How to Play Mafia

The game of Mafia is about convincing others, about being able to lie believably, and about being able to figure out if other people are lying. It will reveal a lot about players to each other, and works best if the players know a little bit about each other first. It is tremendous fun if the players have a sense of humor.

The setting is a once peaceful town which has been invaded by the dark forces of corruption - the Mafia.

The Mafia's sole purpose is to murder the productive citizens in their bed. They have free reign of the town at night, but by day they appear to be normal citizens.

As a response to these terrible events, the townspeople have hired an Inspector, whose job is to remain disguised while attempting to root our the members of the Mafia.


Game Rules

Game Setup

The game of Mafia is played by an odd number of people. Good numbers are 9, 11, or 13. Players are either townspeople or Mafia. In addition, one of the townspeople is the Inspector. Who plays what is determined at random. One method for determining who is who is to use cards: black cards for the mafia, red cards for townspeople, and the king of hearts for the inspector. Players may not show their cards to others.

The number of Mafia and townspeople can vary, depending on which side is winning more often:

Players Mafia Leans Toward
9 3 Even
9 2 Townspeople
11 3 Even
11 4 Mafia
13 3 Townspeople
13 4 Even
13 5 Mafia

Starting with 3 Mafia is generally recommended.

Order of Play

The game takes place over the duration of several "days" and "nights". Play begins at the start of the first "day", and proceeds as follows:

  1. Everyone discusses who might be in the Mafia. Eventually, a vote is called and the (un)lucky candidate is run out of town (or lynched, or tarred and feathered, or... You get the idea). As they are run out of town (of whatever), the player gets to make one final statement.
    The first person thus removed from play becomes the Moderator
  2. Night falls. Everyone goes to sleep (by closing their eyes).
  3. The Moderator tells the members of the Mafia to open their eyes. The members of the Mafia then select someone they will murder, by pointing at people until they all agree on one. The Mafia then close their eyes.
  4. The Moderator tells the Inspector to open his eyes. This happens even if the Inspector has been killed, or run out of town. The Inspector then points at a suspect. The Moderator nods "yes" if that person in the Mafia, or "no" if they are innocent. The Inspector then closes his eyes.
  5. The Moderator announces the coming of the morning, and the name of the luckless victim. Embelishments on the method of death are fun here (Ooh, Jim was found garotted in his Barcalounger!).
  6. The townspeople, realizing that their previous council did not root out all the evil, return to step one and play proceeds from there.

Winning Conditions

The game is over when:

Play Hints

Calling a Vote

During the day, the townspeople get to vote on who to run out of town. At any point during the discussion, someone can call a vote by saying "I vote So-and-So is a Mafia and should be run out of town." If more than half the living players agree, then the elected person is unceremoniously removed from the game. There should always be an odd number of players during the day, so a vote will not end in a deadlock. Voting and debated may become heated. That's where the fun lies!

The First Day

During the first day, members of the Mafia have no information about who's in the Mafia or not. The person to get voted out is pretty random, so it's up to everyone to make a good, convincing first statement that will result in them not being voted out.

Once the first night falls, though, the Mafia will be able to act in a much mure unified way.

The Inspector

The Inspector has no way to prove their role, since players are not allowed to show their cards to one another to prove they are what they say there are. Admitting one is the Inspector can result in a swift death in the middle of the night, unless only one member of the Mafia was left alive.


The rules for Mafia are a production of the Ectoplasmic Connector. We don't own the copyright, but hey, Anca typed these.