Werewolf (or Mafia) is a classic party and youth group game. But it has its problems: Sometimes people get carried away with the backstory, so it takes forever. Sometimes people have a "boring" role, so don't really have much to do. And finally, people are eliminated from the game, so they get to sit out and wait. But what if you could eliminate those problems, and boil the game down to its essence and play for just one night? What if...?
One Night Ultimate Werewolf (ONUW) is a game designed by Akihisa Okui and Ted Aslpach and published by Bezier Games. It's for 3-10 players, ages 8 and up, and takes 5-10 minutes to play. Yep...5-10 minutes. Werewolves are trying to kill a Villager, and Villagers are trying to kill a Werewolf.
16 Role cards
16 Role tokens
Here's the most-brilliant part of the game: There's an app. It's free, and works on Android and iPhones. You simply plug in the Roles you're playing with, and it will narrate the beginning of the game. It's walks each player through exactly what he or she should do. Because people will be reaching for Role cards and shifting things around, you also have the option for the app to create background noise as the announcer does his thing.
This will differ based on the number of players. You can mix-and-match Roles, but there are ones that you'll want to play with at first, as you familiarize yourself with the game. You'll get a feel for which Roles you like, and which ones go well with X number of players. You'll want three more Role cards in the game than there are players.
Mix up the Roles, deal them out to people, and put the three remaining Roles facedown in the middle of the table. Everyone should look at his or her Role, and then place them near the player, and near the three facedown Roles in the middle. All of the Roles should be in easy reach of everyone (as much as possible).
Everyone gets to a place where you can easily reach the Roles, closes eyes, and starts the app. It will walk each person through what to do--though Villagers, the Tanner, and the Hunter won't do anything during the Night.
You don't have to use the app--an announcer can do all of the calling out of Roles--but the app is soooo much easier.
After the Night phase, players wake up and have time to discuss whom they should kill. The app will also take care of the timer for you. We generally set it to seven minutes, but you can always call for a vote early.
You can use the Role tokens to keep track of which Roles are in the game, or place them in front of players as you figure things out, or people can grab them and "claim" a Role. They also have numbers on them that correspond to the order they're woken up during the Night, so you can track that, too.
What's interesting is that because of the Roles, players who were Werewolves might no longer be, and vice versa. I'll explain that when I explain the Roles, but know that no player may ever look at his or her Role card after the Night phase.
After the designated time (or earlier) you'll have a vote. 1-2-3-vote. Everyone points to one person. The person with the most votes is killed, and if there's a tie, both players die. If everyone thinks the Werewolves are in the middle of the table, they can agree to vote in a circle. If everyone gets one vote, then no one dies. Of course, this route is fraught with danger...
The Villagers win if at least one Werewolf dies. Even if a Villager dies, as long as a Werewolf dies, too, the Villagers win. The Werewolves win if no Werewolf dies.
Werewolf--The Werewolves wake up and look at each other. It's possible there's only one Werewolf because the other is one of the three Roles in the middle of the table. You can play with the Lone Wolf option (which we recommend), where if you're the only Werewolf, you can look at one of the cards in the middle of the table. This gives the Werewolf a Role to "hide under." There's always the chance you'll look at the other Werewolf card--too bad!
Minion--If the Minion is in the game, the Werewolves will close their eyes and put up their thumbs. The Minion knows the Werewolves but the Werewolves don't know the Minion. If the Minion dies, and no Werewolves die, the Wolves and the Minion win. If no one is a Werewolf, the Minion wins if someone besides him dies.
Masons--There are two Masons, and if you use one, you need to use both. Masons both wake up and look at each other. You might be the only Mason because the other one is in the middle.
Seer--The Seer wakes up and may either look at one other player's Role, or look at two Roles from the middle.
Robber--The Robber wakes up and may swap his Role with another player. He gives the other player the Robber role, takes that other player's Role, and looks at it. He is now on that team, but does not do his new Role when the app announces it. He doesn't have to rob.
Troublemaker--The Troublemaker wakes up and may swap two other people's Roles. She doesn't look at either of them. She doesn't have to swap.
Drunk--The Drunk wakes up, swaps his Role with one from the middle, and then doesn't look at his new Role.
Insomniac--The Insomniac wakes up last of all, and looks at the Role in front of her. It might still be the Insomniac, but thanks to other players' actions it might be different now. She's the only player who knows with absolute certainty what Role she is.
Villager--Villagers don't wake up or have any special rules.
Hunter--The Hunter doesn't wake up, but if the Hunter dies during the Day, whomever he's pointing at also dies.
Tanner--The Tanner doesn't wake up. He hates his job and only wins if he dies. If the Tanner dies and no Werewolves die, the Werewolves do not win. If the Tanner dies and a Werewolf dies, the Villagers win.
