The most dramatic game of Werewolf ever played, part 2: a story of ages

If you’re asking yourself “what’s Werewolf?” then you need to read part 1 of this story, in which I describe Werewolf and my feelings about the game. If not, then I hope your body is ready.

Photo credit: Dave via Flickr

Photo credit: Dave via Flickr

To recap: this is an epic tale of deception, of security guards, of teenagers, of drunkenness, of meltdowns, of suspicion, of betrayal, of murder, of mystery. And I must set the stage with the cast.

  • Ryan: A friend of mine for years, Ryan is exceptionally good at Werewolf. It’s fun playing with him because he and I can’t read each other, so we are always suspicious of each other. Ryan wears glasses and has spiked up black hair that makes him vaguely look like Vegeta.
  • Ninja: A Werewolf GOD. He attends something like 40 gaming/Anime/nerd conventions a year, and basically plays Werewolf for at least 8 hours straight every night of each of them. He probably played literally 60 hours of Werewolf during Gen Con this year alone. He has played every variation and has figured out the logic needed to pick out the Werewolf pretty much every time. He also has some ambiguous relationship with Gen Con so I think he’s technically part of the staff? Ninja is the closest you can probably get to being a professional Werewolf player. And he kinda looks like Snoop Dogg (and I mean that in the most complimentary possible way).
  • Bearded Mod: Came over from the game that Ninja was playing prior to our game. This guy is probably in his early 40s, and his Werewolf prowess is in the ballpark of Ninja’s skill level. Very experienced. Wears a baseball cap and has long blonde hair in a ponytail that falls midway down his back.
  • Child Mod: Probably 16 or 17 years old, lanky, somewhat socially awkward. Kinda looks like McLovin, only not funny or ironic. In fact, take away all the good associations you have with McLovin and make him lankier, younger, more awkward, and just generally worse at life, and you’ve got Child Mod.
  • Abercrombie: A friend of Child Mod. Looks like an 18 or 19 year old who is extremely well adjusted and was clearly the most likely person in the group to ever be able to get a girlfriend (other than me, of course). Very smart, socially well-adjusted, well-mannered, and more or less good at Werewolf. Some mix of Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Taylor Lautner, only way less jacked.
  • Drunk Creeper: Some like 35-year-old dude who was so drunk, he could barely speak. Looked like a less fat Chris Farley with worse hair.
  • Celtic Shirt: Drunk Creeper’s friend, who joined the game along with him. Celtic Shirt was also drunk, but more highly functional, and around the same age as his drunk friend, only brunette and stocky, but not fat. Black shirt with a big red Celtic knot on it.
  • Zombie Drunk: A guy who was so drunk, he literally could not function. I don’t really remember what he looks like, but he was probably in his mid-20s.
  • Millennial: One of the main characters of the story. 18-year-old girl who had a rainbow and/or some form of LGBT Pride sticker on literally everything she owned (including her hair—this is not a joke). Also carried a box of pills and was on at least 6 different medications, the combination of which was presumably to combat depression, OCD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, some sort of anxiety disorder, and/or to counteract the side effects of each other. Extremely opinionated, outspoken, cocksure, and a self-described “complete bitch.” Her language was so aggressive, I initially thought she was a 35-year-old dominatrix. Probably spends most of her free time on Tumblr. Imagine literally everything you hate about Millennials, and this girl was all of those things times twelve.
  • Sister: Millennial’s sister, whose sister had such a strong personality that her entire identity in our minds was defined by her relationship to her sister. 17 years old, much quieter than her sister. Looks like Ann from Arrested Development. Yes, “her.”
  • Green Shirt: Some kid in a neon green shirt. This was his second or third Werewolf game ever. Sophomore or Junior in high school, from what we could tell. Kinda sounded like Homestar Runner when he talked. Barely talked, always very polite when he did. Not really relevant until the end of the story.

There were a few other people involved in this game, but they aren’t really relevant to the drama that took place. 7 of the people listed above were among the final 7 characters in the game.

