Mafia: A Little Game Christians Should Study

From Wikipedia: Mafia (party game)

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Mafia, also known as Werewolf, is a social deduction game, created by Dimitry Davidoff in 1986.[2] The game models a conflict between two groups: an informed minority (the mafiosi or the werewolves), and an uninformed majority (the villagers). 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: first, a night role, during which those with night killing powers may covertly kill other players, and second, a day role, in which surviving players debate the identities of players and vote to eliminate a suspect. The game continues until a faction achieves its win condition; for the village, this usually means eliminating the evil minority, while for the minority this usually means reaching numerical parity with the village and eliminating any rival evil groups.


In its simplest form, Werewolf is played by two teams: the werewolves and the villagers. Live games require a moderator who does not participate as a player, and identities are assigned by handing out cards, or by other non-verbal methods such as physically tapping players. At the start of the game, every werewolf is given the identities of their teammates, whereas the innocents only receive the number of werewolves in the game, and do not know which players are werewolves and which are villagers.

In an open setup, the numbers of each power role (e.g. militia) present in the game is known to the players, while in a closed setup, this information is not revealed, and in a semi-open setup, only limited or tentative information about the power roles is revealed. Thus, in an open or semi-open setup, if it is revealed that no militia are present in the game, it will not be possible for a werewolf to plausibly claim a militia role.

There are two phases: night and day. At night, certain players secretly perform special actions; during day, players discuss and vote to eliminate one player. These phases alternate with each other until all werewolves have been eliminated or they reach numerical parity with the innocents.

Some players may be given roles with special abilities. Common special roles include:

  • seer — a villager who may learn the team of one player every night;
  • protector — a villager who may protect a player from being killed every night, but can only do so once in each game;
  • masons — village-aligned players who can recognize each other

Andrew Plotkin recommends having exactly two mafiosi,[3] whereas the original Davidoff rules suggest a third of the players (rounding to the nearest whole number) be mafiosi. Davidoff’s original game does not include roles with special abilities.[1] In his rules for “Werewolf”, Plotkin recommends that the first phase be night and that there be an odd number of players (including the moderator). These specifications avoid a tie votes for eliminations and ensure that the game will end dramatically on an elimination rather than anticlimactically with murder as a foregone conclusion.[3]


All players close their eyes. The moderator then instructs all werewolves to open their eyes and acknowledge their accomplices. The werewolves pick a “victim” by silently gesturing to indicate their target and to show unanimity then close their eyes again.

A similar process occurs for other roles with nightly actions. In the case of the seer, the moderator may indicate the target’s innocence or guilt by using gestures such as nodding or head shaking.

Night may be accompanied by players tapping gently to mask sounds made by gesturing.[18]


During the “day” phase, players vote on whom to eliminate

The moderator instructs players to open their eyes and announces who “died” the previous night. Discussion ensues among the living players. At any point, a player may accuse someone of being a werewolf and prompt others to vote to eliminate them. If over half of the players do so, the accused person is eliminated and night begins. Otherwise, the phase continues until an elimination occurs.[3]

According to some rules, the role of dead players should not be revealed; according to others, for example, if the protector dies, nobody should know that.[6][18] In both cases, dead players are not permitted to attempt to influence the remainder of the game.

Because players have more freedom to deliberate, days tend to be longer than nights.


Results in live play

In live (or videoconference[23]) real-time play, the innocents typically win more often than game theory suggests.


… the Mafia can win in live play; their best chance of winning occurs when mafioso bond with their innocent neighbours and convince those neighbours to value that bond over dispassionate analysis.[24][26] The game designers Salen and Zimmerman have written that the deep emergent social game play in Mafia (combined with the fear of elimination) create ideal conditions for this.[27]

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Christ knows that the bond of fellowship is one of the greatest strengths of the Christian faith.

So does Satan.

Therefore, Satan works to sow feuds and fights within the assembly of God. He pushes for the incorrect use of both emotion and reason, to divide, to delude, to puff up, to insure that the natural love of Christians grows cold.

As Stephen Perks notes, the sterilization of the Lord’s Supper into a lifeless ritual fit for a funeral – instead of a joyous feast, celebrating our salvation and the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice, resurrection, and crowning – also serves the purposes of evil.

This cannot be defeated by more experts and more powerful leaders and more rules and more gatekeeping and more secret tests.

Wolves need to be driven out by the Shepherd. God may appoint sub-shepherds indeed – from fathers to teachers to missionaries to prophets – but at best, they follow the lead of Jesus Christ.

They exist to serve the flock, and to guide the flock in obedience to God. The flock does not exist to serve them.

The key is the infilling of the Holy Spirit, who grants us wisdom and discernment. Mastery of the Written Word of God is mandatory, to understand what God wants and what God commands.

And we should shun the Traditions of Men, who aims to supplant the very Word of God in authority over the assembly, the people of God.


  • No wolves.
  • Emotions are good, but so is logical, careful thought.
    • They must both be directed by the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit
  • Evidence is key, as is the demand for two or more witnesses.
    • The Law matters, as does truth

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