I played Werewolf in class

As Zarf mentioned in his last post, I am indeed wrapping up a semester teaching a game lab at Northeastern University, and hope to return to vaguely regular posting here soon. As a gentle transition from this blog being nothing but Plotkin posts, let me show you some Werewolf cards I made.

These are a combination of Danny Novo’s printable card sheet linked from Andy’s own Werewolf page, blue Ultra Pro card sleeves, and some random Poker cards for the sake of stiffening. Nothing terribly fancy, but I like the result so much that I have decided to keep them as they are, rather than return the sleeves to the Race for the Galaxy cards that I swiped them from. While I rarely play Werewolf, I like the thought of having a deck ready anyway.

I just pulled these cards out of my bag, where they’ve been since the last week of class. Due to scheduling oddities, I couldn’t assign any graded work for that final week, so I declared it optional-attendance and pondered some large-group games we could play, just for fun. Another game-focused teacher had told me months before that running Werewolf is always a smashing success in his classes. I had some misgivings, but finally decided I wanted to see that for myself, so assembled cards the night before.

As luck would have it, 11 students showed up (out of 36) — a perfect number for this game! We watched the classic Gameshelf Werewolf review (“Hey, that’s you with no beard!”) and then I dealt out the cards, declaring myself to be moderator. Since I didn’t want any player to “die” without even the chance to say a word, we started in the Day phase, contrary to the official rules. This turned out to be unnecessary, though — when the game ended, the students immediately wanted to play again. We had some good discussion about the game afterwards, and then moved on to other things; I would have the same experience with nine students in the subsequent lab section.

Beyond seeing the game working so well, my other big surprise was the discovery that many students had played Werewolf before. I still think of this game as relegated to National Puzzler’s League conventions or tabletop game conferences, so was unprepared to hear about its use as a teaching tool in high school Spanish class (¬°El Hombre Lobo!), or that there exists at least one public Starcraft 2 server running a mod that somehow applies the rules of Mafia (Werewolf’s predecessor) to that game..

While everyone still had fun, the game seems to have become rather less obscure than I had known. Well, what can you say, other than Memetic game is memetic.

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