To explain exactly why this game was dramatic: we started the game around 3:30 a.m. Saturday. The thing about Werewolf is that some games go a half hour, and other games go 2-3 hours. Like with many things in life, there is a tipping point where you have invested so much time in something, it becomes imperative that you finish it: if you’re playing a 6-hour board game with friends and you get 4 hours in, then it doesn’t matter how tired you are or how bored you are—you HAVE to finish so it doesn’t feel like it was a waste of time. This is why the board game Monopoly ruins every friendship.

Of course, not everyone operates this way, but I do, and so, from what I can tell, do most Werewolf players. So throughout this story, you absolutely must realize that every incident that threatened the completion of the game was, in my mind, extremely dramatic. As a minor spoiler, I’ll say that the game went past 5:00 a.m., and by that point, you can be damn sure that a game ending prematurely would have been infuriating (“why did I just stay up all night to play a game that didn’t even end?!”). There’s some level of “you had to be here” in this story, but I feel like this should give you enough background to understand that the stakes were high.

Ryan and our friend Guy and I were wandering around the Indiana Convention Center around 2:30 a.m. Sunday looking for a game of Werewolf to join. After around 8:00 or 9:00 every evening at Gen Con (and at many nerd-centric conventions), you can generally find groups of 12-35 people playing in the hallways, sometimes in chairs, sometimes simply in a circle on the floor, through the night and straight on until morning. Despite the popularity of the game, however, it’s sometimes difficult to find a game to join, as you can only join a game as it’s starting, and sometimes every game you come across will be in the 30th minute of the third round of lynching, which means you’re looking at at least another hour before that group’s game ends and they begin another game that you can join. Ryan and Guy and I had this problem of not finding any groups of people who were between games, until we stumbled across a group of 7-8 players who were just about to disperse.

Many of them were planning on going to bed because “everyone else was leaving,” but Ryan and I convinced many of them to stay, as they were willing to keep playing as long as we had numbers to add to the group. Among the players we found were Millennial and Sister, and most of the other players in this game were younger (high school or college, or very early 20s). It was a young group, but what the hell—it’s Werewolf, so how bad could they be?

The answer is: very bad.

Millennial dominated the conversation at all times. Lynching was random at best (I was killed in the first round because I was wearing a red shirt, because, quote, “red shirts always die first in Star Trek”). There was little to no strategy, everyone seemed to be in a hurry to finish every round, and Guy quit after one game because it was so dumb. In fact, several people quit, making the group too small for a good game.

Ryan and I wanted to find more players, so we told everyone to go wrangle some more people. Sure, the stragglers who wanted to keep playing were terrible and generally stupid, but they were at least willing to play through the night, and we figured that was a good start. So Ryan and I walked over to a game where we had seen Ninja playing earlier, and as luck would have it, they had literally just concluded their game. We asked if he’d like to join our game, Child Mod overheard us and told us that he’d love to come call (moderate) the game. Bearded Mod, who had also been playing in this game, also joined.

We returned to find that Millennial had rounded up a few people as well, and a new game was afoot. We had now reached about 15 players, which is a pretty good size for a Werewolf game. And this, really, is where the story begins.

We were using our friend’s custom deck to play the game (available for free on Google Play!), so Ryan, who was familiar with the cards, was planning on calling the game. However, Child Mod basically had a panic attack at the thought of not calling the game. Imagine a 6-year-old who wants ice cream, standing next to the freezer screaming “MOMMY, I WANT ICE CREAM!! MOMMY, I WANT ICE CREAM NOW!!” and flipping out until he gets his ice cream. Imagine Veruca Salt, only less patient. This was Child Mod. I honestly think he would have screamed and cried and possibly had a panic attack and spontaneously combusted if we hadn’t let him call the game.

