Competitive Play Analysis — Werewolf


Werewolf is a “social deduction” game made by Stellar Factory. It’s a physical game that usually includes a card deck, however there are versions one can play without any materials at all. [source]


The theme of Werewolf is best represented as a social, mystery, and investigation game.



In general terms, there are several mechanics focused upon the roles of the players. There is usually a seer, a doctor, two werewolves, villagers, and a moderator, and each role has distinct powers. 

The seer has the mechanic of being able to guess and validate who the werewolves are during the night when all the other players are sleeping: the seer awakens during the night and can point at someone; the moderator then can confirm or deny whether the seer’s selection is a werewolf or not. 

There’s a mechanic implemented specifically for the doctor: they are able to “heal” people. The dynamic of this power is that the doctor can select a person to protect throughout the night when the werewolves are supposedly hunting. This person cannot be killed by the werewolves. 

The werewolves have the mechanic of choosing someone to die during the night. This mechanic manifests into the dynamic where, while all players except the moderator have their eyes closed, the werewolves can open their eyes and collectively agree on a target; if the target is not protected by the doctor’s healing powers, the player is killed off. 

The villagers have the mechanic of voting people to be killed that they suspect to be werewolves. The dynamic of this mechanic can be seen when, after a night and the announcement of a death, the villagers all discuss who could be a werewolf and then vote by majority who they suspect. After the majority of the players select one person to die, the person dies and the game continues. 

There are mechanics for general play as well. To keep the game progressing, there are “daytime” and “nighttime” cycles where the players can be awake and voting or asleep and being hunted by the werewolves. The moderator also has the mechanic of governing the progress of the game: the moderator usually sets the scene of the game at the beginning and continuously narrates the game each round to not only indicate to the players the progress of the game but also to add to the storyline of the game. 



The game promises fun through its use of fellowship, fantasy, challenge, and narrative aspects of fun. Since the game relies heavily on collaborating with your fellow players, the players must work within a fellowship framework where they must convince each other or “play politics” to avoid drawing suspicion to themselves and to protect their community. 

The game offers a fantastical aspect, where we are immersed in a world with mythological creatures; this allows for some escapism and more ease discussing violent acts such as “murder” or “killing” by a fellow player without the game feeling emotionally heavy. 

The challenge aspect comes from the social part of the game. Dealing with other humans and trying to read their behavior while also trying to govern one’s own actions to identify the antagonists is more difficult to “game” than a single player RPG; there are no cheat codes for quickly convincing your peers. 

Lastly, the narrative aspect adds to the whole “suspension of reality” for players: there is a storyline of a village trying to escape the danger of werewolves. By the moderator adding their narrative to the game such as with “everyone wake up. There has been a murder in the village. [insert player name] has been killed,” players are invested in not just the game but also the story of this village. 


Graphic Design

Graphic design-wise, we did not play with the actual board game; the best part about the game was how easy it is to play with low necessity of supplies. Therefore, graphic design decisions in my experience were negligible. However, I have played Werewolf with the actual game set, and the cards it includes are incredibly helpful. Each card has an image to indicate the role of the card i.e. a picture of a witch to indicate seer. The card also has the title of the role, such as “Villager & Seer” with a description of the role: “Find the werewolves.” Although the descriptions are a bit lackluster, the card and the image help players deduce quickly what their respective role might signify. This is helpful for learning the game quickly and keeping track of one’s role. 

Furthermore, they keep the cards clean: the white cards only have one color for the text and image. This makes the deck feel simple, clean, and not complicated for new players to understand.


Differentiation From Similar Games

The game differentiates itself from other games in its genre mostly through the setup. This game is  similar to Mafia, but with the implementation of a fantastical world with werewolves, and multiple player roles that are different from other games. These changes, although relatively superficial, made me feel like I was playing a different game entirely! I didn’t feel like I was just playing a knockoff version of Mafia; I felt like I was playing a unique game. This might be a result of the game-makers’ of Werewolf keeping their changes big yet simple: instead of human killers, they’re now werewolves and we’re in a village; however the mechanics are very similar so it isn’t tough to get started. 

Moreover, I think this game is quite similar to Secret Hitler, because in both games, there is a focus on social deduction: figuring out who the werewolves are, figuring out who the fascists and Hitler are. They both evoke debate and convincing of one’s fellow players. However, I think Secret Hitler could be less exciting simply because the majority of players can figure out who the fascists are or at least become convinced they know rather quickly: as soon as someone plays a fascist card and implements a fascist policy, they are automatically a suspect and most likely poised to be killed off. In Werewolf, because killings happen at night when the players’ eyes are closed, there is less certainty in when players vote to kill off a villager. This makes the game take longer in the deliberation stage and also seems to increase the challenge.



Abuse is most evidently mitigated through the role of the moderator. The moderator watches to make sure that players’ eyes are closed when they’re supposed to be, and that all players are abiding by the confines of their roles. Other than that, the game does not intervene with abuse; however, there is not much room for abuse in this game. There are no forbidden words or secrets to be kept. The game naturally has paranoia sewed into it, so even if players said they were the werewolf or the seer or a villager, one must still convince the majority of people to believe them. 


Possible Improvements

The improvements I see possible for Werewolf involve adding a suspense element such as a time challenge. Villagers can often be dawdling on a decision to kill people for too long, so I think putting them under a time restriction would increase the challenge of the game and excitement of debate. Furthermore, I think having a seer is a bit unnecessary for the most part and could be removed. It adds complexity to the game, but I am not sure it adds enough “fun” to warrant its existence. Players still doubt the person who says they’re the seer, and the seer lacks any special powers beyond “knowing,” which does not seem to be worth an added role in the game. 


What Interests Me

What interests me most about this game is its ability to evoke debate and conversation between the players. This is the key for my team’s game as well; we want to create a social game that truly does what it says it does: it prompts people to be social. This means that all players must be involved in decision making and other processes within the game. In Werewolf, I felt that all players had to interact with each other to discuss killing a player, guessing who is the werewolf, convincing others of one’s innocence etc., which brought them together and raised their levels of familiarity with each other. I left playing this game with 6 people I knew better and with whom I felt more comfortable. This is the goal of our game as well, especially when we want our game to be played in a setting where everyone might not know each other, like at a party.

About the author

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.