How to play Mafia like a pro!

Are you a newcomer to Mafia, but eager to play like a professional? Do you want people to respect your intellect, logic and communication skills not only in a Mafia game but also during any negotiation process? If so, the answers below may be useful to you.

Tip #1: do your homework!

There are plenty of people who have already made up all the possible strategies for efficiently playing the intellectual Mafıa game. So, how do you become one of those experienced players? Lots of articles exist on the Internet which are devoted to this topic. Start with learning at least the main gestures used in the Mafia game. Having studied the main strategies you may find a lot of interesting and new techniques. By the way, for those who don’t like to read, you can find game records from Mafia championships where you can also learn some tricks.

Tip #2: play Mafia as much as you can!

It may sound obvious, but the best method to master your theoretical knowledge is to put it into practice as much as possible until it becomes second nature. Experience will positively influence your level as a player and deepen your understanding of how to play Mafia. The main thing is not to overdo it, so you don’t get tired of the game. For me, the most appropriate frequency is to play once or twice per fortnight. In this way, there are players who have already been playing for a decade, but are still not tired of it.

Tip #3: practice with better players than you

The same advice would be given to you by an experienced chess player, and most likely, a tennis coach would also share this opinion. In English Mafia Club, as well as in other professional clubs, there are players who can rapidly calculate and analyze numerous scenarios and react accordingly in seconds. There is very little room for error when playing against these players.

Their logic will take into account many aspects of the situation. Depending on which side you’re on, this makes them dangerous opponents or strong allies. Playing with such people, you challenge yourself and can become stronger as a strategist, tactician, negotiator and, whether you like it or not, a master of deception. Very often people play Mafia to enjoy the pleasant emotions associated with victory, and therefore, when playing as Black, will eliminate the strong players in the opposition to reduce their chances of detection. Well, if you’re narcissistic, and basking in the rays of glory is your main motivation- keep going! But for those players who like to challenge themselves and play in order to ultimately become stronger, my advice is to keep the dangerous opponents and try to win in the toughest conditions.

And once again: playing with strong opponents is challenging yourself. Leave strong players at the tables and enjoy an increased intellectual challenge.

Tip #4: learn by observing other games

Watching the game can sometimes be even more useful than actually playing it. Typically, around 20 people attend our Mafia club meetings, yet only 10 are needed for a game. Unfortunately,  the rest will be waiting and watching the others playing, rather than capitalizing on the opportunity by observing and analyzing.

As a spectator, try to imagine yourself in the role of the peaceful citizen. This means closing your eyes when the moderator announces the night and opening them in the morning only. Listen to the speeches and try to work out who the Mafia members are. Observing players’ behavior and mistakes can improve your level significantly. If you have accidentally seen who the Mafia players are, just listen to the speeches from a Mafia player’s point of view; think of how you would have conducted your own speech in their place – and in doing so –ask yourself the following questions:

1)    Which mistakes have those citizens made which could be used against them?

2)   Accordingly, what strategy will be the best in this particular situation; how would I construct my speech in order to use their blunder to convince the circle that the opposing player should be voted out ?

3)   How would I want to organize the vote so my team can win?

 Tip #5: post-analyze every single game

 Analyze the games together with other experienced players once the game is over. Ask questions during the common discussion and try to clarify all the points that were not clear to you.

In my opinion, the most useful games are those in which you have failed miserably. In such situations, people usually start looking for someone to blame and loudly proclaim something like “hey, we lost because of you”. But from the point of view of improving your Mafia skills, it would be good to ask yourself the next question:

“What could I have done in this game to make my team win?”

Remember, Mafia is a team game. One does not lose here as an individual; either three Mafia win or all seven Citizens do. There is no third option.

Analyze each game while holding to account yourself only.

Tip #6: play with different people as much as possible

Each game is unlike the previous one. That’s because at every game, different people sit at the table. No matter how extensive your experience in Mafia is, playing with new people will always lead you to making mistakes. However, if you’re willing to learn from these mistakes, you will be giving yourself a further opportunity to polish your game.

Experienced players usually don’t like to sit at the table with newcomers because they “don’t know how to play”; ironically in this situation, our experienced “hero” also tends to end up being lynched in the daytime vote. For the advanced player, dealing with newcomers means stepping out of their comfort zone. Showing off their ability amongst experienced familiar teammates is sometimes easier than finding an approach to handling inexperienced players who are unfamiliar to them. Moreover, a native Russian speaker – as a typical experienced Mafia player will be- will have to speak in a foreign language at English Mafia Club.

Imagine that you’re a lawyer in court trying to convince a jury to agree with you. Their decision highly depends on the quality of your speech, yet you’re speaking in your non-native language to a non-native English audience! Most non-native English speakers won’t have the ability to be effective at first, and this is why playing Mafia in English is a great opportunity for you to develop your English oral skills.

These are my main suggestions. As for me, this is a good start to improving your Mafia professionalism.

 I wish you many successful victories and productive failures.

The author: Eugene Bazhenov
Date: 14 March, 2014

Updated: 24th June 2016 by Jonny Conrad