Skip to Content

[Review] Lupos in Tabula

No replies
Joined: 03/23/2011

When I need a game for my classroom, there is absolutely no better candidate than Werewolf. I’ve NEVER had a game not enthusiastically received, and it is certainly a huge success in the classroom, at parties, and with my youth group. For a long time, I had simply used the practice of some homemade method to choose who the werewolves were, but I was pleased to pick up a commercial version of the game Lupus in Tabula (DaVinci games, 2004 - no designer credited).

There were several reasons I liked this version. One, I didn’t have to go to the trouble of making up a homemade deck of cards; and besides, I like professional versions of games better. Also, the cards are of extremely good quality - not to mention fit in a very, very nice little card box. The artwork is excellent, if a little disturbing (but then again - so’s the theme, I guess!) The best reason for getting a commercial version is all the special roles that can be added to the game, and this one has a good assortment.

For those who don’t know how to play the game of Werewolf, the game itself is quite simple. One player is chosen as the Moderator, who is in charge of the game and doesn’t win or lose. A deck of role cards is shuffled, and cards are randomly dealt to each player. In the basic game there are three roles: Seer (one person), Werewolves (two or three people), and Villagers (everyone else). The game begins with the first day (round) made up of two parts: night and daytime. During the night all players close their eyes, and the moderator asks the Seer to open their eyes and point at a player. The Moderator then affirms or denies whether that player is a werewolf by shaking their head silently. The Seer then closes their eyes, while the Moderator calls upon the Werewolves. They open their eyes and silently come to an agreement on who dies (usually is the Moderator on the first night.) The werewolves then close their eyes, and the night comes to an end.

The day then begins, with all players opening their eyes and finding out who is dead. The player who is dead is out of the game, and may not talk or make any kind of communication for the remainder of the game. All the players then have three minutes of time to discuss who they think are the Werewolves; with the Werewolves trying to plant suspicion on others, and everyone else trying to guess who are the guilty parties. The Seer has some limited knowledge, but he must take care not to reveal too much, as to not become the next victim. After three minutes, the Moderator asks each player, starting with the one next to the last player killed, who they want to lynch. The Moderator gives an “Angry Mob” card to each player every time they are chosen by another. The two players who get the most cards are “nominated” and have a moment to make a desperate speech, pleading not to be killed. All other players then vote, with the winner being lynched, dead, and out of the game. Any time a player is killed, they are given an “Angry Mob” card, which is flipped over to its ghost side, showing to all that the player is no more. After the voting and lynching, another round begins, with all remaining players closing their eyes. If, at any point in the game, all the Werewolves are killed, then the Villagers and Seer win the game! But, if the number of werewolves is equal to the number of remaining villagers, then the werewolves win the game! Dead players still win if their side wins.

There are other special characters who can be added into the game with this set (along with a couple of blank cards where one can design their own character). Here’s a listing with each, along with my opinion, and how often I use them in my games.
- Medium - He has his own phase in the night, before the werewolves. He can ask the Moderator if the last person lynched was a Werewolf or Villager. I rarely use this one when I play with kids, since I almost always reveal whether the dead person was a Werewolf or not (they usually scream it out anyway.) With hidden roles, this becomes more useful but minimally so.
- Possessed - He is a human who is on the side of the werewolves, winning if they win. This is an interesting concept but doesn’t seem to work that well in theory. I use this one, but very infrequently.
- Bodyguard - This is another human who has his own phase during the night, before the werewolves. He points to another player, “protecting” them. If the werewolves try to murder that player, nothing happens. I use this one quite often. Despite the slim chance the Bodyguard and the Werewolves picking the same person, when it does happen, it’s pretty dramatic; and it gives a player something interesting to do.
- Owl - This player also has a phase during the night, where they can choose one of the two nominees for the lynching the next day. This is a fascinating role, and one I enjoy using often. This adds some tension to the game for the Owl character who has a lot of power but must be careful not to draw too much attention to themselves.
- Freemasons - these are two different humans who know who each other are. They have one phase during the first night, only to discover who the other is. I almost never use these guys; they’re fairly boring and don’t have anything special to add.
- Werehamster - This character is on its own side, fighting both the Werewolves and the humans. During the night phase, he has his own phase and can kill someone just like the Werewolves do, causing two deaths in one night. If the werewolves try to kill him, he’s safe; but if the Seer points to him, he dies. The Werehamster wins only if he is the sole remaining person in a game. I love using this guy, if I have enough players (the game recommends 15). Everyone I’ve played with loves having the third, tense side in the game; and it gives the Seer more power. Having two deaths a night also speeds the game up a bit and allows one player to really feel “powerful”. Plus, the artwork on the card is hilarious!
- Mythomaniac - On the second night, this player has one chance to point at another player. They gain the same role as that player if they are a Seer or Werewolf; otherwise, they stay a human. This is an okay role; but I don’t like using it, because four werewolves are just too powerful.

Of course, there are hundreds of roles and variations that can be found on the internet, but this version from daVinci certainly satisfies me. I like how I can carry this game with me or pull it out when I am subbing a class at school and am at a loss of what to do. Werewolf is a tremendous game with terrific results, not to mention an excellent study of people. The daVinci version of the game is the best one I’ve seen; and for it’s price, you will certainly get your money’s worth. Lupus in Tabula is one purchase that has paid for itself dozens of times over and provided hours upon hours of enjoyment!

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games.”

Syndicate content

forum | by Dr. Radut