Epic Mafia: FOSing without claiming would be a scumtell if it weren't for WIFOM
July 17, 2010 8:30 PM   Subscribe

Every person is assigned a role at the start of the game. You are randomly sided with either the village, the mafia, or a third party. During the night, the mafia secretly meet and discuss to decide who they want to kill, while other power roles decide what to do. During the day, the village players must figure out who is not sided with the village and get rid of them.

Mafia is a game of psychology that was introduced in 1986 in Moscow State University. It started off very simply, with basic roles such as villager and mafia. The mafia were the informed minority and the village was the uninformed majority. The game slowly evolved and several variants were created, including Werewolf. The roles are now a lot more complicated, and additional rules have been added. Mafia came onto the Internet as the Internet became more widely used, and people played Mafia online via e-mails. It spread to other forms, such as forum mafia, or Epic Mafia.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose (36 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I played a German-language Werewolf version of this game a couple years ago. CRAZY FUN, more so if you're drinking.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:34 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure there was a recent post on this game with a link to a huge article about the origin of the game, but I can't find it.
posted by anazgnos at 8:35 PM on July 17, 2010

The first time I played Werewolf:

Player X: "OK, guys -- I'm going to come out as the doctor, so I'm just saying that whoever is the sheriff -- please protect me!"

Star Stuff: "Oh, okay! I'm the sheriff so I'll protect you!"

Player X: "No, don't -- what are you doing!! Don't tell everyone else you're the sheriff!!"

Star Stuff: *instakilled*

I think we scrapped that game since we were on the first round. This is why Star Stuff shouldn't do *anything* without Star Stuff's adderall.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 8:39 PM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

posted by empath at 8:40 PM on July 17, 2010

After that thread I ran some forum games of it that were fairly amusing, I added in some of the roles from epic mafia but with werewolf flavor.

Epic Mafia is okay, but a lot of assholes and teenagers play, and it's really abrasive and annoying.
posted by empath at 8:41 PM on July 17, 2010

posted by Made of Star Stuff at 11:39 PM on July 17 [+] [!]

I would like to add that if you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:46 PM on July 17, 2010 [10 favorites]

I envision a vampire version of this game but instead of regular vampires you play the sparkly kind and instead of getting killed you FALL IN LOVE WITH THE LAMB BECAUSE YOU ARE THE LION AND THATS JUST LIKE THE BIBLE OK. swoon
posted by Avenger at 8:54 PM on July 17, 2010 [5 favorites]

I played this once and I didn't get it. I don't think I was the only one, either, but maybe we just did it wrong. In all sincerity... what is the point of this game?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:02 PM on July 17, 2010

For a while in high school, we ran an epic game of forum mafia on the school's forum (yes, we had a school forum). It was pretty cool to have the crossover between the online open discussions and the in-person conversations about the game. Sadly, the forum died out around my senior year, but it was a pretty happening place for a while.
posted by zachlipton at 9:05 PM on July 17, 2010

Yay! My friends and I have been playing this over gmail all summer. The first game (which was the first time I'd played it ever) was set up with all of us being anonymous ambassadors in the UN. I Was North Korea, and part of the Mafia. We absolutely owned that game. We not only lost no members, but actually gained one near the end (every player had a specific power, and Pakistan's was to swtich to the Mafia (with America's knowledge) at any time. Once we'd killed off the U.S., the switchover made us unbeatable.

Waiting for the email about the new game tonight. Apparently we'll all be present and former Supreme Court justices (yes we are all nerdy law student/former law students. Why do you ask?)
posted by Navelgazer at 9:17 PM on July 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

I used to be a member of an ongoing forum mafia group that eventually died out. So this is an awesome find, since I've missed playing.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:28 PM on July 17, 2010

I used to be a member of an ongoing forum mafia group that eventually died out.

I heard it wasn't an accident, if you get my drift.
posted by dhartung at 9:32 PM on July 17, 2010

...Then the person with the highest number gives the smallest gift to the tallest person. If they wanna switch, they cannot, unless they do! Then everyone puts their head down--except the murderer...HE's the inspector. Oh wait, that's not right.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:33 PM on July 17, 2010 [6 favorites]

Navelgazer, that's fantastic!!

My family usually plays with a very simple setup (6 villagers, 2 mafia, 1 cop) and the games can become very intense. The first night we played was the most intense: my aunt and uncle were over from California and they taught us the game. We played till 4am, the days sometimes lasted 45 minutes, and they postponed their morning flight. We've postponed a couple flights since, but it's never been as intense as that first night. The trouble when I'm playing with friends is that they fail to take it seriously and instead make meta jokes ("Guys.. we're pretending to be Mafia. How funny is that, amirite?")

