Werewolf : Who Did You Kill Last Night?

Werewolf is a super fun party game that can be played with a large group of people. The object of the game is to identify and kill the werewolves amongst the villagers. Start by shuffling and dealing out the game cards, making sure to include 2 werewolves, a Doctor, and a Seer card. There are also wild cards that can be played such as the Drunk, the Witch, and the Alpha Werewolf. Then, the night phase begins and the moderator has the werewolves choose a victim, the Doctor is allowed to save 1 person, and the Seer gets to guess at 1 person they suspect of being a werewolf. When the night round ends, the day round begins and the players discuss their characters and then take a vote on who they believe is a werewolf. That player is then killed and the night round begins again. The game continues until either the werewolves or the villagers win. A popular version of the game called One Night: Ultimate Werewolf has even more roles that can be played.

Werewolf : Who Did You Kill Last Night?

In China, werewolves are all the rage. That’s thanks to the role-playing game “werewolf” (狼人杀, langren sha), a variation of the classic party game mafia (called “Killers” in China, very popular several years back).

How it works: before the game starts, each player is secretly assigned a role (i.e. werewolf, villager, celestial, etc. — there can be many, depending on the number of players, including roles that aren’t in mafia or Killers). Then the game starts, and at “night,” players kill, save, spy, or sleep (keeping their eyes closed the entire time), depending on their role (this is done with nonverbal signals given to a neutral, all-seeing “host”). When the game moves from night to “day,” the host informs players of what happened during the night — i.e. so-and-so was killed by a werewolf, so-and-so was saved by a celestial — and the “surviving” players then debate the identities of the werewolves – or falsely implicate innocents – and vote to eliminate the suspects. The game proceeds for multiple rounds until one group, either the killers or the innocents, outnumber the other.

The basics

Players

For a decent, game, you need at least 8 people. 9 is better. The more the merrier, although with more than about 17 the game can become too chaotic.

Choose one person to be the moderator. You can choose this person however you like -- randomly, for example -- but the moderator should always be a fairly experienced player. If you are playing with many people who have never played before, it is best to let the most experienced player be the moderator until the others get the hang of it.

The moderator is not actually a player. She (or he) oversees the game and coordinates the actions of the players. When these rules say "players", they do not mean "players and moderator"; if you have 12 people, one of whom is the moderator, then you have 11 players, not 12.

The basic deal

The game is composed of two teams: werewolves and townsfolk. The objective of the werewolves is to kill off all the villagers without themselves being killed. The objective of the townsfolk is to figure out who the werewolves are and kill them. One of the townsfolk is a seer, who has the ability to tell whether other players are werewolves or not (exactly how this works is described below).

There is also the moderator who, as described above, is not part of either team, but serves as a sort of impartial referee.

During the game, some players will be declared "dead". Dead players are not part of the game and are not allowed to converse, confer, or otherwise commiserate with living players. When the rules say "players", they mean living players only.

The game proceeds in alternating phases of day and night, about which more anon.

Setting up

The moderator should have several cards, one for each player, in this arrangement:

  • 2 werewolves
  • 1 seer
  • the rest villagers

(This is the basic setup; variations will be described later.) You can use the cards I designed, or make your own, or just take some scraps of paper and write "wolf" on 2 of them, "seer" on one, and "villager" on all the rest.

The moderator gives each player one card. Each player should look at her (or his) card but be sure that no one else sees it.

Normally, the moderator should distribute the cards randomly. If the players all know each other, though, it can sometimes be fun if the moderator "stacks the deck" by handing out specific cards to specific people. (This allows the players to get answers to burning questions like "Wow, what would it be like if Brendan and Schuyler were both wolves?")

Night

The game begins with a night phase. It is crucial that all actions by players at night be performed silently, to avoid revealing the identities of the werewolves, seer, or other roles.

At night, the moderator says, "Werewolves, open your eyes." The players who received werewolf cards should silently open their eyes and recognize each other; the moderator should note who the werewolves are. Once the moderator knows who the wolves are, and has made sure that the wolves know each other, the moderator says, "Werewolves, pick someone to kill." The werewolves should silently agree on one person. Both wolves must agree on one victim. Once the moderator understands who the intended victim is, she says, "Werewolves, close your eyes."

