tagHow ToHow to Play 'Liar is my Enemy'

How to Play 'Liar is my Enemy'


This could be the ideal game for one of those swelteringly hot days when it's natural not to be wearing very much at a party. The game entails the asking and answering of intimate questions, and the object is to distinguish between who is telling the truth and who is fobbing you off with outrageous lies. But, as you'll discover, there's rather a lot riding on you guessing correctly.

The guys in the group will be playing against the girls, and one side must agree to reveal some of their deepest, innermost secrets – while the other side will run the risk of revealing themselves in a rather more literal way. For the purposes of this explanation I'm assuming the guys will be asking the questions and the girls will be answering them. Because it is this way round, the boys should be clad in towels (it's an open question whether they'll be wearing anything underneath, but I'll return to this later). For them, the aim of the game is to keep those towels on – and the aim of the girls is to thwart them in that quest. Simple as that.

The boys should each write their name on a separate piece of paper, and fold it twice so the name cannot be deciphered. It's important that everyone folds their sheet in roughly identical fashion. The sheets should then be rounded up and placed in a pile. Then, take some more pieces of paper (enough to make the overall number equal to exactly double that of the number of girls in the group), write the work 'blank' on each of them, fold them up and add them to the pile.

The papers should then be thoroughly mixed up so no-one has any idea which one is where, and each girl should pick out two sheets at random. She should unfold them without showing anyone else, and then read what's there. Whichever girl has ended up with a particular boy's name will become his designated 'enemy' for the duration of the game, and the one who will be aiming to relieve him of his towel at the conclusion – but, at least to begin with, he'll have absolutely no way of knowing where the danger lies. The only clue will come from the fact that she'll be required to tell him an outright lie every time he asks her a question, while all the other girls will be required to tell him the truth as far as they can. If any girl ends up with two pieces of paper with the word 'blank' written on them, she'll be the enemy of no-one, and must tell the truth at all times.

The boys then take turns in asking each of the girls an intimate question. It must be one he could have no prior knowledge of the truthful answer to. He must try and judge which of the girls is lying to him, looking for crucial clues such as non-verbal signals, the length of time it takes to formulate an answer, and of course the general plausibility of the response. Possible questions could include "who or what were you thinking about the last time you masturbated – describe in detail", "have you ever spied on someone naked without them knowing, and if so who was it?" or "have you ever – for any reason – thought about any of the people in this room when you were making love to someone else, and what was the thought?".

Once all of the boys have had the chance to ask each of the girls a question, it's time for a second full round of interrogation. The boys can use any clues they may have picked up so far to help them frame their second question in the most effective way. If, for instance, one of the girls stood out as a particularly lousy liar, it might be sufficient to ask her "that story you told me earlier about the nun and the pogo-stick – that wasn't entirely true, was it?" And if she bursts into a fit of helpless giggles at that point, you may well conclude you've nailed your enemy. On the other hand, if the identity of your opponent is still a complete mystery, it might be an idea to throw in a curveball by asking the girls questions that touch on their self-identity, values and individual sense of morality. If a particular girl has a self-image of being very giving, it will require something of a mental flip to describe herself as an inwardly very self-centred person. Requesting that she describe the nature of her selfishness in detail may well lead to her giving the game away.

Examples of questions that might be asked at this stage are "do you care for the well-being of another person more than yourself, to the extent that you would – in a real-life rather than fantasy scenario – consider dying for them?", "have you ever secretly enjoyed seeing a friend upset, and if so why?" and "have you ever told someone you loved them, knowing it wasn't true, in order to gain any one of the following things – attention, money, sex – and if so how do you feel about yourself for having done it?"

Now that the interrogation is over, we reach the tense conclusion of the game. The girls should line up in a row, and one boy should step forward to face them. The girls will ask the question "so, which of us do you trust?". The boy will respond "I trust...", adding the name of the girl he is most sure has been telling him the truth throughout, and who he therefore believes is not his secret enemy. That girl should then approach him, taking hold of the top of his towel between her fingertips, while he keeps his hands and arms well out of the way so he cannot interfere with what might be about to happen. He should then ask her "did you tell me the truth about (fill in the blank)?". As soon as he has completed his question, the girl will do one of two things. If he's called it right and she's not his secret enemy, she'll say "of course I did" and take her hand away from the towel. Perhaps a chaste kiss on the cheek might be in order, in recognition of the fact that this is clearly a relationship founded on absolute honesty.

If, on the other hand, the boy has misread the situation completely, and the girl he calls forward is in fact his secret enemy, on the completion of his question she should make a cheeky reply such as "no – simple question, simple answer", while abruptly whipping his towel off.

If the boy guessed correctly, though, his troubles are far from over. He must repeat the above process with each of the girls, either until his towel disappears, or until there is only one girl left. Only if the one girl he chose not to call forward is his enemy will he be safe, and retain his towel. Either way, the process is of course then repeated for each of the remaining boys in turn.

And to return to the crucial question – will the boys be left naked if they're unlucky enough to be robbed of their towels? That of course is up to them to decide in advance, but they might just feel it's in their own interests to be bold and take the risk, ie. if their masterplan is to shame the girls into wearing little or nothing underneath when they don their towels for the next session of the game!

In fact, the beauty of 'Liar is my Enemy' is that there is an inherent trade-off in the rules of the game that might make it easier to coax mildly reluctant people into taking part – ie. "if you want a truthful answer to that question you've always wanted to ask me, now's your chance, but you'll have to risk ending up naked to get it". Or "I know you've always wanted to see me with all my clothes off, and you might just be in luck, but first you'll have to tell me your deepest, darkest secrets".

And that concludes the third in my series of suggestions for new party games. Who knows, I may yet try your patience with a fourth at some point!

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