Mafia, the party game

October 4, 2010


Today was a pretty interesting day. Lenny held a BBQ at his house and invited a ton of people. Mingling, munching and finally marauding into his house, a whole bunch of us got together to play Mafia. It was the first time playing this game for a few of us, including me. Ironically, I now remember that it’s quite similar to a game I’ve heard of called Werewolf, which follows along the same style of gameplay. There are a ton of variations on the Mafia game and many rulesets.

The gist of the game
The game is divided into two phases, Night and Day. During the Night, “Mafia” members secretly Kill a player, while the Nurse secretly saves one player, and the Detective works to identify who the Mafia members are. During the Day, all players must come to a consensus selecting one person to “lynch” as a possible Mafia member all the while keeping their own identities a secret. The game is directed by a Narrator who does not participate in the game but instead provides a story and directs the players along.

It’s quite fun and you start seeing interesting trends as games progress. Some people grow very quiet when they are a part of the Mafia so as not to draw much attention to them. Others will hold a very active role in the deliberations. Players will often find even the smallest reasons to accuse other players of being a Mafia member.


One thing I noticed were micro-expressions are very hard to read but can tell quite a lot. They can reveal emotions that they are experiencing, such as: disgust, anger, fear, sadness, happiness, surprise, and contempt. Something as simple as someone biting the left side of their lip or double blinking to more cryptic expressions such as raising one’s eyebrow. But it’s fun once you’ve spotted something and you’re suspicion comes to fruition. Poker players also call this a “tell” and will find ways to hide their own tells. I’ve played poker with John a lot so I can spot a tell on him. Too bad he offed me when I saw it in game. Grrr.

Even friends can’t tell

Another funny thing I noticed was that even close friends were having trouble figuring out if the person they knew so well was lying to them or telling the truth. In our first round, I was the Mafia Don and I was able to capitalize on that and take out a lot of people before they realized that I was too quiet during some of the deliberation. Some people are very good at lying and was able to hide among the innocents till the very end. You people know who you are…

Crazy deliberation

Some rounds were very intense as deliberations got heated. Accusing someone based on the smallest reasons such as “You’ve been talking too much” or “You looked at him funny” slowly became the norm. Defending oneself is quite hard and literally involved coming up with a substitute to take your place under the butcher block. Lots of yelling, screaming and laughing takes place during this phase of the game. My favorite thing about this game is that many times, people were literally changing their minds nonstop about who to accuse. When you lynch an innocent person, the whole group feels bad about it because you not only took out a regular player, you’ve allowed Mafia member escape. But when the group nails a Mafia member, it’s awesome. Applause and high-fives abound, this moment of glory is a small break from the continuing carnage of Mafia hits, drawing suspicions, and mob mentality.

Love it.


One comment

  1. […] it at Mafia, the party game via The Brain 2 […]

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