the hunters nor runners are required to work together within their groups and can at any time go on their own. When runners are caught, they, too, become hunters. A runner is caught when grabbed by a hunter while in sight of a patrol car[clarification needed]. This is to prevent a single hunter from guarding the destination.

In Central Texas, this version of the game is sometimes called Cops and Robbers. Another variant popular in the UK is British Bulldog where players attempt to cross a playing field or playground to avoid two "bulldogs". When players are caught, they become bulldogs until there are no runners left.

A waterborne variant exists called Sharks and Minnows.


Fugitive involves anywhere from 10–25 high school to college-age kids, usually upperclassmen or those with cars. The point of the game is to run from one central place (such as a school) to another central place (such as a local store) while other players chase the runners in cars. The rules are simple: no taking major roads, no cheating, runners get a several-minute head start, and the final destination must be reached in under 45 minutes. Fugitive games always take place at nighttime or anytime when it is dark. Jumping into random yards, hiding in bushes, and trying to camouflage in shadows are the norm. The runners usually win since it only takes one runner to constitute a victory for the runners. The drivers typically have another person riding with them in the car. Their job is to jump out and tag the runner with their hand or a flashlight or call out his/her name if they are clearly identifiable. Once a runner is tagged or called out, they join the driver and ride in the car until the end of the game.

Suburban variant[edit]

Played in suburban areas, this variant is similar to the "A to B" variant in that there are defined starting and ending points. The searching team is permitted to use vehicles. The runners or "robbers" must stay near roads and use the front yards of nearby houses for hiding places. Using trails and other pathways only accessible to those on foot is against the rules. Backyards may also be accessible to runners per the discretion of the game's host, though it may be considered trespassing by homeowners and is considerably more dangerous to the runner. The "cops" or "hunters" are not allowed to exit their vehicle and must stop and call out the visible body part of the runner they have spotted in order to catch them. Optionally, the hunter may use a flashlight to point out the runner and catch them. Either way, when a runner is caught, they must reveal themselves and get into the hunter's car. When a runner senses a car coming toward them, they must look for cover and hide themselves in a nearby yard in order to avoid being caught. If a "cop" is successful in finding a runner, the runner is out for the rest of the round and may not aid the hunters nor the runners thereafter. The round ends when all runners have either been caught or have reached the ending point.

Majority variant ("Raptor")[edit]

Another version of the game has two teams of three or more people. One team are hunters and the other are runners. The runners are given time to hide within the boundaries. The hunters (also known as "raptors") try to find the runners and tag them. Once the runners are tagged they are out and must go back to the base (a.k.a. "hospital"). In this game you must get the majority of the runners (2 out of 3, 3 out of 4, 4 out of 6 etc.). If majority is captured the sides change with the hunters becoming runners and the runners, hunters. If majority is not captured, the sides remain the same until a majority is captured.


There are two teams, of at least four people, with two cars, blindfolds, and two cell phones per team. Two members, the "hostages", from each team get into the opposing team’s car and are blindfolded so that they don’t know where they are going. Both cars drive from the starting location and have a certain amount of time to get as far away as possible (the more time, the farther the teams will go, making the game harder). The blindfolded team members are dropped off wherever the car is when time runs out. After this they can take off their blindfolds and text or call their team members in the car to try to find them. The goal of the game is for the teams to find the teammates who were taken “hostage” and make it back to the starting point before the other team.

Pit stops[edit]

With an appropriate split of players into runners and hunters, runners attempt to reach a predesignated location while the hunters try to tag them and turn them into more hunters. Once everyone has reached the safe zone or become a hunter, the runners who remain then attempt to do the same again to a further destination. Each leg of the manhunt becomes harder for the runners as their numbers drop off and depending on the recovery period allowed, increasingly fatigued. This variation is useful in dense urban areas and/or when vehicles are not available for hunters since it gives them multiple opportunities to round runners up who may otherwise always have some slip through, by positioning hunters anywhere between the runner start location and their safe zone. Increasing numbers of points can also be assigned for each runner who successfully reaches a safe zone, meaning those who survive multiple rounds become more valuable.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Running Men (and women). Toronto Sun. 2006-03-26
  2. ^ This Land Is My Land. National Post. 2006-11-04.
  3. ^ Rogers, Ruth. Evaluating community-based interventions for young people: measuring the impact of informal mentoring. Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, Volume 19, Number 2, June 2011 , pp. 159-168(10)
  4. ^ Alana Wilcox, Christina Palassio, Jonny Dovercourt. The state of the arts: living with culture in Toronto. Coach House Books, 2005, p. 117.

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