I've never played D&D but I imagine DMs face similar challenges when they begin campaigns with a new group.
posted by yaymukund at 9:34 PM on July 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

I played Mafia under the title "Assassins" in high school at youth group (the youth pastor who succeeded the one that introduced it decided that "Assassins" was inappropriate for church, though the one who succeeded him loved D&D and gave excellent theming) and recently played it as Mafia- which name seems to have become more popular in the last decade or so- at the game night I go to every week. It's tremendous fun and I love the way people get during it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:45 PM on July 17, 2010

That's just what a Mafia would post.

/vote GooseOnTheLoose
posted by persona at 9:48 PM on July 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Mafia was awesome to introduce to kids when I was a camp counselor. It was perfect for rainy days and kept them under control and out of trouble. Plus, ten-year old kids are almost always going to be bickering about something anyway, why not have it be about who's in the mafia instead of why some boy took a girl's pencil?
posted by kyleg at 9:53 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've played this multiple times with friends in person, it's a fun group game.
posted by kylej at 10:01 PM on July 17, 2010

Not epic mafia though, to clarify.
posted by kylej at 10:05 PM on July 17, 2010

I love Mafia. My 8th grade science teacher often played it when there was nothing worth teaching that day. Frustrated by a particularly obnoxious kid in my class, she invented a variation called Village Idiot Mafia. In between the Mafia meeting and the village meeting came the Village Idiot. Whilst the village 'slept,' a Village Idiot designated at the beginning of the game came out, acted like a drunken fool for a bit, then went back to sleep.
posted by spamguy at 10:09 PM on July 17, 2010

Hey, Star Stuff, I totally understand, except for me it was the combination of Mafia and wine.

My friends decided to play several games of Mafia. I happened to have really awful judgment the first two games (which was not a function of the wine, merely that I am terrible at guessing during Mafia). The third game, I was actually Mafia, along with my friend C. Our friend B had been killed twice really early on in the previous two games, so C decided it would be hilarious (and it was) to kill him off first this time. So we did. Then there was a long discussion, in which I managed to convince most people I was not Mafia but I was voted dead anyway (out of group preservation due to my poor guesses). After I revealed that they had in fact caught me, some people were pretty impressed at my deviousness. Full of the sudden hubris that only wine and praise can bring, I was pleased with myself. And then B asked, "Ilana, out of curiosity, were you the one who chose to kill me?"

Happily shaking my head, I responded, "No, it was C."

Everyone froze...including me...because nobody could believe I had just said something so dumb. Hubris was banished and the game was truncated. I was only saved from being the object of jokes forevermore because of what happened the next game:

Me: Mafia, open your eyes. Choose someone to kill? Now, close your eyes.
D: (one of the Mafia) Okay!!

Game over.

Oh, Mafia.
posted by ilana at 10:46 PM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

This is one of my absolute favorite games to play in groups. It's too bad I'm at a point where my dinner parties don't devolve into drunken Mafia/Werewolf.

And it's 1am, but I'm going to spend the next hour looking up all the variations of this game instead of sleeping.

Thanks. No really.
posted by SNWidget at 10:48 PM on July 17, 2010

Ilana, that can actually be good strategy if you had done it on purpose. The epic mafia kids call it bussing. You throw suspicion on the other mafia and you make it all about him vs you. Ideally before you're eliminated tho.

That way whichever one they vote to hang, the other guy isn't suspected.
posted by empath at 12:04 AM on July 18, 2010

I played mafia once and won, even though I didn't really get it. I think not getting it helped - the look of confusion on my face kept people from think I was mafia.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:08 AM on July 18, 2010

"Night Falls In Palermo. . ."
posted by bardic at 2:15 AM on July 18, 2010

I'm no sheep

posted by fistynuts at 4:08 AM on July 18, 2010

Mafia was awesome to introduce to kids when I was a camp counselor. It was perfect for rainy days and kept them under control and out of trouble.

My nine year old son just learned this game the other day at summer camp. I thought it was very odd. "Then we voted on who was going to get, uh, killed." Hope he doesn't grow up to be a hit man now. Thanks, YMCA day camp!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:36 AM on July 18, 2010

OK, so I posted this becase, ever since I learned about it a few days ago, I can't stop playing the damn game. It will probably be my one and only FPP. What I don't get, however, is how to play this outside of using a computer. Could someone explain the mechanics of a typical "real life" game?
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 7:50 AM on July 18, 2010

I was once playing Mafia with a group of students in the middle of a parking lot in Arizona, because we were waiting for a museum to open and it was too damn hot to do anything else. We'd formed a circle on the ground under the only tree, and everyone's eyes were closed and their heads were bowed, because the Mafia had just finished deciding who to kill and we were about to wake everyone else up. A very earnest-looking middle-aged lady came up to me (I was standing up, playing God/narrator) and asked me if we were praying and if so, if she could join in. I had a horribly awkward time explaining to her that we were not, in fact, praying, and were instead playing a game where we pretended to kill people one at a time.
posted by colfax at 8:30 AM on July 18, 2010 [5 favorites]

GooseOnTheLoose: "Could someone explain the mechanics of a typical "real life" game?"

