Amazing Werewolf

Jude hosted a “game day” yesterday, and lots of people showed up. I think at peak we had sixteen people in our house. From about 8:00 until midnight, we played Werewolf, a variant of Mafia. They were all interesting, dynamic, well-balanced game s. Here are the role lineups for these games:

  • 2 Werewolves, 2 Villagers, Bodyguard, Witch, Seer, Romantic
  • 2 Werewolves, 2 Villagers, Bodyguard, Witch, Seer, Romantic, Werehamster
  • 3 Werewolves, 3 Villagers, Bodyguard, Witch, Seer, Romantic, Hunter

An explanation of our definitions of these roles will be given at the end of this post.

The last game we had was the best game of Werewolf I have ever played (the lineup was the third one here). I was given the Werewolf role, along with Jude and Travis. In the previous game, I had mentioned that when we were analyzing the game a while ago, we determined that if the seer sees a werewolf in the first round of the game, the seer should immediately speak up and say who it was (technically, that only applied to games with two werewolves, though). So Jude cunningly spoke up right as the game started and fingered Paul as a werewolf. Some discussion ensued about how to verify whether Jude was actually the seer, but nobody was contesting him, so many people trusted him. People still wanted some verification. We lynched paul on the first day.

That night, we werewolves chose Jude, one of our own, to be eaten. The witch finds out who is chosen to be eaten by the werewolves each night, so we figured that she would see Jude as the target and therefore not suspect him (it makes sense for the werewolves to eat the seer, no?). We knew he wouldn’t be eaten, because the bodyguard would be protecting him, and the witch would probably save him, too (so the witch used up her save on the first night!).

Day broke, and both Gabbie and Cami were dead. I was confused, and thought that our game master had screwed up. It was a wonderful turn of events, because when two people die in a night, nobody can be sure whether the Witch killed somebody extra or the wolves ate the romantic. We wolves (after coming to our senses) deduced that only one thing could have happened: Jude was saved by the witch (or bodyguard) and the witch targeted Gabbie or Cami, one of which was the romantic. I was already forming my plan: if I was put on trial, I would be the romantic, because the real romantic was dead and could not contest. Of course my lover would be Travis, who would support me. (As it turns out, my plan was flawed because the witch also knew what had happened the first night)

Jude said that he had seen the witch, but he didn’t want to reveal who the witch was. Putting myself in a skeptical villager’s shoes (as I did many times that game), I called bullshit on Jude. We were looking for verification, and he said something which provided no information at all. The others didn’t seem to care, though, nobody was on board with my theory. This is a good sign.

After a little argument, we did the first round of voting, and Hagan and I were up on trial. I could leverage my skepticism of Jude during this: I claimed that since no information was known about me yet, should I survive, Jude should identify me the next night. Therefore it is absolutely imperative that I not give away my role, so that Jude can be securely verified.

During the unusually long discussion period after we were nominated, Daniel claimed that he was the witch, and Jude confirmed, “yep, he was the one I saw”. Out of the blue, Sophia said “that’s not true, because I’m the witch”, and Daniel said, “that’s true, I was bluffing!”. Oh, shit! Jude’s been found out! Hagan came out while he was on trial and “claimed” to be the seer. The only information he had was that Cami was a villager and Gabbie was the romantic. Completely irrelavent, uninteresting, unverifiable information. This did not help his credibility. I don’t see how people could have trusted Jude after the witch event, so I’m guessing that people assumed the real seer was already dead. Jessa mentioned that she was the Hunter, and if she died, she would kill Daniel (probably for lying about being the witch). Hagan was put to death.

That night, we werewolves (after a long period of silent arguing) selected Jessa. I hadn’t remembered her comment, but in retrospect that was absolutely the right move. She was true to her word and selected Daniel to take with her. And the werewolves, all three intact, win after the second night!

