Posted by: Montola | April 12, 2010

Train Mafia at Copenhagen

Players form a magic circle while Lau and Doug explain the game

On our Strange Games trip to ITU we got an opportunity to participate in a game of Train Mafia. The game was designed for Come Out & Play 2009 by Douglas Wilson and Lau Korsgaard, and it’s basically a game of Mafia / Werewolf played in metro cars.

The game basically entails two metro trains. In our version, we played nerds and hipsters in the first car: Hipsters suspecting of people being nerds and kicking them out of the train, while the nerds were excluding people from the train one by one. The people left on the station hopped into the next train, where there was a lying-based voting game about finding the coolest district of Copenhagen.

Distributing the liquid alibi

We had a lot of fun: Actually it was a bit of a surprise to me, since I personally dislike Werewolf. The improvements on the game had less to do with its minor spatial and social expansions, and more with its increased pace: The nerds were murdering people every few stations, so the lynchmob had to be fast with their choices. Also, the night and all the time-consuming special roles are eliminated from this version.

The pervasivity only had a major influence in the end, when we hit a car so full of people the voting became tricky, which of course was a fun and crazy improvement.

Thanks again for running the game for us, Doug!


Responses

  1. “Dislike”? Markus, you positively loathe the game!

    Jaakko

  2. I don’t like to play Werewolf and it’s incredibly irritating when it swallows some party or whatever, since it occupies the entire social space. The regular version can’t coexist even with smalltalk.

  3. […] original designers, I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the game. On his blog, Markus rightly observes that the “pervasivity” of the game isn’t ultimately that […]

  4. Werewolf can definitely “swallow” a party — I’ve seen it happen a lot. You’re right that it doesn’t really permit much else to go on during playtime (except for among the people who’ve been killed, who can go and do whatever they want — which, I suppose, could be seen as a problem). But I’m surprised that you don’t like the game on its own merits. It’s such an elegant and compact little ruleset. Ultimately, I think it’s less a layer/background type game than it is something that demands everyone’s focus and engrossment, which is why it eats up parties as thoroughly as werewolves eat villagers, but this is just the kind of game it is IMO.

    Also, I’m sure you’re aware of it, but if not, check out Coney’s “A Small Town Anywhere”, which is derived from their earlier werewolf-esque ruleset mod, “The Gossip Game”.

    Jeff

  5. Jeff, to put it real short, the glaringly obvious game design flaw is that one player is killed before taking any game moves. That’s just bad.

    But the party killing is the worst part.

    – M

  6. Hey Markus,

    Just to stand up for Werewolf a little bit further — it’s true that the first player to go is kinda screwed by the game design. But Werewolf isn’t meant to be played just once. The game is only interesting if you play it over and over again; this leads to the second-guessing and accumulative knowledge that makes it so much fun (for some). Obviously, if it was a “play it once” kind of experience, the flaw you mention would be fatal; the game persists and maintains a degree of popularity because it is more of an evening-long activity that gets increasingly complex and nuanced with repetition. Which also accounts for its capacity to “kill” parties…

    J

  7. it’s true that the first player to go is kinda screwed by the game design. But Werewolf isn’t meant to be played just once. The game is only interesting if you play it over and over again;

  8. Mmhm. I’ve been witnessing several arguments on whether the previous instance of Werewolf is supposed to influence the next ones. One unspoken rule of multi-player gaming is that you’re not supposed to get back to the people beating or betraying you the last time, but in Werewolf the convention is apparently different.

    Which is nice and interesting.

    Anyway, my main experience on the game is from week-long rowing trips, and when it kills five nights in a row, I get a wee bit bitchy. :-)

    – M


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