Mafia- a card game about deception, accusation and persuasion

Mafia is probably one of the best team game you can play when you are at a party or outdoors. This game is all about accusations and persuasion.


Group Size: 5-10

Equipment: Cards/papers

Time: Depends, Usually an hour or so

Effective Age Group: 15 and above

How to play Mafia?

  • Players are divided into cops and mafias through cards or sealed paper balls.
  • From a deck of cards, take number of cards equal to the number of players. Categorize the cards into cops and mafias.
    In case you do not have cards, take a paper and tear it to the parts equal to number of players.
  • Categorize the cards into cops and mafias. Make sure the number of cops is slightly bigger than the number of mafias. Ideally, in a game of 5, there are 3 cops and two mafias.
  • Do the same thing with paper. Simply write cops and mafias on the paper and seal them.
  • All players now take a random card (or paper) so nobody has any idea who the cop or mafia is.
  • Now all player must close their eyes and count to 10.
  • While counting from 1-10, make sure there is a brief pause at 5, that’s when the mafias open their eyes and get to know each other.
  • After 10, everybody opens their eyes. The cops now must find out the mafias and eliminate all of them while the mafias can convince cops that some of their fellow cops are mafias.
  • The game starts with speculations among cops about who the mafia is and mafias about convincing the cop they are not mafias and accusing a random cop they are mafia so the cop gets eliminated.

The game ends when cops catch all the mafias or when mafias eliminate cops to a number equal to their number.

Key Takeaways:

  • If you are a cop, try to analyze the gesture of the players. It’s a mental pressure to survive as a mafia.
  • If you are a mafia, sometimes you’ll have to accuse a fellow mafia to be safe.
  • Do not give off your identity so easily. Defend until your last logic.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Playing mafia helps you test the power of your persuasion.
  • This game also helps you learn the art of positive manipulation.
  • If you are into tactics, you’ll love Mafia. There are multiple subtle tactical nuances you should be using.
  • You also learn to use your emotion to good effect.