Mafia: Death & Deception from Bullet Hole Games adds whole new dimensions to the classic identity-deduction murder game. The game itself goes back decades to classroom psychology research, and it has seen numerous tweaks, upgrades such as werewolf variants, and additions of home-rules. Experimentation with new aspects is good, but introduction of too many innovative rules can create a muddled mess. Bullet Hole Games gives a clear set of potential changes that will enable players new and old alike to tailor their rounds to suit perfectly.
The core mechanics of Mafia: Death & Deception echo the original. Players are given secret identities, some Mafia and some innocent Citizens. A narrator runs the game, calling out for everyone to close their eyes and the Mafia to “wake up” and choose a victim to eliminate. Everyone then wakes up, the “bumped off” character is revealed, and then everyone debates whom to accuse for the slaying and eliminate by vote. The next round continues the cycle until one team is eliminated and the other is pronounced victorious.
Mafia: Death & Deception adds two Professions to its basic game: the Doctor and the Sheriff. Both are popular features in rounds of Mafia all over the world. The Doctor awakens after the Mafia members go to sleep and picks a person to “save” from elimination. If the person picked was meant to be eliminated, instead they survive the night and join the debate upon everyone waking. The Sheriff is given a moment during the night to check on anyone’s profession, which is revealed by the narrator holding up a card. Investigations from the Sheriff can help immensely in the debate to root out Mafia, but only if the crowd will believe them.
In the advanced rules for Mafia: Death & Deception, numerous other Professions come into play, such as the Mortician who can see peoples’ identities after they have been eliminated, the Spy who serves as a “sheriff” for the Mafia, or the Bodyguard who can take the place of someone being eliminated. M:D&D then shakes things up further by offering Trait cards that players collect on top of their Professions that will change players’ strategies. Lovers’ traits link two players, even if they are on different teams, so that if one is eliminated, the other one will be, too. Plague victims die of no one’s accord. Other traits can alter play itself, such as making another player sit out one round, swapping or stealing players’ professions, or not being able to communicate at all. To keep things straight, M:D&D has handy information cards and disposable sheets were players can make notes of their suspicions.
Mafia: Death & Deception is a social identity-discovery game for three or more players aged ten and up. Games are fairly quick, depending on how many players are in the game. Just a handful of players will have the round over in a few minutes. A group of a dozen or more could take over thirty minutes. Whether playing together in one room or using webcams for online play, Mafia: Death & Deception offers thousands, if not millions, of combinations to get players social.