The scenario

There are two basic teams in the Mafia game: the “informed minority” and the “uninformed majority”. The former are usually referred to as Mafia, or the Black Team; the latter are known as the Citizens or the Red Team. Typically, ten players attend a game.

At the start of the game, each player secretly picks a random card which will indicate their role for the upcoming game.

A Mafia member will know the identity of all of their teammates as well those of the members of the opposing Red team. A Citizen – on the other hand – only knows that they themselves are a Citizen but have no idea who else is who in the game and to what team they belong.

The aim of the game is to be the last team standing.

The game revolves around two scenes: “night” and “day”. During the night scene, Mafia aims to kills one of the Citizens (by way of “shooting”). During the day everyone – including the dubious Mafia – aim to communicate with each other in order to further their goals: Citizens will be trying to figure out who the Mafia members are; Mafia will be trying to divert suspicion away from themselves and onto other innocent Citizens. If the majority of the surviving members are led to believe that someone is a member of the Mafia, they can “lynch” that person.

The Black Team – who have almost complete information – have the advantage of knowledge; the Red Team, on the other hand, have the advantage of numbers.


Citizens: regular Citizens have no special powers and, as mentioned before, their strength lies in their numbers.

The Don (boss of the Mafia): As leader of the Mafia team, the Don orders the death of the victims for the first three nights; they do this by showing the numbers of the intended victims to their fellow team mates during Zero Night (we call it “zero”, because nobody dies during that night at the beginning of the game). Each night, after Mafia shoot, the Don is given an opportunity to identify the Sheriff (more on this important role later). In doing so, the Don silently indicates his suspicion by showing to the moderator the number of the player whom they would like to investigate- and receives the answer accordingly. Even if the Don was successful in finding the Sheriff, they cannot cannot kill him at once; the Don has only received KNOWLEDGE about the most dangerous player within the red team. To successfully communicate this information to their fellow Mafia teammates in a covert manner (so that they can prioritize the killing of the Sheriff) is a whole new board game!

Regular Mafia member: as discussed, the Don is the main decision maker for all collective mafia actions. The moderator accepts the orders from the Don only. One should also draw attention to the fact that Mafia members cannot open their eyes during the night – and thereby secretly communicate – except during night zero. On all other nights, Mafia members must shoot with closed eyes.

The Sheriff: each night the Sheriff is given an opportunity to investigate the identity of another player. The Sheriff silently indicates to the moderator whom they would like to investigate, usually by pointing at the player they suspect. The moderator indicates whether or not that player is a Mafioso by nodding or shaking their head.

How to play the Mafia game?


During the night everyone is blindfolded. Starting from the first night, the Mafia members kill their selected player, while blindfolded, in line with the orders previously provided by the  Don. In order to execute a successful killing, all the Mafia members must simultaneously perform a shooting gesture as soon as the moderator announces the number of their intended victim. Mafia will be considered to have missed if they don’t shoot simultaneously at the right moment.

Then, both The Don and the Sheriff – one after the other – use their investigative privileges to try to unveil the identity of their Sheriff and Mafia opponents respectively.

Subsequently, morning comes to the town, at which point the Mafia’s victim – if shot successfully – is announced as eliminated by the moderator. The eliminated person has 60 seconds to give a final speech before leaving the circle.

Daytime: Discussion/Vote

During the day scene, each player has 60 seconds in which they take turns to make a speech where they can share with the circle their analysis and suspicions about whom they believe – or in the case of a Mafia speech, who they want everyone to believe – are the Mafia members. During their speech, the player can also practice their right to nominate the player whom they would like to leave the game at the end of that day.

In order to compose your speech you may use some of the mafia phrases-templates.

Only a properly nominated player can be considered a candidate for the elimination vote. The players then vote against the person they want to leave the game; the person receiving the majority vote is thereby eliminated. After someone is voted off, they have 30 seconds to give a final speech to the circle, at which point the day scene is over and the previous scene sequence repeats itself (night/synchronized shooting -> day/victim update/daytime discussion-vote) until one of the teams win.

How to win the Mafia game?

The Citizens win if they successfully eliminate all the mafia members; Mafia wins as soon as there are an equal number of Mafia and Citizen members remaining at the table. For example, if there are six players at the table, and three of them are Mafia, the victory goes to Mafia.

General rules of English (speaking) Mafia club, Kiev:

  1. If you break any of the rules, you should be ready to get a penalty;
  2.  If you receive two penalties, your next speech will be 30 seconds short; if you receive three penalties you lose the right to participate in the vote; if you receive a fourth penalty you’ll be asked to leave the table at once without having a further word;
  3. Players should indicate their speech is over with a “thank you” closing. You can receive a penalty if you continue speaking when your time is up;
  4. Players shouldn’t use Russian – or any language besides English – during the game, but they can ask the Moderator to help with translation if necessary;
  5. Players shouldn’t interrupt during someone else’s speech. If they do, they will receive a penalty;
  6. Players don’t have the right to touch other players during the game;
  7. Players don’t have the right to perform any gestures during the night, except in cases when they are asked to do so by the moderator. All forms of communication should be reserved for the day;
  8. Players can say anything about the card they are holding, they just won’t have an opportunity to show it until the end of the game. There are no penalties for lying, but you can receive a penalty for swearing.
  9. Ultimately, the moderator’s discretion shall prevail and the players must follow the instructions given by him or her.

Useful articles to read:

Key strategies to play Mafia game
Main Mafia game gestures
Unwritten Rules of the Mafia Game

Watch some of the videos here:

Mafia rules in 2 short video lessons:

Lesson 1
Lesson 2