Assassins and War!

This week has been a pretty intense one on Harvard’s campus: between the different Assassins games and the campus wide House war that’s going on, the entire student body has been watching their backs. I, for one, spent the first few days of this week hiding out from my attacker in Dunster Assassins, only to be “killed” in the dining hall during lunch…

For a bit of background, many of the upperclassmen Houses run a game of Assassins towards the end of each semester. Each House has their own set of rules, but the basic idea is that players are assigned a “target” and are expected to “kill” them over the course of the game. “Killing” your opponent might mean a variety of things – anything from spraying them with a water gun to hitting them with a foam sword. Once you kill your opponent, you gain their opponent, and it continues on until there are only two players left. All of this amounts to a really intense week of strategizing and stalking!

This year, Dunster’s Assassins game is themed after Hunger Games. Every night, we get an email from “AnonyMoose” telling us which “tributes” have died, along with a brief story of how the kill happened. Each entryway has also been assigned a specific weapon to use, much like the districts in the book: the Gamemaker put different weapons in the arena, and my entryway was assigned a red pen as our weapon of choice. When I got killed in the dining hall this week, it happened with a piece of masking tape!

Probably my favorite version of Assassins is the game run by Quincy House, as theirs has an incredibly involved series of rules. The tradition goes back decades, and the most recent update of the pages-long rule document can be found online (check out their website!). I have a few friends playing, and since the only place they can get shot is in on Quincy grounds, they’ve all been avoiding Quincy House during the day so as to survive another day. Last night, I was walking by Quincy House on my way back to my room, and was surprised to find that there was a huge crowd assembled in Quincy Courtyard. Turns out there was a duel going on, a rare occasion in the Assassins game in which two players go head to head in a confined area in the courtyard, shooting Nerf guns at each other and playing to the “death.” Though the actual fight lasted only a minute or so, the entire event took over twenty minutes because there were so many rules to be clarified. It was so intense!! A few pictures are below.


Dueling in the courtyard!

Talking strategy…

On top of all of the Assassins games happening simultaneously, there’s also a multi-House war going on! Though the details are a bit fuzzy, the war began with Adams House and Currier House has since extended to include nearly half of the upperclassmen Houses. When Cabot House joined the fray, they announced: “We, the people of Cabot, will not stand for such injustices and must act to impede this infringement upon our Faust given and unalienable Rights, among these being Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Admittedly, the war itself is a bit of a joke but it has stirred up a bit of friendly House rivalry! You can check out the most recent coverage, courtesy of The Crimson, here on their blog.

And my last bit of news is that Henry Kissinger, class of 1950, came to campus this week in celebration of the College’s 375th!  In the midst of all of the Assassins games and right at the start of the inter-House war, Kissinger – a former Secretary of State – spoke in Sanders Theater on Wednesday. It was really interesting to hear his perspective on his political career, which involved real life decisions about political strategies and war tactics. When asked about his “position” on the inter-House war and whether he had any input about how to best “win,” Kissinger announced that he was a proud supporter of Adams House, his former home at Harvard. Glad to see that the House spirit never dies!

Kissinger in Sanders Theater


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  1. Office of Admissions’s avatar

    Hi Anouska– great idea! I’ll write about Financial Aid this week!

  2. Loni Beddome’s avatar

    And He said, let there be Toronto, and it was good.

  3. Coy Bejarano’s avatar

    And He said, let there be Toronto, and it was good.

  4. Anouska’s avatar

    the information provided is great. I have one question though. I know that the blog doesnt tell about admissions and stuff but i wanted to know about scholarship. Is it true that harvard provides full scholarship to those students whose parents earn less than 60000$? Please reply its very important!

    1. Caroline Burke’s avatar

      Hi, thanks for your question! I’m not the expert on financial aid, so for specific details I encourage you to get in contact with the financial aid office. I do know that the system is changing as of this fall, so financial aid requires zero family contribution when total income is less then $65,000 (starting fall ’12). Hope that helps!

      1. Caroline Burke’s avatar

        I like to think so too! It’s definitely a fun way to relax and have a bit of fun. And the House war is just heating up — starting to become a pretty frequent feature of campus conversations!

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