GHOULISH GAMES is a mini-series of posts where I spotlight a board or roleplaying game I feel is perfect for October and Halloween. This series will be posted every Monday.
Ultimate Werewolf is a party card game published by Bezier Games and designed by Ted Alspach. It's based upon Andrew Plotkin's lycanthropic-themed reinvention of Dimitry Davidoff's social game Mafia. The game can be played with 6 to 75 players of all ages, making it one of the best games to pull off the shelf at a Halloween party or a family get together.
The game's rules are pretty simple. At the beginning of the game, each player is dealt a particular card by the moderator. This card give each player a particular role within the game, with certain roles having special powers or requirements within the game. The game itself is then played in two phases, the Night phase and the Day phase.
During the Night phase, players with certain roles wake up and perform a special action. The Werewolves wake up and select one other player at the table to devour, the Seer wakes up and discovers whether a player is a werewolf or something else, the Witch wakes up and can either save or kill another player once each per game, and so on.
Once every role with a special ability or action has performed it, the Night phase ends and the Day phase begins. During the Day phase, the players wake up and learn who was killed by the werewolves. Afterwords, they discuss among each other who they believe is a werewolf and eventually vote on someone to execute at the end of the phase. Once this has happened, another Night phase begins and the everything starts again.
The game ends when either all the werewolves have been killed (meaning those aligned with the Villagers have won), or only the werewolves are left alive (meaning they have won).
Ultimate Werewolf, as the name implies, is the ultimate version of Werewolf. The game has 40 unique roles, different scenarios you can use to liven up your game, 78 fully illustrated cards, a useful pad which makes the moderator's task of tracking the different roles within the game much easier, and a comprehensive game guide. Ted really knocked it out of the park with this one.
I only have two major criticisms of Ultimate Werewolf, and they are the same criticisms I have with normal Werewolf. First, you need a good moderator to have a good game. A crappy moderator can ruin a session of Werewolf unbelievably fast. The second one is that the really isn't a game per say, but more of a social event with some rules. While that's not a bad thing, it might turn away those who are looking for something with a little more structure or mechanics.
With that being said, I still feel like Werewolf /Ultimate Werewolf is one of the best party games out there, especially if you have a large group of players. Also, the theme makes it perfect for a Halloween party. Just turn out the lights, set up some candles,and have some fun with your friends.