The thing about Werewolf is that it’s a pretty simple game to call. Here’s your script:

  1. Everyone go to sleep
  2. Werewolves, wake up and point at someone you want to kill
  3. Werewolves, go to sleep
  4. Seer, wake up
  5. Seer, point at who you think is a werewolf (caller gives a thumbs up or thumbs down to indicate if it’s a werewolf)
  6. Seer, go to sleep
  7. Everyone, wake up
  8. In the night, a werewolf killed person X, good luck figuring out whom to kill next

It’s not rocket science. Sometimes, there are additional roles, but we were playing with literally one additional special class (the Sorcerer, which I’ll get to later). So add an extra step into the game, in which literally every step above is in basically every game ever played, and there’s your job. It is not hard. And yet it took literally over 20 minutes for Ryan to explain the cards, and by “explain the cards,” I mean “convince Child Mod to let us play with the classes we wanted to use.” It would be like if you planned on getting married, and your cousin insisted “I MUST cater this wedding, allow me to cater this wedding” and you’re like “that’s fine, just make sure you have a vegetarian option, as the bride’s entire family is vegetarian” and being told “NO, I WILL NOT SERVE VEGETARIAN OPTIONS, I WILL DO THINGS MY WAY BECAUSE I HAVE NO CONCEPT OF HOW TO INTERACT WITH HUMAN BEINGS.” That was Child Mod.

We had to do the first sleep phase twice because Child Mod was incapable of doing his incredibly easy job. And that’s where things started getting patently ludicrous.

“Village, wake up. You must choose a member of the town to lynch.” These are typical words of a caller, and this was a rare instance when Child Mod actually did no wrong; however, the ramifications of his precise wording was immediate. Celtic Shirt was enraged.

“Why are we killing someone? The werewolves didn’t kill anybody last night, so why is a sleepy village just killing its own people? That doesn’t make any sense. I’m NOT PLAYING THIS GAME.” These are actual words a person said. And Bearded Mod started to chime in with his disapproval as well. Yes, that’s right: the game was about to implode because the storyline didn’t make sense.

Here’s the thing: the makeup of a Werewolf game is calculated very deliberately at the beginning based on the number of players. For example, many decks of Werewolf cards assign a numeric value to roles in order to attempt to balance each team, e.g. a villager is worth 1 point and a Werewolf is worth -6 points; therefore, if you have 7 players, then you should have six villagers and one werewolf (1+1+1+1+1+1+(-6)=0) to achieve the most numerically balanced game. A Seer counts as more positive points, and the Sorcerer, a couple negative points, so the cards and roles are calculated to compensate for larger groups. When someone threatens to immediately quit a game, that specifically calculated balance is instantly thrown off, which would be less of a problem if it weren’t for the fact that games rarely achieve a perfect balance, so one team is usually already at an advantage. If the game has already started at a -2 Werewolf advantage (because negative cards are good for werewolves), and two villagers rage quit (thus leaving the werewolves at a -4 advantage), then the village is gonna have a bad time.

You can see, then, the problem that arose when this argument immediately escalated into both Bearded Mod and Celtic Shirt threatening to quit the game because the storyline didn’t make sense. “Okay, fine, you all found a dead body in the night, you could tell that a Werewolf did it, now you have to lynch somebody,” Child Mod attempted, which in his defense was a reasonable thing to do, despite his general inability to be “the loudest voice in the room.” Somehow even that attempt at exposition was thwarted by repeated insistence that the storyline still didn’t make sense, and the villagers needed a compelling reason to kill someone. Never in my several years of playing Werewolf have I seen a game potentially end so quickly. It was stupid.

While I was distracted by the existential crisis the players of the game were having about their true purpose in life as villagers and/or werewolves in a made-up village that ultimately has no relevance to gameplay whatsoever, I failed to notice that Drunk Creeper, whom was sitting next to Sister (who, remember, is 17), allegedly said something creepy and/or stared at her at some point during all this insanity. Millennial started to FREAK OUT and basically called him a pedophile several times in front of the entire group, to which Drunk Creeper responded by staring off into space and looking about as vacant as an hourly rate motel in Utah. See, the joke I was trying to make is that a lot of people in Utah are conservative and thus don’t rent seedy motels to have sex with one another. I hope you enjoyed this edition of “Cody makes an analogy and then explains it in painstaking detail to make it funnier.” I know I did (and frankly, this is my web site, so that’s really all I care about anyway).

So anyway, Millennial insisted that some dude move in the circle to sit between Drunk Creeper and Sister. This was incredibly awkward, but served as a distraction from the aforementioned argument about “the true meaning of the game” and got us on track to actually play. We played out the first game, which was relatively uneventful, other than this really awful player (“Tanktop,” we called him) insisting to the point of basically swearing on his mother’s grave that I was a werewolf, based on an irrelevant side conversation I’d had with Bearded Mod, who was a player in this game. I was not a werewolf, and so the entire game was highly annoying, but I believe the village won, so I at least took the victory.

