"Mafia" for beginners

Rules of the game Mafia are quite simple. Anyone can quickly understand them and join this exciting game in one of the clubs around the world.

To start the game you will need at least 10 participants and a deck of cards (ordinary one or special one – with the marking). Some people prefer to play in masks (you can use sleeping masks as well), which allow you to be able to trust other players.

Each player secretly picks a card that refers to either Mafia (black card) or Citizens (red one). There are variations of the game with Sheriff, Doctor, Putana, Maniac and Don. In this article we are talking about the classic version with Don and Sheriff. 

The host deals 10 cards, three of them are black, one of which is Don, the rest are red cards, one of which is Sheriff. A player receives a card when other players have their eyes closed. The game revolves around night and day scenes. During the first night Mafia get to know identity of all their teammates. Citizens only know that they themselves are a Citizen and have no idea who else is who in the game.

The aim of the game is to be the last team standing. Citizens will be trying to figure out who belongs to Mafia. Red team has an advantage in numbers, and black one has an advantage in knowledge.

As a leader of the Mafia team, the Don orders who will be “killed” during first three nights. Each night he also can try to identify the Sheriff. The Don shows the Moderator a player whom he would like to investigate and receives an answer. When it comes to the Sheriff, he also can investigate the identity of other players. One check of identity per night is allowed.

During the night scene everyone in blindfolded. Each night the Mafia “kills” one player in the order previously provided be the Don. Black team perform a shooting gesture when the Moderator says the number of their victim. In the morning the Moderator announces who is eliminated from the game. That player has one minute for a final speech before leaving the table.

During the day scene each player has one minute for sharing an opinion, pointing out to the players who seem suspicious and nominating them. The person receiving the majority vote is eliminated.

The goal of the Reds is to find out who belongs to the Mafia. The goal of the Mafia is to behave less suspicious and “kill” the Reds one by one. The Citizens win if they eliminate all Mafia members. The Black team wins when there are an equal number of Mafia and Citizens remaining at the table.

Tips for beginners

"Mafia" is a psychological game in which it is important to apply logic, flexibility of thinking, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, intuition and even acting.

It is important to watch and master your own reactions, as well as learn to recognize emotions of other players in order to figure out which role they have in this game. You need to develop your own unique style and vary it from game to game so that no one can guess what tactics you will use next time. We recommend beginners to start by observing the game first. When all the rules are clear, you can join the game.

Citizen's tactics

Citizens do not wake up during the night scene, they participate only in the voting during the day. If you have a card of a Citizen, try to apply logic skills and follow your intuition to vote for those players who seem more suspicious. Suspicions should be reasonable, and based on arguments, but definitely not emotions.

It is a huge mistake to vote separately. The key advantage of Citizens is their majority. They need to unite and vote together, especially during the final rounds of the game. It is important to vote in each round, so that your voice will matter to save the Reds. You have to be a team player! If there is only one player revealed as a Sheriff – believe him and vote together.

Sheriff's tactics

Sheriff is a leader of the Red Team. During the night scene he can check any player’s identity for belonging to the Mafia. Sheriff must apply this knowledge during the daily voting. If you found a Citizen – carefully try to show his innocence to the circle. Your task is to save as many Citizens as possible. If you revealed a black player – by all means nominate him during your speech and provide the table with reasons why, in order to gain support of others. It is important not to show your role during first two days of the game. Reveal your identity and tell the table you are the Sheriff only on the third day. When the Sheriff is revealed, he is most like to become the next victim of the Mafia.

The Sheriff can let know checked Red players that they have passed his test. Do this unnoticed to others. If the checked player is right next to you, you can touch him gently. If the player is sitting far away, you can wink at him when others are not looking at you.

It is necessary to understand that the Mafia player can also pretend to be the Sheriff. Then the real Sheriff should convince others that is the true one. Checking identity of the pseudo-Sheriff during the night scene does not make sense, because it is definitely a member of the Mafia. Once you are killed, you can reveal your role during the last speech and tell about your night inspections.  

Mafia /Don's tactics

Don (the leader of the mafia) performs two functions: takes the final decision when choosing a victim and has the opportunity to reveal the identity of the Sheriff during the night scene. As a Mafia team member, you should lie till the last moment and never confess about your role. Remember to vote together with your team during the day. You can vote against your teammate if you see that the most players suspect him. You can support the Citizens in that moment and pretend to be a peaceful player like the others. They will trust you more after that.

General rules

Play till the end, even if chances of winning disappear with each round. Mafia is a rather unpredictable game, people tend to make mistakes and can show unnecessary emotions. Whether you are a Mafia or a Citizen, try to understand the strategy of each player, logic of their actions and use this information for the benefit of your team. 

Do not be offended if players vote against you. Try to understand what caused it and avoid these mistakes in the future. It is just a game. 

Do not insult others, because the game is not happening between you as real people and friends, but between imaginary roles. Players vote not for their personal likes or dislikes, but for a particular game character using their logic and intuition. There are only roles inside the game, do not mention any personal things in the process. Do not appeal to feelings of guilt and religion (do not say "I swear" in your defense).

As an observer of the game or eliminated player, you can not show your emotions and give any guidance to other players, as this can affect the outcome of the game. 

Regardless of which team you belong to, play by the rules. If the beginner makes silly mistakes and behaves illogically, do not point this out during the game. Wait till the end of the game and calmly explain to the player how it would be better to act in that situation. 

As a beginner, you need to practice a lot. Follow other players, watch their tactics, ask questions, improve your logic skills and master your emotional reactions. Remember that the most important is not the victory, but the process of this exciting and interesting game!