An Idiot's Guide to Mafia for Dummies, please

I see the Mafia threads and they look interesting. But when I read the posts, it’s clear there’s a lot of levels beyond my understanding. Plus a bunch of jargon that makes no sense to me.

Could some of the regulars explain the game, how it works, and its official and unofficial rules to a newbie?

Mafia is a role playing game. There are villagers and there are mafia members or wolves. As a villager you are trying to get rid of the mafia, and as mafia you are trying to make people think you’re a villager and get enough villagers killed to reach parity in numbers with them.

There are two phases, day phase and night phase. Every day there is a vote in the thread to decide who gets “lynched” (killed) and villagers vote for who they think are the mafia and the mafia try to avoid getting lynched and hopefully get a villager lynched. Each night phase the mafia get to kill one of the villagers.

There is also a cop or a seer role that gets to peek someone’s role every night, i.e. they get to know if the player they target is a villager or a mafia. The cop is part of the village

There are lots of other roles that people can have such as angel (protects a player every night), vig (kills a player every night) etc.

It’s best to start with a simpler game than the one currently running. The current game is much more complex than strictly necessary and would be difficult for a new player to follow.

At its core, the game consists of two sides trying to eliminate each other.
One side is a small minority say 2 people in a game of 8 – but they know who each other are.
The other side is an uninformed majority, they don’t know who the other players are on their team.

The game takes place in alternating phases.
In Phase One, all players vote to eliminate one player from the game. The minority team has the advantage of coordination, but can’t risk exposing themselves to the majority. The majority team hopes to eliminate a minority player, but are more likely to eliminate one of their own.
In Phase Two, the minority players eliminate a majority player.

Then repeat until one side wins.
The majority team wins when both minority players are eliminated.
The minority team typically wins when they reach parity with the majority (i.e., are no longer the minority). In this case, they control both eliminations and thus the game is over.

This is the BASIC framework.
The game is then complicated by adding special roles and powers to individuals. But understanding the basic framework is key.

We have some basic games on this board that are complete. You might as well start with the first:
Werewolf- a game Instructions and discussion of basic game play should be found within since this is the first game on this board.

@ DonkTimesFour
Using the jargon from your board to assist a player to understand this board could be a tad confusing
(but it’s the same game)
Cop investigates
Doc protects

Actually, it will be fine. The first game on this board used the WW/seer/angel convention.


Don’t take it too bad. Civilization IV is more complex than strictly necessary, too, and people seem to like that. :smiley:


(And Nemo, we can give you a couple of examples of entertaining games to read if you want; it doesn’t take too long to get into the flow of it.)

Nemo, you should play. It’s really quite easy to follow once you get into it.

Here is a Wiki for mafia games that we update.

Here is the set of basic rules

Here is a brief list of conventions/etiquette

And rather importantly for you, here is a list of common abbreviations/terms.

Well, you get a role, but you are not expected to act as any kind of character, unless that is some added part of the game(like a little bit in last year’s Halloween Mafia on Idlemafia).

Little Nemo, if you have 20+ hours a day to devote to the Mystery Mafia game, maybe I should ask you to substitute for me.

The game thread started less than 7 days ago, and there are already more than 2500 posts! :smack:

I can bring you up to speed real easily: None of us know what our special powers are. Some of us are getting anonymous messages in the Night-time,some of which may be true or false. (Or both. Or neither.)

I guess I should be more clear. I do understand the basic rules of Mafia/Werewolves as a game. What I don’t know is how it works when it’s played as an online game, specifically as it’s played on this board.

It appears there are seperate threads; some for setting up the game, some for playing it, some for discussing games in progress. Is the game being played offboard at another site? How do people vote? Can people look up past posts? Are there seperate posting areas for different groups?

The game is played in the thread on this board. Sometimes there is a separate signup thread and sometimes not. Players vote by stating in the thread that they are voting for someone. The convention on this board is to use blue bolded letters when voting. If you wish to remove a vote from someone, you unvote by using red bolded letters.

The mafia team usually is given access to a separate message board off-site where they can discuss things. Sometimes, other special groups such as masons will also have a separate board. Since the game is played in the thread, players are free to look up past posts.

nemo. gotta say you really need to play to figure it out. kind of like swimming. just jump in and sometimes you make it to the edge other times you sink like a rock. i’d also suggest going to giraffe’s board. they are a little more cerebral but also newbie friendly. and if you want to really swim with the sharks go to idle’s. there is a pod person game getting ready to kick off over there. i mean if you are going to drown it might as well be in 100 foot of water as opposed to 10. i mean you are just as dead. but under no condition let them know that i sent you there. kind of the kiss of death if you catch my drift. matter of fact destroy this post upon receipt.

In fact, most games will have a rule that, aside from such special cases, all game-related communication between players must be in the main thread. Folks with special powers generally use them by PMing the game moderator, and other folks occasionally PM the moderator with musings or commentary. The thread labeled “forbidden thread” or “dead thread” or whatever on this message board is for folks who have died in the game or who never signed up, and who don’t have access to special information, to comment on what’s going on. Often, there’s also a password-protected discussion thread somewhere off-board (on the same board as the scum board) for folks who aren’t playing but who have been spoiled (these folks can also read the scum board).

The info on the group I have (on FB) reads this:

The game: Is Psychopath. Also known as Mafia or Cry Wolf. It is sometimes played in real life, at parties

The object: Is easy. You want your team to win.

The rules: Are fairly simple. There are two teams…a good side and a bad side.

The bad side all know who is on their team and who is not. The good side have no idea who is on their team or who are secretly baddies.
The game is played in two phases: Night and Day.

In the Day, everyone votes who they think is a player from the bad side. Whoever has the most votes is killed off.

At Night, everyone on the bad side votes (in private) who they want to kill off from the good side.
And then the process repeats.

Game is over either when the bad side’s players are all dead (then it’s a good side win) or when the bad side’s players TIE OR OUTNUMBER the good side’s players (then it’s a bad side win)
For an animated, fun way to learn the basics, click here:
and then click on “Basic Rules” on the left.
I heartily suggest clicking that link above, Little Nemo, and clicking “Basic rules”, it helps a lot.

If anyone would like to join the FB group, by the way, it’s here:

Yeah, but I don’t want to be the newbie who posts something like “So I’m not supposed to tell anyone I’m a werewolf, right?”

I also don’t want to be the guy that gets told, “No, we always welcome new players to our poker game. It doesn’t matter if you’re not real familiar with the hands. We’ll all give you advice on how you should play, right, guys?”

  1. Just play it safe and keep your role secret.

  2. New players often play just as well as long-time players. You’d be fine.

In fact, new players (or at least, new to a group) can have something of an advantage, in that the old hands don’t know their usual playstyle, and so can’t compare. There’s no “Hey, don’t you usually advocate for lynching lurkers? Why is it different this game?” to it.

brand new game on LPP (new board) just signing up now (If you PM me your user name I can approve you)
very new player friendly we even have a new players corner