The 7 Best Board Games Like Mafia
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If you enjoy the lies and deception of Mafia, then you’ll be pleased to know there are a bunch of similar games that are just as fun (and devious!) to play. The best board games like Mafia involve the elements of play that make Mafia such a crowd pleaser, like hidden roles and opportunities to call out other players’ bluffs, but with fresh variations in theme, characters, and game mechanics. Whether you’re playing with two people or 12, these games will keep you guessing and entertained until the winner is declared.
Mafia falls under the category of a social deduction game, as do all the games like it. These kinds of games play out in the group’s interactions, through role play, rounds of questioning, voting, and group discussion. Oftentimes social deduction games require someone to take on the role of the narrator to run the game for everyone else, but some games offer smartphone apps that run the action instead if you’d prefer. Depending on the game, certain players might find themselves eliminated before everyone else is done playing — look for an option without elimination if you don’t want anyone to miss out on part of the action. Social deduction games like mafia are usually played with four or more players, but some can be enjoyed with two or three players, so check the rule book for possible game adjustments or strategies.
Lots of games out there have different themes, like historical events, murder mysteries, or a dystopian future, and players will attempt to identify villains that range from witches to spies to werewolves, so pick a theme that will appeal to the interest of the group and the age range of the players (most game manufacturers provide a recommended age range). Lastly, the length of gameplay should be taken into consideration. If you’re looking for something quick and fast paced, some short board games can take as little as 10 minutes, while other longer board games can run for up to an hour.
Whether you’re hoping to root out werewolves or quest for Camelot, these games like Mafia are all highly rated on Amazon — and ready for your next game night.
1. A Fast-Paced Murder Mystery Game
- Players: 4 to 12
- Game time: 20 minutes
- Ages: 14+
In Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, most of the players act as investigators who must uncover the killer in the group, while the killer attempts to mislead the investigation. One player serves as the Forensic Scientist, who knows the identity of the murderer, but can only offer analysis by putting markers on scene cards that contain abstract clues. There are three rounds that each consist of evidence collection and presentation, where any investigator can call out the means of murder and key evidence to reveal the killer.
Reviewers report that unlike some other social deduction games, Deception doesn’t rely on players being extremely outspoken or naturally good liars, since most of the investigation involves reviewing clues rather than finger-pointing individuals. Fans also love that the rules are easy to pick up and games can be played quickly with a big group, so you can run through several murder scenarios in one session. Players don’t get eliminated in this game.
Helpful Amazon review: “Fun game that feels like a mix between Mafia and Clue. Great with a group of friends. There is a bit of a learning curve in the beginning but should be able to pick up quickly. I like that the game isn't super easy for one side (i.e. the murderer always winning) and it feels fair with different possibilities.”
2. A Fan-Favorite Werewolf Game Reviewers Love
- Players: 3 to 10
- Game time: 10 minutes
- Ages: 8+
Fans of Mafia are sure to be fans of One Night Ultimate Werewolf, which plays out with similar game mechanics. Players are secretly assigned roles at the beginning of the game, like Werewolf, Troublemaker, Seer, or one of a dozen other characters with special abilities and traits.
Each game begins with a night phase, in which various players might learn each other’s secret identities or even swap roles, depending on their assigned role. Then, all the players wake up and have only five minutes to find and reveal the werewolf. There’s also an accompanying smartphone app that can act as the narrator to walk everyone through the steps, so no one has to sit out in order to run the game. The game is played in one round with no elimination, and can take as little as 10 minutes. Reviewers report that the fast gameplay is great for parties and with so many roles, lying, and scheming possibilities, there’s great replay value. And if you’re looking for a truly epic battle (or if you just want to switch things up), Werewolf can be combined with One Night Ultimate Werewolf Daybreak and One Night Ultimate Vampire.
Helpful Amazon review: “I love this game so much! Do you enjoy scheming and lying? This is the game for you! Basically like the classic game of Mafia, but with different available roles and abilities. It is very easy to learn, and there is also a free app to narrate and guide the gameplay, so none of your friends have to sit out of the game. You can also purchase other related packs for additional roles and abilities to complicate the game further.”
3. An Arthurian Legend-Themed Board Game That Pits Good Against Evil
- Players: 5 to 10
- Game time: 30 minutes
- Ages: 13+
In The Resistance: Avalon, players act as either good and loyal servants of King Arthur or evil minions of Mordred. The identities of the evil players are kept secret, except to each other and to Arthur’s advisor Merlin, who knows the identities of the evil parties but can only communicate what he knows in riddles. The game consists of several rounds, each with a team-building and quest phase. If three quests end successfully, the good side wins, and if three end in failure, the evil-doers win. Players must utilize their powers of deception, deduction, and discussion in order for good to prevail.
No players face elimination during the game, and the narrator doesn’t have to be an isolated role, meaning they can still participate normally in the game. Multiple reviewers report that the rules are easy to pick up and the quests help keep discussion focused. They also suggest that games can be played out quickly, and the best liars in the group are soon revealed. Avalon is a highly rated game that can stand alone, but it can also be combined with the original dystopian future version of the game, The Resistance.
