Mafia is a group role playing game for 10 players that takes about 45-60 minutes.

It is a game of strategy, survival, and the ability to spot a fraud. The imaginary setting is a city where the local citizens and mafia are in an all-out battle for survival.

At the start of the game each player is secretly assigned a role affiliated with one of these teams. The game has two alternating phases: Night, during which the mafia may silently "murder" an innocent, and Day, in which surviving players debate the identities of the mafiosi and vote to eliminate a suspect. Play continues until all of the mafia have been eliminated or until the mafia outnumbers the innocents.

There are numerous variations on the game. The version described here is also known as Classic or Sport Mafia and used to play in tournaments.

Game Phases

There are 2 phases of the game: Day and Night. Those phases alternate until the end of the game.

During the Night all players close their eyes and “sleep”.

During the Day all players are awake.

Game starts with the players welcoming one another. The Gentlemen stand up and greet ladies with applause.


Roles are assigned during the zero night.

The City goes to sleep. Everyone close their eyes.

The Moderator goes round the table, visiting each player.


  • chooses random card with closed eyes
  • opens eyes and reads the role written on the card
  • gives the card back to the Moderator

There are 2 teams and 4 player roles in the game:

Red Team

wins if all gangsters are lynched or if the gangsters didn’t kill anyone for 3 nights in a row.

Citizen (6 players)

Lynch all gangsters in the city.

Sheriff (1 player)

The same as citizen.

Help the citizens to win the game.

Can check if a player is a Gangster once per night.

Should help citizens to find out whom to trust and whom not to trust without letting the gangsters know that he is the Sheriff.

It is recommended for the Sheriff to tell his role and his checks on the third day.

Black Team

wins if there are the same number of players in each team.

Gangster (2 players)

Kill citizens during night.

Wake up during the first night and find out who the other Gangsters are.

Gangster Boss (1 player)

The same as the Gangster.

Define the order of the three kills for the Gangsters and decides on a sign to change the kill for the night during the day phase.

Can check if a player is the Sheriff once per night.

After everyone got their role, the city continue sleeping.

The Moderator asks the Gangsters to wake up:

Gangster Boss:

  • shows himself touching his shoulder with 2 fingers
  • defines the “killing” sign for orders during the day
  • defines the first 3 victims

Moderator asks the Sheriff to wake up to greet the Moderator.

Day #1, #2, ...

There are 2 rounds during the day:

  • Discussion round
  • Voting round

Discussion round

The Moderator greets the city with the words “Good Morning” and gives the word to the first player.

Each player one by one introduces themselves and analyzes the speech of the previous player, trying to find out who the gangsters in the city are:

  • only one person talks at a time
  • speech duration is limited to 1 minute
  • while other player are speaking, you may communicate via signing. The signs are explained by the Moderator before the first game.
  • it is not allowed to use the following words: 100%, sure, swearing words, religion in any form
  • it is not allowed to touch other players
  • “thank you” are the last words of any speech

If you violate any of these rules the Moderator may issue a warning. If you get three strikes, you will not be allowed to talk during the following day phase. If you get a fourth warning, you are removed from the game.

Each player may nominate one other player for the voting by using the following words:

“I nominate player number X” and placing the hand on the table.

The Moderator accepts the nomination only if it was done correctly and says “Accepted”.

Voting round

The Moderator reads the list of nominated players in the order they were nominated.

The Moderator starts the voting for each nominated player with the words:

“Who wants to vote for player number X?”

Players have 2 seconds to put their hand on the table to vote.

After 2 seconds the Moderator says “Thank you”.

If you abstain from voting your vote is automatically counted towards the last player nominated.

The player who gets the most votes is given 1 minute to say last words before leaving the game.

Usually no one is eliminated on the first day.

In case there are 2 players with the same amount of votes each of those players has 30 seconds to defend themselves. The City votes again. If they still get the same amount of votes, then the city votes for both of those players to leave the game.

Night #1, #2, …

The City goes to sleep. Everyone closes their eyes.

  • Gangsters Hunt
  • Gangster Boss Investigation
  • Sheriff Investigation

Gangsters Hunt

Gangsters take their guns with closed eyes(by raising their right hand with 2 fingers imitating a gun).

The Moderator announcing “Mafia takes their guns and kills Player #1, #2, #3,...”

The Mafia has to shoot the same person during the counting.

Otherwise, the shot will be considered a miss and there will be no victims during this night.

Gangster Boss Investigation

The Moderator asks the Gangster Boss to wake up and search for the Sheriff.

The Gangster Boss shows the number of the player he wants to check.

The Moderator answers by nodding (If they are the Sheriff) or shaking their head (If they are not the Sheriff).

Sheriff Investigation

The Moderator asks the Sheriff to wake up and search for the Gangsters.

The Sheriff shows the number of the player he wants to check.

The Moderator answers by nodding (If they are a Gangster) or shaking their head (If they are not a Gangster).

Next days and nights

The City wakes up.

The Moderator gives 1 minute to the player “killed” by the mafia the previous night to say some last words before leaving the game.


  • Discussion round
  • Voting round


  • Gangsters Hunt
  • Gangster Boss Investigation
  • Sheriff Investigation

History of the Game

Mafia is a party game created in the USSR by Dmitry Davidoff in 1986 modelling a conflict between an informed minority (mafia) and an uninformed majority (the innocents).

Dmitry Davidoff is generally acknowledged as the game's creator. He dates the first game to spring 1986 at the Psychology Department of Moscow State University, spreading to classrooms, dorms, and summer camps of Moscow University. He developed the game to combine psychology research with his duties teaching high school students. The game became popular in other Soviet colleges and schools and in the 1990s it began to be played in other part of Europe and then the United States.

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