January 20, 2018

Giants, Wizards & Elves – A Sure-Fire Icebreaker


To start this icebreaker, split everyone into two groups. Have them form two lines facing each other in the center of the room with their team standing shoulder to shoulder.

Your instruction to the two teams goes as follows:

“Welcome to a new planet! On this world there are only three creatures and they are at WAR. Let me introduce the creatures. First, there is the giant. It looks and sounds like this, ‘ROAR!’ Do this with me, 1,2,3, ‘ROAR!’

“Then there’s the wizard. It looks and sounds like this, ‘SSSSS!’ Do this with me, 1,2,3, ‘SSSSS!’

“And finally, there are the elves. They look and sound like this, ‘WeWeWeWe!’ [done with a high pitch] Do this with me, 1,2,3, ‘WeWeWeWe!’

“These creatures are at war! Here’s how it works- it’s kind of like rock/paper/scissors. The giants, ‘ROAR!’ Do this with me giants, ‘ROAR!’ Beat the wizards, ‘SSSSS!’ Wizards, ‘SSSSS!’ beat the elves, ‘WeWeWeWe!’ And the elves, ‘WeWeWeWe!’ Beat the giants, ‘ROAR!’

“An easy way to remember this is the big [do the giant without the sound] beats the medium [do the wizard without the sound]. The medium [do the wizard without the sound] beats the small [do the elf without the sound]. And the small [do the elf without the sound] beats the big [do the giant without the sound]. See! Just like Rock/Paper/Scissors”

Now that everyone has the sounds and the rock/paper/scissors idea, you continue your instructions. Make sure you’ve already set up the safety zones behind each group with a marker to show where it is. Use a backpack or a chair or something to mark the zone. I usually place the zones about 10 feet behind each group.

“In a moment each team will go back to their safety zones, which are right here for this team, and right here for this team. (Point to show where the zones are marked) You’ll go back and huddle up and come up with the one creature your whole team will be. Everyone on your team will be the same creature. Then both teams will come up to the front line — to the battle zone — and one person will yell, ‘Are you Ready?!’ and everyone will scream, ‘Yes!!’ Then another person will yell, ‘3, 2, 1’ and both teams will show their creatures!

“So let’s say this team is the giants and this team is elves – who wins? Right! The elves. So the elves will chase the giants and attempt to tag them. The giants will run from the elves and try to get to their safety zone before they get tagged. If they make it to their safety zone first then nothing happens to them. But if they get tagged before they hit the safety zone then they get to be on the other team for the next round. Both teams go back to their safety zones to come up with the creature they will be for the next round.”

“What happens if there is a tie? Actually, what you will do when you are huddling with your team in the safety zone is come up with your plan AND your backup plan. They can be the same or different. If, when you are at the front line, both teams are giants, then you immediately go into your backup plan. You don’t stop and talk about it when you tie. You just go right into your back up plan. If you tie on both rounds that would be just ridiculous — like you’re psychically linked. Then you’ll just go back and come up with another plan and backup plan.”

Have everyone go back to their safety zones and come up with a plan and backup plan. After they come back to the front lines, quickly review which creatures beat which.

Before we start I pick out the volunteers who will be yelling “Are you ready,” and “3, 2, 1”. I like to do this to get more people involved. I’ll ask for 2 volunteers who have loud voices. Then I tell the first volunteer to yell as loud as they can, “Are you ready?!” after I point to them, and the second volunteer to will yell, “3, 2, 1!” right after everyone responds to the “Are you Ready” with a very enthusiastic, “YES!”

Your final instructions:

“Before we start — a couple of things. Please remember this is not a full contact sport. If the only way to not be tagged is to run over someone else and step on their face – then please, just get tagged. It’s not that big of a deal. Please take care of each other and have fun. When you are tagging someone, it is a simple, non-aggressive touch. You don’t need to smack them in the kidney. Also, make sure no one is behind you in the shoulder-to-shoulder line. If someone is right behind you and you happen to be on the losing team you might turn around and run smack into someone on your own team.”

You, as the facilitator, need to make sure there is enough room for everyone to be spread out shoulder to shoulder. Make sure they are all lined up on the front line, shoulder to shoulder. I like to have the two teams about 4-6 feet apart. Then I point to the first volunteer who yells, “Are you ready!”

Once the first round is done I remind them that if they were tagged they go to the other team, if not, they stay on the same team. Then have them go back to their safety zones to brainstorm their plan and backup plan for the next round.

Don’t let the game go on for too many rounds, but make sure they get in at least four rounds.

After I announce the last round I like to play a little trick with them. I go to the smaller team’s brainstorm huddle and discreetly tell them that since this is the last round, they will all be donkeys — and donkeys beat everything.

I generally do a donkey sound and you can make up a look that isn’t like any of the other three, “Yell, ‘Heehaw!’ and then you just run at them!”

They definitely have a great time with this last round. After it’s over the other team will say things like, “What was that? What happened?” I just tell them they were donkeys, and donkeys beat everything. Then we have a good laugh.

This is great for orientation, leadership retreats, new students and returning students. What’s the point? Everyone has a blast! When a group has fun together, magic happens. And at the same time it creates connections and strengthens your campus community!


Troy Stende uses experiential learning-based leadership programs to help schools develop student leaders and increase student retention. He believes those two things are inseparable and has been helping colleges and universities create connections and strengthen campus community since 1998.


  1. hahaha woow

  2. Oh my goodness that sounds like so much fun. There was nothing like this when I first went to college in the mid 80s. Programs like this are great. I’d like to play the next time you speak at a college in Atlanta. LOL 🙂

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