Jailbreak is a custom game mode based off the Counter-Strike game mode of the same name. This game mode simulates a prison environment, incorporating light roleplay and competitive elements to assign each player roles within the prison system.
In Jailbreak, players are divided into two teams. The RED team is designated as "prisoners", while the BLU team is "guards". One member of BLU is designated as the "Warden," and is able to order RED players to obey commands or initiate minigames for them to compete in. Prisoners who fail the minigames are eliminated, until only one remains.
The RED team (prisoners) start in their cells, and, in almost all servers, are stripped down to their melees (with a few exceptions, such as the Medic's Medi Gun). The BLU team (guards) start in a room called the "Armoury", which houses multiple large health pickups and large ammo boxes. RED players are usually not allowed to enter Armoury, lest they be killed by the guards. RED players cannot enter the Armoury through the front exit, as the door will simply not open for them. However, most armouries have secret entrances, usually requiring prisoners to break an obstacle before they can get in.
All Jailbreak maps have a "Medic" area, where anyone entering will automatically be healed to their max health with no overheal.
While most Jailbreak rounds have prisoners win by following the Warden's orders, some prisoners will attempt to win by "rebelling", or killing the BLU team. However, this is often very difficult without a full-team cooperation, as prisoners are stripped down to their melees. BLU players, meanwhile, have access to all their weapons, as well as free access to the Armoury and all its benefits.
On some occasions, there will be a "freeday." During this, prisoners do not have to listen to the guards or Warden, though killing can still be punished. Freedays can apply for some prisoners, or can be given to the entire RED team. A freeday is a common choice for a last request, though they can happen if the Warden is killed and no one on the BLU team applies to be a Warden within a set amount of time.
Some servers give the Warden or all guards 100% critical hits, and some will notify the entire server whenever a prisoner enters the armoury.
When only one prisoner remains, they are given a "last request". Last requests can include:
Freeday: On Freedays, the prisoner who chose it does not have to listen to the guards or Warden the next round, and are free to do whatever they want. However, if they attack a guard, their freeday is removed, and they are eligible to be killed. Prisoners can also chose "Freeday for all", which means that all prisoners do not have to listen to the guards or Warden, but can still be killed if they try to rebel.
RED Warden: The remaining prisoner becomes the warden, and all guards are instructed to do what the prisoner says. Commonly, RED wardens will make the guards do impossible tasks, such as asking impossible questions, though the prisoner may also make them do a mini-game.
Hunger Games: During Hunger Games, friendly fire is turned on, and all prisoners run around the map trying to kill one another. Guards are usually instructed to stay in armoury doing the duration of Hunger Games. Guards who venture out of the armoury are at risk of getting killed by the prisoners.
Hide & Seek: During Hide & Seek, the guards are instructed to stay in the Armoury for 45 seconds, while the prisoners run around the map, trying to find a place to hide. After 30 seconds, the prisoners are forced into their humiliation poses - they run at a much slower speed, and they are left defenseless. If a certain amount of time has passed and not all the prisoners have been found, the prisoners will regain their speed and melees, and can attack any guard who finds them.
Nuke Day: Many servers have a variation of 'Nuke Day', in which either all players or all REDs are given maximum speed (173%) and a Valve Rocket Launcher. The cell doors often automatically open, and Friendly Fire may or may not be activated.
Some servers have additional rules, such as:
- A microphone requirement for BLU team members. Admins on this type of servers will from time to time do microphone checks, meaning all guards (Warden or not) must be able to use voice chat.
- Rules moderating or prohibiting "Freekilling", where guards kill non-rebelling prisoners without a good reason. Most servers give severe consequences to freekillers, though the level of punishment varies. Some servers will automatically ban players who are freekilling over time, others require an admin to manually ban freekillers; the ban length varies as well, mostly depending on how severe the freekill was, or if the freekiller was banned for freekilling in the past.
- BLUs who taunt or walk near REDs are called "baiters", and can be attacked by REDs without it being illegal. Other forms of baiting include, but aren't limited to, spinning up a Minigun or charging up a Huntsman and pointing it threateningly at a prisoner, throwing a covering weapon (such as the Jarate) onto prisoners, dealing minor non-lethal damage without reason, or otherwise acting provocative. Take note that even though many servers will recognize BLU baiters, attacking baiters as a prisoner can still get you killed, especially if guards missed the baiting action but saw the attack. As such, many give warnings when intending to attack a baiting guard.
- Certain class restrictions apply. Engineer is typically restricted due to his ability to create buildings, and Spy is typically restricted due to his cloaking and disguising abilities.
Weapons are limited for RED, as they start out with only melee weapons. Food can be used, but only by discarding or consuming it before the match begins, which is frequently discouraged. Some servers allow Medi Guns and shields to be used.
Certain weapons may also be restricted, due to their ability to allow REDs to easily bend the rules. Commonly restricted weapons include:
- The Thermal Thruster, due to its ability to enable flight.
- The Eureka Effect, due to how REDs can easily escape to the cells with its teleport ability.
- The Ubersaw, due to the ability to build Über from baiters or friendly fire, making it easier to rebel.
Various types of minigames can be played on Jailbreak servers. Minigames are usually organized by the guards and the Warden, and are carried out by the prisoners.
