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Like the old 'Mafia' classic, players try to find out who's bumping them off before it's too late!

Party Game Review: ‘Are You a Werewolf?’ from Looney Labs

Looney Labs brings back a classic in Are You a Werewolf?, taking it to a new level with free upgrade spin-offs collected from volunteers around the globe. While most of Looney Labs’ productions are originals, Are You a Werewolf? is a reproduction of the identity-determination game that came out of the teaching work Russian psychology instructor Dmitry Davidoff with a thrilling dark fantasy theme by Andrew Plotkin. Games may be played with a standard deck of cards or even pieces of paper with identities written on them, but Are You a Werewolf? gives a fun, more formal theme that will add that extra level of adventure for players.

NewAYAWcontentsFor the uninitiated, Mafia takes place over a series of rounds as players attempt to determine who are the “assassins” in the group. At the beginning of the game, players are given cards with identities (sharing them with no one), and a Moderator is chosen. During the “Night” phase, everyone closes their eyes, and the werewolves (two in most games, three if more than fourteen players are in the game) wake up to silently select a player as their prey. In the “Day,” everyone opens their eyes, the victim is named and eliminated from the game, and the players are given the opportunity to vote which person to lynch in hopes of catching a werewolf. The game continues through these rounds until all werewolves are caught or the villagers are overrun.

The real meat of Are You a Werewolf? and similar games is in the tweaking of the rules to the desire of everyone’s individual house. The box set includes a “Seer,” a player who may wake up during the night in his or her own turn and point at a player. The Moderator responds with a thumbs up or down for yes or no. During the next Day phase, the Seer can say what he or she found out, but there might be wild accusations otherwise or crafty Werewolves pretending to be the Seer themselves. Anything goes!

The set also has three blank cards that may be filled in with any favorite bonus character. The Looney Labs website features a link to a whole list of variations, including Lovers (who die instantly if their companion dies), Bodyguard (who may pick another player to protect from assassination/werewolfing), the Rabble Rouser (which gives the game two lynchings per day until he or she is knocked out), a Judge (who may prevent a lynching after the person has been chosen), Wild Cards in it only for themselves, the Baker (who, if eliminated, means the game ends in three rounds), and many more.

There are also modifications to the game itself, such as Thing, in which players “test” rather than lynch, meaning no one is eliminated unless found out to be a werewolf; werewolves, however, can convert people who have already been tested, making for constantly changing allegiances.

Are You a Werewolf? is a game for seven to sixteen players, perfect for large game nights or parties. Fans of Mafia will enjoy the classy art and the recommendations for improving the game such as making “Night-Noise” by tapping feet or patting the table to ensure no one is accidentally detected. Players should explore many different directions and roles to see what is most engaging in this game of intrigue and conjecture.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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