The game took at least an hour. Many of our Werewolf games are not that interesting because people play straightforwardly: people simply choose when to reveal the true information that they know. Werewolves try to avoid being put on trial or executed, by claiming they are a villager or something. This game was totally different: people were claiming to be things that they weren’t—important things, not just nondescript villagers. When Jude pretended to be the seer, he had to come up with some information that he had found out. Basically, people were gutsy, and that made for an incredibly deep, twisty game. So there’s a lesson: be gutsy and tricksy in Werewolf games, it makes the game as a whole better.

Here are the roles we used:

  • Werewolves: must unanimously decide each night who to eat, which may be one of the werewolves. If the selected person is unselected, he dies that night.
  • Bodyguard: chooses one person each night to protect. If that person is selected by the werewolves, then they don’t die. The bodyguard is allowed to protect himself.
  • Witch: is told each night who is about to be eaten by the werewolves (regardless of whether they are under bodyguard protection). Once during the game, the witch may choose to save this person, in which case they do not die. Once during the game the witch may choose to kill someone, and that person dies, even if under protection by the bodyguard.
  • Seer: each night chooses one person, and the role of that person is revealed to him. The seer also acts on the night before the first day, and is the only role who does so.
  • Romantic: on the night before the first day, chooses another player, and those two players become “romantically entangled”. They may never vote for each other during the nominations, and if one dies, then the other does, too.
  • Werehamster: is a third faction, in a sense. The werehamster counts as a villager in most respects, but if the werehamster survives until the end of the game (either by the werewolves coming to equal numbers with the villagers (including the hamster), or by all werewolves being eliminated), then the werehamster wins instead. The werehamster cannot be eaten by werewolves (their selection simply has no effect), and if the seer ever chooses to look at the werehamster, then the werehamster immediately dies. The werehamster can be hanged, and can be killed by the witch and the hunter.
  • Hunter: when the hunter dies (regardless of how: lynching, werewolf, witch), he must select another player to take to the grave with him. We did this in a sortof half-information way: If the hunter dies during the day, he selects someone else in broad daylight and they both die, so everybody knows who he is. If the hunter dies at night, then the gamemaster adds a new phase that night: “hunter, select someone to kill”. Two people will die that night, but nobody is sure which is the hunter and which was his target.

We never reveal the role of dead players, never allow dead players to speak, and never reveal how someone was killed (i.e. whether it was by witch or werewolf (or in the hamster’s case, seer)).

5 thoughts on “Amazing Werewolf

  1. I think the seer killing the werehamster is no good. One of the beautiful parts of werewolf is that nobody can be killed by chance alone. Not the case now. How about if the seer fingers the werehamster, he becomes one himself, strengthening the third faction and adding more depth. I also don’t think the hunter is very interesting. Another role could be Peeping Tom who knows who the lover is. Another role could be the Village Idiot, he can’t be targeted by werewolfs, and he can’t talk (I like this role, because it lets werewolfs pretend to be village idiots, and could help reduce the clamor of heavy discussion). Another role could be the Hunter that gets to kill one werewolf if he is targeted by them, and gets to track the werewolfs: he guesses the werewolf’s next target, and if correct, he watches them do their dirty deed.

  2. How about a ninja that can kill one person every night. The ninja acts first every night, and their target dies immediately (the victim is announced at the time of the slaying).

  3. Some clarification on the new seer-hamster interaction. If the seer fingers the hamster, he becomes a second hamster and the first hamster is signaled to open his eyes to identify the seer. The seer will continue to take a seer action every night.

  4. It sounds like Mafia, only better. I realise that this game is mainly intended to be played IRL with all people in one room; but for some reason, while reading, what repeatedly popped into my mind was how it would work over the net: would a port of the game to a centralised server and a mailing list be playable?

    I’m kind of inclined to find out, though perhaps after trying the game IRL a few times first to get a feel for the rules.

  5. What makes Werewolf (or Mafia) great is the human component. It’s a game about reading and deceiving people, like Poker. It would make a fine online game, but I would do it on the Xbox 360 and use the voice and camera features to simulate being in the same room with the other people. Heck, this could be a pretty compelling Xbox Live Arcade game that would take like 2 days to implement.

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