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Derek Thompson
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I absolutely love lying and bluffing games, especially when they’re simple and quick. One of the biggest advances in this genre was The Resistance, which had a lot of the qualities of Mafia / Werewolf but without the player elimination. So when I heard about One Night Ultimate Werewolf, I was pretty intrigued – no player elimination, and a 10-minute game even shorter than The Resistance, where everyone can have a special role? Sounds awesome, but is it? Here’s a reminder of my scoring categories:

Components – Does the game look nice? Are the bits worth the money? Do they add to the game?
Accessibility – How easy is the game to teach, or to feel like you know what you are doing?
Depth – Does the gameplay allow for deeper strategies, or does the game play itself?
Theme – Does the game give a sense of immersion? Can you imagine the setting described in the game?
Fun – Is the game actually enjoyable? Do you find yourself smiling, laughing, or having some sense of satisfaction when it’s over?



Components: Inside the box is literally sixteen character tiles that are dealt out to the players, sixteen tokens to show who is in the game, and the rulebook. While the tiles are nice and thick, I can’t believe that the MSRP is $25 for that amount of stuff. Although I really like the thick tiles instead of cards, I don’t think the difference quite justifies the price, when you look at how much stuff is in The Resistance ($20 MSRP) or the fact that Love Letter is $10 MSRP for sixteen cards and some cubes. Now, there is also a free iOS app for the game, which is extremely helpful for calling out roles, but if the price is there to cover the app, then it’s not exactly a free app. The rulebook is very simple and clear, and the tokens have fantastic artwork. I know we’re nitpicking over a few bucks here, but the high price kind of overshadows the nice, minimalist components.



Accessibility: Even if you haven’t played Mafia / Werewolf, the rules are abundantly clear. The game is literally one night and one day of Werewolf - everyone gets a secret role, a bunch of stuff happens at night, and then you have ten minutes to wake up and decide who to kill, if anyone. If a Werewolf dies, the Villagers win, and if someone’s a Werewolf but no Werewolves die, then the Werewolves win. There’s a little more to it with the extra roles, but the basic ones are pretty simple, and you can progressively add one more role each time to learn as you go. Narrating the game with no background noise is definitely not the way to play, though. It was hard to remember the order of the roles (although the tokens are numbered) and we could hear if something was being moved. The app is pretty much necessary, since it will call out the rules and has some night-time cricket noises to cover up any sounds being made by the players swapping tiles. With the app, it’s one of the simplest games in existence.



Depth: This is where the game falls apart. Maybe we’re a bunch of idiots, but we couldn’t even get this game to really work. After the night phase, it was always abundantly clear who everyone was, and it was impossible to lie your way out of a situation. I have played a lot of bluffing and hidden role games, so it’s not as if I am new to the genre (nor were the other players). As you add more roles and make it so there isn’t more than one vanilla Villager, it’s even harder for a Werewolf to lie unless he knows which roles are in the center of the table, because he can now be called out by the player actually having the role that he claims to be. (Before, he could usually claim to be a Villager with no sure way of being disproved by anyone.) Unless we missed a rule or something (but how could we, when the game is so simple), the game just seems, literally, broken. There’s no “good” partial information like in The Resistance, where you have reason for suspicion but no definite logic. This is either complete certainty or blind guessing. Additionally, the fact that you can switch roles and not know which team you’re on at the end might be comical, but in play it’s just frustrating and stupid.



Theme: As I said, the art in the game is great. The special powers also fit the names of the characters very well, and powers like the Drunk and the Insomniac fit the comical artwork just well enough to keep the game from being morbid. It’s also a very cool thematic twist on Werewolf that the game only lasts for one night, as if it’s some sort of double-or-nothing final challenge between the Werewolves and the Villagers. However, the escalating tension as people die each night is what draws you into the fear and panic of Werewolf, and that feeling is the heart and soul of the game. I didn’t feel a single bit of tension in One Night Ultimate Werewolf. The games tended to just end with a noncommittal “Well, let’s kill someone then.”



Fun: We played this game seven times straight with a variety of roles, just trying to make it work. It doesn’t. It was actually more fun to sit and listen to the app and get excited thinking about what may have happened than to actually play the game. What actually happened was always obvious enough to be completely disappointing. If you want a game with lies and bluffing, play Coup, The Resistance, or maybe regular Werewolf - just anything else.



One Night Ultimate Werewolf sounds like an awesome idea, but don’t be fooled – the wolf of boredom is hiding in the sheepskin of the great art and concept.



