We were a small village of 12. The Smiths had been farming the fields for decades, it would seem, but strangely enough I could hardly recall their presence. I’d been a staple of the community for years, alongside my wife, though her behavior of late had been a bit, how should we say, off?
As I peered at the elder Smith and his wife and their teenage son, I knew beyond a reasonable doubt what had to be done. I knew that we would need to sacrifice one of them for the safety of the others. You see, in the nighttime, a monster had been visiting our village to feed, and we were the main course. I was dead sure that it was father Smith.
Actually, as a “minion,” I was well aware of who the werewolf was, and providing a steady diet for my furry friend was my goal. This is the key behind a game like Werewolf: Everyone has a role and everyone is guilty until proved innocent by his or her peers — some more bloodthirsty than others.
Werewolf is a deviation of the game Mafia, a Russian party game wherein a number of people (anything over five players is ideal; I imagine you could get up to 50 and have a grand old time) are pitted against friends, and the better liars thrive. Generally, two teams are created randomly by the handing out of tokens to assign roles. At this particular game, comic artist Andres Salazar’s custom game tokens were chosen from a bag at random; I drew minion, but other tokens include werewolf, villager, seer, hunter and witch.
The concept is simple: If you draw a werewolf token (there are two per game), it is your duty to hide your identity as best you can, by throwing doubt on other players. As the game progresses into two different phases, both “night” and “day,” the werewolf can act. In the daytime, the werewolf and the other players debate possible suspects and vote on whether or not to, well, execute suspected werewolves.
If the werewolves survive the daily debate, the night comes, and the night is where the werewolves have fun.
Taking a cue from the kindergarten game Heads Up, Seven Up, at night, players close their eyes, bow their heads and promise not to peek. The game master — in this instance, Salazar — asks the werewolves to open their eyes and choose a victim.
Luckily for the hapless villagers, there are allies. A “seer” can ask the game master if a particular player is a werewolf. With a simple thumbs up or thumbs down, the game master will confirm or deny; the “witch” can save a potential victim with the use of a potion, or murder a potential werewolf with a poison; and hunters can take a player out with them if they are chosen as the werewolf’s victim.
At the end of our session, I the minion, friend to the werewolves, stood alongside the hunter, witch, a hapless villager and the one remaining werewolf. Night came and with it another victim of the werewolf; this time, the hunter. Using her special power to take another player to its doom alongside her, the hunter successfully chose the werewolf and the game was over.
Werewolf is a party game for those who enjoy a bit of mystery without the prerequisite fake mustaches and detectives’ outfits. It’s a good way to break the ice — or make enemies for life when you convince everyone to kill them at the game’s onset.
Salazar has crafted his own wooden tokens for the game to customize the experience. For more information and to support his crowdfunding campaign, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/andresjsalazar/werewolf-tokens.
Follow Chris O’Neal @agentoneal.