Helpful Amazon review: “I'd played this with some friends and absolutely loved. Thought I'd give it a try with my (rather large) family. It was an instant hit. They LOVED it! I love it, too. Super fun, easy to learn, but with plenty of complexity. And unlike Mafia and games of that style, everyone gets to play through the entire game in Avalon (as in, nobody is killed and kicked out of the game). I very highly recommend this game.”
4. A Board Game Set During The Salem Witch Trials
- Players: 4 to 12
- Game time: 20 to 40 minutes
- Ages: 13+
Set during the witch trials, Salem 1692 is a game that’s all about exposing the witch in the group. However, if you guess wrong, you could be hanged, while the witch remains free to eliminate or turn other villagers into witches in a series of nightly rounds. Like Mafia, the game is a mix of lies, deceit, and the eternal question, “Who do you trust?”
Villager character cards are based on real people from the village of Salem, adding some historical context to the gameplay. There can be a narrator (the Town Crier role), or you can download an app to lead you through the night rounds so that everyone can play. According to some reviewers, the game is easy to learn, but can lend itself to more complexity due to all the different roles and how the cards interact, which also gives the game a high level of replay-ability. And if you’d like a different historical setting, this game is one in a series that includes Tortuga 1667, Bristol 1350, and Deadwood 1876 (Editor’s note: the Tortuga version of this game is lots of fun!).
Helpful Amazon review: “I love this game!! My new favorite for sure! I see it as a mix of the party game Mafia and the card game Bang but with a twist on it and I love both of those games just blows all others out of the water. I highly recommend this game to all my friends. It takes only a couple of rounds to get it down and I like playing with at least 6 people because having two witches is more fun in my opinion. What adds to the fun of this game is that it is never predictable! If you want a good group game this is a great pick!! Happy witch hunting!”
5. A Popular Dystopian Game That Can Be Played In 15 Minutes
- Players: 2 to 6
- Game time: 15 minutes
- Ages: 13+
With more than 8,000 reviews and a stellar 4.8-star rating overall, Coup is a popular and fast-paced dystopian universe game with all the bluffing, deception, and deduction of Mafia. Each player starts with character cards like ambassador or assassin, each of which comes with unique abilities. With every turn, players declare an action based on the abilities of their card, or they can bluff at the risk of losing a card if caught. The last player with a card in their hand wins the game.
While the instructions are simple and the game can be played in about 15 minutes, it also plays out differently with different groups, giving it great replay value. Elimination is a factor, but the rounds are short enough that no one will be sitting out for long. It comes in a small, portable box that makes it easy to bring on the go, too. You can play with two to six players, but if you have only two players, the game changes to a unique two player variant with slightly different strategy options.
Helpful Amazon review: “Excellent game. Simple, yet plays off the complexity of a human's ability to bluff. I feel there will never be a strategy that will work 100%. Games are drastically different based on the group playing. It's as if the card game BS [...] and the party game Mafia had a baby.”
6. A Spy-Themed Bluffing & Deduction Game
- Players: 3 to 8
- Game time: 15 minutes
- Ages: 13+
With a 15-minute play time, Spyfall is another quick option that’s similar to Mafia. The rules are simple: Each player receives a card informing them of their group’s location — each player except for the spy, of course. Players ask each other questions about the location through a series of rounds. Everyone but the spy attempts to uncover the spy’s identity and prove they’re not the spy without giving away their location to the spy. The spy must try to find the secret location without blowing their cover. There’s no player elimination, the rounds can be played quickly, and with 30 different locations, there’s excellent replay value. The game stands alone, but is also compatible with other Spyfall games.
Helpful Amazon review: “We really, really enjoy this game with friends and family members alike. It is great fun for a larger group of people (i.e. more than four people) regardless of whether they know each other well or not. There are levels of nuance that you can build it that mean you can play well for beginners and more experienced players, too, or for people of different ages. Although each game only takes 8 minutes so rounds can be quick, it can also become quite strategic as the 'spy' character tries to implicate others in their own place or the players run out of time to decide who amongst them is the spy. Great fun and a really good price. There is a similar game (usually played without any materials) called 'mafia' or 'werewolf' too but this is a quicker version that is more accessible to new players and non-gamers.”
7. A Word Game With A Deceptive Twist
- Players: 3 to 8
- Game time: 15 minutes
- Ages: 14+
The Chameleon is designed to take about 2 minutes to learn and 15 minutes to play, so it’s perfect for any group to pick up quickly. The game mechanics are similar to Codenames, but features hidden identities like in Mafia. In the game, all the players know a secret word, except for the player who’s received a chameleon card. Each player shouts out a single word to describe the secret word, aiming to strike a balance between being specific enough to prove they’re not the chameleon and being vague enough not to give the word away to the actual chameleon. The chameleon must attempt to blend in and pretend they know the word, too. After each round, there’s a vote to expose the outlier in the group. With over 40 topic cards and even a customizable card to personalize a round, as well as no player elimination, the game is fun to play over and over.
Helpful Amazon review: “This game is so fun! It reminds me of a cross between that old school game, Mafia and Clue. I've played with a very large group and also with just 3 or 4 people, and it is still fun even with the small number. Chameleon is turning out to be one of my faves for sure!”