Originally posted on http://meepletown.com
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GeekInsight
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
aldaryn wrote:
Depth: This is where the game falls apart. Maybe we’re a bunch of idiots, but we couldn’t even get this game to really work. After the night phase, it was always abundantly clear who everyone was, and it was impossible to lie your way out of a situation. I have played a lot of bluffing and hidden role games, so it’s not as if I am new to the genre (nor were the other players). As you add more roles and make it so there isn’t more than one vanilla Villager, it’s even harder for a Werewolf to lie unless he knows which roles are in the center of the table, because he can now be called out by the player actually having the role that he claims to be. (Before, he could usually claim to be a Villager with no sure way of being disproved by anyone.) Unless we missed a rule or something (but how could we, when the game is so simple), the game just seems, literally, broken. There’s no “good” partial information like in The Resistance, where you have reason for suspicion but no definite logic. This is either complete certainty or blind guessing. Additionally, the fact that you can switch roles and not know which team you’re on at the end might be comical, but in play it’s just frustrating and stupid.


Not every game is for every player. But I wonder if the deeper (and more fun) layer of ONW was missed here.

It sounds like your werewolves were mostly just pretending to be villagers. That's a huge mistake. First, it lets the village team claim all the good special roles. That, in turn, gives the good team a significant amount of reliable information. Once all that info comes out, it can be hard for wolves.

As a wolf, I will sometimes claim such a special role. "I'm the seer and here is what I saw." Sure, if the real seer counters me, then I might have to back things up (or recant my seer claim), but sometimes I can be even more convincing depending on what other information is out there.

And, one of the interesting aspects of ONW is that the village team also has incentive to lie. Sometimes as villager I'll say, "I'm the trouble maker and I switched you two" just to see the reaction. Or, as the troublemaker, I'll lie about who I switched - again to see if one of them gets outed as a wolf. Laying the misinformation can be critical to ensure that a wolf doesn't piggy back on the good information to support his false claim.

Also, in my first few plays, we set the time for 5 minutes. That's an eternity in ONW. I tend to use 4-5 minutes only in 9-10 player games and usually 2 or 3 minutes for less. Time constraints keep the game tense, active, and let the wolves know that they can win by running out the clock before the village figures things out.

Like I said, maybe ONW isn't for you. And there's certainly nothing wrong with that. But just thought I'd contribute a few items that you may have overlooked in one session of play (albeit with multiple plays within that session).
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
I think you would 'get it' with more plays. But then again, why would you? There are plenty of good games around
We really like it, sorry you didnt. But if you think that everything is really clear after the night phase, you must be doing something very wrong.
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Xenothon Stelnicki
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
You have inexperienced werewolves who don't appreciate timing, it sounds like. More plays and better role selection will crack the code. With even so-so play, you should only occasionally have a game that is entirely deducible. I love The Resistance and ONUW is absolutely better. It's broken by poor play, just as The Resistance can be destroyed by someone accidentally playing a fail card.
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
MyParadox wrote:
Sometimes as villager I'll say, "I'm the trouble maker and I switched you two" just to see the reaction. Or, as the troublemaker, I'll lie about who I switched - again to see if one of them gets outed as a wolf. Laying the misinformation can be critical to ensure that a wolf doesn't piggy back on the good information to support his false claim.


This. Last night the Troublemaker said he switched me and my neighbor. So she admitted she had been the Minion, and outed the lone Werewolf. Then he said that he'd actually switched me and someone else, and thanked her for the info.

It was great, and the Villagers ended up winning.
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Clyde W
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
I can assure you the game isn't broken, at all.

Come play it with us on the PBF forums. Watch wolves win quite often!

Also, if wolves are having hard times, you need to add in Tanner and Minion and play with Lone Wolf variant. Add those immediately and watch everyone have an "ah ha!" moment.
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
clydeiii wrote:
Also, if wolves are having hard times, you need to add in Tanner and Minion and play with Lone Wolf variant. Add those immediately and watch everyone have an "ah ha!" moment.


I've never played without the "Lone Wolf" variant. It seems like it should be a standard rule.

And Tanner and Minion are great (though I dislike drawing Tanner). Without them, no one wants to be lynched. If you get lynched, you lose. But add those two in (or even one of them), and suddenly you have players who want to draw the kill. That increases the play because a suspicious person might just be acting suspicious to get killed and win!
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Clyde W
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
MyParadox wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
Also, if wolves are having hard times, you need to add in Tanner and Minion and play with Lone Wolf variant. Add those immediately and watch everyone have an "ah ha!" moment.


