Games: Werewolf

Werewolf is a terrific game, made all the better by the fact that it’s absolutely free. Before each game you randomly distribute Identity cards — one player will be the Moderator, one player will be the Seer, two players will be Werewolves, and all the rest will be Villagers. Players identities are kept secret, and you can never show anyone else your card.

The game alternates between night and day. At night, all players close their eyes and then the Moderator says “Werewolves, open your eyes”. The two players with the Werewolf cards open their eyes and silently agree upon another player to kill. After they have decided and communicated their pick to the Moderator, they again close their eyes and the Moderator says “Seer, open your eyes”. The Seer then points at another player, and the Moderator indicates whether the selected player is or is not a Werewolf. Then everyone opens their eyes and day begins.

At daybreak the person killed by the Werewolves immediately turns his card faceup and plays no further part in the game. The rest of the day is simple: all the living players must now decide who to lynch. As soon as a majority of players give the thumbs down to someone, the targeted player is killed: he flips his card faceup and is out. This continues until the Villiagers win by lynching both Werewolves, or until the Werewolves when the number of Villiagers is equal to the number of Werewolves (at which point the Werewolves rise up and openly slaughter the remainders).

A very simple game, but exceptionally tricky to play. The tension comes from two angles: on the one hand, you never really know who any of the other players are, so picking someone to lynch is tough; on the other, no one really knows who you are, so even if your innocent you may find yourself the target of mob rule. As a Seer you may know the Identities of a few people, but your job is just as difficult: you have to get people to lynch the Werewolves without exposing yourself (and thereby certainly getting killed the following night). And even if you do expose yourself (“I’m the Seer, and I know for a fact that he is a Werewolf!”), that doesn’t mean the Villagers will necessarily believe you, since making this very statement is favorite tactic by the Werewolves.

You can play Werewolf with just about any set of cards, or even make your own. When playing with standard playing cards, we use the Ace of Spades for the Moderator, the King of Clubs for the Seer, the Jokers (or the red Jacks) for the Werewolves and then an assortment of cards ranked 2-9 for the Villigers.


Slate has a regular (well, actually more of an irregular) column entitled Explainer, which is kind of a political Straight Dope with half the wit but three times the relevance. Recent columns have tackled such questions as Can the Phrase ‘Let’s Roll!’ Be Trademarked?, Why Do We Have A Fifth Amendment?, and What Happens To Your Confiscated Nailclippers? An archive of Explainer columns can be found here.

Slate carries another column called Medical Examiner, which is essential just Explainer set in a hospital. Today’s entry is riveting, and documents the growing evidence that children can acquire Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder and Tourette’s syndrome from that most ubiquitous of childhood ailments, strep throat.

Midday News Update

Hello, and welcome to Your Local TV Station’s Midday News Update! Our top stories today:

  • Now there’s a new way to get the great taste of McDonalds! A McDonald’s in Sweden comes complete with a snowmobile drive-thru!
  • Heinz is adding three more colors to it’s already widly popular “colored ketchup” line!
  • Worried about bad breath or body odor? The solution may be as simple as buying a bottle of pills!
  • And, in Entertainment news, we’ll tell you where you can find the new J-Lo album, we’ll tell you when you can start purchasing tickets for your hometown team’s baseball season, and we’ll give rave reviews to this week’s blockbuster movies.

All this — and Consumer News! — after these commercials.

Berlitz for Berlin

If you are headed to Germany (and, judging from your lederhosen, you are), be sure to lug along a copy of Langenscheidts Konversationsbuch English-Deutsch. (“Langenscheidts Konversationsbuch” is german for “Humorous Book Review Can Be Found Here.”) Some of the indispensable phrases found therein include “She tasted the gravy critically,” “This is the least convincing excuse you could offer,” and the all-purpose “Good wrist action is his greatest asset.”

Courtesy of the guffaw-inducing Deuce of Clubs Book Club.

Dodge Ad

Apparently I wasn’t the only one to take notice of that Dodge ad. In fact, someone found an image of the ad online and started a Metafilter thread about it.

After which it was only a matter of time before someone else fired up their Photoshop.

Someone please give Matt Haughey a dollar.


I may have to fire my cat. When my wife and I hired our tabby cat Louie through the King County Pound Work Release Program, we didn’t draw up a specialized contract — we just used one of those generic employment contracts you can download off the web. We agreed to provide him with room and board, supplemented by occasional kitty treats and cat toys as performance warranted; In return he agreed to shed on everything we own and sit on any books we might attempt to read. All the standard stuff.