Here's how we play it (There are variations of course). One person is the moderator and the rest are mafia or guardian angels (cops). The game alternates between night and day, starting with a night.

Moderator: "Everybody close your eyes!"
Everyone closes their eyes, head down, hands over eyes. No peeking or talking is allowed.

Moderator: "Mafia, open your eyes!"
Mafia opens their eyes, they both point at a person to kill. If they can't agree, moderator will warn them that time is waning ("Mafia, please make your decision!"). There must be a consensus.

Moderator: "Mafia, close your eyes! Guardian angel, open your eyes!"
Guardian angels open their eyes, and pick somebody to verify. This works just like the mafia's decision to kill, and they have to come to a consensus. When they do, the moderator will nod yes (person is mafia) or no (person is villager).

Moderator: "Guardian angel, open close your eyes! Everybody open your eyes! In the night, the mafia killed Mukund!"
Now, it's day and talking is permitted. The villagers discuss and vote on somebody to lynch. Unlike the internet version, they can't abstain. Voting mechanics can be a bit complicated. The person with the most votes gets lynched. So if one player votes to kill Goose and everybody else abstains, then Goose is killed. However, the other players can ask the moderator for more time to discuss. If people have been discussing for very long (20+ minutes), the moderator will ask people to come to a decision quickly.

Moderator: "Goose was killed, and he was a guardian angel/mafia/villager!* Good job villagers! Everybody close your eyes!
Note that a victim is identified only when they're killed in the day by the villagers. Namely, if the mafia kills the guardian angel in first night, then the GA's identity is never revealed. This doesn't happen very often, but it does happen.

Rules governing talking:

Dead people don't talk. If they want to discuss the game amongst themselves or with the moderator, they have to leave the room and whisper.

No talking during the night, even amongst the mafia.

No talking during the moderator's announcements. For example, it's very tempting to plan strategies immediately after the moderator announces the identity of the person who has been lynched (refer to the * above) but it's not allowed.
posted by yaymukund at 8:31 AM on July 18, 2010

yaymukund: "Unlike the internet version, they can't abstain."

Err, to clarify: individual people may abstain from voting but the villager as a whole must kill somebody. If a vote is taken and everyone abstains, the moderator patiently waits for somebody to change his mind.
posted by yaymukund at 8:33 AM on July 18, 2010

I've only played it as werewolf, and it's always a big hit at parties. I bring my marked-up deck of cards everywhere. However, I never knew about the nurse/healer role before, and I might add that to the mix.

The rules I used were one or two werewolves, one Seer and the rest villagers. For eight players (including the moderator), only start with one werewolf, because otherwise the werewolves have too large an advantage. Also, if you start with an odd number of people (not including the moderator) - for example, one moderator, one werewolf, five villagers and a seer - the werewolf (or werewolves) don't kill anyone the first night, so there's no chance for a tie vote on the first lynching.

Otherwise, pretty much like yaymukund's rules above.
posted by yhbc at 8:48 AM on July 18, 2010

You know what's not fun though? Playing IRL with people who don't even shut their eyes.
posted by Enki at 1:07 PM on July 18, 2010

This game is fantastic, and best played with people who know each other somewhat well. The amount of psychoanalysis and second-guessing that goes on is spectacular... plus in real life you have the whole "I HEARD YOU MOVE LAST NIGHT" accusation going on, and it's so much fun watching people freeze up when you ask them, point blank, "are you the mafia?"

Good times.
posted by Phire at 1:27 PM on July 18, 2010

Mafia is fun. Epicmafia, not so much. Too much screaming of trolling and threats of banning for doing things like lying about your role (in a game built around lying and logic, even.)

Highly recommend playing it at a party, though, it's great.
posted by flatluigi at 6:32 PM on July 18, 2010

I have been playing this game since it was posted. It's frustrating and addictive. Frustrating to play a game in which thinking is rewarded less often than silly loudmouth posturing. It has been years since I played any computer/internet game that required me to cooperate with other people. But addictive for those few times you get a game where people are actually trying to play. I'm not sure if I should continue playing because sometimes I feel like behaving unlike myself, like being really rude to stupid people, that sort of thing. The pressure and intensity of emotion is both fun and very exhausting.
posted by Danila at 2:34 PM on July 21, 2010

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