I've never played without the "Lone Wolf" variant. It seems like it should be a standard rule.

And Tanner and Minion are great (though I dislike drawing Tanner). Without them, no one wants to be lynched. If you get lynched, you lose. But add those two in (or even one of them), and suddenly you have players who want to draw the kill. That increases the play because a suspicious person might just be acting suspicious to get killed and win!
I don't like drawing Tanner either, but winning as Tanner is oh so great. I also don't mind drawing all that much, because I often play with Troublemaker, Robber and Doppleganger. Between those three roles, I'll often not end up as Tanner.

BTW Derek, join us! ONUW PBF #10: BMAFI -- GAME OVER
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Derek Thompson
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
I'm definitely willing to blame my own incompetence, and I thank you for the PBF invite (although for now I'll pass, thanks to upcoming finals and the birth of our daughter last week).

As someone said above, maybe we could "figure it out" but it's difficult to find incentive to do that instead of playing The Resistance again. I think what was frustrating was the lack of a shell, a system to force things to happen (the votes and missions in The Resistance). It's not really clear how to get started (effectively, at least). I'm wondering if anyone else has had the same bad experience I did...?
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Clyde W
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
Derek, one of the things I LOVE about the ONW that I don't get from Resistance (and trust me, I'm a huge Resistance fan, especially Avalon) is that I am often shocked at the end results after five minutes. Totally and completely shocked. You think you've solved the puzzle of the game and then you're floored when you flip over everyone's card and everything you thought was true was completely false. You don't get that feeling in Resistance, and that feeling is great.

Another thing that happens in Resistance is that people can often get REALLY bitter. As a spy you need to bald-face lie to someone for 30+ minutes. That's a lot of time to keep up an act for, and if you DO end up tricking people, after they lose to you, they also now might be upset that you were so good at tricking them for so long. Plus Resistance inspires much argumentation. "If you think I'm a spy you're an f'ing idiot," is a phrase quite often heard in Resistance games.

In ONW, these types of negative feels rarely if ever happen. For one, you never really know what team you're actually on. If you saw Wolf, you might not be a wolf. If you saw Villager, you could actually be a Wolf. You never 100% know, and that's part of the fun of the game. You're always trying to suss out the probabilities added into the tells you're getting from other players.



As a "mod" for the game, you need to construct a roleset that will challenge the puzzle-solving abilities of the players based on their skills at the time. After a few games of "easy" puzzles, you can move onto harder puzzles. The roles will determine how easy or hard the game is to solve. If you could share the rolesets you played with, the veterans of the game here might help you diagnose what exactly was happening.
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
clydeiii wrote:
Derek, one of the things I LOVE about the ONW that I don't get from Resistance (and trust me, I'm a huge Resistance fan, especially Avalon) is that I am often shocked at the end results after five minutes. Totally and completely shocked. You think you've solved the puzzle of the game and then you're floored when you flip over everyone's card and everything you thought was true was completely false.


No doubt. I recently had a game where I drew the wolf card. Over the course of the game, I had everything figured out. I get someone else lynched. Huzzah! Then I flip my card: Robber. Wait? What?!? Noooooo!

And sometimes it works the other way. Figuring out the puzzle, especially since things can shift in the night, is the best part of the game.
 
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
The game is certainly not for everyone. I have had it fall flat a number of times but it's short and quick enough to just reset and shelve if it's just not working. Certainly helps if there is an experienced onuw player present to get the ball rolling. I like to claim a role early because every reaction provides information. Plain vanilla villagers in particular need to lie because otherwise they don't have any way if obtaining info. But clever werewolves can use this to their advantage.

You're right in saying that there's no real structure to the day phase. Hence you need someone to get things started.
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
MyParadox wrote:
Sometimes as villager I'll say, "I'm the trouble maker and I switched you two" just to see the reaction. Or, as the troublemaker, I'll lie about who I switched - again to see if one of them gets outed as a wolf. Laying the misinformation can be critical to ensure that a wolf doesn't piggy back on the good information to support his false claim.


As far as deducing other players' roles, there usually isn't much reason for a Villager or any other good role to pretend to be the Troublemaker. I think it's best for the actual Troublemaker to truthfully claim the role, then for him to negotiate info by being coy about who was or wasn't actually switched. Know what I mean? Let the Troublemaker himself force reactions. It's good for the village to establish right here and now, upfront who actually is the Troublemaker. Then let him use the tools of the role for information. Having another good team member trying to do this job just adds another layer that has to be sorted through before time runs out and it doesn't really gain anything the actual Troublemaker couldn't do himself.

