I’ve been pretty slow in updating the blog over the last week because of some new responsibilities at work. I’m a nurse, of course, and I work in the Training & Development department of my hospital. We have a program for the new graduate nurses starting with us each year (which I actually participated in as a new grad when I started back in 2000), and with some changes in our department staffing recently, I’ve had the opportunity to step into a co-coordinator role in this program. So all this week, I’ve been having a ball teaching and interacting with a fantastic group of new nurses.
On Wednesday, we had a lineup of guest speakers coming in from various departments in the hospital. Many of them didn’t use all of their time, and one cancelled altogether, so we had some free time that we didn’t expect. After giving some extra breaks and letting them talk amongst themselves for a while, I felt compelled to ask the question, “Anyone want to play a game?”
Now, I didn’t really have anything specific with me, but I do keep a deck of cards in my office to use in split people into different groups in classes that I teach (if you’re careful in constructing the deck they draw from, you can use one card assignment to divide and re-divide them into a few different groups) . And the way that I originally learned Werewolf was using just a deck of cards; so within a few minutes, I threw three Jokers (the werewolves) in with one Ace (the Fortune Teller) and 16 number cards (the rest of the Villagers) and dealt them out to the group.
Now, none of these women (and the one token male, of course) had ever played this or any other similar game. None of them had any experience with any game other than traditional or party games. But I really played up the storytelling part of being the moderator, so they were pretty into it as we got into the first actual mechanics of the game. The werewolves identified each other and first chose to kill the other program coordinator. In the morning, I described in explicit detail how one of the others discovered the mutilated body strewn around the village well, with her head staring up out of the bucket.
In an odd stroke of luck or insight, the villagers lynched someone who turned out to actually be a werewolf on that very next day. But then, they hit a dry spell for several rounds as the bodies started to stack up like cordwood. I had never moderated a game quite this large, and it took me a few turns to figure out that I needed to structure the deliberations a little more by asking for specific nominations for lynching. I had started off by letting them just talk for a while and then point to who they wanted to execute, but that was just chaos. But once we started the nomination process, things became a lot more clear to them, and the game started to run very smoothly.
Anyway, after another few days of villagers turning on and killing each other, the Fortune Teller got a hit with one of her targets and managed to convince the others to go along with her. The one remaining werewolf quickly slew her, but was still faced with being way outnumbered 7-1. She was, however, mild-mannered and innocent-looking (pictured to the right), and survived the next couple of votes with no problems. And even with being nominated for the last three votes, her serene poker face convinced others to believe her, and the werewolves went on to win the game!
Even with having to split up the game over a few different breaks, everybody seemed to have a good time. Some were predictably more vocal than others, but I saw smiles all around and the atmosphere in the room seemed to be positive and fun. I don’t know that I necessarily made any “converts” with this one game of Werewolf, but we at least shared a good time.