Once the wolves have closed their eyes, the moderator says, "Seer, open your eyes." The player who received a seer card should open her eyes. The moderator then says, "Seer, pick someone to identify." The seer should then silently indicate one person. When the moderator understands who has been chosen, she silently indicates to the seer whether that person is a werewolf or not, by giving a thumbs-up signal if the chosen person is indeed a wolf, or a thumbs-down if they are a villager. Once this information has been conveyed, the moderator says, "Seer, close your eyes."

Again, it is vital that the players remain quiet during these maneuvers. If, for example, a werewolf says, "Let's kill him" during the night, the other players (who are sitting there with their eyes closed) will realize the werewolf's identity. It is a good idea for all players to make some "white noise" (tapping feet, "snoring", etc.) during the night so that tiny noises made by the necessary movements of the werewolves and seer will not be heard.

In addition, the moderator should be careful to use gender-neutral pronouns when speaking to the various roles. If, for instance, the moderator says, "The seer can now open his eyes and pick someone", all players will know that the seer is male.

Day

Once the seer has closed her eyes, the moderator says, "It is day, and so-and-so was killed in the night." (indicating the person who was chosen by the werewolves during the night phase). That person is now dead; she immediately gives her card to the moderator, who reveals it to all players, so that everyone knows the role of the dead person.

As mentioned above, dead players are out of the game. When someone is declared dead by the moderator, they must refrain from hobnobbing with those still living -- this means no saying "I know who it is!" or anything like that.

Now the villagers must vote on who to lynch. As soon as a majority of living players are voting for a single player, that player is declared dead and the next night phase begins. In general, the players will engage in heated discussion in an attempt to gather sufficient support for a particular lynch victim.

Any living player may say anything she pleases. Lying is allowed in all forms and fashions. It is perfectly legal for a wolf to claim to be the seer, or for a player to intentionally misstate earlier events. The moderator should remain neutral and refrain from interfering in the discussion. It is appropriate, however, for the moderator to truthfully answer direct questions from living players about the number and type of players remaining in the game. (In other words, if someone asks, the moderator should tell them whether both wolves are still alive or one has been killed, or whether the seer was killed, etc.)

It is, however, completely verboten for a living player to actually reveal her card.

The basic strategy is as follows. The wolves are trying to pretend like they're not wolves, because if the villagers realize who the wolves are they will lynch them in short order. The villagers are trying to interpret the actions of other players and deduce who the wolves are. The seer is trying to throw suspicion on the wolves (if he knows who they are) and keep it off players she knows to be innocent -- but she must do this subtly, because if the werewolves figure out who the seer is, they will kill her during the night (since the seer is the biggest threat to the werewolves).

Again, dead players are excluded from this hullabaloo. They can listen all they want, but may not say anything.

A few things that always seem to come up: Yes, a majority of all living players, including the person being voted on; if there are 10 players alive, for example, there must be 6 votes on one player to lynch (5 is not enough). Yes, there must be a lynching every day; no namby-pamby we-don't-wanna-lynch-anybody nonsense in this village.

Also, it is important that the moderator pay close attention to the voting. As soon as a majority of players is voting for a single victim, that victim is immediately dead and night begins. Any last words or pleas for mercy must be given before the majority rules; once the lynch takes place, the lynched person may not say anything more for the rest of the game.

When a player is lynched, the moderator reveals that player's identity to the other players, so they can see whether they have lynched a werewolf (yay), a villager (oh well), or the seer (oops). Night begins immediately; no further discussion is permitted until the following day.

Dead players are permitted to keep their eyes open at all times, and thus see everything that happens at night, but of course they must keep quiet about it so as not to influence the actions of the living players.

Victory

If at any time the number of wolves is equal to or greater than the number of non-wolves, the wolves win. If there are no wolves left alive, the villagers win.

Technicalities

Strictly speaking, the wolves are not required to kill someone at night, nor is the seer required to identify anyone. For either role to refrain from taking advantage of its powers, however, is extremely rare, and usually only helpful in games with special additional roles (described below), if at all.

That's it!

Those are the rules of werewolf. The rest of this page just describes extra roles and stuff that you can add on to the basic game.