Playing Among Us? Tips and alternate rules to up the ante
By Aron Garst
Among Us is a game about communication and deception. The game splits players into two camps: crewmates and impostors. For crewmates, the objective of the game is to complete a series of tasks and survive. Impostors, on the other hand, want to kill most of the crewmates on board; once there's an equal number of impostors and crewmates left alive, the impostors win.
At pivotal moments throughout the game - like when a dead body is found, or someone calls an emergency meetings - all living players will be convened to argue and vote. Should someone be kicked out of the party? And if so, who? To survive, crewmates need to spread reliable information - and quickly - about who's acting suspicious to save themselves. Impostors need to sow confusion and discord, and lie like their lives depend on it. They often do.
Though the premise of the game is simple, there are tons of settings and features that are in the hands of the players. How fast can the little avatars move? What's the length of time that an impostor should be barred from killing again after committing one murder? How long do players have to deliberate before a vote? Over time, players developed what's now widely understood as the basic ruleset for "Among Us" that dictates when players are allowed to talk, what happens when they die, and other simple rules that keep the murder mystery both fair and tense.
In the process, they've also come up with a slew of clever twists. There have been 28 million hours of "Among Us" viewed on Twitch in the last week alone. In that time, understandably, some players have become experts at both being and catching Impostors. To combat fatigue, they've created their own spins on the basic ruleset, making it more difficult for both sides to complete their mission.
"If it's up to me I lower the discussion time a bit because it creates a little more chaos," said Twitch streamer Ludwig Ahgren.
Making these tweaks in "Among Us" is simple. Rule changes can be made in the lobby, before a game starts, by walking up to the computer where you pick hats and colors, hitting 'customize,' and navigating over to the 'Game' tab where all the different settings are located. Only the host of the game can change these settings. (Also, the number of impostors cannot be adjusted on this screen. The host picks either one or two impostors when setting up the lobby.)
It's important to note how many people are playing when making rule changes, if matches are too lopsided in either direction, then it's best to adjust. The kill cool-down timer, for example, should be adjusted based on how many players you have. The fewer the players, the higher the kill cool-down timer. The kill cool-down timer and number of crewmate tasks are probably the best way to fine tune the dynamic and ensure a fair game, though other adjustments, like removing the prompt that tells you if someone is an impostor or not once ejected, can add to the tension of a match.
The Washington Post spoke to Ahgren and Dean "Deansocool" Celestin, two streamers who have been playing the murder mystery simulator nonstop, about the ways they've kept "Among Us" fresh and intriguing.
- First, some quality of life tips
In "Among Us," the now-standard ruleset involves absolute silence throughout a match - outside of several, specific moments. Players aren't allowed to communicate while working on tasks, they can't audibly react when they're killed by an impostor and they aren't supposed to talk once killed. But although much of the game is spent in silence, the core of "Among Us" is actually all about talking. During voting and discussion periods, accusations and recriminations go flying, as players grill each other about their locations, seeking minor inconsistencies in stated alibis.
However, the game doesn't natively support voice chat. It does include an in-game text chat, but some of the tension is lost when the back-and-forth of an emergency meeting happens over text. Our recommendation is to use third-party tools like Discord - and that's where the house rules around silence come in. Always go on mute while doing tasks, and only unmute for discussion/voting periods. Alternative, opt for push-to-talk.
- Color Mode adds to the confusion
The premise: Every player is named after a color. But the color they actually select for their character should be different from their name.
Color Mode is "Among Us" on the "hardest difficulty" according to Ahgren. It replicates everything in the normal ruleset, with one crucial distinction. Every player has to be named after a color, but their actual in-game color can't match their name. This makes discussions, where players have to call each other out by name, hard to follow, to say the least.
Imagine a scenario in which a player who is the color red, but is named "Light Green," has 60 seconds to credibly accuse "Blue," who is the color green, or being an impostor. In the background, "Pink," who is orange, is yelling that they saw "Purple," who is teal, kill someone. You get the picture.
"This is literally impossible for anyone to win, except for the impostors," Ahgren said with a huge smile while playing a match of Color Mode. It's the perfect environment for an impostor to stoke doubt and confusion.
For a twist on this mode, use personal pronouns - "I," "we," "me," "they" and so on - instead of names. The result is utter chaos.
- Don't give crewmates easy confirmation
The premise: Crewmates should commit to not using visual tasks or keeping an eye on the taskbar.
Color Mode is far from the only option that provides an additional challenge. Other small tweaks remove reliable ways of differentiating crewmates from impostors in-game. The taskbar that tracks crewmate progress and certain tasks that can only be used by one player at a time can help crewmates quickly find out who's on their side. Novice players also often use visual tasks, which flash lights or give some other clear confirmation that they've been completed, to check that the crewmate standing at that task has actually done it. These visual indicators can be toggled on and off at the start of a game.
If you're playing with visual tasks on, abide by the "no scans on the first round" rule, says Celestin, "so everyone and their mom doesn't scan on the first round and clear a majority of the lobby." The med bay scanners have an in-game animation showing a green grid around the player. This allows crewmates to immediately identify other honest crewmates. "That puts the impostors at a disadvantage," says Celestin.
As crewmates in "Among Us" complete tasks, a green bar fills up in the upper left corner of the screen, tracking their overall progress. Watching the task bar fill after a crewmate finishes downloading files or filling the engines up with gas is one way to check if someone is an impostor or not. Impostors, however, don't have tasks to complete, so they're unable to contribute to the task bar. They can only fake it for so long before getting caught red handed. You should also play without "Task Bar Terrys" hovering around, monitoring tiny incremental changes to the taskbar, says Celestin.
- Hide And Seek
The premise: Max speed. No reporting bodies. No kill cool down. One task each. (Turn the lights off to up the fear factor).
This alternate ruleset turns "Among Us" into a horror movie. Voting is replaced by a simple mission: Finish all your tasks.
"Occasionally we'll play a version where we max out the speed, no one is allowed to report bodies, and the impostors have no kill cool down," Ahgren said. "It's basically a 'first person to die in a scary movie' simulator."
Ahgren calls this ruleset, which has different names and variations of its own, hide and seek. Every crew member has only one task to complete, so their mission is fairly simple, since tasks can still be completed after death. Crewmates win if they're able to avoid the impostors long enough and finish their tasks, Impostors win if they get a big enough body count.
Different variations of this mode can be made to give the crewmates a fighting chance. Impostor vision can be lowered, and a slight a cool down timer for their kill ability can be introduced to even the odds.
This version of the game has no discussions, lies, or deception. It only has death and hiding. It's especially fun to play with the lights turned off; at the start of the round, the impostors can sabotage the lights, so long as the crewmates agree to not fix them. This way, no one can see their cruel fate coming.
The Washington Post