Of course, the Troublemaker card could be in the middle. So, there's never any hard and fast always or never rules in Werewolf.

Usually, any time I'm false claiming Troublemaker or Robber, it's because I'm trying to figure out if my role has been changed in the night, not to determine anything about other players. There are other tools for that.
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
I dunno. Especially in larger games, having two troublemaker claimants can be helpful for the village. Since the wolves don't know who to believe, it's hard for them to figure out the puzzle and hide amongst the other roles.

Of course, it also makes it hard for the village to figure out, but villagers can retreat to honest claims. Wolves can't.
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David Reed
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
aldaryn wrote:
However, the escalating tension as people die each night is what draws you into the fear and panic of Werewolf, and that feeling is the heart and soul of the game. I didn’t feel a single bit of tension in One Night Ultimate Werewolf. The games tended to just end with a noncommittal “Well, let’s kill someone then.”


I completely agree. ONW fell completely flat for us too, and I think this is exactly the reason.
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
aldaryn wrote:
Depth: This is where the game falls apart. Maybe we’re a bunch of idiots, but we couldn’t even get this game to really work. After the night phase, it was always abundantly clear who everyone was, and it was impossible to lie your way out of a situation. I have played a lot of bluffing and hidden role games, so it’s not as if I am new to the genre (nor were the other players). As you add more roles and make it so there isn’t more than one vanilla Villager, it’s even harder for a Werewolf to lie unless he knows which roles are in the center of the table, because he can now be called out by the player actually having the role that he claims to be. (Before, he could usually claim to be a Villager with no sure way of being disproved by anyone.) Unless we missed a rule or something (but how could we, when the game is so simple), the game just seems, literally, broken. There’s no “good” partial information like in The Resistance, where you have reason for suspicion but no definite logic. This is either complete certainty or blind guessing. Additionally, the fact that you can switch roles and not know which team you’re on at the end might be comical, but in play it’s just frustrating and stupid.


Our group ran into a short stagnant period with he game where every game was solved too easily here are some things that helped us take the game to the next level and WAY beyond:

First off ONW is not werewolf. They share a lot, but there are a couple key differences.
- Werewolf is a team game. ONW is NOT a team game. It's a game where you win as a team, but you have to play as an individual. Your team may change and so your first responsibility is to finding out if your still have the role you started with then try to help the team you are now on.

- Werewolf is more about deductive logic. ONW is more about abductive logic. Werewolf gives you time to test theories and get more information each day, ONW requires you to solve it all at once.

- Werewolf is a game of deceit. ONW is a game of bluff. Think of ONW as more like high stakes poker.


So with that in mind you have to play the game differently than other hidden loyalty games.

For one, the bolded part above breaks the game (playing with only one Vanillager). (It would break werewolf too.) You need to leave claim space for the wolves always. Even in a 5 player game, we play with 2 villagers. Having all unique roles gives the village too much information to solve the game with and gives the wolves nowhere to hide. As others have said, minion and tanner can help make the game less solvable too.

Also, How much time are you giving the village. 10 minutes? It's probably too much. Once people know the basic rules. We've found that giving more than a minute per player gives too much time to work everything out. (we're actually down to about 30 secs per player or less. At this point if we give ourselves more time, the first few minute are wasted with noone giving out useful info anyway.) Giving less time makes it harder for all of the information to be put through the paces and makes the job of fooling the village a little easier for the wolves. Frankly, at first this was a bit of a crutch to try to balance the game, but it ended up making the game better and us better players.

Last how many players did you have? I have found that with larger groups it makes alignment change less likely and so the village has more incentive to just work as a team.

It sounds like you've given up on the game, but I hope you give it another try. I've logged almost 100 plays this year, and when I started out I was having similar feelings about the games as you've expressed. Now, it's a 10 for me and I'm looking forward to the next time I get to play.
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Derek Thompson
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
1. We played with the suggested beginner roles in the book, then continually added roles. I'm pretty sure we tried all of them in some capacity except the Minion.

2. These were 7 five-player games in a row. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it's probably better with more people.

3. 30-60 seconds per player? If the game is played in five minutes, I have trouble seeing how it's much of even a game. Are you playing it that quick to keep it from being solved exactly? While I agree The Resistance can lead to some hard feelings with the wrong group, I prefer having time to mull over what's going on, and come to those "OHHHH wait" conclusions. I get what you're saying about abductive logic, and maybe I just don't find that enjoyable.