Having now played a game with this group, we had kind of familiarized ourselves with the group and the dynamic, and were ready for a second game, which is almost always better than the first game with a given group. Cool, right? Nope. Ninja walked over to Drunk Creeper and told him that if he didn’t leave immediately, he would get convention security. He stood right over him and told him he had one minute to get away from Sister and Millennial. That’s when Celtic Shirt stepped in, and by “stepped in” I mean “stepped right up to Ninja and got in his face.”

“Listen, man,” he said. “I don’t appreciate you threatening my friend like that.” Ninja replied calmly but assertively: “I’m not threatening him. I’m telling him that he needs to leave or I’ll get security. I didn’t insult him or yell at him. I’m telling him he needs to leave. And so do you.”

So at this point there are 10+ of us sitting there basically watching a fight about to happen. Tensions were running high! Fortunately, Celtic Shirt wasn’t as drunk as his friend, so he picked up his friend and left. This led to a several-minute monologue from Millennial about how creepy Drunk Creeper had been, how sorry she was for finding him and bringing him into the group (“I didn’t know they were drunk!”), and a bunch of other words that accomplished nothing other than attracting everyone’s attention to her for several minutes. She probably felt like she was in heaven pretty much that entire time.

Meanwhile, Child Mod was having a borderline panic attack over the rules of the game and insisting that we use his cards for the next game. Never mind that we’d invited people specifically to play with our friend’s deck, which he’d asked us to play test: Child Mod had printed his own custom Werewolf cards, which looked like Magic Cards, and decided that we would play with his deck and he would determine all the rules. Note that this is not the role of the moderator: the role of the moderator is to facilitate a game that the players want to play. We tried explaining this to him several times, but eventually bent to his prepubescent will, mostly for fear that if we didn’t, he would hyperventilate and/or fly into a Super-Saiyajin 2 rage and murder us all.

With Drunk Creeper and Celtic Shirt gone, it was time to start the next game. The first round ended somewhat quickly, with someone irrelevant being lynched by the town; on the first night, the werewolves killed Zombie Drunk, a guy who during the first round occasionally said something incomprehensible, and generally seemed so out of it that he didn’t even know where he was. He wasn’t acting drunk so much as generally devoid of thought; the lights were on, but nobody was home. However, he continued to sit in our circle, presumably due to an inability to actually stand up on his own. The town made another inconsequential kills, and then the werewolves killed Bearded Mod, which was a major blow, as he’s a skilled player. And this is where the real game began.

The next round of discussion lasted well over an hour. Ninja dominated the discussion, which, to Millennial’s credit, she actually listened to and tried to understand. But it was utter mind games. Ninja suggested that he was suspicious of Abercrombie or someone, and Ryan agreed; but because he agreed, somehow, that implicated Ryan as a werewolf, because he was too quick to agree to Ninja’s logic, which he then claimed wasn’t logical, he was just explaining a theory to people to “see who would go along with it.” Similar mindgames are commonplace in Werewolf games, but Ninja was next-level, generally thinking 3 steps ahead and employing tactics like “I said this and you agreed, so this means this, but JUST KIDDING it actually means that. Do you agree? You do? Oh, well, then now I know you’re evil, because you shouldn’t agreed, because reasons,” and so on. On one hand, his playing was brilliant; on the other, it got complicated to the point where you weren’t sure when to trust him, when he was trying to lay a trap for you, or whether he was just a werewolf who was going to trick the village into killing each other every turn. Also keep in mind that at this point it was around 5:00 a.m., so everyone was tired, it was hard to follow complicated logic, and physical “tells” were less, uh… telling? Because of general fatigue.

Over an hour into our discussion, Child Mod was growing restless. He sighed heavily. “You guys need to hurry up and just pick someone, I’m getting tired and I WANT to go to bed,” he whined to everyone. And when I say whine, I mean “whine.” It was so whiny it was outrageous. Now, every time he claimed he wanted to go to bed, we offered to let him leave. Bearded Mod told him several times “just give me the cards and I’ll call,” but Child Mod exclaimed “NO, I want to finish the game, I just ALSO want to go to bed! I’m not leaving until the game is over, I just need you guys to hurry UP so I can sleep!”

