I’ve played Mafia, a lot of Mafia, and some of my thoughts are probably anchored based on how those experiences went. Nevertheless, I wanted to comment on something that stood out to me the most on my first game of Werewolf played on 1/30/2015:
We let every villager have a role. While letting every villager have a role was a nice way to give everyone something to do, I didn’t like it from a game design perspective. Having too many clear roles upset the fuzziness in identity that makes this type of game confusingly compelling.
For example, say there is one werewolf and two villagers left:
If those two villagers had specific roles, say bodyguard and seer, then in that case, the werewolf must claim to be one or the other. However, the person with that card would know that is a lie and it would simply come down to a shouting match between the two.
If on the other hand, those two villagers roles were just “villager,” then the werewolf could claim to be a villager. In that case, both real villagers only know that they themselves are one of two villagers, and could be played against each other by the werewolf claiming to be the second villager.
In the first case, the onus is entirely on the werewolf to process all the information, make an optimal choice, and then try to be the loudest. In the second case, the werewolf has the choice to be more deceptive, and play both villagers against each other, creating flexibility.
When my group played with too many roles last night, then, it was simply a process of elimination and matching up individual roles with people, which made it easy to solve the game. I found it difficult as a werewolf to pretend to be “part of the crowd” as there was no generic “crowd” to be a part of. Instead the game was about knowing the ideal next steps.
My recommendation would be to play with more regular villager cards but give them artifacts if they want to have unique powers. Having duplicates makes it more difficult to determine who people are and creates more confusion, politics, and intrigue, which is what I believe is the essence of these types of games.