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Type: communication game, brain game, calm game
Number of players: about 8 to 20
Location: everywhere (silence)
Equipment: playing cards OR paper OR nothing
Duration: about 10-30 minutes per round
Preparation: write roles on paper if no playing cards are available

Mafia (sometimes called: Palermo, Assassin) is a discussion game, similar to but simpler than Werewolves of Millers Hollow. It is a calm game and only works if everybody plays by the rules. In addition to those people playing, one none-playing referee is required. It can be played with at least 6 players or so, but usually is most fun with about 10 to 20 participants.


It is best played with playing cards or small sheets of paper with the roles written on them. If you've got none of those, you can play the game without any further equipment.



All players are sitting in a circle (everybody needs to be able to see and talk to all the other players). The referee hands out the cards (or sheets of paper) with the roles. In the simplest variant, each player is either an innocent citizen or a mafiosi (gangster). Usually, around one fourth of all players are mafiosi. Of course, nobody knows what roles the other players have.

When no cards of paper are available, the referee just touches on the people he decides to be mafiosi while everybody has his eyes closed.

Then, the referee starts to moderate the first round:

One playing round

It gets night in the village, everybody falls asleep. (everybody closes his eyes)
Only the mafia wakes up.

Then, all mafioso open their eyes. Using gestures, but very silently, they decide whom (one person) to kill in that night. It might be any living playing. When the referee accepts the vote, he continues.

The mafia sleeps again (close their eyes)
On the next morning, everybody wakes up. Everybody, except XYZ, who got killed at night.

The respective player is out of the game and may not participate any further. Of course, he may not talk either or give any other hints henceforth.

The frightened citizen immediately call a meeting of all the (living) citizen. They discuss the situation, that there must be some villains among them (of course, there are), and that they have to do something against it. But who is the villain? They discuss, and if they decide upon somebody, he is brought to prison (or immediately killed, if you like it bloodthirsty). The referee then tells the citizen whether they got an innocent citizen or a villain. After that, the next night starts.

Thus, in each round, one citizen is eliminated by the mafia and one addition person (can be innocent or villain) is imprisoned/killed by the angry mob of the village. In the end, either the mafia or the innocent citizen survive - and win the game.


There are thousands of variants you can introduce, like:

  • More or less mafiosi
  • Additional roles, like a detective, that can identify the role of one other player per night, or a healer, that can rescue a person killed by the mafia one time during the game.
  • How the village decides upon the person to be imprisoned: do they charge one single person and vote upon his fate (and if decided to be "not guilty", another person is charged), or do they charge several and decide by majority who goes to prison?

Similar games

External links

  • This site allows you to play Mafia online, in a chat-like system. Additionally, many characters are available there, that can be used in your offline games as well.