Examples of common minigames that are map-dependent:
- Fall Game: RED players are placed in a small, enclosed room with square tiling. A random square will begin glowing red, then fall into an environmental hazard. RED players must survive until all but one square has fallen or until one person is left.
- Jeopardy: Played much like the gameshow, RED players must answer trivia questions. Answering wrongly or failing to answer will result in the player's death.
- Death Run: Based on the custom gamemode, RED players are placed in a hallway with traps. BLU players will activate traps from behind a wall. Game goes on until last rights are given, or until the Warden decides it should stop.
- Crush Game: RED players are placed in a room similar to the fall game room, the main difference being that the squares are coloured. A colour will be shown on the wall, and any player failing to stand on that square will be killed. Lasts until last rights or the Warden decides to end it.
- Obstacle Course: Most commonly referred to as "Obby". The RED players start out at an entrance and must overcome different obstacles, such as death pits, parkour courses, and more. This mini-game behaves in a similar fashion to Death Run. The main difference is that the traps do not need to be triggered, and are based on the RED team's decisions.
- Sweeper: RED players are put on top of pedestals above a hazard. The guards will start the minigame, causing the hazard to activate and a pole to spin round over the pedestals. The pole will kill the RED players on touch, and the RED players must jump over the pole without dying. In some variations, the pole does not kill on touch, but RED players will be killed if they are pushed off the pedestal, such as into water. The minigame is stopped on the Warden's decision or if there is 1 player left.
- Dodgeball/Soccer: Players must hit a ball at opponents. If the ball hits an opponent hard enough, they will die. Some maps have a variation where players have to score points by hitting said ball into a goal.
- Minefield: Players must traverse a field full of mines that explode and damage the player upon contact.
- Nine Square: Players are pitted in an area with nine squares. The announcer will count down, and bars will separate the other squares from each other so that the players don't move from one another. From there, a random square will sink, and any players on it will be killed. The minigame ends at the Warden's discretion, there is one player remaining, or there is one square left.
- Four Corners: Players are put in an area with four large green squares. The players will be given a set time to choose which square they would like to be on, and when the time is up, a random square will flash red. Anyone standing on that square will be killed. The minigame ends if the warden feels like it or there is one player remaining.
- Kitchen/Diner: Players take turns making up various foods, with guards judging whether the dish is sufficient. If the majority is in favor, the player will go to the back of the line; if the majority is against, then the player will be killed.
- Theater: Players are put on the stage, where they will do one of four things: tell a joke, show off their cosmetics (know as Hat Day), show off their taunts, or show off their sprays. The guards will then judge the performance, with the rules being similar as Kitchen/Diner.
- Arena: Players are put in a specific area and must fight each other after friendly fire is enabled. While there are usually specific areas for Arena in most maps, sometimes the Warden will pit the players in the Pool. The minigame ends if the Warden decides to stop, or if there is one player remaining.
- Russian Roulette: Players are put in cells that have a trap underneath the floor. A random floor will break, and whoever is in the cell with that floor will be killed. The minigame ends if the Warden decides to stop, if there is one player remaining, or if there is only one unaffected cell left.
- Rock, Paper, Scissors: Two players are put into cells, where they have three buttons: Rock, Paper, and Scissors. Both must choose, and the rules of the original game applies; Rock beats Scissors, Scissors beats Paper, and Paper beats Rock. Another variant of this game is to have two players simply use the taunt.
- Stairway to Heaven: Player must climb extremely thin platforms and make it to the goal without being killed.
- Pool: The Warden chooses a random BLU to kill as many RED players in the Pool as they can before he is killed by the remaining RED players.
In addition to location-specific minigames, some minigames can be played at any point in the map. These minigames are based off of communication and orders given by the Warden/guards. The most common are:
- Simon Says: Sometimes called "Warden Says", the Warden gives orders in the form of "Simon says do X", and any player that doesn't do said action is killed. If the Warden says an action without saying "Simon says" at the beginning, any player who does the action is killed.
- First Reaction, Last Reaction: Similar to Simon Says, RED players must do the action the Warden says. Instead of saying "Simon says", the Warden will either say "First reaction" or "Last reaction". The first person to do the action during a first reaction round will be killed, and the last player to do said action during a last reaction round will be killed, respectively.
- Pokémon: The Warden chooses a random RED player (usually the first to answer a question correctly) to be the RED Pokémon master. The RED Pokémon master chooses a teammate to melee fight a BLU player chosen by the Warden.
- Cell Wars: Friendly fire is enabled at the start of the round and REDs must kill everyone else in their cells.
- War Day: The Warden chooses somewhere for the BLUs to camp. The REDs are allowed into the armory and must fight the BLUs.
- Theatre: REDs must show the BLUs a hat, taunt, joke or spray, and BLUs must vote whether or not they like it. If voted "No", they are killed. This is an abridged version of the 'Theatre' mini-game mentioned previously.
- Kitchen: REDs must type in chat what they cooked for the Warden. If the Warden does not like their offer, they are killed. Like theatre, this is an abridged version of another mini-game featured previously.
- Jailbreak maps usually have pop-culture references; these include, but are not limited to some Doctor Who, Pokémon, and Minecraft references.