The Unwritten Rules of Mafia

Mafia has a number of unwritten rules that are practiced regularly by experienced players.

Let’s start with the first Mafia rules:

1) Mafia members should kill in the sequence ordered by the Don of the Mafia

For example, you’re a Black player. On the Zero Night, the Don has ordered the shooting of red players in the following order; 3, 5, 9. However, one of the Black members has missed on the first night because – for whatever reason – he shot at the 9-th player, and not at the 3rd, as per the Don’s instructions. The unwritten rule provides that the original sequence should returned to – so that on the next night the team should resume in finishing off the 3rd player, not the 5th.

As you probably know, any rule is subject to exceptions. The exceptions are listed in the following paragraphs and apply to situations where there’s an apparent Sheriff and checked red.

2) Immediately kill an unveiled Sheriff – even if it’s out of turn (applies to Mafia only).

3) Kill a checked Red player out of turn (applies to Mafia only).

Let’s see how the two rules can be applied to a real game scenario:

Let’s assume that the real Sheriff has been discovered: Mafia should all kill him out of line! That Sheriff also announced a checked Red player:  Mafia should shoot them immediately after the Sheriff. And only at that point should the team return to the original order.

We remind you that the Sheriff must be dealt with by the Mafia as a matter of priority; he is the most dangerous threat to Mafia and the most important asset for the Citizens.

A checked Red should also be killed out of sequence, because it is guaranteed that they won’t be voted out in the day vote. Are you wondering why? Well how are you going to accuse them if the Sheriff has already testified that they are checked Citizens!? Civilians are obviously going to believe the Sheriff; a player who appears to be against the Sheriff or in conflict with one of his checked Reds will automatically reveal their true black color to the city!

IMPORTANT: If you’re playing on the Black team with inexperienced players, you should assume that they are not privy to the rules discussed above.

Returning to the example above, the players were ordered in the sequence of 3, 9 and 5; as a Mafia member, you have successfully killed players 3 and 9. The time has come to kill player 5. However,  player 1 player has now revealed himself as the Sheriff and says that he has checked players 4 and 2 and confirmed them as Red. For now, you should forget about player 5 . Your priority should now be as follows: first of all, kill the the Sheriff (i.e player 1), then go for players 4 and 2 – who were his checked-Reds. In other words, you should eliminate the Reds in the same sequence as the Sheriff checked them.

And only then  should you go back to the original sequence. Although, usually by then the game would have either ended or there would at most be only one Black player remaining, in which case the need  for a synchronized shoot is no longer relevant.

Don’t forget that if there’s a Sheriff as well as a checked Red at the table, it is always a priority to shoot the Sheriff over the proven red.

In a situation where there are two Sheriffs – one false and one real – who claim the same thing there is therefore a ‘double checked’ Red player, it is best to kill the double-trusted player rather than any of the Sheriffs. In this case,  lured Citizens will  allow one more day for a battle between the two purported Sheriffs.

4) How to deal with the “gamble game”

Recall  the “gamble game” or “guessing” scenario”, i.e. when there are three or four players (see article about  The fifth day of the Red player (Part 1) ). Usually, in this situation you have no concrete evidence against any particular remaining player; anyone could be Mafia – so no matter how confident or not your suspicions are you should really grill each player without exception.

Example: Players 1, 2 and 3 are at the table. The 3rd player is Mafia. Players 1 and 2 suspect and accuse each other, while the real Mafia member observes whilst quietly laughing at the spectacle. On the other hand, if suspicion would nevertheless be directed at player 3 by  players 1 and 2,  there is a higher chance that during her response to the accusations, player 3 will make a blunder in her speech, thereby finally revealing her true color and allowing the Red team to win. Therefore, in this example, a Red player should keep the heat on all unproven  players at the table – no matter what their ‘intuition’ tells them – and make the others work hard to prove their innocence. If no stone is left uncovered, the likelihood of truth prevailing is increased.


5) At least two players should me nominated if, on the last day, only four players remain.

This rule is explored in further detail  in the following article:  ” The fifth day of the red player (Part 1) “.

Originally written by: Eugene Bazhenov
Date: September 2, 2013.

Translated and adapted by Jonny Conrad: 25th June 2016