Designer: Ted Alspach
Publisher: Bézier Games (2017 English edition)
Year Published: 2017
Playing Time: 10 mins.
To Play or Not to Play: Play this game
Confession time: I don’t like social deduction games. I like hidden role games, where some players are secretly playing on a different team and you have to figure out who is a trustworthy teammate and who is an opponent. And I like hidden traitor games, where everyone appears to be on the same team until one or two players betray the rest at an opportune moment. Social Deduction games use a similar framework: secret roles, hidden teams, etc. The difference is that the only information you have about a person’s role is the way they vote, and the arguments they make during discussion phases. I just don’t enjoy sitting around a table as people argue back and forth spinning logical webs that make increasingly less sense. That puts me in a distinct minority. Games like The Resistance: Avalon, Secret Hitler, and One Night Ultimate Werewolf are more popular than ever, and all of these are variations on popular schoolyard games like Mafia and Assassins.
Werewords is a hybrid deduction game. It’s heavily based on Werewolf (and comes from the same designer as One Night Ultimate Werewolf), but it offers more for the players to puzzle over than simple votes. And after playing about a dozen times, I can say yes: I like this game!
In Werewords, each player has a secret role: villager, werewolf, or seer. One player is also randomly assigned to be the Mayor, which is a public role. The Mayor gets to select a secret word for the round, and the goal is for the villagers to correctly guess the word before time runs out. The catch is that the Mayor cannot speak. Instead, the players ask the Mayor yes or no questions, and the Mayor slides tokens in front of the player to answer the question with yes, no, maybe, almost, or correct. The werewolves know the secret word, and their job is to mislead the villagers by asking questions that derail the villagers’ train of thought. The seer also knows the word and they have to try and keep the villagers on tract. If the villagers guess correctly, the werewolves get to try and guess who the seer was. If correct, they win. If the villagers fail to guess the word, they have a chance to try and find one of the werewolves, and they win if they are correct.
Werewords relies upon an iOS/ Android app to manage everything. This means that the game can actually modulate the difficulty of the target word if, for example, the Mayor is also a werewolf. Yes, that can happen, and it means that the Mayor can actually give misleading answers to player questions. But if they’re too obvious about it, then the players will know they are a werewolf and win at the end of the game.
What I love about Werewords is that it’s not purely about social deduction. There’s an immediate puzzle: what word did the Mayor pick? You spend the majority of the game trying to solve that, and it fully engages every player regardless of their role. Then once the timer expires or when the villagers guess the word, the social deduction arguments begin. But the app restricts this discussion to just a couple minutes, so there isn’t enough time for circular arguments. There’s just enough time for the losing side to come to a decision and pick one player as werewolf/seer.
If you want to make the game even more involved, you can check out the Werewords Deluxe Edition. This adds a number of new roles with special powers, such as “The Beholder,” who knows who the Seer is, but does not know the target word, or “The Fortune Teller,” who can only see the first few letters of the target word. The extra roles make it much more difficult to figure out who is who, which might be more fun for the group once they’ve gotten used to the standard game.
Since the game is so fast and so accessible, it’s easy to play a bunch of games in a row. This makes it a great party game, but also rather fun for more experienced gamers as a quick filler game. Whether you love social deduction games or hate them like me, you should play Werewords.