Werewolf is a classic social deduction game. A small team of werewolves exist in a larger village of humans, but the identity of who is a human and who is a wolf is unknown to the humans. Each “day” round, the village (after thorough discussion) lynches a player they believe to be a wolf. Then, each “night” round the wolves get to eliminate one village player. Other roles may also occur.
The village wins if they kill all the werewolves. Meanwhile, the wolves win if they eliminate enough villages so that there are an even number of werewolves and humans. Many people play it as a silly social game where they get to call each other liars and have fun being devious. But, there’s actually deep strategy involved. Here are the tips to take your Werewolf game to the next level.
Remember that it’s a Team Game
Because players are eliminated, it’s easy to forget that Werewolf is a team game. A player might try to keep themselves from being killed rather than think about the team as a whole. But, the entire village or werewolf team wins whether you’ve been killed or not. So death isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, sometimes you may want to die.
Most groups make use of special powers and the Ultimate Werewolf set comes with roughly one gazillion. A great example of someone who wants to die is the Diseased. If the Diseased gets eaten by the werewolves, then the werewolves don’t get to eat anyone the next night. So, as the Diseased, your job is to get yourself eaten. You don’t want to say you’re the Diseased, because then the wolves won’t eat you. So you need to pretend like you’re someone that they would eat. Perhaps claim to be the Seer (always a high priority target for the wolves) or imply that you’re the Hunter (often a priority early on).
Even if you aren’t the Diseased, sometimes it’s good to be the one to get eaten by werewolves. This is especially true if you are a plain ol’ villager (or a vanillager, as I call them). If you’re a vanillager, you have no special abilities or powers to aid your team. So, if you can make the werewolves “waste” one of their kills on you, huzzah!
Lies are Necessary, Even for the Good Team
If you’re a werewolf, lies are crucial. You have to be ready to blend in with the village, even going so far as to claim a role and explain why the real holder of that role is a lying wolf. But, if you’re on the village team, lying may benefit you as well.
Players might want to have everybody claim what they are right off the bat. After all, you figure the wolves have got to be among those claiming to have the same role, right? Well, you have to remember that the wolves already know who they are. So having everyone claim is just letting the wolves know who all the tastiest villagers are. Expect to lose your seer/hunter/bodyguard quickly.
Instead, there are reasons why players on the village team may want to lie. Claiming to be something you’re not can distract the wolves and put uncertainty and doubt in their minds. It also gives cover for the people who actually have those roles. Maybe it allows them to fly under the radar a bit so that they can use their special powers a few more times.
Don’t be Obvious – Don’t Kill Obvious
These tips are fine for the village team, but what if you are one of the evil wolves? The biggest power the wolves have is to kill off a villager in the night. You want to use that to kill the players that you think have special roles. Seers, Hunters (especially early), Martyrs, and the like should get eaten. With them gone, so are their special powers and any information gleaned from them. So, during the day rounds, look for signs of who might have those roles.
But what if you have a player that is convinced you are a wolf? They are out to get you and try to rally the village to that bloody end. The temptation is there to kill them in the night. With them out of the way, there are less people convinced of your lycanthropy. But it can spectacularly backfire.
The village will wonder why that person got killed and suspicion falls on you quickly. In fact, it’s often a better play to leave that person alive and say, “Hey, if I were the wolf, you’d be dead.” Or even better, “Maybe that guy is so vocal because he’s the wolf! After all, the wolves left him alive last night.”
On the wolf team, you want to sow dissension not just in what you say and how you accuse, but also in who you choose to kill each night.
Pay Attention to Voting More than Body Language
A lot of players can treat werewolf as a silly party game. “You’re the wolf because your arms are crossed!” Or “she smiled when she denied being the wolf, get her!” While that can work in some situations, the truth is that few people have obvious tells. Even those that do eventually learn to do them inconsistently.
Instead, you should pay more attention to who is trying to get who killed. And why. Do they have a legitimate reason, something that can be reasonably articulated? Or do they seem to be grasping at straws in order to get someone killed. If it’s the latter, they are more likely to be evil. After all, the evil player knows the one they are trying to get lynched is not a wolf and they have to come up with false reasons. Unconvincing reasons likely means an evil player.
Which means, if you are a werewolf, you need to come up with convincing reasons to call someone a wolf. If you want the village to kill Player X, you should be able to back up your argument with some kind of rational basis. If you look like you’re happy to have anyone get killed, that’s the mark of a werebeast. [Editor’s Note: Rational arguments don’t always work against mob mentality, so think it through!]
Interestingly, this concept is pushed to the maximum when playing online. In that environment, it’s all about what you say. Players have to make their arguments and get people lynched, or defend themselves, without any recourse to smiles or furtive glances.
Being a Vanillager is the Best
Often times, players are disappointed when they pull the vanillager role. No special powers, no extra goodies. But actually, the vanillager is the most important role in the game.
First, it’s a great role to have when you want to try something wacky. If you try something unorthodox (like pretending to be a seer and claiming someone is a wolf) and it works, fantastic! You’ll be congratulated for brilliant play. But if it doesn’t and you die? Oh well. All the village lost was an ordinary villager. This role provides maximum freedom.
Second, villager is the role most claimed by the wolves. Usually, there are multiple vanillagers out there. So by claiming to be a simple villager, the wolf can hide in a larger pool. As a villager, then, it’s up to you to establish yourself as being on the “good” team. You want the other players to say, “Well, one of these villagers is really a wolf. But I’m pretty sure it’s not that guy.”
How do you do that? Find the wolves. Ask a lot of questions. Ask why a player thinks another is suspicious. Heck, ask another player what they think about a third player. Get people talking and keep them that way. What the wolves want is a quiet village. After all, they already know the teams. Quiet days lead to bloody nights. If you can establish yourself as good, that will lend more credence to you when you state that you are a simple villager.
And if you like Werewolf, you should also check out Resistance (in both original and Avalon flavors) for a similar experience that doesn’t require a moderator. Or One Night Ultimate Werewolf if you want to compress games into ten minute bites.
What tips or tricks do you have for the villagers and wolves? Tell us all about them in the comments.
Featured Image Credit: Gunnar Creutz, Falbygdens Museum
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Commons | Wesley Fryer, Wikimedia Commons | David de la Luz, Wikimedia Commons | Meek F (Sergeant), Matthew Sisson