One Night Ultimate Werewolf by Ted Alspach and Akihisa Okui is a pretty brilliant take on an old classic paranoia game. Werewolf has existed for years under different names and incarnations. A sleepy village is living under the threat of mortal peril at the hands of a vicious clan of lycanthropes. Each night victims are torn to shreds to be discovered the next morning. As a totally reasonable response the villagers argue, debate, accuse and ultimately lynch one of their own in the hopes of eliminating one of their hairy opponents. Were they right? They won’t know until the target is swinging from a tree. This is played out night after night until either the werewolves are killed off or the balance of power in the town shifts to the werewolves’ side.
In ONUW all the action is compacted into…you guessed it one night. Players will be assigned roles like The Robber (who can switch his role with another player), The Troublemaker (who can switch two other players role cards) or The Seer (who can view some role cards around the table). The game is split into two halves. The night is spent with eyes closed until your role is called upon. You can perform your special action before returning to ‘sleep’. The following morning the village has 10 minutes to debate who amongst them are cursed and who they should lynch. If one werewolf gets the noose then the villagers win. If the werewolves can avoid detection by throwing innocents under the bus then they will walk away with the victory.
Pretty simple and straight forward and the total playtime is around 12 minutes. ONUW can be a bit chaotic. If you start the round as a werewolf or villager you may not be that by the end. What’s even tougher is that you won’t even necessarily know if your allegiance has shifted. The ten minutes of debate can start slowly with players keeping their information closely guarded, but before long the dam will break and it’s a up to the players to decide who they trust and who has a little bit too much five o’clock shadow to be completely human.
I may start of the discussion round by (honestly?) claiming to be a humble villager, but if another player claims to be The Troublemaker and suggests that they switched my card with another player all bets are off. It’s not impossible that I start as a werewolf and helplessly watch as another of my flock gets dragged away by the villagers to die, only to realize that at some point during the night my role has been switched and through simple luck I end up on the winning side.
ONUW is not perfect, but they’ve done a great job of taking the classic Werewolf game (which can drag on at times) and compacting it into a tight package. There are enough variation in the roles and player count that it will definitely beg for repeat plays and the short play time and addictive nature of the game makes multiple rounds pretty much a necessity.
I definitely recommend trying out this game with your group the next time you’re looking for some filler between heavier fare. If you’re going to give it a go make sure to use the free ONUW app. It takes care of all of the moderating duties so you can concentrate on accusing your friends.