Associated video producer guy at Tech Media Network. Lifelong PC gamer, console game fan, and board game enthusiast.
Website: Clayton's Internet Life
I think the game relies on both deduction and the ability to bluff effectively. But we also discovered after a few games how important hiding your identity is for the reason you outlined, which caused our strategies to evolve after every game.
For example, at first we believed the troublemaker should always announce first since they couldn’t have been switched themselves. If one of the players they switched was a werewolf they’ll immediately out the other player. But in the next game someone pretended to be the troublemaker and caused the werewolf to out themselves. Suddenly claiming to be a character too early became dangerous, and you had to rely more on trusting a player and less on deduction.
It can also helps to have the insomniac, so someone always knows who they are, and a seer who can effectively check someone’s claim. Maybe our friends just got tired of the meta gaming in The Resistance, but we enjoyed the jolt of randomness One Night adds (but I think it’s totally fair if your group felt it was too much)
Recently my friends have been playing a lot of One Night Werewolf and I think it’s an extremely well designed game that’s fast and easy to learn.
One of todays most popular board game genres are hidden identity games. The Resistance, Mafia, Battlestar Galactica, and the original Werewolf all use a similar mechanic where all the players are ostensibly on the same side even as they know a number of the players are secretly traitors working against the group. As a traitor, you work with your fellow teammates to cast doubt on others while keeping suspicion off yourself and your teammates (the other team’s objective is to find these traitors except they don’t know who’s on there team). It’s very fun and can even get quite intense as accusations fly and you’re bluffing and deduction skills are put to the test.
What makes One Night Werewolf so great is that it strips down this idea to its core all while getting rid of a lot of issues this type of game can have. The original Werewolf and Mafia require about 10 players minimum and slowly eliminate players (no game is fun if you get kicked out in the first 5 minutes). The Resistance can get bogged down in arguments that can make it a little too heated for some people. And while you can’t get eliminated in the game, you can effectively be outed and then the rest of the game is moot for you (also not much fun). A single game of One Night Werewolf takes 10 minutes or less. In fact it has too, because it runs on a timer (there’s a great app for smartphones that takes care of this and the ‘set up’ phase all these games require). This time pressure makes the accusations and counter accusations a lot more fun. It also throws the whole mechanic for a loop by adding the possibility that the role you believe you are has been switched by another player.
It’s insanely fun for both casual players, who will completely understand it after the first game, and hardcore boardgamers, who I suspect will play one game after the other like my friends do.