NERF wars are nothing but fun. Sometimes, though, you need a little inspiration when it comes to keeping things lively. After all, you don’t want to play game after game of Deathmatch. Things are bound to get boring if you do.
Therefore, it is best to have some alternative ideas in your back pocket. To help you out, here is a list of popular variations that are played by NERF warriors worldwide. While this is not a comprehensive list due to the infinite variations that can be concocted, this compilation with nevertheless give you a pretty good idea of what is possible with a NERF gun and a little imagination.
It is good to have a few ideas for quick games to get everyone up and running, familiar with their blasters, and generally get into the swing of things if they are new.
So this section covers a few games you can play that doesn’t take too much time either to explain or play.
This game variation comes out of the Chicago area and is an excellent option for a warmup as it is short and sweet. As a game, the rules are as simple as they come.
All you have to do is shoot as many people as possible before the time is up. You can elect to play on teams or as a free-for-all. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter because no one is keeping score. The objective of the game is simply to get your blood pumping.
Just remember, once you’ve been hit, you must return to the spawn point at which time you are immediately cleared and may re-join the game.
This classification of gameplay is categorized by the ability of players to be eliminated. Once they are eliminated, they must then generally sit out for the rest of the game.
This is a game of elimination. Each player is given three hits before they find themselves out of the game. After each hit, you must slowly count out loud to 15 before you are allowed to re-enter. Upon your return, you must yell, “Clear!” to announce that you are back in play and once again a target.
While you are counting yourself back in, you may walk around and collect ammo. However, you must ensure that you are out of the way of active players and that when you clear in you must do so out of firing range and behind your team’s lines. You may not respawn behind enemy lines or close enough to shoot them right after you clear back in.
There are many variations on this basic game. It simply depends on how you divide up the groups of players.
This game is a variant on a classic elimination game. Each team will select a VIP who will be marked accordingly using hats, flagging tape, etc. When the game starts, the VIP has 15 seconds to spawn and may run away from the action while they are counting in. However, they must indicate that they are still counting down by holding up either their arm or a blaster as they are running away. Once their arm goes down, they are “in” and fair game to eliminate. Once they have been eliminated they game has ended.
Non-VIP players are allotted infinite lives and have 15 second respawns which can occur anywhere away from the battle. This type of battle works best with set boundaries and in an area that is semi-open so that the VIP cannot simply hide.
This category of game play is defined by a two or more team set-up where groups must complete an objective rather than eliminate players from the other team. Typically, players are allowed to respawn and return to the game after a certain time making elimination impossible. Additionally, these games are often played with a time limitation.
Capture the Flag
A NERFed-up twist on classic, Capture the Flag is exactly what you would expect. Each team has a flag that they must defend as they charge the other team’s territory in an attempt to capture the opposing team’s flag.
To defend your banner, you may shoot oncoming attackers who will then be forced to return to home base to respawn. The first team to capture the opposing team’s flag, of course, wins.
During this battle, teams will fight over “control points”. To initiate this game, a game master will need to choose a defendable number of control points based on the size of the teams playing plus allocate a home base to each team.
Points are captured with control points. Player can take over a manned control point when they are able to stand next to the capture point’s flag and count out loud to 15. Only once they have successfully counted to 15, without being tagged, can the current flag be switched to their team flag.
When a control point is under your team’s possession, you can choose to respawn at that point rather than your home base.
Home bases cannot be captured until a team controls every point. When the opposing team captures all the control points and the opposing team’s home base, they win.
Attack and Defend
This battle type is a game where teams are split into Attackers and Defenders. There is a set time limit during which the attackers must achieve a goal (capturing an object, rescue a teammate, etc). Once the time has expired and the attackers have completed their goal, the teams switch places and the new attackers must beat the previous team’s time to win.
This is an ideal alternative to Elimination or Infinite Respawn when you are playing on an uneven field with a strong advantage on one side.
