LAN Yarns : How not to bluff, or “I’m The Phantom!”

We play a lot of Starcraft 2 at LAN parties especially the free mods in the arcade.  There are some great games on here, many of which with totally different gameplay to vanilla Starcraft 2.  One of our favourites is Phantom, a game less about Starcraft 2 and more about deception, bluffing and intricate plots to back-stab your friends.

Of course you can always be too clever for your own good….Phantom is a mod for up to 8 players and at first glance it looks like standard Starcraft 2.  Everyone is on one team initially (which is a bit bizarre) and the game really starts about a minute in when everyone is secretly allocated a role.

While everyone is on the same team, one or two of the players are told they are secretly Phantoms.  They can only win if everyone else (known as Slayers)  loses.  The Slayers have to work out who the Phantoms are and kill them.

“Guys, I think Fred is the Phantom.”

That’s the basic idea of the game, but there are a few wrinkles;

1)  Phantoms get a resource gathering boost and can have larger armies than the other players.  This means they can often win fights against 1 or 2 other players but it can also mean they give themselves away if they build up too fast.

2)  Slayers can get randomly cursed.  This does them damage but if they survive they can also randomly become a Phantom.  All the players can see who’s cursed so everyone knows they’re not a Phantom currently but after the curse, who knows?

3)  All the players have a set of special abilities to mess with other players.  For example the Phantoms can make players break alliances with their team-mates;

Bert : “See!  I told you Bob was a Phantom!  He’s just attacked Sid!”

Bob : “No!  I didn’t!  It’s all a mista…”

That had to hurt.

This makes trying to work out who’s who from the mechanics almost impossible.  Further complicating matters is the fact that some players are just better at standard Starcraft  and so it might seem like they’ve got a production boost when really they’re just playing better.

All this basically degenerates into accusations, score-settling and outright lies in short-order;  i.e. it’s a brilliant LAN game.

There’s all sorts of ways you can try and eke an advantage;

Blinding people with Starcraft 2 knowledge is good;

Bert : “Sid has got to Hive already!  And he’s got Adrenal Glands and +3!  There’s no way a Slayer would have enough for that!”

Sid : “No!  Don’t kill me!  I don’t even know what those things are!”


Or playing the victim;

Sid,  after deliberately killing his own base ; “Bob just killed my base!  Help!”

You can even resort to telling the truth.  But that only really works if you’re a Slayer…

During one game the web of lies was getting particular dense so one of the Phantoms tried what he thought was the ultimate double-bluff.

As the shouts, recriminations and threats reached a fever pitch he announced into Mumble that he , in fact, was the Phantom.  As no-one was believing anything anyone else said he assumed we’d all to think it was a lie and accept him as a Slayer.

But the important question popped into everyone’s head;  why would a Slayer ever pretend to be a Phantom?

After a few seconds stunned silence on Mumble everyone broke their alliance and killed him instantly, winning the game for the Slayers.

Honesty isn’t always the best policy 🙂


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