Whether playing Mafia online through text, online via Zoom, or offline face to face, it's a demanding game with plenty going on in each round.
By considering some common scenarios ahead of time, you'll be better prepared for your future games.
A word of warning: One of the things that makes this game great is its subtlety - don't make the mistake of thinking that there's always a single best play to be making, or you'll find yourself being taken advantage of by players that know your play style well.
This guide is a work in progress and I love discussing werewolf strategy, if you disagree with what's written or wish to contribute to it in some other way, come find Kirschstein on the werewolf discord and let's talk!
Voting to kill off players is the main village path to victory, it’s the most fundamental aspect of the game, so we’ll begin here.
The approach we will take is to consider some simple examples, establish a thinking and deduction process and then expand on this reasoning to more complicated scenarios.
These three scenarios all assume that each village player is vanilla and the werewolf also has no special abilities.
If the village allows no trial to take place and the game goes to night, the werewolf will kill one of the remaining village players and in the morning the game will have reached a werewolf-parity win situation. Therefore, if there are three players left alive it is the village’s final chance to win the game. Both of the villagers have a 50/50 decision to make, which of the other two remaining players do they think has been the most helpful to the village? Who do they trust the most (or least?). The only information available to each village player in this scenario is that they can trust themselves, based on how the rest of the game has gone up until this point, it is the moment of truth.
In this situation each village has to rank the trustworthiness of three other players instead of two - a more difficult decision with a 66% margin of error instead of 50%. Should the village collectively make the wrong decision the werewolf will kill at night and reach a parity situation and win the game.
If the village does not execute, then there is one more piece of soft intel to come, who the werewolf chooses to kill. In this scenario, we know there is no way for a non-village player to die at night, so the victim had to be innocent and we can take their viewpoint into consideration with our own knowing they were not trying to deceive us.
Therefore, it’s important that you don’t waste the day, use it to discuss your top suspicion, rank the players in order of least to most trusted, and leave a breadcrumb trail for your fellow villagers to hopefully pick up should you meet a grizzly end during the night.
Now, you may reach the conclusion that three out of four of you all agree on who you believe the wolf to be, in which case, maybe you can pull the trigger slightly earlier, it’s unlikely that the highest suspicion will be killed during the night.
If it’s a two wolf situation, you must execute for the same reason as the final three. If it’s a solo-wolf situation, then the game will not end if you execute an innocent player, but you will not lose the game by the next day, you’ll be at the final three, giving you a second chance to find the wolf.
If it’s a two wolf situation, a miskill by the village will end the game (similar logic to final four), if it’s a single wolf game, a miskill will take you to a final four situation. It’s better to have the extra village brain available for a final five and final three situation. Same caveats apply to final six as final four.
In general, assuming no power roles left in the game, it’s typically better for the village to execute if there’s an odd number of players left alive, and to opt for no trial if there’s an even number of players left alive. What might change this? In future updates, we'll consider the impact the two most common and well known power roles, the Seer (sheriff in Mafia) and Protector (Doctor in Mafia) can have on execution decisions.