This battle mode is a variant on Attack and Defend. The objective of this game is to capture a flag and return it to the attackers’ spawn point in the shortest time possible. Whichever team is able to recover it the fastest wins.
During this game, defenders get four hits and must count to 15 after each hit until they are eliminated (4-15 rules). However, you are given infinite respawns with a five second count-in.
This search and rescue mission will take some tactical manoeuvring. During each round, the teams designate a “hostage” for the other team to take and hide. Naturally, the hostage is unable to move until one of their teammates taps them at which point they are then provided with a weapon to defend themselves as they attempt to make it back to their home base.
The goal of the game is to rescue your team’s hostage and bring them back to base. The first one to do this wins.
Hide and Seek
Think of this like hide and seek on steroids. One team will be “the hidden” while the other team makes up “the seekers”. It is the job of the seekers to find every hidden. If they manage to do this, they win. However, if the hidden are able to tag out all of the seekers from their secret spots, then the hidden will come out on top.
Here, you’re going to have to pretend that you’re protecting the president. Whichever team is not designated as the assassins must select a player to be the presidential target. Once the target is picked, they are offered a single shot blaster to carry. They may have no other weaponry. The rest of the team must be their de facto guards.
Assassins will try to tag out the target and win. However, the guards can take hits for the target and sacrifice themselves for the good of the team. If they are able to protect the target for the designated period of time or if the target is able to reach a predetermined area, then the target is considered to have “escaped” and the good guys will win.
During a civil war, single shot blasters are required. Players are divided into two teams at which point they will line up “Red Rover style” into single lines facing each other. Starting with one team, players will go down the line taking one shot at a player from the other team. Once everyone has taken their shots, the line will advance one step forward and then the next team will take their turn.
Points will be allotted as follows:
· A tag in the arm or the leg will result in the loss of the limb. If you lose both arms you will not be able to shoot. When you lose both legs you will have to fight from your knees.
· Shots to the torso are considered an elimination.
The team that eliminates the entire opposing team wins.
Humans Vs. Zombies
This may be one of the most popular NERF variations out there. The basic premise of the game is simple, but the game is no less fun for it.
Humans are armed with NERF blasters and sock whips, while zombies are unarmed. One or more people may start as zombies. However, that number may quickly grow as humans who are touched by zombies become zombies themselves. Thankfully, humans may eliminate zombies momentarily from the match by tagging them. This allows the humans to complete their missions in order to win the game.
If all the zombies are tagged out, the humans win. If all the humans become zombies, naturally, the zombies win.
A historic game from the early days of NERF wars, this game is no longer often played.
In this battle, several teams of two players are formed, and a larger area is mapped out. The object is to remain the final team standing. But be careful, this game can be quick. Players can be eliminated in a single hit. However, you can be returned to the game if the person who tagged you becomes eliminated by your defense shot. So make sure you shoot fast and watch your back. This game will keep you on your toes.
Search and Destroy
In this game you are searching for and destroying bombs that were planted on your home turf.
To start, one team is given a bomb while the other team must defend the two locations where the bomb can be placed. If the bomb is planted, the defending team then has 1 minute to “defuse” the bomb by moving it away from the objective before the time runs out. Of course, you will have to remove it while fielding shots from the opposing team. Not to mention, if you fail to defuse the bomb, you lose.
Traitor Among Us
Like any other game, everyone starts out on a team. However, as the game goes on you realize suddenly that there are traitors in your midst. No one knows who they are or when they’ll strike.
Before the game begins, each player is taken aside and told whether they are a “soldier” or a “traitor”. Should you be a soldier, then you play as you normally would. If you are a traitor, however, you must only pretend to be a soldier. At the same time, it is a traitors’ objective to determine the best approach to strike down soldiers without giving themselves away or accidently taking out other traitors.
Only once traitors have made their initial strikes can they begin to recognize one another and band together to attack the soldiers and attempt to defeat them.
