Years ago, my daughter had a sleepover party for her birthday, and our friend Rachel volunteered to help out with activities. One of the party games she played with the girls was Mafia, which I had never seen before. The girls were secretly assigned roles as innocents or members of the Mafia. I remember the girls all sitting with their eyes closed listening carefully to Rachel as she led them through the game. The members of the Mafia would open their eyes when directed and silently let Rachel know which of the innocents was to be rubbed out. The innocents (and the players who were secretly part of the Mafia) had to try and figure out who was part of the Mafia and then everyone would vote as to who would be locked up. It was a huge hit at the slumber party.
Later, I discovered that there was a different version of Mafia, called Werewolf, that had a huge following among gamers, especially at large gatherings like KublaCon. I played it once and I had a good time, but when you are eliminated, you’re done, and the game can go on for a very long time. As I get older, I don’t like staying up too late, even for games. I’d rather be up bright and early for waffles and games in the morning.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf takes much of what’s fun about the full pot of gaming coffee that Werewolf provides and condenses it down into a tasty espresso of Werewolfy goodness. Forget player elimination. You’ve got one night to figure out who is a werewolf and who is human, and a single vote to determine which side will win. You don’t even have to have a player sit out to act as the moderator. You can download a free app for your tablet or smartphone that will run the game for you. Seriously cool. Didn’t I talk about this stuff in my Augmented Reality post?
The game was developed by Ted Alspach and Akihisa Okui, and was published in 2014 by Bezier Games. It features some very fun art from Brazilian artist Gus Batts, and will accommodate 3 to 10 players of ages 8+. My 10-year-old son had no trouble at all playing this with adults, except for the fact that my wife and I can tell when he’s not being truthful. He raises his eyebrows more than usual.
The game comes with a set of 16 character role cards and matching tokens. The role cards are really role tiles, because they’re really thick. Some roles, like normal villagers, sleep through the night, while others wake up and can perform a special action. Here’s a sample of a few roles and their actions during the night:
- Werewolves look around for other werewolves, or if you choose the lone wolf option, then a single werewolf can look at one of the three tiles in the center, which is helpful when you need to lie about your role.
- The Seer may look at another player’s card or at two of the center cards. You would think this would be a role where you would have a good deal of credibility, but it’s actually fairly easy to lie about being the Seer.
- The Troublemaker gets to switch the roles of two other players, but may not look at the cards.
- The Robber may choose to swap his role with another player. The Robber gets to look at the new role and is on the team indicated by the new role.
- The Insomniac wakes up and checks to see if his or her role has changed over the night. We always chuckle when the narrator says, “Insomniac, wake up!” Oh cruel irony.
There are other roles in the game, and you can swap them in and out as you please. The tokens are useful for indicating which roles are currently on the table, or you can keep them stored safely in the box, like we do. Once you get a handle on the basic concept of how to play the game, it’s pretty simple to start adding in new roles. I think that this is one of those games that is difficult to wrap your head around until you play it or watch someone play it. I’ve embedded some videos at the bottom of the post that demonstrate how to play. One is from GameNight! and the other was produced by Ted Alspach.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf gets my highest recommendation. It may be a small box, but there’s a whole lot of fun packed inside. Pick one up at your FLGS or get it through a reputable online retailer. Trust me. I’m a villager. Really.