After the third or fourth time this exchange occurred, Ninja had lost his patience. He explained to Child Mod that the role of a moderator isn’t to “run” the game: it’s to facilitate a game. Bearded Mod chimed in. “Your job is literally to say ‘village go to sleep,’ ‘village wake up,’ and then shut the fuck up and walk away until a vote happens.” Child Mod didn’t like that and argued that he’s been moderating “all night” and he was “really good at it.” He declared that he was going to set a 10-minute time limit to end the next round, which resulted in Ninja explaining that “the players determine the rules, and we don’t want a timer. None of us agreed on the timer. You can’t just impose your rules on us.” Child Mod argued. Ninja finally snapped.

“You know what I think? Honestly? I think you’re ruining the game for everyone. We have now spent literally ten minutes talking to you about going to bed, and none of this discussion is about the game. You’re making the game less fun for me. I’m having less fun as a direct result of you. And now the game is completely off track. Honestly? I think you’re a bad moderator. I don’t think you’re a good moderator.”

At this point, Child Mod broke down. We’re talking Leave Britney Alone levels of breaking down. He got intensely angry, started crying, gave Ninja the finger, started hyperventilating, started screaming. Insisted that Ninja had insulted him, to which Ninja clarified that he didn’t insult Child Mod’s character as a person, but was merely expressing his opinion that Child Mod was a bad moderator. It was uncomfortable. It was around 5:30 a.m. at this point, there was a screaming crying kid moderating the game who wouldn’t leave, and, worst of all, he had the potential to immediately end the game by revealing the roles of each player. “Okay, fine, I’m a bad mod? Fine, then here are who the werewolves are,” he could have easily said, and rage ended the already ~2-hour long game.

Tensions were high. Plus, I thought he might take a swing at Ninja, which would have ended very poorly for him. Would the game continue, or was this it?!

Bearded Mod stepped in. “I’m going to call the rest of this game. You and I are gonna take a walk.” He walked around the circle collecting all of our cards (from Child Mod’s custom cards that he gave us all so we knew our roles, remember), and somehow got Child Mod to his feet. He got the slobbering mess to step away, and he left the area. But while the issue of moderating had been resolved, there was now a new problem: Ninja.

Ninja felt very bad for making Child Mod cry. “I’m sorry you guys, but I don’t think I can play anymore. I just ruined someone’s night. I don’t think I can keep playing the game.” 2 hours into a game, our most vocal and strategic player was about to rage quit. He asked the group, “I wasn’t mean, was I? You understand, me telling him he was a bad mod was just my opinion. My opinion isn’t fact. I was only talking about his ability to call the game, not making a statement about him as a person.”

Keep in mind that Abercrombie is still in the group at this point. The delicate balance of the game was now threatened not only by Ninja’s self-loathing and lack of motivation to finish the game, but also by Abercrombie’s friendship with Child Mod, which could easily result in him leaving to hate our group in solidarity with his friend. The health of the game was in double jeopardy, and not the fun kind where you can win a bunch of money from Alex Trebek.

Ninja began to talk about his feelings. And by “talk about his feelings,” I mean “get into some heavy shit.” He talked about his background, about how he was shy growing up but became extroverted, about how it was basically his worst nightmare to offend anyone. He asked Green Shirt why he was so quiet all the time, and Green Shirt said he was shy because he didn’t want to say something bad to offend anyone. Ninja empathized, saying that he used to be the same way, and how that had changed over time. At this point, any discussion that was relevant to our game had been halted for quite some time. It was very, very late / early into the next morning, and everyone was tired. Sister was almost asleep on her backpack. A few other players looked exhausted. The chances of someone spontaneously leaving this game was growing exponentially with every passing second, and I recognized this. Finally, I stepped in.

