Lies, Manipulation and the New Time Pass

Bored of sleeping in class? Exhausted Buzzfeed, YouTube, Facebook, and other present day substitutes for the newspaper? Are you contemplating actually paying attention in class because you’re simply tired of the alternatives?

Discard such morbid thoughts from your head my friend, and allow me to introduce you to the new and exciting method to avoid listening in class. Mafia is a game of wit, manipulation and cunning that will test how well you act under the spotlight better than any job interview you may have to endure. It requires at least eight people but is ideally played with ten or above, and a teacher who is fairly liberal with students not paying attention. But if you can manage this, be prepared for one of the most entertaining classes you have had.

Here’s how it works (let’s presume there are eight people playing) – One person is assigned to be God, two people belong to the mafia, one is the doctor, one the detective, and the remaining three are citizens. God is the one who oversees and conducts the game. The role of the mafia is to kill everyone in the city. The doctor has the power to save the life of any citizen per turn. The detective speculates as to who the mafia are and God confirms for the detective whether the detective speculated correctly. The game begins with everyone except God closing their eyes and then God taps each of them on the head assigning them roles, with one tap for citizen, two for mafia, three for doctor, and four for detective. Once assigned, the game is conducted by God in the following format –

  • God: City goes to sleep. (Everyone closes their eyes except God, who assigns identities. This is fairly crucial to the game, so don’t be juvenile and sneakily open your eyes, looking around feeling awkward and insecure. Just keep your eyes closed, yeah?)
  • God: Mafia wake up. (The two mafia members open their eyes.)
  • God: Mafia, who would you like to kill? (The mafia members point to one person whom they would like to kill.)
  • God: Mafia, go to sleep. Doctor, wake up. (The mafia close their eyes and then the doctor opens her eyes.)
  • God: Doctor, who would you like to save? (The doctor points to one person whom she would like to save.)
  • God: Doctor, go to sleep. Detective, wake up. (The doctor closes her eyes, and then the detective opens her eyes.)
  • God: Detective, who do you suspect? (The detective points to any of the other players, and the God responds with a thumbs up or thumbs down depending on whether the detective suspected correctly.)
  • God: Detective, go to sleep. The city wakes up to the death of _____ / The city wakes up with everyone still alive (depending on whether or not the doctor successfully managed to save whoever the the mafia wanted to kill.)

And now is when it gets interesting. The city must discuss among themselves who they think the mafia is, and at the end of a discussion, they will vote on kicking one among them out of the city. God decides when the discussion finishes and the vote commences. The two people with the most votes give a statement defending themselves which is followed by a re-vote between the two of them. One is voted out and must remain silent for the remainder of the game, but God does not reveal whether the person exiled from the city was mafia, doctor, detective or citizen. God then repeats the process, and the game continues till either the mafia successfully kill everyone, or the city correctly exiles both mafia members (at which point, of course, God must inform the city that they were successful).

Players must be shrewd and determine who is lying and who is telling the truth to decide when to speak and when to stay quiet, to manipulate people into believing that others are guilty, to ascertain who God is likely to assign, and who are most likely to kill those specific victims. The detective, who has the most valuable knowledge, must choose the correct time to reveal the information he has, lest he reveal it too early only to be killed by the mafia. The doctor must balance his decisions between self interest and whoever is most likely to be killed. The mafia must shift the blame with a poker face. Nobody knows who anybody is, so anybody could be anybody. The trick lies in convincing the rest. Variations of the game may be introduced with additional mafia members if there are more than an eight people, and the introduction of a terrorist character, who wakes up and works with the mafia, and has the power to kill herself and any other person at any point during the game.

It is incredible fun and though I have presented it as a game to play in class, it is as much fun to play at a party, hostel, bus, or anytime at all, when you’re sober, drunk or stoned. Just remember that it’s just a game, and it isn’t personal.

Unless of course it is personal. I’ll leave you to decide. Choose wisely. 

(Viewers are welcome to respond to posts by writing in the ‘Leave a Reply’ option below.)

3 thoughts on “Lies, Manipulation and the New Time Pass

  1. Pingback: The Law School Folk: The Editorial Board, “Glasnost” of the National Law University Delhi | Bar and Bench

  2. Pingback: Lies, Manipulation and the New Time Pass | Arshu's Blog

  3. Pingback: Lies, Manipulation and the New Time Pass | Arshu's Blog

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