Of course these contracts have fine print as well, like the nondisclosure agreement (he won’t reveal that we sing him Duran Duran’s “Wild Boys” by substituting “meow meow” for all the words, and we won’t reveal that he’s neutered). There’s also the standard Outside Employment Restrictions provision, which states that he cannot work for anyone else so long as he’s under contract with us. It’s this last bit of boilerplate which I suspect him of violating. Last Saturday when I got the mail, there was a tiny envelope addressed to Louie with “Federal Bureau of Gravity” listed as the sender. I put it with all his other mail, but, later, when I asked him about it, he said he didn’t know what I was talking about, and that he had never heard of the FBG.

Never heard of the FBG? Everyone knows that the Federal Bureau of Gravity was established in 1966 to lessen the dangerously high amounts of gravitation potential energy which had accumulated across the nation. Agents of the FBG seek to reduce gravitational potential energy by assisting objects in reaching their so-called ‘zero position’.

Even before seeing the letter I had long wondered if the FBG had our apartment under surveillance. It seemed that every day my wife and I would place objects on tables and counters throughout the household, and then, when we awoke the following morning, we would find them scattered all over the floor. And each time I looked behind the sofa I would find dozens of pens, coasters, knickknacks … even old tomatoes which had once been sitting on the kitchen/living room divider. At first I just naturally assumed that were were experiencing a 2.3 earthquake every morning at 2:00 AM, but soon I noticed that objects would mysterious find their zero position even during the day. Last Saturday, for instance, I took an afternoon nap and woke up to find that everything that had been on my nightstand was now on the floor.

Now that Louie is getting mail from the FBG, I’m really starting to think he might be pulling down a second income. And it doesn’t help his case that the envelope I intercepted bulged oddly and smelled of chicken ‘n’ rice. It’s too bad if it’s true. On the other hand, this would only be his first offense, which, according to the terms of the contract, means he just gets a verbal reprimand (“Louie, NO!”), so I’m still optimistic that we can work things out.

Gimmie a Dipshit Sprite

I am fascinated by the psychology of movie theater soda sales. At the core of the issue is one single, indisputable fact: movie theaters want you to pay as much as possible for your soda. I don’t mean “they want you to pay as much as possible per ounce,” oh no, I mean they want the total sum of moolah you fork over to be as great as possible. Because, frankly, they don’t give a flying yodel how much soda you receive in return for your cash. These guys pay, like, thirteen cents per cubic kilometer of soda syrup, and they could probably give it away for free and still make a profit. It’s of little concern to them whether you get 8 oz. or 128 oz., as long as your total expenditure is as large as possible.

So a crack team of movie theater psychologists figured out the absolute maximum amount of money an average person will pay for soda, an amount that is currently somewhere around $6.00 or so. Then they figured out how much soda the person would have to receive in return for this outlay to feel like they had made a justifiable purchase, and that worked out to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 52 ounces. And with that they established their “Jumbo” — 52 oz. of soda for six bucks.

Of course nobody in their right mind would actually desire 52 oz. of soda without some sort of coercion, so here’s what they did. The made the “Large” 32 oz, and priced it at $5.50, and made the Medium 24 oz. and priced it at $5.00, and made the “Small” 12 oz. and priced it at $4.50. So you’re standing there in line and you’re thinking “Jeeze, all I really want is 12 oz. of soda, but for only $1.50 more I can get the Jumbo which contains over four times the volume of the Small!! I’d be a complete mooncalf not to jump at that deal!”

Now I’ve noticed that some local theaters have taken the next step in this process by eliminating the “Small” altogether, and instead calling the 12 oz soda “Child” — never mind that no child should ever ingest 12 oz. of Surge in less than a fortnight. So if the phony economics don’t talk you out of buying the smallest drink, you will also have to overcome the shame of ordering yourself a “Child-size Mr. Pibb”. I think they should just run with this idea and rename all the sizes with derogatory names. Twelve oz. could be the “Asshole,” 24 oz. could be the “Dipshit”, 32 oz. could be the “Skinflint Pansyboy Who Can Only Drink 32 Oz. of Cola” and 52 oz. could be a “Large”. It’s gonna happen sooner or later, so they may as well get it over with.