Public Domain Games - How to Play Mafia

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    Mafia is a fantastic social deduction party game for all ages. One group of players are secretly the Mafia and the other group are civilians. Every night the Mafia take out one of the innocent civilians. During the day the civilians discuss who could have betrayed them. They must deduce who among them is covertly a part of the Mafia. By democratic vote, the civilians then eliminate their suspected Mafia member. Night and day continue until either all Mafia are eliminated or all the civilians.

    This is a simple yet satisfying game. You will wildly accuse each other of sabotage and betrayal. You will watch closely to everyone's reactions. You will be shocked when it turns out your kind friend was stabbing you in the back the whole time.

"This life of ours, this is a wonderful life. If you can get through life like this and get away with it, hey, that’s great. But its very, very unpredictable. There’s so many ways you can screw it up." - Paul Castellano


Rules

    Mafia can be played with 7 to 15 players. One player will be the moderator. This player will be outside of the game enforcing the rules. Now create a deck of cards equal to the number of the remaining players. This should include 1 Mafia for every 3 players, 1 Doctor or 1 Detective and the rest as civilians. Shuffle this deck and hand one to each player. Keep this card secret from everyone else. You can play this with 16 or more players however I would recommend splitting people into smaller groups instead. Feel free to add or remove cards if the balance does not feel right.

    The game has a night phase and a day phase. These keep alternating until either the Mafia take out all the civilians or the civilians eliminate all the Mafia. The game begins at night. During the night players should remain silent so they do not give any clues as to who they are. Stealth here is key.


Night

  1. The moderator tells everyone to close their eyes. Everyone must now close their eyes.
  2. The moderator tells the Mafia to open their eyes. Any player who is part of the Mafia now opens their eyes. The moderator tells the Mafia to choose a civilian to take out. The Mafia players must now silently agree on the civilian. The moderator must remember who the chosen civilian is.
  3. The moderator tells the Mafia to close their eyes.
  4. The moderator tells the Doctor to open their eyes. The Doctor now opens their eyes. The moderator tells the Doctor to silently choose a player to heal. The Doctor can choose themselves. This chosen player will survive if the Mafia had chosen to kill them.
  5. The moderator tells the Doctor to close their eyes.
  6. The moderator tells the Detective to open their eyes. The Detective now opens their eyes. The moderator tells the Detective to choose a player to detect. The moderator shows the Detective with a thumbs up if the chosen player is a Mafia or thumbs down if the chosen player is a civilian.
  7. The moderator tells the Detective to close their eyes.


Day

  1. The moderator tells everyone to open their eyes. Everyone must now open their eyes.
  2. The moderator tells everyone which player has been taken out by the Mafia. This player is now eliminated from the game. They show their card and can no longer speak. If the Doctor has saved this civilian then the moderator tells everyone that someone has been saved without mentioning who it was.
  3. All players can now discuss openly who they suspect to be part of the Mafia. This is an open forum where anyone can say anything. There are no constraints on what players can say. Players must not reveal their card during this time if others ask to see it. However players can pretend to be whoever they want. The Mafia should pretend to be civilians. The Detective should use their knowledge but not be obvious about who they are. The moderator should try and encourage all players to talk and voice their opinions.
  4. After a certain amount of time discussing, the moderator tells everyone to vote on who should be eliminated. Once a majority vote has been agreed, the chosen player is eliminated from the game. They show their card and can no longer speak.


Outcome

    There are many free and commercial copies of this game. There are also a lot more roles other than Mafia, Doctor and Detective to try out. Try Googling Werewolf game or Mafia game. You can also use a standard deck of 52 cards where black cards represent Mafia, red cards represent civilians and the King represents the Doctor or the Detective. You can also print and play a version I have created by downloading the following:


    These images have been used under the Creative Commons CC0. I have used images from Pixabay and Flickr. Thank you for allowing me to use these images.

2 comments

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johnny
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3 January 2017 at 06:25 delete

Awesome article! I want people to know just how good this information is in your article. It’s interesting, compelling content. Your views are much like my own concerning this subject.
Roman Atwood

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3 January 2017 at 10:01 delete

Hi Johnny,

I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for the comment.

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