Pens, rulers and Nerf darts - The Assassins' Guild

   Mar 14, 2020     3 min read

Pen labelled 'knife'

An assassin's mortal enemy.

We’re through another term at Cambridge. Most of it was business as usual, despite an obviously increasing response to the COVID-19 outbreak, further strike action, and a massively increased amount of practical work. I’m seriously hoping my Arm internship won’t be cancelled, but so far it’s not looking good for either our exams or getting to see friends during Easter term. On a different note, it could result in the resurrection of video calls, and, if our exams really are cancelled, we may universally be deemed to have received honours, and that’d be an interesting thing to have on our transcripts.


Assassins was the way I met new people and bonded with them this term. Essentially, it’s a term-long game where you have to kill people (who you receive as targets) while not being killed yourself. Weapons you can use include mock knives, swords, Nerf guns, water guns, and boulders. If you break any of the rules or kill someone who you weren’t supposed to, you’ll get put on the wanted list; and if you become inactive for too long (usually a week), you’ll fall onto the incompetent list. Both of these list people who are valid targets for all players in the game (in fact, making attempts on incompetent players is a great way to maintain competence).

Of course, the greatest thrill of the game is the sheer paranoia when you play. People will do anything to stay alive: I’ve seen people wear wigs, enter and leave lecture halls extremely early or late, camp it out in other colleges’ libraries, and so on. You can never truly underestimate your assassins: everyone has an uncanny ability to recognise each other and find out their lecture/lab timetables, which paths they take, and more. Or so my paranoia tells me… for the most part, nothing happened to me. Someone did knock on my door on the first day and then about three weeks in, the latter of which occurred when I was not at home. (There’s a reason I point my gun at any door I’m opening…) More pragmatically, however, most of my time was spent helping my friends assassinate people: I would give them enough information about their whereabouts to help them locate their targets, then provide real-time information to help them stab their targets. In all, I think I directly witnessed two or three kills this way, all of them in the Computer Lab within the span of a week. A friend and I also raided Homerton at one point, acquiring two kills. (Sadly I wasn’t very good at staying alive this game…)

My death came after I was attempting on one of my targets. I was in Chapel Court, and saw someone very suspicious standing around. I made it known pretty quickly that I was suspicious, taking a very convoluted path and dashing past him… until I head back out and can’t spot him, then get stopped and sprayed with a water gun. Oops! It was fun playing, though! He made it to the duel but didn’t win.

To be fair, my death occurred before all the real, urm… stuff… hit the fan. You see, early on in the game my alliance set up a ridiculous plot to kill a perceived threat. But he got very annoyed at us, and leaked information that resulted in numerous people getting killed by their own targets. We hated it, the umpires hated it, and it completely and utterly broke the game. To be fair, we did have an amazing moment later when two of my friends anticipated they would be ambushed after a lecture this way, and went to the lecture 15 minutes before it was due to end. Sure enough, some attackers came along, and they called me to serve as a distraction. (That was an amusing battle report…) Most of the rest of the game was fairly quiet, although I did harbour several assassins in my room after I died. The duel was roughly as expected, with the obvious caveat of someone shooting someone else after the duel was over, and everyone pulling out weapons and shooting each other.

On the social side of the guild, there are quite a few socials where people get to know each other. I quickly found out who took the game very seriously, and made quite a few friends this way. It’s quite something to hear about everyone’s feats in Assassins, and, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but making friends with the person who killed you is quite something.