The Variant is a time-tested method of getting more out of your game. Introducing new playstyles and considerations can give more life to something that you may have played out. And Werewolf is a fantastic candidate. Here are a few of my favorite variations.
Of course, in Texas they just call this Werewolf. In this version, you use twice as many cards as players. Some of the cards are separated into “alignment” cards. So this might be Seer, Werewolf, Sorcerer, Villager, etc. These determine whether you will be on the “good” team or the “evil” team.
Then a separate “power” set is dealt out. These might include a “tough” power where it takes two kills to get you dead. Or a “priest” power that says if you die, then no further roles are revealed on death. Or even a “Hunter” power that says you get to kills someone when you die. These are distributed randomly to all players. So you don’t know which team has access to which powers.
This adds a new layer of excitement and strategy to the game. Because there are more cards dealt, everyone has a better chance of having some power. There are fewer plain villagers (even though I think that role is among the best in the game). And you get to try new strategies because you aren’t sure which teams are loaded up with special powers.
(Variation created by BoardGameGeek user – BlackSheep)
Image Credit: Werewolf Within/Ubisoft
Yep, online. So often, the game is about accusations of who is smiling at inappropriate moments, who keeps their legs crossed, and other body motions that players think might be “tells.” But in online werewolf, all of that is stripped away.
The whole game takes place on standard internet forums. But because it’s all text based, you can’t rely on body language. And since players can carefully craft their statements, it isn’t often that a Freudian slip appears.
But that doesn’t make it unplayable. If anything, it increases the strategic space. You have to ask probing questions and read the responses carefully. You have to be ready to do respond to others. And the goal is to find the inconsistencies as wolves lie or seers hide. Or to pick up on communication between the lines.
And being convincing becomes far more important. You have to use justifiable reasons for casting your vote. And you have to rationally explain why others should vote in the same way. Rushing a shoddy story won’t work. You have to describe your motives in a way the others can digest and interpret. Doing so deceptively as the wolf is the best feeling ever.
VALLEY OF THE SEERS
This one requires an attentive moderator and five players. The roles are one werewolf and four seers. The gimmick is that only one is the “true” seer who gets told the truth when they ask if someone is a werewolf. The others are a false seer (who always is told the opposite), a paranoid seer (who always is told he sees a wolf regardless of the target’s true nature), and a naïve seer (who is always told the target is innocent). But the players don’t know which seer they are.
It starts off with a night phase where everyone points to someone else and is told if that person is a wolf or not – even though that information is unreliable as it gets filtered through their particular version of a seer. Then, in the morning, the players try to figure out who the wolf is and use their information to the best of their ability. It’s a great use of the Seer card and it can be a fun challenge to remain hidden as the wolf.
I was first introduced to this online and it’s a blast to play in real life as well. You need a very detail-oriented moderator, though. You hand out the roles as usual and have your standard villager and werewolf teams. But everyone also has two secondary powers. It takes two “deaths” to actually be killed. A lynch or wolf bite bestows just one. The nice side effect is that players tend to stay in longer and there is less elimination. The other secondary power is that when you do die, you get to point at someone and kill them.
The result is phenomenal gameplay. Over the first few rounds, players start to see their protections whittled away. As they do, they become suspicious of those that still have their protection and decide to kill them. Soon, most of the players are without that second chance, and then the first one dies. That starts a domino effect where they kill someone else, who then kills the next person, who then kills the next person, and on and on.
Most games of Testosterone City build to a crescendo and then end in a flurry of explosive deaths. The result is an exciting tension that builds throughout until carnage is finally released. And the nice thing is that the game tends to end quickly after that. So there is less time where eliminated players are roaming the halls.
(Variation created by BoardGameGeek user – Dispamanite)
Do you have a favorite version of Werewolf? Tell us about it in the comments.
Feature Image Credit: Werewolf Within/Ubisoft