One Night Ultimate Werewolf

I really like One Night Ultimate Werewolf (ONUW), and recommend trying it out. The Daybreak expansion is also good (but I’d skip the later games in the series).


For those who’ve played a lot and wish the night took 20 seconds rather than a few minutes, I’ve made an app that you can download here. It forces you to take all night actions randomly, which usually doesn’t really change anything but might feel less satisfying. The upside is that the game can just hand a message to each player, telling them what they saw during the night. This makes the night incredibly fast, and gives ONUW an unusually simple and pure structure: at the beginning of the game each player receives a message, then they vote.

The app can either notify players over slack, or by passing around a computer. It would be cool to make it into a slack bot so that you can start a game from slack rather than the command line, but I probably won’t do it.

The app doesn’t require actually owning ONUW. But I still recommend buying it and daybreak, since (i) it’s a great game and I like paying people who make great things, (ii) it’s a little bit confusing to try playing from the app without having seen how things work.

New roles

The app also implements 10 roles not in the original game, some of which I think are fun (and some of which are totally untested). In rough order of how promising I think these are:

  • Mad seer: looks at two players’ cards. But in one case (they don’t know which one), they hallucinate something random rather than seeing the truth. On the villager team. (This is only really possible in the app, just like trickster and imposter.
  • Lucid wolf: like the dream wolf, but looks at a center card.
  • Fool: like the drunk, but looks at the two center cards that they didn’t take.
  • Medium: like the PI, but looks in the center rather than looking at other players.
  • Merlin: they learn who is a wolf. If all wolves vote for Merlin, then the wolves win and villagers lose.
  • Lover villager / Lover wolf: In the night all lovers wake up and see each other. When scoring, each lover is on the obvious team, but pretends that all other lovers are also on that team—so a lover werewolf loses if a lover villager dies, and a lover villager does not win unless a non-lover werewolf dies (or no one dies, and all wolves are lovers).
  • Trickster: they exchange one player’s card with a card from the middle. They learn which role they swapped, but not which player originally had them.
    (This and following roles have never appeared in a game.)
  • Imposter: On the villager team, but looks to the wolves like a wolf who wakes up in the night and knows who they are. Doesn’t actually wake up in the night.
  • God: observes everything that happens in the night. Wins only if no one dies. (Because god is omniscient and loves all her children.)
  • Enemy of reason: observes everything that happens in the night. Score is the fraction of other players who make a mistake, i.e. who would have lost if all other players had voted the same way they did. Everyone wins if the enemy of reason dies.

The app also allows you to have multiple copies of the same role, who wake in a random order.

Simultaneous reveal convention

When our house plays ONUW we usually begin with everyone making any simultaneous claims they want to make about what happened in the night. Most people lie most of the time, but this can still allow some players to confirm each others’ stories and increase the majority team’s chances of winning.

We use the following convention: after giving everyone 1 minute to think at the beginning of the game, everyone points to themselves with a number of fingers indicating their role, and to another player whose role they observed during the night. The app facilitates this by assigning each role a number of fingers, or one of {pinky, fist, thumb, spidey sign, hang loose}.

How is ONUW scored?

I’ve only played ONUW with the goal “maximize your probability of winning.” This means that from behind the veil of ignorance everyone really wants the majority team to win, and would prefer make a commitment to just tell the truth. (Though in some games it’s unclear which team is the majority.) The game is still interesting as long as you aren’t in fact allowed to make such commitments and myopically try to maximize your winning probability in the current game rather than taking into account other players’ updates about you.

You could instead play the game as a zero-sum game, where you only get 1/N points for winning on a team of N players (and I guess you ignore games with no wolves). I think this is probably worse, though it seems like a good idea for Mafia or Avalon.

In our experience (using the simultaneous reveal convention) the majority team wins most games, maybe 75%. I think the best way to play ONUW would be similar to duplicate bridge, where different groups play the exact same game and you compare your performance to the average performance of players in your role. This is especially feasible if you use the app and night actions are fixed, since then you can not only fix the initial roles but all of the key randomness like who the robber robs. Let me know if you have a group of players who’d be interested in playing duplicate.

One thought on “One Night Ultimate Werewolf

  1. This is great, and Enemy of Reason is my favorite role concept in any hidden role game ever.

    Makes me think about designing a phone app werewolf game that’s just built from the ground up to require everyone to have a phone with the app. It looks like there are a lot of things you could do that you can’t in more traditional werewolf games, even ones that have an app moderating. (This HAS to be a thing already, but there’s so much to do in that space…)

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