Doppleganger--The Doppelganger is the trickiest Role. The Doppelganger wakes up first and looks at another player's card, but does not switch the cards. If she sees a Villager, Tanner, or Hunter, she is now that Role and does nothing at Night. If she sees a Werewolf or Mason she wakes up with that Role and is on that team. If she sees a Seer, Robber, or Troublemaker, she immediately does that Role's action and then doesn't wake up when that Role is called normally during the Night. If she sees a Minion, she'll get to see the Werewolves just like the Minion will. Finally, if she sees the Insomniac, then she is woken up after the Insomniac goes and looks at her card again. This is NOT a Role you throw into your first game...
Firestone--I really, really like this game. It's just a great combination for me: It's cheap. It's portable. It plays in 5 minutes. It's got a sweet app. It has lots of Roles so things are always different. It's got chaos, but because it plays in 5 minutes I'm fine with it. It's often surprising because your Role can change without you even knowing it. I would HATE that in a regular game, but it's fine here because you just play again! I've played 25 games in the short time I've had it--and I played it a few more times just last night. I'm not even close to sick of it.
Jeremiah--I suppose I should first go on the record as saying, I think the whole "Werewolf/Mafia" theme is played out... Old school Mafia or Werewolf are classics in their own right, but personally I believe there are more imaginative ways to explore the mechanics of hidden roles and social deduction. I understand why Bezier and plenty of other gaming publishers continue to go to the well as it were, with the Werewolf theme because of its popularity and history in the gaming market but I think the theme is a stretch for this particular iteration of the classic. Thematically the biggest flaw is that it doesn't make sense that a werewolf can be unknowingly "un-werewolfed". As I understand the lore, once a werewolf, always a werewolf... So reworking of the theme into a sci-fi, fantasy or political setting would make better sense for the "bad guys" to mysteriously shift allegiances due to some sort of underhanded dealing of those above them.
Firestone--Maybe it's because I've only played one game of true Werewolf/Mafia in my life, but I'm fine with it. I get that Ted wants to keep building on the brand of Ultimate Werewolf. Thematically it doesn't make sense, but I'm willing to forgive so much in a game that plays in five minutes. SO MUCH...
Jeremiah--Don't get me wrong: I really enjoyed the game. I just would have enjoyed it more if it had been a different theme. Everything worked well and the roles interlocked well. The more you play the game, the more you understand the rhythm and importance of speaking up quickly or slow playing it. I love the elements of intrigue and playing off one another and, well...just flat out trying to lie your way out of a tough spot because someone else might be lying their way out of another.
Firestone--There are a lot of nuances to the Roles. Sometimes you should speak out quickly. Other times you should wait and see what people claim, and then accuse or verify. Sometimes you'll get targeted because you were too slow to claim something. And then the actual Roles add so much. I wasn't sure about the Tanner, but he's kind of fun because someone might "obviously" be a Werewolf, but if the Tanner is in the game, you have to ask yourself why so-and-so is obviously a Werewolf... A couple of the Roles are just okay to me. The Masons don't often have much to do, but that's probably just due to the way the actions in that game played out; I'm sure there are times when neat things happen because of swapping, or whatever. The Drunk adds uncertainty and chaos, but often what happens is that we just end up killing the Drunk because they might have pulled a Werewolf from the middle. But those are small things.
Jeremiah--A "deluxe" or "vintage" version of the game would be really cool to see. The components are nice and chunky enough but we had to play with the player tiles sleeved because the slightest damage or mark on them would make them easily identifiable and trackable in the game. Wooden tiles or thick plastic tiles would be more resistant and give even more tactile quality to the game. I might be nit-picking here, but the sleeves kind of made the game cumbersome and it was easy to tell if someone picked up, moved, or didn't do anything during a Role's turn.
Firestone--Yeah, I need to come up with a good way to "preserve" it. Even the smallest little scratch on one of the tile backs means that Role is utterly useless now. I fully admit that sleeves weren't ideal, as Jeremiah said. Maybe laminating? Or Hugo's Amazing Tape? I dunno. It's not a complaint (it's not the game's fault that you have to be careful), and wooden or plastic pieces would have upped the price quite a bit. One of the things I like about this is the fact that it's cheap and portable.
Jeremiah--Every hidden identity game should have an app like this to walk you through the identification process... Some games are a little easier to handle than others, but as more roles get added in it's a great way to remove player tells while they're narrating. Without the app you almost need someone who isn't playing to narrate, because there are so many roles and keeping them in order would take some sort of cranial supermannery!
Firestone--The app is just perfect. It's free. It's useful. It's easy to use. It tracks things so you don't have to. It's explanatory enough that someone could almost sit down without you explaining the game and be just fine. Game companies take note! This is so useful that people are going to be expecting things like this from now on...
Firestone's Final Verdict--This game is just super fun. We played with a bunch of youth pastors last weekend and every one of them said they were going to buy a copy. That's probably the best review I can give. I'm having a great time with this, and I think you will, too. Put it on the table!
Jeremiah's Final Verdict--One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a great fast-playing hidden-role game. The companion app makes it a better experience, and the concept and roles are well-thought-out and balanced! It's a great game for parties and larger groups as well--there's really no reason not to Put This Game on Your Table!
We'd like to thank Bezier Games for providing a review copy of One Night Ultimate Werewolf. This in no way affected our opinions of the game.
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