“So, this is actually a really productive discussion, and I think it’s awesome to talk about all these issues,” I said, somehow getting everyone’s attention. “But I think it might be more productive to have it after the game. I think there was a miscommunication between you and Child Mod and he took some things the wrong way, but we all understand the situation now, and I feel like it’s been resolved. Could we maybe try to finish and focus on the fun game we were having, and then talk after?” Ninja rejected the idea. “But I don’t want to play anymore. It’s not fun for me.” My patience, which was admittedly far more abundant than it had any right to be at 5:00 a.m., helped me push through. “What can we do to make you feel comfortable playing the rest of this game? Anything?” I asked. He said “No, because my feelings are hurt.”

Werewolf, as a game, has a symbiotic relationship with its players: if one player quits, then the game’s inherent structure is damaged. Now, imagine a boring looking first date. Imagine sitting at Applebee’s and glancing over at another table to see some man or woman prattling on, and the other person at the table nodding mindlessly or glancing around or even checking their phone because frankly, they’d rather be anywhere else. Yet the person stays, generally out of a perceived obligation to be courteous or polite or follow some other pattern of behavior that society deems it important to emulate. Now imagine that the aforementioned feeling of obligation does not exist. You now see a pair of people, one of whom could leave the table at any second, leaving his or her former dinner partner to pick up the now depressingly underutilized spinach and artichoke dip that they were supposed to share while talking about things like what they do to make money, or which Netflix shows they watch in the time they have to waste in-between spending time at a particular place or doing a particular activity to help them make money to pay for Netflix. As I looked around the Werewolf group, which had now gone longer than a half hour without actually discussing the game we were supposedly playing, I imagined that there was about to be a hell of a lot of proverbial leftover spinach and artichoke dip, the volume of which was increasing with every second we spent psycho-analyzing shy behavior or what it means to insult someone.

Fortunately, I must have been wearing a Shirt of Diplomacy +13 or something, because another question struck me. “Ninja. You’ve been the most vocal player in this game, and I feel it would actually cause more people to stop having fun if you quit. What can we do to make you feel comfortable moving on in the game?” Ninja thought for a moment. “How about this: I’ll just sit here for the rest of the game, and I won’t just quit… but I’m not going to say a word for the rest of the game. No more talking.” It’d be like an injured Aaron Rodgers saying that he’ll play a game, but won’t pass the ball, and will only hand it off. Kinda fine, but kinda useless. Whether we agreed to this stipulation or not, I felt the game was essentially doomed.

Then, a minor miracle happened: Millennial, whom had spent most of the game trying to decipher anything Ninja was saying, asked him a question. I should note at this point that she has the most overly melodramatic pattern of speech I have ever heard. “Okay, fine. But… BEFORE. You stop talking? [Dramatic pause while she points at herself, her mouth hanging open as if she were searching for words, even though she clearly already had them, but was just saving them, as if their value would accrue interest while sitting in her brain waiting to excrete from her throat] I need… you. To tell me. [Points at everyone around her] Exactly… what. The hell. You were… [Long pause] TRY………. ing. To say. About… WHO. Are the werewolves?” It took her about 15 minutes to vomit this sentence into our heads. It felt like seven hours.

Ninja responded by recounting the most recent theory we had discussed before Child Mod’s complete breakdown. Millennial interrupted Ninja several times to ask clarifying questions, because she just couldn’t follow anything at that point. As Ninja continued to explain himself, new theories and conversations sparked. Miraculously, the game had spontaneously resumed. And trust me: nobody was more surprised than I.

Ninja had made several valid points about the potential for many members of the group to be werewolves, including Ryan and, somehow, me. Yet we ended up lynching an inconsequential person in this story, whom had been sitting somewhat quietly next to me this entire time. Poor him. Bearded Mod had returned with Child Mod at this point, so Bearded Mod had us all go to sleep, the werewolves killed someone else, and we all woke up. Progress!

As we started discussing the next round, it became abundantly clear that Zombie Drunk, who had remained in the circle despite having been killed basically at the beginning of the game, had no idea where he was. He started trying to mumble something about who he thought might be a werewolf. Here’s the problem with this: when you get killed in Werewolf, you get to hang out and watch the game continue. This means that once you’ve been killed, you can watch the village go to sleep and continue watching to see the werewolves wake up at night to kill someone, immediately revealing to you which villagers were actually bad guys. This means that Zombie Drunk now held the keys to the kingdom, so to speak, just as Child Mod had throughout the game, in that he could reveal the identities of the werewolves and immediately ruin/end the game.

