Thursday 08/16/2018 by Lemuria


This is a game for 2-10 Phish fans, designed to be played on tour – whether passing hours in the lot or in line, meeting new friends at a forum meetup, or post-show fun at a hotel or campground. It’s ideally suited for relaxed banter among casual fans, and could be a great way to help share your particular interests in Phishtory. It’s also well suited for cut-throat “I know this band sooooooooo much better than you” gauntlet throwdowns (once you’re sick of arguing about whether the most recent show was historically uberepic or only subprime millennial epic), if your crew swings that way.

Materials Needed

You’ll need some sort of tokens – coins, poker chips, pencils, Pepperidge Farm baked snack crackers… or maybe Phanart pins, if you want to put your artwork where your mouth is. (Put ‘em in the game, and let ‘em fight it out.) Each player starts with five. These are your “goldfish” and, unlike Jimmy (RIP Poster Nutbag), you do want a goldfish. Every single one of them.

Each player also needs a container – a cup, dish, or, uh, bowl – for your goldfish. You could just make piles on a table (or a tarmac), but then you wouldn’t be able to shake it and make other players hear the clamor of your aggregated (and aggravating, bwahahaha) success. Plus, again, bowl.

Finally, you need a bible, an arbiter for disputes. We, of course, recommend The Phish Companion, if you have one. (Any edition will do.) Perhaps you’ll agree on some other book, or to refer to or some other website. You might even pick the Internet at large, or whoever happens to be in the game or nearby… but then you’re opening yourself to a potential storm. Seek clarity. Try (Look, Jimmy – the storm is gone!)

Game Play

Figure out who goes first. We recommend whoever has the next upcoming birthday, because that’s a nice random selection method that you probably hadn’t known, and this was an opportunity to teach it to you. (I’m a professor, and appreciate any such opportunity. Yes, it’s on the midterm.) You might instead choose whoever has the longest middle name, first met Trey backstage, or has seen the most Phish shows. (Side project shows count, but not Pork Tornado, because Pork Tornado.) Or, whoever first screams, “Oom pa pa!” – which, by the by, is a good way to attract players from neighboring parking spaces, tents, or apartment buildings. And if it instead annoys them, you can play this game to settle the beef.

Players take turns each asking a Phish-related trivia question of the other players. It could be about a song title or character, a venue, special guest, or setlist, or some deep statistic that, seriously, no one but ZZYZX fully understands. The questioner may refer to the identified bible to find something to ask about, or may attempt to impress us all with a long-forgotten nugget from their vast store of knowledge so deep that none of the rest of us will ever truly understand “Golgi” the way Trey intended.

Players wanting to answer should raise their hand and wait to be called by the questioner, in the order they raised their hands, until a correct answer is given or everyone willing to guess does so. (You haven’t been called yet, bulldog. Sit back down.)


By raising their hand, a player chooses to wager one goldfish on an answer. A player who answers a question correctly, keeps their wager and takes one goldfish from the person who asked it – your goal, every round. But a player who answers incorrectly, must give their wagered goldfish to the questioner – so avoid wild guesses, and ask questions that invite wrong answers.

And here’s the leveler: If either no one raises their hand, or everyone misses the question, the questioner must give every other player one goldfish. That discourages impossible questions (you know who you are; cut it out), keeps things encouraging for even the n00biest among us, and lets the game flow a bit more casually, at least until some players run out of goldfish and things heat up.

When there are only two players left, that last rule switches: The other player has to answer correctly, or loses a goldfish to the questioner – either from missing it or from not answering. Oh, yeah. It’s on, baby.


You’re among the phirst to play! Post pics of your games with the hastag #playingharpua tags on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Maybe someday we’ll see a Mockingbird Harpua Tournament. For now, I hope to see you at golf in Denver.

If you liked this blog post, one way you could "like" it is to make a donation to The Mockingbird Foundation, the sponsor of Support music education for children, and you just might change the world.


, comment by whatstheuse324
whatstheuse324 Thanks for the instructions, sounds like a lot of fun!
, comment by karmapolice
karmapolice Overall sounds good. Not a fan of the if no one answers your question right, you have to give them each a gold fish rule though. Seems like you're being punished for asking a good question.
, comment by Lemuria
Lemuria @karmapolice said:
Overall sounds good. Not a fan of the if no one answers your question right, you have to give them each a gold fish rule though. Seems like you're being punished for asking a good question.
Let's consider it in development, seeking feedback - and this is good, thanks! Maybe it should be you lose a goldfish if everyone misses, but not if no one answers? Or vice versa? It's designed to discourage "what was the 4th most common song in 2002?" but not "name 3 of the 10 most played songs in the band's history".
, comment by ProfJibboo
ProfJibboo And this is yet another reason why I advocate for a smaller, streamlined, paperback, travel edition of the Phish Companion.

Great game! Hope to play! (Without lugging around the book)
, comment by Lemuria
Lemuria Feeling particularly ballsy? Start with ten fish instead of five, then pose questions that require a higher wager. To do so, you need enough goldfish to pay out losses: If there are four other players (five total), you’d need to put 12 tokens on the line to ask a three-goldfish zinger about Mike’s shoes that you’re sure no one knows - but be careful, as it needs to be something that someone will *think* they know, or you'll pay the price. In goldfish.
You must be logged in to post a comment. is a non-commercial project run by Phish fans and for Phish fans under the auspices of the all-volunteer, non-profit Mockingbird Foundation.

This project serves to compile, preserve, and protect encyclopedic information about Phish and their music.

Credits | Terms Of Use | Legal | DMCA

© 1990-2023  The Mockingbird Foundation, Inc. | Hosted by Linode