Players: 5 to 68
Game Length: 30 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 10 to 30 players up for a social party game
Ultimate Werewolf is a classic party game where the players are citizens of a village beset by werewolves. A majority of the players will be innocent villagers, but a select few will be werewolves, with role cards dealt out randomly to each player. Each in-game night, one of the villagers will be killed by the werewolves and removed from the game. Each day, villagers may vote for one player to be lynched, and will need to identify the werewolves and lynch them to win the game. If they are all wiped out before identifying the werewolf players, the werewolves win!
As the number of citizens dwindles, players will become increasingly paranoid. One player may be singled out as a suspected werewolf and lynched – only for that player to be revealed as an innocent villager, and for the remaining players to turn on the most vocal proponent of that lynching. You’ll never know quite who to trust, and the game will become increasingly tense as it comes to its bloody conclusion.
To even the odds against the werewolves, there are a number of characters with special powers, the most important of which is the Seer. Each night, the Seer may try to identify whether a player is a werewolf, and once she has found one can try to influence public opinion to have that player lynched. However, if she’s too forthcoming in her accusations, there’s nothing stopping the werewolves from killing her in the night, causing the villagers to lose a powerful ally. The villagers will need to stay vocal to direct the attention of the werewolves away from the Seer, and each villager will need to think carefully about who to trust.
Ultimate Werewolf does have a number of flaws in its design that make it unsuitable for a typical sit-down gaming session. Players will start to be eliminated from the very first night and must sit out of the game until the end, unable to contribute. It also requires a large number of players; with too few players there is little opportunity for the social interaction that makes the game so compelling. Furthermore, one player must act as a moderator to manage the game’s hidden information, for example to tell the players which of them has been killed by the werewolves after each night.
These flaws work in Ultimate Werewolf‘s favour at a party, however. The game’s social nature makes it a natural fit, and those who are eliminated from play may simply rejoin the rest of the party until the next round starts. There are a number of other characters who may be added to the game once the base game is learned, such as the Troublemaker who may cause a second lynching to happen on one day, or the Hunter who may choose to kill another player should he be killed. These additional roles are best added after players already understand the base game, and may be balanced against the other cards by adding up the numbers in the bottom left corner of all cards so they total to zero.
Ultimate Werewolf makes an excellent party game, but you should make sure that those eliminated have something else to do while waiting for the game to finish. The game itself consists of just a deck of cards and is available for cheap, making it an excellent choice for any boardgamer who wants a game that works well with large groups.