As he slowly spoke in tongues and the group became increasingly aware of his inability to function, Bearded Mod stepped over to try to help him to his feet so they could “take a walk.” Zombie Drunk sounded like he was having a stroke as his incoherent gargling accelerated, until at one point I thought he might honestly try to eat someone’s brains. Throughout his vague gesturing and slobbering sound effects, there was the very real and very dangerous possibility that he would sabotage the game. But once again, Bearded Mod prevailed: he “took a walk” with Zombie Drunk (presumably over to security) and the game continued!

While all this was happening, by the way, the snot-nosed brat Child Mod had returned, laid down on the ground behind his friend Abercrombie with his head resting on his backpack, and started watching the game. He was now neither participating in the game nor sleeping, which means that I have no idea what his motivations were. But it added a level of awkwardness to the game, as he basically stared at Ninja every few minutes, persistently throughout the remainder of our time together.

We took a bathroom break after the next round because at this point it was past 7:00 a.m., leaving six of us alive: Ryan, Ninja, Millennial, Sister, Green Shirt, and me. There were 2 werewolves left. That meant that we had to kill a werewolf; otherwise, if we (the village) killed someone, then everyone would go to sleep and the werewolves would kill someone, and then there would be 4, two of whom were werewolves (werewolves win). It was time to get serious.

Then, Millennial’s dad called.

See, it was 7:30 a.m., and the girls—Millennial, 18, and Sister, 17—told their dad they’d be back in the hotel room by 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. So this was not good.

We all listened intently as Millennial stood up to take the call. It was obviously her Oscar-winning performance of the night, as her face twisted and contorted and grimaced every time her dad started speaking, as if she were Peter Parker listening to J. Jonah Jameson. I imagine that in reality, he was actually on the other line sleepily just asking where his daughters were, but that didn’t stop her from making it seem like  literally the most important thing that had ever happened. Then again, the game was at risk of prematurely ending after over 4 hours of drama, so at that point, it kind of was the most important thing occurring at the time.

Would we be safe?! Would the game continue?!


Ha ha, just kidding. Yeah, she kept playing. And the most brilliant play perhaps of all time happened.

Sister was suspicious to everyone. Millennial had spent literally almost the whole game explaining in excruciating detail every minor “tell” her Sister was exhibiting, always followed by 5-10 minutes of “ALTHOUGH… I’m not. [Long pause] SURE. [Long pause] I’m not… POSITIVE. That… [Long pause, points at everyone around her, does some weird hand gestures, probably somehow tweets while flailing like an idiot] It’s just because she’s tired…. [Long pause] OR… because…” etc. I literally don’t even want to keep thinking about it because it will make me want to stop writing this story, but you get the idea: she sucks, and was hell-bent on getting Sister killed.

Sister snapped. “You know what? Fine. Kill me. I’m sick of this. I’m a werewolf. And you know what? So is she. Millennial is a werewolf. Just kill her first. Because you know what? We’re on the same team, and she’s done nothing the entire game but try to get me killed. So kill her first, and I don’t even care if you guys win, I just want her to die first, because I’m sick of it, and at least I can say I lasted longer.” This was coming from a sleep-deprived, presumably unstable, emotional 17-year-old girl. There was no way she wasn’t telling the truth. The game was up. We’d won!


Overall, everyone was suspicious of Sister and Millennial at most points; a couple people were on-and-off suspicious of me; nobody was really suspicious of Green Shirt or Ninja; and near the beginning of the game, Millennial had identified Ryan as the Sorcerer. The Sorcerer is “on the bad guy’s team” but doesn’t actually kill anyone; what he can do is identify the identity of the Seer, and then try to cast doubt on that person so the village kills their own Seer. You don’t have to kill the Sorcerer to win. So Ryan had spent most of the game safe, as everyone thought he was just a bad guy accessory, thus unproductive to kill, but also untrustworthy as a bad guy.

