Skyship Tag

Let me preface this by saying that this game has gone through “beta testing” (ie: my friends and I played it a dozen or so times) and it is quite possibly the BEST game I’ve ever played. Ever wanna feel like you’re eight years old again, playing hide-and-seek with the neighborhood kids? This’ll do it! It’s terribly thrilling! It’s the new Quidditch, folks. Only better :

You will need:

  • Access to a rooftop/deck with a wide scope of view – the higher, the better. Five stories worked very well!
  • Something to gather: green paper circles (“Pearls”) work well, as do flags or envelopes or rolled up pieces of paper
  • Binoculars
  • A cell phone for each player
  • Numbered jerseys, or large paper numbers pinned to players’ shirts
  • Paper/pencil

How to play:
In this game, one player starts as the Captain, while everyone else becomes the Pearlhounds. The Captain will spend the length of the game standing at the top of the building, looking to spot the Pearlhounds as they search for Pearls on the ground. Each Pearlhound has a number attached to the front and back of their shirt. The bigger and more obvious, the better. On a separate sheet of paper (the “Captain’s Log”), Pearlhounds’ phone numbers are written down next to their corresponding number (the one pinned on their shirt).

Players then select points on the ground to hide the Pearls. Points should be visible from the top of the building, but not impossible to reach without being seen. Behind cars, bus stops, signs, garbage cans, etc are all great hiding places. In each hiding place, one Pearl for each Pearlhound must be hidden. If there are five Pearlhounds, there should be five Pearls at each hiding spot. All players, including the Captain, will know where each group of Pearls are hidden before the game starts.

After the Pearls have been hidden and players are back at the building, everyone (including the Captain) starts the game on the ground, next to whatever door the players will be using to gain access up to the roof. When everyone is ready, the Captain announces that he is going up to his ship. The Pearlhounds then scatter. The Captain, meanwhile, will be running to the top of the building, ready to spot them. This is a very scary time for the Pearlhounds! They must hide before being spotted.

Once the Captain is standing at the top of the building (with the phone list and binoculars), the game is on! Pearlhounds must collect all of the Pearls without being spotted. This means ducking, diving, sprinting… whatever needs to be done. You WILL get strange looks and comments from random passersby. This is part of the fun! (and a good excuse to tell them how awesome Skyship Tag, and its corresponding book, is!).

If the Captain spots a Pearlhound, and confirms their identity (the numbers on front and back of the person help, especially when spotted through binoculars), they will turn to the phone list and call the Pearlhound’s number, delivering the following message:

“This is the Captain speaking. You have been spotted at the _________. Can you confirm this?”

If the Pearlhound answers with a “yes,” the Captain then beckons them back to the ship. The Pearlhound runs back to the building, climbs the stairs, and now acts as another captain on the roof. There are two people watching the battlefield. The more Pearlhounds that are captured, the harder it is to be on the ground unseen.

Winning: If a Pearlhound collects all the Pearls without being spotted, they must run back to the building (without being seen by the Captain[s]) and make their way to the rooftop. Once this has been completed, they win. If nobody is able to grab all of the Pearls without being seen, the Pearlhound with the most when they are captured is the winner.


The more you can see from the rooftop, the better the game will be! 360 degree play (or close to it) is ideal!

A time limit can be added to make the game more challenging.

VILLAINS: If you have enough people playing, you can add somebody as the “villain” (Madame, in the case of the book). This person will be on the ground, roaming the streets looking for Pearlhounds. If they see any, they will chase them. If the Pearlhound is tagged, they are out and must head up to the ship to help the captain.

Pearls can be given a point value, with more difficult ones having higher points. The winner could then be the person with the highest points at the end of a designated time. Also, you may choose to have the Captain hide one extra special Pearl worth substantially more points in a secret area unknown to the Pearlhounds. The Captain can then give a clue to its whereabouts and this Pearl will be up for grabs by any extra-intrepid player.

Night Play: All players, including the Captain, can be decked out in glow-in-the-dark paint or glow sticks. This is a particularly difficult way to play. Make sure your area is safe after dark before attempting!

*Skyship Tag co-invented by Nick James, Jeva Morton and Jenny Martin (game creator extraordinaires!)

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