Well I recently joined the Mafia.
You may not expect me, a lowly nerd, to become part of such an organisation. There are monks more criminal than me, but not only did I join the mafia, I also died.
It was a gritty summer morning in the sprawling grey metropolis of nowhere Ville. The deep clouds were pissing down on the lowly citizens; The hung over sun vomited an ill yellow glow across the rubbish filled streets, and graffiti bruised the walls. But despite the size of the town, there were in fact only 12 residents.
4 of these residents were Mafia. I was part of one Mafia gang, which consisted of me and another bloke. We went by the imaginative title of “Mafia gang B” and were in direct opposition with our rivals: (You guessed it) “Mafia gang A”.
Now, the town, having decided that 12 residents was simply too high for a city of such size, began lynching members based on if they thought they were Mafia or not, with the ultimate goal of killing all the Mafia (both sides). This was not on, of course, so our mafia gangs began the countermeasure of killing one town a night until only our gang remained. Now all of this would be easier if it were not for the fact that the only person I knew for sure in the Mafia was my partner Rob.
It went like this for a while, with the town killing people in the day and the two Mafia gangs in the night, until day four.
The downpour on this particular afternoon was a dirty shade of red, a common event due to the huge amount of pollution Nowhereville produced. It painted everything it touched. The apartments blocks bled maroon blood that flowed through the streets, the fog filtered the lightning scarlet as it stabbed the telegraph poles, the bodies of the 8 dead were left out unburied, the rain staining their skin and clothes.
There were 4 of us left in the town (for not all attempts by the Mafia to kill during the night were successful.) One of them was me, the other a gang member from the opposite side, one person confirmed non-Mafia and one we were unsure of.
At this point, we were all afraid – I didn’t know who the other Mafia was, but I knew he had to be one of two people. Similarly, the other Mafia knew the same thing. The one confirmed town knew that only one of the other three were Mafia, and the non-confirmed town knew exactly who the Mafia were. It was set to be a gritty fight to the death – that is, WAS set to be a gritty fight to the death.
Then the Mafia from the other team revealed himself.
His argument went this way. “We are nearly outnumbering the town today, why not team up and take them down? Form a Mafia team AB!”
In a moment of impulse, I agreed. Yeah, sure I thought, the two Mafia would work together!
But during the night I panicked, “What if he betrays me?” I thought. I couldn’t trust him… I didn’t know what to do. So I sent off a drone to kill him in the night (because this town has robot drones too) and went to snoop around his house.
I found his home in the middle of a muddy park, massive, of course – there’s no reason to take the small houses in a town this large with so few people. He was out, (probably setting up his robot drone to kill me) so I crept in and located his bedroom.
There I found his personal logs, not a diary, because Mafia gang leaders are far too cool to keep diaries, but a collection of his thoughts from the day this whole ordeal started to now. I opened up the dank pages and saw his most recent entry.
“I think I’m going to cooperate with Lawsome.”
I was so convinced he was going to kill me, I hadn’t even considered the chance he may not. I rushed out the house and into the dirty downpour. Perhaps I could change the machine’s target before it got to him? I could set it to kill someone else! But I knew that that was hopeless now. He was too far away. I found his body lying dead in the street, three stabs in his neck, leg and torso.
The next morning I found the other Mafia side had failed his kill. The two remaining town members ganged up on me. I was hung by a rope off the bridge, crows pecking at my empty eyes, my blood dripping down into the river below.
Ok, that didn’t really happen.
Mafia is a game invented by the Russian psychologist Dimitry Davidoff, and was originally a party game. Born in 1986, it has become extremely popular, adapted into many board and card games (often replacing the Mafia for werewolves), but it really took off with the internet. Mafia is a game perfectly designed for the forum setting, where it is far easier to lie.
The gameplay goes as following: An informed minority (the Mafia) is pitted against an uninformed majority (the town). At the beginning of the game everyone is given a role. There are many different roles but the 2 most basic ones are “townie” and “Mafia”. The Mafia know the identities of all the other mafia, the townies do not. Commonly, the game is played with 2 Mafia and 7 townies, though those numbers vary massively between games.
The game takes place in day and night phases. During the day, the entire town discuss and vote to lynch a member of their population with the hope of killing a Mafia. During the night, the Mafia convene then decide to kill a member of the town population. This continues until either the Mafia outnumber the town (then they have a majority in the vote and they win) or all the Mafia are killed (at which point the town wins). Roles are revealed upon death (usually).
What this leads to, of course, is a massive clusterfock* of arguing, baseless accusations and just general chaos.
It is also really, really fun.
Now, Mafia games are often spiced up with the addition of extra roles, such as the cop, a town aligned role that can learn the alignments of other roles during the night, or the doctor, who can protect one person from being killed by the Mafia during the night. (Doctors were why not all of the Mafia kills were successful in the game I was playing) These roles add in things for players to “claim”. If I say “I AM THE COP GUYS DON’T KILL ME!” I would be claiming to be a cop – whether I actually AM a cop or not is another matter.
My particular game had been spiced up with the addition of a second Mafia gang. Each gang had to eliminate everyone else including the other gang, which led to a very chaotic game with bullets flying everywhere all over the place. There are many varieties like this, including games played on trains, and even a quantum werewolf mafia. One of the reasons Mafia is so popular is because of how fun it is to moderate games. (Every game needs a moderator who knows everyone’s roles and can see whether kills were successful etc.) The mod can decide what roles to include, how many Mafia should be there and many other things. These small differences can have huge effects on the game.
It seems I’ve ran out of room now, so this article will be continued in part 2 in which I will explain why this game has taken off as it has.
*Because I don’t have the balls to swear on a public blog, but I’m fine with talking about smoking meth and orgies. I know, it’s focking ridiculous.
Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mafia_(party_game)
About The Author: Joseph, or Lawsome, as the internet folk call him. He spends a lot of time making games, most of which fall apart or don’t work and are never published, but the few that survive can be found on his account at Yoyogames – http://sandbox.yoyogames.com/users/Lawsome1997. He mainly enjoys writing about game theory but you’ll see him do a few reviews. He avoids games that look generic and would rather play something original than something fun. He has strong opinions on games and can hold his own in an argument, if you tell him that COD MW3 is the best game ever he may bite your head off.