The game of Mafia is a popular party game that has everything you need to liven up a party: conflicts, lies, and deduction. It involves two groups of players – the Mafia (evil people) and the townspeople (good people). The win condition of the game depends on the role you are given. If you’re part of the Mafia, your goal is to eliminate all the townspeople before your identity is exposed. If you’re one of the townspeople, your goal is to expose the identities of the Mafia players before too many townspeople are eliminated.
If you enjoy this type of party game – one that requires you to deduce everyone’s actions and to uncover the truth – there are a number of other group games that are similar. Being a big fan of deception and deduction games myself, here are my 4 favorites:
Of all the games on this list, One Night Ultimate Werewolf is actually the most similar to Mafia. For an easy explanation of this game, one can say that One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a Mafia-inspired game with a few added roles and is played with an iOS/Android app that acts as the moderator.
Once you play this game, it’s hard to go back to Mafia. The unique roles make the gameplay so much more exciting with the twists it provides. Some of the unique roles include:
- Werewolf – This role is basically the Mafia.
- Tanner – The Tanner is part of the Werewolf team. Their objective is to be a decoy for the Werewolves and get voted off. If the Tanner succeeds in being voted off, the Werewolf team wins.
- Seer – Seer gets to take a peek at another player’s card to see their role.
- Troublemaker – This role gets the ability to swap role cards between two other players without anyone knowing.
- Robber – Like the Troublemaker, the Robber gets to swap role cards. However, instead of swapping between two other players, the Robber swaps his or her own role card with the card of another player.
I enjoy this version more than the original Mafia because every game feels different. In Mafia, it’s easy to deduce which player could be Mafia and what the townspeople should do in order to have the highest chance of winning. In One Night Ultimate Werewolf, it’s not as simple because certain roles can change the game completely.
The Resistance: Avalon is similar to Mafia in that there are two teams battling for control of civilization. The servants of Arthur (forces of Good) must expose the servants of Mordred (forces of Evil):
The game has a few basic roles:
- Forces of Arthur (similar to the civilian role in Mafia)
- Merlin (similar to the cop role in Mafia)
- Forces of Mordred (similar to the mafia role in Mafia)
- Assassin (the Assassin must find who the Merlin is at the end of the game)
- + more additional roles!
The gameplay is a bit more complicated than Mafia:
- The group must vote for a party to go on a “mission” each round. Each player takes turns to form the party he or she wants to go on the mission, and the group can approve or deny via voting tokens.
- Once a party is approved, the party members will go on their mission. During this mission, the selected party members will secretly choose either a “success” or “fail” card and place it in the middle.
- Once everyone in the party has chosen their card and placed them in the middle, the cards are shuffled (to keep the cards anonymous), then the cards are revealed. Any fails within the cards will fail the mission. The mission succeeds only if all the cards are successes.
- There are 5 total rounds. The missions have to succeed three times for the Forces of Arthur to win.
- At the end of the game, even if the forces of Good succeeds three missions, the forces of Evil have the chance to win by having the Assassin guess who the Merlin if. If the Assassin guesses correctly, the forces of Evil wins.
This game is definitely a step harder than the traditional Mafia game, but it gets more intense and has more twists. Be careful though! It’s not uncommon for this game to get heated with intense discussions and rebuttals!
Spyfall is played in a series of rounds. During each round, all the players know the location of the game – a casino, a pirate ship, or even a space station. The only person who doesn’t know the location is the player with the role of the Spy. Players can direct contextual questions to one another to figure out who in the group doesn’t know the location and is most likely the Spy. If a player exposes the Spy, all non-Spy players get a point for the round.
Be mindful that your questions aren’t too specific because it might give hints to the Spy of the location. At any point during the round, the Spy can guess the location. If the location is guessed correctly, the Spy gets a point for the round.
Spyfall is great because, unlike Mafia, all roles are fairly equal and no specific role has an advantage during any point of the gameplay. The game also requires more creativity and strategic questioning in order to figure out who the Spy is without giving away the location.
You and your friends are investigators trying to solve a murder case. There is one hiccup though: someone within the group is the murderer! The forensic scientist (another player within the group) knows who the murderer is and must provide non-verbal hints by using the scene tiles. The investigators will attempt to deduce the truth from the clues while trying to avoid being misled by the murderer.
The investigators and forensic scientist win when, before the end of three rounds, the correct Key Evidence and Means of Murder are chosen by the group. If the group fails to choose the correct Key Evidence and Means of Murder, the murderer will get away with the crime!
Out of all the games on this list, Deception: Murder in Hong Kong would be my favorite. I enjoy the added elements of the Key Evidence and Means of Murder in order to figure out who the murderer is. The gameplay is also a bit similar to the game Mysterium because of the concept of giving and interpreting the non-verbal clues. If you enjoy roleplaying as a detective or enjoy trying to outthink and outsmart your group of friends, this might be the game for you!