Players: 3 to 10
Game Length: 10 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 5 to 7 players who want a quick and snappy social deduction game
One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a social deduction game based on the classic game Werewolf, where players are tasked with identifying who among them is a werewolf – provided they aren’t one of the werewolves themselves! After a discussion period, they must collectively vote on who they think is a werewolf. If they are correct, the non-werewolf (or ‘village’) players win, but if they are wrong, the werewolf players win.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf seeks to condense the game of Werewolf into that climactic moment where the players must identify the werewolves among them or lose the game. In doing so, it is able to mitigate criticisms of the original game – namely, that it involves player elimination and has a long windup period – and it achieves this by the use of a variety of special roles. These roles allow players to gain some of the information they would have normally gathered over the course of a regular Werewolf game, and arms them for the final debate and discussion.
The role cards provide a number of special functions. The Werewolf role is obviously the crux of the game, but other roles are also important – a number of roles get actions before the game starts, such as the Seer who gets to see another player’s card, and the Troublemaker who gets to swap two players’ cards with each other.
If your card is swapped by any means, however, you are on the team of your new card. If the troublemaker claims to have swapped your card, and you were a werewolf, you’ll need to toss up whether she was telling the truth – if she was, you could now be a villager, and you’ll need to out the other player as the new werewolf. She could be lying about her targets to try to get a confession out of you, however, or she may not even be the Troublemaker. These kinds of moments and discussions arise naturally out of the game and contribute a lot to its appeal.
The game does have its criticisms, however. The play time is very short, and after playing it for an evening you may feel that you have gotten all the enjoyment you can out of what’s in the package. As a group negotiation and deduction game, how the game pans out will depend heavily on the participants. Also, while the game is designed to work without a player moderating the game, in practice it is usually best for one player to sit out each round and make sure the pre-game Night phase is done properly and without giving anything away. The short round times can mean that the moderating player can rotate quickly, keeping enough players in the game – and it can be a lot of fun watching the other players debate while you yourself know all the information!
One Night Ultimate Werewolf makes a great social deduction game for 5-10 people, and its short play time means that players can jump in and out of the game as they want. Few games can accommodate such a large number and still play so quickly, and for this alone One Night Ultimate Werewolf is impressive – the fact that it also manages to be a compelling social deduction game is icing on the cake. It may not replace of other, more involved games but it definitely has a place in any boardgamer’s collection.