I get what you're saying also about bluff vs deceit. Another absolute favorite game of ours is Skull & Roses (which is nothing but bluffing). But as you say, there's no hard or fast rules - but it seems like there are no rules at all, no way to "get started". You give suggestions of moves that you make, but there's no system to get going... why should anyone even say anything? You don't even know if it's to your advantage to do so! Maybe I just can't wrap my head around the game. I still own it, and there's a chance I'll give it another try, but I imagine I'll pull out another game instead...
 
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Derek Thompson
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
By the way, thanks for the civil discussion. No flaming! Yay!
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Graham Muller
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
I play it quite regularly with a group from work.
I find we will have an obvious round quarter of the time, mostly because the werewolf who has been outed cannot figure out a good defense.
But normally the voting ends with 2 or 3 possible candidates, and werewolves winning a good 50% of the time.

I find its all about the timing as the werewolf and as the villagers it's about figuring out who is trying to use too much information revealed before they talk.
 
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
aldaryn wrote:
1. We played with the suggested beginner roles in the book, then continually added roles. I'm pretty sure we tried all of them in some capacity except the Minion.

2. These were 7 five-player games in a row. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it's probably better with more people.

3. 30-60 seconds per player? If the game is played in five minutes, I have trouble seeing how it's much of even a game. Are you playing it that quick to keep it from being solved exactly? While I agree The Resistance can lead to some hard feelings with the wrong group, I prefer having time to mull over what's going on, and come to those "OHHHH wait" conclusions. I get what you're saying about abductive logic, and maybe I just don't find that enjoyable.

I get what you're saying also about bluff vs deceit. Another absolute favorite game of ours is Skull & Roses (which is nothing but bluffing). But as you say, there's no hard or fast rules - but it seems like there are no rules at all, no way to "get started". You give suggestions of moves that you make, but there's no system to get going... why should anyone even say anything? You don't even know if it's to your advantage to do so! Maybe I just can't wrap my head around the game. I still own it, and there's a chance I'll give it another try, but I imagine I'll pull out another game instead...


I am probably repeating what has already been said here, but a small portion of the games I've played have fallen flat in a similar fashion, and we figured out why and have been able to correct it, which has taken us to new heights of game enjoyment.

If it is ever fairly obvious who people are, then your players haven't realized that the key in ONW is that even as a villager, you are (or should be, once it clicks!) given incentive to lie rather than be honest. If your villagers are all quick to claim their precise role, then the werewolves will often be able to hide among the unclaimed roles, which, while still sometimes interesting, is just not as fun as the game can be.

The key is in what others have talked about - you are trying to gain information about yourself, first of all, and then the others second. You do not know what your win conditions are after the night has ended, and so all players need to be very careful about what they say. That is another reason the Villager role is so important - with no way to affect the game directly in the night, they need to try and get information through deceit to determine who they are.

Many of the roles are very subtly powerful, but only will come into play once everyone has understood what the actual game is. Don't out yourself right away - try to avoid giving the actual info until you've caught the roles of others. If nobody trusts anybody else, then the game will click and the experience should improve drastically.

OR maybe it just isn't for you. Not all games will be! Thanks for the review either way!
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Re: Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
aldaryn wrote:
1. We played with the suggested beginner roles in the book, then continually added roles. I'm pretty sure we tried all of them in some capacity except the Minion.

2. These were 7 five-player games in a row. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it's probably better with more people.
I can't remember what the suggested 5p roles are, but a good 5p roleset I think is:
Villagerx3
TMaker
Robber
Seer
Wolfx2 (w/ Lone Wolf variant)
Minion (or Tanner or Drunk, your choice)

That's a very good intro roleset. Playing with only 1 Villager is difficult for newbie wolves. Not recommended.

Quote:
3. 30-60 seconds per player? If the game is played in five minutes, I have trouble seeing how it's much of even a game. Are you playing it that quick to keep it from being solved exactly?
It's a great game for 5 minutes! I play 5m games solely because that's the time I've found works best, regardless of players.

Quote:
You give suggestions of moves that you make, but there's no system to get going... why should anyone even say anything?
Because you need to deduce whose team you're on. You must figure out your role. You gotta get others talking in order to do that. So claim you're the seer and you got a wolf hit. Or claim Drunk and see what happens. Any claim'll do!
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