Critical Play: Mafia

I played Mafia (offline) with 5 people (therefore do not have screenshots :() Mafia can be played offline – in-person – (I feel this is the best way because you actually get to see people and their expressions) as well as online ( Mafia was created by Dimitry Davidoff in 1986 and has been adapted by multiple individuals since.

I believe the target audience would be 5 years and above (my friends told me stories of how they used to play versions of Mafia when they were younger) and I feel it is a great game to play with your friends in the school bus, in parties as adults or during the holidays with family.

The game requires a minimum of 4 players if being played online and 5 players if being played offline (1 moderator), but I personally feel that the fun increases as the number of players increase. The roles are :

  1. Moderator (if playing offline – 1) – this person is the one who assigns roles and narrates the game to the rest of the players
  2. Town person (depends) – does not take any real action
  3. Mafia (depends) – can choose to kill one town person per night cycle
  4. Detective (1) – can choose to question a suspect who they believe is the mafia
  5. Doctor (1) – can save a town person (if it is the same as the one the mafia chose to kill)

There should be around 1 mafia per 3-4 town people.

The game starts with the moderator assigning roles (in a way that people do not know each other’s roles). There is a night and day cycle. During the night cycle, the mafia gets up and collectively decides to kill one person. Then the mafia go to sleep and the detective wakes up and they decide on one person to question (who they suspect is the mafia) and then the detective sleeps and the doctor wakes up and chooses one person to save. Then everyone wakes up, the moderator discloses the new state of the game (if someone was killed/saved) and then everyone collectively chooses someone who they believe is the mafia (if they are right, that person gets eliminated).

The Mafia wins if they kill all the town people, the detective and the doctor.

The town people win if they successfully identify all the mafia members before being killed.

I think the dynamics between the players gets very interesting in day cycle (where they choose someone who they believe is the mafia). During this, the mafia also try to accuse people and shift the blame from themselves and everyone uses a different strategy (some people get too defensive, some too quiet and some try to maintain a balance). Identifies strategies is a lot of fun.

I think a game similar to Mafia (that I have played) would be Among Us. I enjoyed Mafia more than Among Us as I tend to enjoy offline games much more (especially offline social deduction games because expressions and actions are everything <3). I do like the part about Among Us being online that you can move around and there are tasks to complete (as the same routine repeatedly can get tiring after a point).

I enjoyed playing Mafia as (like I said above) it is a lot of fun to try to find who the mafia is and convince others of your suspicions. It also does a great job at breaking the ice and building fellowship – 3 of the 5 people I played Mafia with were friends of friends and after playing the game, we felt much closer to each other.

I think an epic fail in our game was the doctor getting killed :(. This meant that no one could be saved anymore and the mafia ended up winning that round because they were able to overpower the town people much easily (1 definite kill per round). It also removed one aspect of fun (the doctor trying to save the right person).

To make the game better, I would add an interesting aspect that allows the person under suspicion (the one who the detective chose), to defend themselves and allow the other players to act as a sort of jury (they can declare the suspect guilty and if they do so, that person is eliminated, irrespective of whether they were the mafia or not). I would also add a time limit to the day cycle where the players need to choose someone who they believe is the mafia.



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