Nov 292013

It’s been a while since the last language learning games update. Honestly, when I started blogging about it, I thought I had much more time for it than I actually do. So while I can’t promise weekly updates in this category, I can say that there will be periodic updates (watch the situation change and this goes back to being weekly).

Werewolf, or Mafia, is a social deduction game. It’s about figuring out who the hidden killer(s) in the group are before it’s too late. There are two sides in the game – Werewolves/Mafia (bad guys) and Townspeople (good guys). It’s up to the good guys to oust the bad guys from the group. Meanwhile, the bad guys kill the good guys at night. The catch is that you don’t know who’s who.

Roles are given out randomly. We used playing cards for ours.

The game is played in two phases: Day and Night. Daytime, the group deliberates on who they think is the Werewolf. They then have a chance to nominate and then later vote on whether or not to oust that person from the group. Then there is the Night phase, where the killers choose someone to kill.

A narrator controls the story, the setting, the timing, and basically moderates everything. They set the scene. Typically, their script will go as such for the opening part of the game…

“Everyone close your eyes. Werewolf, open your eyes. Go back to sleep. Seer, open your eyes. Go back to sleep. Doctor, open your eyes. Go back to sleep. Okay, now everyone wake up. [Insert flavor text…usually a story about everyone being farmers with a werewolf in their midst.] Day phase start.”

What makes the game more interesting are the special roles. When we play our games, we usually include the Doctor and the Seer. Both roles are on the Town’s side. At night, the Doctor gets to choose a person to protect from being killed. If the person they choose to protect is targeted by the Werewolf, the kill won’t happen. The Seer gets to point to someone at night and find out if that person is a Werewolf (thumbs up) or not (thumbs down).

We also tried out a very interesting role, called the Little Girl. What the Little Girl could do was open her eyes during the Werewolf’s part of the Night phase, to figure out who the Wolf might be. It’s a risky role to have, because if the Wolf (or Wolves) catch you, you’ll be their next snack. No more Little Red Riding Hood.

The way to make this especially great for language learning is to keep it structured. Give everyone a chance to talk. I did this by making sure that after free-time discussion and nomination in the Day phase, anyone who was put on the chopping block got a chance to hear from the Offense, and then got a chance for Defense. After that, the group would vote on whether or not to oust (the usual language is “lynch,” rather than oust, but this was offensive to many players in the group for obvious reasons) the person.

The game’s good for reasoning skills, too. There can be a lot of detective work involved. And being a Werewolf’s no easy task, either. Since we had 10 people, we had 2 Wolves, 1 Seer (Townsperson), 1 Doctor (Townsperson), and 6 Townspeople. After our numbers dropped a little throughout the night, we added in Little Red Riding Hood (Townsperson).

Giving other people a chance to be the narrator made the game especially fun. Pretty soon, we went from being a regular Werewolf in a Village to secret Titans in a squad of cadets. I think the Attack on Titan variation was the most fun…it actually motivated me to finally start the series. By the time we have our next meeting, there might be more than a few AoT posters hanging in our office/club space.

Happy belated Thanksgiving and good luck with Black Friday shopping. Try not to get trampled. Eventually, I’ll write something up on The Resistance, a similar social deduction game sans killing, so every player gets to participate the entire time.

Also, if you’re a fan of Werewolf, be sure to check out the Two Rooms and a Boom Kickstarter, happening now and ending very soon!

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