Critical Play: One-Night Werewolf


For my first critical play, I decided to play One-Night Werewolf with some friends. It was my first time playing One-Night Werewolf, but I had previously played Werewolf a few times (like in class or at party settings). I enjoyed Werewolf and was interested in understanding how the one-round aspect changed the aesthetics of the game.

One-Night Werewolf is a game created by Ted Alspach and I played it with physical tokens but utilized the app for storytelling. When playing, one person used the storytelling app script to narrate the game. The game had six players, so we were instructed to have 2 Werewolves, 1 Seer, 1 Robber, 1 Troublemaker, and 1 Villager our game. In this version, there were 3 additional random cards that were added to the shuffle deck, with the leftover three after distribution put in face-down in the middle.

As in the Ultimate Werewolf game, the objective of the Werewolves in the group were to disguise as villagers and not be discovered. The objective of everyone else in the game was to discover the Werewolves. In this game, during the night-phase, the Werewolves woke up first, recognize each other, and decide on a kill. Once a kill was decided, the special rolls, Seer, Troublemaker, and Robber took turns. The Seer woke up first and was instructed to look at one other members cards from the deck. The Robber woke up next and was instructed to switch their card with someone in the game or a card from the middle. The Troublemaker woke up last and was instructed to switch the cards of two other players without looking at them. We then shuffled all our cards around for a bit as instructed by the audio (I think to eliminate any guessing about who’s card was switched based on moving around). Then we all woke up and spent one round trying to decide who was the Werewolf.

In the round that I played, I was one of the Werewolves and the other Werewolf and I decided on killing someone who ended up being the Robber. Although, I hate being the bad guy in social deduction games because I am bad at lying so I was really hoping my card got switched around in the shuffle and I turned out to be a good guy. Since I am bad at lying, my team members sniffed me out after some time. The Seer took the bold move of declaring right away that they were the seer and saw chose to look at my card and saw that I was a Werewolf. I was bad at defending myself. I knew that the right strategy would be to claim I was another specialty card, hoping that that specialty card would just be one from the middle pile. Although, since it was my first time playing, I could not remember all of the names off the spot so I knew someone would call my BS immediately. So I resorted to not saying anything to beat the allegations which worked against me.

I was then voted as the Werewolf, and revealed my card, hoping that I would have been involved in a switch and we’d win by default, but I was indeed still a Werewolf. This was the end of our round.

Most of us found this version of Werewolf to be a bit confusing and less fun. We understood that since the game only went on for one-round, there was reason to add more elements into that round to make the game interesting. One element was the card switching so players had no certainty that they were still the identity that they were given. The 3 additional cards in the middle also added another layer of uncertainty that you may be a new character that was not previously a part of the game. This created a weird dynamic where someone can lie and argue that they were the Robber or Troublemaker and switched cards. This is something that happened in subsequent round we played. This element felt a bit confusing.

I actually think this element would work well in the original version of the game where it is played over multiple rounds, where each round is kicked off by players seeing if they are still the same person. I think I also just really like the multiple rounds and the format of racing to see how many people the Werewolves will kill before being discovered. So I would say that I prefer the multi-round social deduction games much more than One-Night Werewolf.

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