Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, November 06, 2021

If you’re not acquainted with the social-mixer-cum-strategy-game that is Mafia (also known as Werewolf, although I disdain that scenario), you should be.

In addition to different options for scenarios, there are several variations on the specific playing parameters. I recently was introduced to the game at a party, and the house rules were fairly simplified:

1. Gather a fairly large group of players — ideally a dozen or more.

2. Designate one person (probably the host) as the Narrator, who’ll control the flow of action.

3. Narrator deals out a like number of playing cards face down, with a ratio of 3:1 between two different colors/suits of cards (for example, a game with 16 players would require 12 black cards and 4 red cards).

4. Everyone looks at their own cards. The resulting majority of players are Villagers, while the select minority are the Mafia.

5. The Narrator then announces that “night has fallen”, which is a cue for the players to all close their eyes.

6. Once everyone’s eyes are shut, the Narrator instructs the Mafioso to open their eyes and (silently) identify themselves to one another.

7. The Mafia then, through use of sign language and signals, pick out one of the Villagers to mark for “death”, i.e. expulsion from the game, and acknowledge to the Narrator that they’ve made their selection. They then close their eyes again and “blend in” with the rest of the Village.

8. The Narrator then announces “the sun is up”, and informs the marked Villager that s/he has been knocked off by the Mafia, and to leave the room.

9. The remaining Villagers (including the Mafia, in stealth mode) then start to debate who among them are Mafia, and decide collectively to exile a single suspected Mafioso in this round. (Note that this process doesn’t necessarily result in an actual Mafioso being exiled — innocent Villagers can be targeted by the rest.)

10. The exiled player then leaves the room, and the Narrator declares that “night has fallen” again.

11. Once again, the Mafia coordinate to select another Villager to knock off once the sun comes up again.

12. This goes on round by round, until either every Mafia member has been exiled, or else the number of Mafia exceeds the remaining number of Villagers.

It’s a basically simple game structure, but strategically, it can get socially complex. Especially at the outset, reads on body language, poker faces, etc. count for everything. Working against an enemy in the midst fosters an environment of paranoia — albeit a mild one — and encourages one-on-one alliances and other nuances. It’s like “Survivor” with hors d’oeuvres!

The underlying purpose is to get people acquainted (perhaps better so) with one another, and that actually seems to come more in the exiling/killed portion. I found that when people had to gather in the next room, away from the active gameplay, the socializing really began. There was a built-in ice-breaker, after all.

In order to get significant mileage out of Mafia, you really do need to have a big group. It won’t work with just 4-5 people. The more rounds that it takes, the more possibilities.

The only downside I can see is this leading to a life of crime. Or lycanthropy.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/06/2021 11:55:17 PM
Category: Creative, Society
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Seen on the street: An older guy, wearing what looked like bifocals, pressing a magnifying glass tight against one eye, while reading a newspaper that was similarly pressed tight against his face. He looked like a super-scanning Sherlock Holmes.

Luckily, it was an overcast day; I have a feeling a stray ray of sunshine, refracted through that double-lens action, would have set the paper on fire.

As a glasses-wearer myself, I’d take that as a sign that I was due for a much stronger prescription.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/06/2021 10:33:08 PM
Category: New Yorkin'
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In the National Hockey League equivalent of hell freezing over, the Chicago Blackhawks will be — finally — regularly airing home games on local television.

And new team owner Rocky Wirtz encapsulates just why with this quote:

“As far as advertising, it’s pretty hard to sell dasher-board advertising when the only time you see it is the 10 o’clock news.”

That’s part of the sell when it comes to the already-lucrative business of arena advertising: Guaranteeing plenty of rapt viewers. The wonder is how this concept eluded Rocky’s dad, the late Dollar Bill Wirtz, for so many years.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/06/2021 10:15:32 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Hockey, TV
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