It’s the year 1955 in Havana, Cuba at the height of its decadence. You’re sitting in a darkened booth at an elegant restaurant, near the city's nicest casinos, dining with your boss Don Alessandro as an American jazz singer croons away. Suddenly, Don Alessandro gets up from the table to take a phone call in the restaurant’s back room, leaving his precious cigar box with you and his other henchmen. Do you steal the riches inside that cigar box? Or do you refrain, knowing disloyalty could get you killed?
Mafia de Cuba is a quick, portable game of bluffing and hidden roles for six to twelve players, set in the raucous, crime-filled years right before the Cuban revolution. One player takes on the role of the Godfather, who passes the jewel-filled cigar box from player to player. The other players secretly, subtly take a character token, steal some of the diamonds from the box, or remove nothing. The Godfather then has to find out the Thieves and recover what they’ve stolen in order to remain in charge. If the Godfather can’t, the player who stole the most diamonds wins.
Take What You Want
A game of Mafia de Cuba begins with the group choosing a Godfather, likely the most experienced player. As the Godfather, you take charge of the Mafia de Cuba cigar box and its contents: the character tokens and, above all, the fifteen plastic diamonds. You open the box and remove up to five diamonds without allowing anyone else to see exactly what, if anything, has been removed. Stash what you’ve taken somewhere on your person, and then hand the box over.
All the players at the table must open the cigar box and examine what is inside it. They may choose to covertly pocket a few diamonds or choose one of the character tokens inside, but they cannot take both. The most common character is the Loyal Henchman, who wins if the Godfather can recover all of his stolen diamonds. Players who take diamonds become Thieves. Players who take nothing become Street Urchins, apprentice gangsters who hope to profit by supporting the Thieves. No matter what you take, you’ll want to make sure no one can tell what you’ve taken, or whether you’ve taken anything at all. The act of opening the box and sifting through it is an opportunity for bluffing, humor, deception, and/or covering your tracks.
If you receive the box directly from the Godfather, you also have a unique chance to shape the game in a way no one else does. You can secretly choose a character token and place it in the velvet bag, removing that character from the game. No one else at the table knows which character you’ve removed, or even if you’ve removed any. They have to assume that all the roles remain in the game.
Trust No One
Alongside the Godfather, the Loyal Henchmen, Thieves and any Street Urchins, three other characters may or may not be involved in the game. If you take the role of Driver, your victory depends on whether the player to your right—your passenger—wins. As an FBI or CIA Agent, you want to take advantage of the rivalries and discontent within the business. You win if the Godfather accuses you. Finally, the trigger-happy Cleaner pretends to be nothing more than a Loyal Henchman most of the time. However, if the Godfather accuses someone, the Cleaner can point a finger and shout “Pow!” at that person, killing the suspect before the truth is revealed. If the accused was an Agent, the Cleaner, and only the Cleaner, wins. The characters in the game scale according to the number of players and can be adjusted to vary the complexity of the game.
Passing around the cigar box is just the preliminary event, of course. The real drama begins when the Godfather opens up the box and discovers what’s been stolen. The Godfather then launches an investigation and freely interrogates the players about what happened. There are few parameters here. You can lie or tell the truth. You can refuse to answer, and say anything you like to avoid being accused—or to draw suspicion. But if the Godfather commands you, “Empty your pockets,” you have to reveal any character token or diamonds that you have. If you’re a Thief, you give back the diamonds and are eliminated from the game. If you’ve been wrongly accused, the Godfather gives you a joker—a token shaped like a bottle of Cuban rum, serving as an apology. But the Godfather can’t make too many mistakes. If there are no more jokers to be given out, the Godfather falls from power and is eliminated.
Join the Business
Easy-to-learn rules, the chance to choose your own role, and graspable 3-D components make Mafia de Cuba a uniquely captivating bluffing game that plays just as well during a lunch break or at the pub as it does at a house party or during game night. Whether you’re loyal to the Godfather or trying to game the Godfather for personal gain, whether you’re honest or deceitful, there is a role for you in Mafia de Cuba.