|Players||4 or more|
|Age range||5 and up|
|Setup time||less than 5 minutes|
|Playing time||Approx 2 - 20 mins per round|
|Skill(s) required||Stealth, bluff, creativity|
Wink Murder, Murder Wink or Wink Wink Murder is a party game or parlour game. It is also variously known as Killer, Murder in the Dark and Lonely Ghost. The practical minimum number of players is four, but the spirit of the game is best captured by groups of at least six players, and can be played by any number.
In each round of play, one player is assigned the role of murderer (or Killer), with the ability to "murder" other players by making eye contact and winking at them. If a player is winked at, they feign sudden death and are removed from the game. Other players are forbidden from winking. The objective of the murderer is to murder as many people as possible.
In one variation of the game, sometimes played by children as a class activity in primary school, another player, unaware of the murderer's identity, is assigned the role of "detective". All other players sit in a circle around the detective, whose objective is to correctly identify and accuse the murderer, minimising the number of murder victims. A limit is often imposed upon the number of accusations the detective can make. In this version of the game, players other than the murderer and detective do not know the murderer's identity, and have no role to play in the game other than to die noticeably if winked at.
Harpo Marx in his book Harpo Speaks described a version of this game at the home of Alexander Woollcott, called "Murder". Lots are drawn to choose a District Attorney, then drawn a second time to choose (known only to him- or herself) a Murderer. The D.A. leaves the house and the social evening proceeds as normal. As soon as the Murderer is alone with someone, he says to that person "You are dead". The victim must immediately feign death until discovered, then the D.A. is summoned and questions the suspects (everyone) as to where they were, what they were doing, and with whom. The D.A. then uses deductive reasoning to solve the case. Marx said he played the Murderer once, and wrote the deadly phrase on a piece of toilet paper. His victim, Alice Duer Miller, pulled it down and properly "died" on the toilet, but grade-school dropout Marx was immediately identified when she was found; he had written "You are ded".
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2013)|
In another variation of the game all players who are not the 'Killer' participate in attempting to unmask the killer. Play is best done seated at a table where all players can clearly see all other players. A deck of cards is used; the Ace of Spades (or any suitable agreed upon card) is drawn and will indicate the Killer. Additional cards are drawn so the deal contains one card for each player (including the Ace of Spades).
A candle which will burn for at least 20–30 minutes is set in front of each player. A suitable method for lighting each candle is provided to each player. When all players are ready, the cards are dealt. Each player looks at their own card to discover if they are the Killer for this round. If they are not then they will participate in helping to discover and unmask the killer. Players should exercise caution to ensure that they do not expose their card to any other player at this time. Once a player looks at his/her card, the card should be set face down in front of them. When all cards are in place in front of each player, the candles are lit. At this time the room should be darkened (the darker, the better). Turn out all lights so that only the candles are providing illumination.
As soon as the lights are turned out, the dealer signals the start of the round by stating “begin” or any other suitable word. At this time the Killer begins looking for victims to ‘kill’ which he/she does by winking at them. The Killer attempts to wink at one individual player without being seen by other players. If a player, who is not the Killer, is winked at by another player, then he/she must blow out their candle. This indicates that the player is ‘dead’ and may no longer participate in the round. If the Killer succeeds in eliminating all players (as indicated by all candles being extinguished), then the Killer has won the game and the round is over.
Unmasking the Killer
Any player whose candle is lit may participate in attempting to unmask the Killer. A player who suspects the identity of the Killer makes an announcement without making eye contact with any other player by stating only the following:
- “I have an accusation!”
It is important to note that this accusing player does not name the suspected Killer. If a second player believes that they also know the identity of the Killer, they may support the first accusing player by stating only the following:
- “I will back you up; I believe the Killer is _____ (name)”
The first accusing Killer, if in agreement states:
- “I agree with you, I believe it is ______ (name)”.
At this time, if both are in agreement, the person accused turns their card face up. If it is the Killer, the ‘table’ has won the game and the round is over. If it is not the Killer, both accusing players must blow out their candles and they are eliminated from further play in the round.
If, after the 2nd accusing player has named their suspect, the 1st accusing player does not agree, the 1st accusing player should state:
- “No, I do not agree with you.” (without naming their suspect)
At this time, play continues with the Killer attempting to eliminate all other players and the other players attempting to unmask the killer.
Special Killer rules
The Killer may, at any time, blow out his/her own candle in an attempt to deceive the other players into believing he/she has been eliminated from play. The Killer may continue in their attempt to eliminate other players even though his/her candle is extinguished.
As long the killer's candle is lit, the Killer may, at any time, make an accusation (knowing it to be false) or support an accusation in an attempt to eliminate players. The Killer should not use this advantage to ‘block’ other players from making or supporting accusations.
Fair play on the part of players who are not the Killer includes blowing out his/her candle when winked at. Players whose candles are extinguished should sit quietly, without comment or undue facial expressions or body movements. When 'killed', players should not immediately blow out their candle while staring at the Killer, complete with negative comments about being eliminated. Once a player is winked at, they are immediately out of the round and no further expression (vocally or otherwise) would be fair. A delay of 30 seconds and up to a minute or so after being ‘winked out’ before blowing out the candle adds to the fun of the game.
Since candles are used in this version, it may not be suitable for persons younger than their teens. Simply remove the candle variant for play by younger children and determine a suitable method for indicating a 'killed' player-perhaps a flashlight.
One idea is that you also could have one person pick the "it" while everyone's eyes are closed simply by tapping on the person's shoulder instead of cards. Another idea is that you put your hands in your lap instead of using candles since putting your hands in your lap isn't a safety concern.
The Accomplice is an optional role. The Accomplice kills in the same way as the murderer, but can only kill once, and the murderer may automatically win if the Accomplice is accused.
The Nurse is another optional role, who is able to resuscitate dead players by blowing them a kiss.
In larger groups, there may be several Nurses or Accomplices, or even several Murderers or Detectives.
Alternatives to winking
"Murder Handshake" is a variation where the players are expected to shake hands, and the murderer kills by using a special handshake, usually scratching the victim's palm. Many[who?] prefer this version to the winking version because "killing" someone is not as easily noticeable by third parties, and there's less chance for error (e.g. if a player blinks while looking at someone from the side, it could be interpreted as a wink even if the player is not the actual killer). In the "Vampire" variant, the murderer kills by subtly baring his or her teeth at a victim. "Blink" is a variation where players blink continuously at a fast rate and only the murderer can wink.
Read in another language
This page is available in 1 language