Did you ever play freeze tag in grade school? If you did then you can easily get the hang of the NERF version. Just like in the schoolyard, your objective is to freeze every member of the opposing team.
In this case, however, to freeze people you must hit them with a dart. The opposing player must then stop all movement until unfrozen by one of their team members. A simple tag of a hand or a dart by a teammate will release you from your frozen state. As a rule, you cannot run around in constant contact with another player to stay “invincible.” If you do so and your partner is hit, then you too will be frozen.
Once everyone on one team is frozen, the game ends.
Defend the Core
This NERF variation is played with two teams defending two containers. You want to ensure that your containers are large enough to hold a large quantity of darts/balls/missiles, but you also want to make sure they are small enough to be easily defended.
To win this match, set the timer for half an hour and see which team can put the most darts into the other team’s receptacle. Of course, you will be trying to simultaneously drop ammo into the other team’s bucket while still defending your own core.
Also, pay attention to the distance between cores. To keep the game fair, you don’t want it to be possible for players to shoot from one core into another without having to leave their defensive positions. In addition, ammo must be shot from your NERF weapon into the cores. Dumping collected ammo from your pockets or other sources is not allowed.
Spawning should occur at a discreet distance away from the core.
If you’ve seen the movie or read the book, then you know how to play the game. To start off, everyone will pile their weapons, ammo, and NERF-related defense into a pile. Then, everyone waits. On a given signal, all players from both teams will charge the pile and retrieve whatever they can grab without getting tagged. If, in the process, they are tagged they must lay on the ground and wait. The last person standing is the winner.
The rules of the game are simple. This is an all-out war between individuals and the last one standing wins.
During this game, only one player is armed and they are the “hunter”. All the other players must avoid being tagged out by the hunter. There’s a twist though. Anyone who is tagged out becomes a hunter themselves and leaves the ranks of the prey. They will then have to hunt their own kind.
The last one to escape being hunted down wins.
An exercise in-game strategy as well as physical prowess, Alliance will test your friendships.
A non-player will hide all the NERF equipment without the players’ knowledge. Once they’ve been hidden, players can then go out and search and gather supplies. At the same time, they can also create alliances with one another to defeat their enemies. However, alliances may not be broken once they’ve been forged, and the maximum amount of them you are allowed to have is three. Only when all players that are left on the field are part of the same alliance may you break it.
The last player left standing wins.
Don’t worry, if you’re feeling lazy, you don’t have to run much in this game. Players are glued to the spot that they start in. However, they must duck, jump, lean, or generally contort themselves to avoid being hit. Just don’t move your feet from your spot!
If you are hit, you’re out. If you run out of ammunition, you’re out. Players will duel against multiple opponents in a ladder fashion, and whoever has the most points (defeated the most opponents) when all the players are out wins.
To play, single shot blasters are required and every other player in the circle will start with an empty blaster.
All players will form a circle so that each player stands approximately 10 feet away from the next. Players will remain rooted to the ground for the round.
At the 3-second countdown of a non-player, players will prepare. On “go,” all players should simultaneously engage in one of three actions:
Fire: Any player hit will be out.
Block: Crossing your arms over your chest protects you from being eliminated. Even if you are physically hit with a dart.
Reload: After firing a shot, you must reload on your next turn. If you are hit while reloading, you’re out.
The refereeing non-player will then reset the round and count down again from three. At the end of each round, players will take one step closer tightening the circle. The last player standing wins.
Clearly, there is a long list of games to choose from. Play one, play them all. Depending on the size of your group as well as the location of your NERF war, some battles will be better suited to your conditions than others. Don’t forget though, practice makes perfect. The more you play, the better you’ll get and the easier it will be for you to gauge which game will be appropriate. Plus, once you get the hang of things, you’ll also be able to spice it up with some house rules. While you’re learning, however, have fun. After all, that’s what a NERF war is all about.