As Sister threw Millennial under the bus, Ryan claimed that he was the Seer and he knew Sister was a werewolf. Millennial then instantly claimed the same thing—that she was the Seer and Sister was a werewolf. It was a total cluster. I had no idea what to do.

We settled on killing off Sister. She was a werewolf.

The next round, the remaining werewolf killed Ryan. This was somewhat surprising, as Ninja seemed to have worked everything out at this point, and would have thus been a more logical kill, as he would undoubtedly “take the village home” the next round by helping us off the final werewolf.

It was down to me, Millennial, Green Shirt, and Ninja. Ninja told me to vote for Green Shirt. I don’t remember the logic, because at this point, we had been playing one game for nearly 5 hours straight and dealt with more drama than ever needs to happen during one stupid game. I pointed at Green ShirtNinja followed. Millennial joined in.

Green Shirt was the other werewolf. We won.

There were countless points in that 5-hour span when I thought the game was on the brink of oblivion. I was shocked that we had not only finished the game, but had also actually beaten the werewolves. Green Shirt had played it perfectly. And Sister, despite being generally quiet and not that “good” at the game, had played me like a fiddle with her outburst against her sister, Millennial. It was beautiful.

It turned out that Ryan was actually the Seer, but had essentially been black balled at the beginning of the game with everyone thinking he was the Sorcerer, so he was unable to participate nearly as much as he would have liked. Ninja and I had both been villagers. And this is where things get mildly more interesting: Millennial was the Sorcerer.

So why did she so readily vote for Green Shirt to die in the final round? By killing the last werewolf, her team lost. The Sorcerer loses if the werewolves lose.

Well, not in her mindMillennial, being the embodiment of everything that everyone hates about The Entitled Generation, “just wanted to survive,” and “live secretly as a Sorcerer in a village happily ever after.” This tied everything back to the storyline conversation from the beginning of the game. It was also dumb and not how the game is supposed to be played. But that didn’t stop her from then recounting her version of why she won to literally everyone for about 30 minutes straight following the conclusion of the game. Technically, and based on the actual game that exists, Millennial lost: she was a bad guy, and the werewolves were killed, so her team lost. Period. But she was The Worst, so in her mind, somehow, this was a victory.

The most frustrating thing about the final revelation from Millennial is that by having a key player (e.g. a special Sorcerer character, not just a traditional villager) play the game wrong from the start, it means that the game kind of sucked, in a way. Despite the brilliant plays and the start-and-stop drama and the spontaneous psychoanalysis of each player, it was still far from a perfect game. Especially considering the drama therein. TL;DR recap:

  • The kids we met were terrible at the game
  • Celtic Shirt nearly imploded the first game because of “the storyline”
  • Drunk Creeper hit on underage girls and got kicked out of the convention center
  • Celtic Shirt threatened a fist fight with Ninja
  • Zombie Drunk escorted to security after almost ruining the game
  • Child Mod meltdown almost ended the game, derailed for over a half hour
  • Ninja threatened to quit, saying his feelings were hurt
  • Millennial and Sister almost got pulled away by their dad

All in all, a complete mess.

But damned if it didn’t make a good story.


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About Cody Gough

Cody Gough is a podcast and digital media executive and award-winning producer. Among his accomplishments, most notably he spent more than a decade on-air at Chicago's WGN Radio, and later produced and hosted more than 1,000 episodes of Discovery's award-winning educational podcast, Curiosity Daily. Cody is a podcast professional specializing in audio programming and production. What sets him apart is that he's a terrestrial radio professional AND a digital native with a social media marketing background. This means he's able to combine the radio industry's 100+ years of learnings with digital content expertise to make superior podcasting strategies and content. As an established radio veteran, Cody spent more than a decade producing and hosting shows on Chicago's prestigious 720 WGN Radio. There, he helped launch the WGN Plus podcast network, where he hosted their first and only dedicated video game podcast, Game/Life Balance U.S. In addition to his broadcast experience, Cody has written for various outlets, including, the GonnaGeek Network, and HuffPost. He's also a graduate of several improv programs in Chicago (including the Second City Conservatory) and has written and performed for a variety of theater, film, and web productions, as well as industrial/commercial videos.

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