Variants of Mafia Rules


The Archangel (to which we normally assign the ace of hearts) is a protecting character, who wakes up once during each night and indicates someone who is to be protected. During the night, the moderator shall announce "Archangel awake." The archangel shall open his eyes. The archangel may protect one person from mafia assassination during the night. The moderator shall ask, "Archangel, who do you want to protect?" The archangel shall point to someone, who may be the archangel himself. The moderator shall announce "Archangel asleep" and the archangel shall close his eyes. If that person is chosen to be killed by the Mafia during the same night, then the moderator merely announces at daybreak that noone was killed during the night.

This is a very powerful character, and we no longer play with one frequently. When we do play with an archangel, we generally limit his power to protecting people other then himself. This avoids the nasty problem of a game ending in a tie-- with one member of the Mafia who cannot kill the archangel and an archangel who cannot muster a majority during the day to kill the lone remaining Mafia member.

Note - The Archangel was part of the original Mafia rules when it was introduced at Princeton. This variant was originally titled "No Archangel" and the archangel was included in the main rules. This is what we had to say about the character back when it was a regular:

It seems that many folks play without an archangel. This means that that the angel will almost never reveal himself, because he will be an obvious target for the mafia once he does so. In this case, the angel must work anonymously, attempting to influence the game by mere argument.

Note - We have played this variant on several occasions with great success. Generally, it is best to consider having two angels in this case instead of one. We have also discovered a very interesting strategy, namely that the angel should begin by checking on those players next to him. If they are cleared of being mafia, the angel should "smuggle out" information to this person by speaking quietly or otherwise indicating who is guilty and who isn't. In this way, information learned by the angel survives the angel and accusations can be made by the neighbor(s) of the angel, who, as ordinary civilians, are more expendable than the angel.

Note - We received on 12/27/99 a communication from Ephraim Ross of Pomona College who has informed us that he has played with a similar character called the Sheriff.

See also Two Archangels.

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