This past week, our class got together to play a session of Ultimate Werewolf, a hidden role game where the players are divided into two teams, the Villagers and the Werewolves. However, as it is a hidden role game, none of these allegiances or roles are known from the beginning of the game, and this plays into what I personally believe was the most difficult part of the game, the beginning. Since no one had been eliminated yet, and no one’s role had been revealed, we had no information to go off of before eliminating our first player. As such, the discussions in the game’s early rounds often took very long to start, and had very little direction. However, as the game progressed and more information was revealed, discussions became easier to start and had a clearer direction to go off of.
As for the session as a whole, I was given the role of the Seer at the beginning of the game, a role that is very powerful as they can determine which players are villagers and which are werewolves. As such, it was very concerning to me for the Villager team when the Werewolves managed to eliminate me in one of the earlier nights. My concern only grew as the game progressed, and the Apprentice Seer revealed themselves in an attempt to gain trust, an attempt that was then turned around entirely by the Sorceress pretending to be the Seer. After that point, things appeared very bleak for the villagers as they continued to lose more of their ranks, even if they had eliminated the Sorceress, until toward the end of the game when the Wolf Cub and one of the Werewolves had been eliminated. During the final round, the Hunter was chosen as the person the village was going to kill, and as their final act they chose one the last remaining Werewolf as the person they wanted to take out with them, which allowed the villagers to win the game! Overall, while I certainly did not enjoy being eliminated as early as I was, the game as a whole was entertaining, and it was interesting to see what conclusions people came to as the game progressed.
However, just what ties does Ultimate Werewolf have to leadership? I think that the ties here can be seen in just how discussions functioned, as the discussions tended to have one person in particular who “led” them, and this leader changed each round. This leader may have simply been the first person to speak up, it may have been the person who discussed possible strategies the villagers could use, or it may have been the player that had the most compelling reason for eliminating someone. No matter the situation that led to them becoming the leader though, doing so appeared to come with some risk, as they were often targeted by other villagers or by the Werewolves. Not only that, but choosing someone to eliminate is a risk itself, as eliminating the wrong person will shift the target that you placed on them over to yourself instead. I feel that this is an interesting parallel to leadership in the real world, as part of being a good leader involves taking risks, as only with those risks do you get closer to your goal. However, if those risks are not managed well, they may cause more harm than good.
Alongside this idea of risks and leadership though, I would also like to discuss my own play style for this game, or at the very least my plans for it as I was unfortunately eliminated rather early on. I was not planning on taking many risks unless I could be certain that they would lead to a positive outcome for the team. This was partly because of my role as the Seer, a role that I felt was very powerful since it could identify Werewolves with no doubts. As such, I did not want to draw too much attention to myself during the discussions unless I knew whether a target that was being discussed was a Villager or a Werewolf, and would then attempt to draw the discussion away from that person or toward them while trying not to draw too much attention to myself. Though, while I did not want to draw too much attention to myself as the Seer, this is actually quite similar to my usual level of risk taking. I am usually quite worried about taking a risk unless I am certain that the potential rewards are worth it.
Overall, I certainly did enjoy our session of Ultimate Werewolf despite being eliminated rather early on, as even watching Social Deduction games like this can be quite fun. Not only was it fun though, it also revealed just inseparable risk-taking and leadership are, as being a leader both involves making risky decisions and drawing attention to yourself as a result.