Illustration by Mary Cauffman / The Seattle Times

  • Mafia, also known as Werewolf, is a parlour game for a group of at least five people. The game is created in the USSR by Dmitry Davidoff in 1986 modelling a conflict between an informed minority, the mafia, and an uninformed majority, the innocents. Mafia was called one of the 50 most historically and culturally significant games published since 1890 by
  • At the start of the game, each player is secretly assigned a role affiliated with one of these teams. The game has two alternating phases: night, during which the mafia may covertly "murder" an innocent, and day, in which surviving players debate the identities of the mafia and vote to eliminate a suspect. Play continues until all of the mafia have been eliminated or until the mafia outnumbers the innocents.
  • In its simplest form, Mafia is played by two teams: the mafia and the innocents. Live games require a moderator who does not participate as a player, and identities are assigned by handing out cards. At the start of the game, every mafioso is given the identities of their teammates, whereas the innocents only receive the number of mafiosi in the game, and do not know which players are mafia and which are innocents.
  • There are two phases: night and day. At night, certain players secretly perform special actions; during day, players discuss and vote to "lynch," or eliminate, one player. These phases alternate with each other until all mafiosi have been eliminated or until the mafia outnumbers the innocents.
  • The game can be played with exactly two mafiosi, whereas the original Davidoff rules suggest a third of the players (rounding to the nearest whole number) be mafiosi.
  • Night – All players close their eyes. The moderator then instructs all members of the mafia to open their eyes and acknowledge their accomplices. The mafia members pick a "victim" by silently gesturing to indicate their target and to show unanimity then close their eyes again.
  • Day – The moderator instructs players to open their eyes and announces who "died" the previous night. Discussion ensues. At any point, a player may accuse someone of being a mafioso and prompt others to vote to lynch them. If over half of the players do so, the accused person is eliminated and night begins. Otherwise, the phase continues until a lynching occurs.
  • According to some rules, the role of dead players are revealed; according to others, it is not. In both cases, dead players are not permitted to attempt to influence the remainder of the game.


  • In some more complex variants of the game, some players are given roles with special abilities. Common special roles include:

*detective — an innocent who may learn the team of one player every night;
*doctor — an innocent who may protect a player from being killed every night;
*barman — a mafioso who may cancel the effect of another role's ability every night;
*vigilante — an innocent who may kill a player every night.

  • The game comes to an end in one of two ways. If Mafiosi manages to kill all innocent people, they win. Otherwise, they are eliminated by the innocents and, obviously, in this case the winner is the people.


Read more at Wikipedia