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Mafia Game Rules and How to Play?

This fun party game has taken many forms throughout the years. These days you might know it by the name Werewolf. But Mafia is the original, and in this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know about the Mafia game rules. 

Mafia is the ideal party group game. The rules are easy, but much of the gameplay involves deduction and strategy. It’s the perfect card game for people looking for something a little different. Let’s take a look at the history of the game first. 

What is The Mafia Game? 

What is The Mafia Game

Dimitry Davidoff created the Mafia game in 1986. A teacher by trade and former Psychology student Davidoff created the game to combine his research and teaching duties. 

The game became popular in Russian schools and universities. And was even utilized by TV shows as well. Years later, Andrew Plotkin added his own rules to the game and retitled it Werewolf. The games are very similar, but it is a werewolf killing other players, not a Mafia member. 

In Mafia, players need to unmask the Mafia members and eliminate them from the game. Usually, the game is played with 7 people. 5 villagers and 2 Mafia members. The game is played in day and night cycles. During the night cycle, a Mafia member can kill another player. 

While during the day, the players are free to deliberate about who the Mafia members are. The game can end with either team winning. But we’ll talk more about the Mafia game rules section. First, let’s take a look at what you need to play the game. 

What You’ll Need? 

Mafia can be played with a regular deck of playing cards. But this will be much more difficult, which is why we recommend getting a deck of Mafia cards. With these playing the game will be much simpler. 

You’ll also be able to utilize each type of card’s special abilities more easily. A deluxe edition of the cards is also available. These add more characters and special abilities, but it’s best to stick to the standard Mafia cards first. 

Mafia The Party Game

The deluxe cards add many new gameplay elements, and it can make learning the Mafia game rules more difficult. So, stick to the standard cards at first. Let’s look at what is included with your set of cards. 

Basic Cards 

Under the traditional Mafia game rules, there are 2 ways to play. You can play with just the basic cards or with the advanced cards. The basic cards are the Mafia cards and Citizen cards. In some sets, Citizen cards may be called Villagers instead. If you’re new to Mafia, play the first few games with just the basic cards. 

Advanced Cards 

Advanced cards come in numerous forms. This includes character cards like the Doctor, Detective, and even some other villainous cards like the Godfather. These cards add more gameplay elements, but it’s best to get used to the basics before using them. 

Mafia Game Rules and Gameplay

Mafia Game Rules and Gameplay

The Aim of The Game

The aim of the game is different for the Mafia and Citizen players. Citizens will want to unmask the Mafia players. At the same time, the Mafia will want to stay hidden. The Mafia players will win if they outnumber the number of Citizens. 

If playing with advanced cards, then certain characters will have their own individual end game. These characters will be, in essence, a third faction, working to their own goal. We’ll talk more about this in the Advanced Cards section below. 

Setting Up 

Ideally, Mafia should have 7 players and a moderator. However, You can alter the game to accommodate more or fewer players. But to get the most out of this game, try to have at least 5 players. 

To set up, the first thing you’ll need to do is select a moderator. The moderator is independent, and they’ll be effectively running the game, not participating. Take 5 Citizen cards and 2 Mafia cards, shuffle the cards and give one to each player. 

Make sure each card is placed face down. Each player should then take a look at their card. Remember, Mafia is a deduction game, which means players should try to maintain a poker face at all times. Once each player has looked at their card, the moderator will begin the night cycle.  

The Night Cycle 

Once the moderator announces night, each player should close their eyes and put their heads down. Then the moderator will tell the Mafia players to wake up. The Mafia players will then be able to see each other. 

Using gestures alone, the Mafia players should point to the citizens they want to kill. Once done, they should signal their decision to the Moderator. The Moderator will then announce the end of the night cycle. 

The Day Cycle 

The Moderator opens the day cycle by announcing which Citizen was killed by the Mafia. Once every player has opened their eyes, they can begin to debate what has happened. The killed player can’t participate. 

During the debate, players can’t show their cards. But if they are confident that they know a Mafia player’s identity, they can accuse another player. Any accusation will need to be backed by at least one other player. 

The accused player can defend themselves, and so can other players who don’t believe the accusation. The Moderator should then announce a vote. A show of hands does this. If the player is found guilty then they leave the game. 

If they are found not guilty, then the debate continues again. Under traditional Mafia rules, one player should leave each day. Once a character is eliminated they show their card to the remaining players. 

Winning The Game 

Citizens win the game by eliminating the Mafia players. While Mafia players will win if they outnumber the Citizens. Under the standard 7 player rules, they’ll be 5 Citizens and 2 Mafia players. So, Mafia players won’t need to kill all the Citizens. 

Using Advanced Cards 

Using the advanced cards can add new twists to the game. Below, we’ve outlined what some of the advanced cards can do. 

Detective: During the night cycle, the Detective can learn one other player’s identity. 

Doctor: During the night cycle, the Doctor can protect one other player (or themselves) from harm. 

Godfather: Acts alongside the regular Mafia players; however, his identity can’t be uncovered by the detective. If the Godfather is eliminated, then the Mafia team loses right away. 

Vigilante: Can kill a set number of players during the game. The Moderator sets the limit, and the Vigilante acts during the night. 

Serial Killer: A player with this card is effectively a third faction working on their own. They can kill one player a night. Their end goal is to be the last player alive. 

Mafia – A Fun Twist on The Clue Formula 

The Mafia game is similar to Clue in many ways. But there is a lot more interactivity between players. The option to use advanced cards gives you new ways to personalize the gameplay as well. If you’re looking for a fun party game, then definitely give Mafia a try. It’s also got plenty of great benefits when it comes to building your logical thinking skills as well. 

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