A game of deduction and farmyard intrigue for two players.
All is not well in the farmyard. The cock crows, the farmer wakes and sees another sheep eaten in the night. Grabbing his trusty gun he takes careful aim... but at which blood-spattered suspect? Can he shoot the wolves in sheep's clothing before they eat all his sheep?
1 hexagonal game board.
A match is played over two games. Each game has a Wolf player, who scores 1 point for each dead sheep, and a Farmer who tries to shoot the wolves hidden amongst the flock as quickly as possible, thus minimising the Wolf's score.
After both players have had a turn at being the Wolf, the player with the highest score wins.
The Farmer places 26 sheep labelled 'A' to 'Z' on the board.
Figure 1. A popular starting layout.
Each round consists of a Wolf move followed by a Farmer move, as follows.
Wolf Move: The Wolf player must kill a sheep adjacent to one of the hidden wolves and indicate its death by turning the corpse upside down. Each immediate neighbour of the corpse (including the killer) then runs away to an empty cell that is not adjacent to the corpse.
Figure 2. Wolf D eats M, then all adjacent animals (including D) move away from the corpse...
Figure 3. ... leaving the position shown. D is ready to kill again.
Farmer Move: The Farmer may perform one of the following actions:
If the Farmer shoots a wolf, the Wolf player confirms the kill immediately, in the time-honoured fashion: "Aroooo!". If the Farmer shoots a sheep, the Wolf player should say "Baaa!" as pathetically as possible.
If the Farmer goes berserk and shoots multiple suspects then the game ends, and any surviving wolf eats the remaining sheep as the Farmer reloads. Multiple shots should be used as a last resort only!
The Farmer will find it useful to track sheep movements resulting from wolf kills on the sheets provided. We suggest that the Farmer tracks the animals incriminated in each Wolf kill on a separate row, since this information can be re-visited later in the game when more suspects are eliminated; animals killed by the farmer can just be marked off across the top of the sheet, since there is no other information to be gained.
Figure 4. Sample tracking chart.
In the chart above, the top row shows the sheep letter; dead sheep are crossed out; dead wolves are ringed. In the row marked 1 we see that in the first turn, the Wolf player ate V, and S and T ran away. In row 2, U was killed, and A, E, H, Q, R and S ran away.
You can download additional scoresheets in .pdf format here: http://www.cameronius.com/games/mutton/scoresheet.pdf.
Each game ends when the farmer succeeds in killing all the remaining wolves. The Wolf scores 1 pt for each sheep killed (eaten or shot) over the course of the game. The Wolf's score is noted and the second game started with the Wolf and Farmer roles reversed.
The player with the highest score over both games wins the overall contest.
How many times can I go berserk?
Once. After that, you have either caught all the wolves, or the wolves eat all the remaining sheep while you reload.
Where can sheep run to?
To any empty cell that is not adjacent to the sheep just killed. Sheep may jump over obstacles.
Can a wolf eat another wolf?
Yes. The disguises are very good indeed.
What happens if the Wolf player can’t eat anything?
The Wolf player must pass. After the Wolf player passes, the farmer must shoot something, and in fact will have to continue to do so until he finds all the wolves.
Avoid incriminating your packmates. If you make a kill that causes several wolves to be moved, you increase the odds that they will be caught.
A wolf doesn't necessarily want to be surrounded by sheep. He wants his victim to be surrounded by sheep.
Avoid using all your wolves for as long as possible. The farmer can't sensibly go berserk if one of your wolves hasn't been activated yet.
Don't split up a group. If multiple suspects from one kill are involved in the next kill, that reduces the information available to the farmer.
The farmer has the more difficult job; at the start of the game, it is very difficult to place the wolves with any degree of accuracy so his main job is to get the wolf to give him as much information as possible each turn. Most of the advice below should be read with this in mind.
The starting position shown in figure 1 is recommended, since the wolf can move at most 3 suspects after the first kill, compared with a worst case of 6.
101 uses of a dead sheep. The corpses clutter up the board, and work to the farmer's advantage. All other things being equal, if you have an equal choice between several suspects, the best choice is usually the one that leaves the remaining sheep with the fewest neighbours. Try to leave the corpses scattered around the board rather than clumped together.
The wolf wants to move with as many sheep as possible. If a suspect is relatively isolated, it is unlikely to be a wolf.
"Kill them all, and let god work it out." If you are playing second, and have narrowed down the suspects to one or two candidates for each wolf, consider going berserk you may have a guaranteed win. Going first, the decision is more difficult. In terms of ESD (expected sheep deaths), there is no difference between going berserk and sniping, as long as all the suspects stick together. If the suspects are forced to split up, then sniping is better. Of course, this ignores the psychological element.
Study your opponent; do they always move the wolf first? Last? Do they always place the wolf near the maximum number of sheep, or do they like to be sneaky? Many are the ways in which a wolf can betray itself.
The Wolf maximises confusion by killing sheep surrounded on all six sides. It can therefore be good practice to shoot any sheep thus surrounded even if there's no evidence that it is in fact a wolf; this will likely hamper the Wolf's next move.
Shotgun: Instead of a rifle, the Farmer has a shotgun. When he shoots, all neighbouring sheep run away, in just the same manner as the Wolf move. At the end of both the Wolf move and the Farmer move, any dead sheep are removed from the board. The shotgun is single-barrel and cannot be shot multiple times per turn.
Dictionary: All Wolf words must be legal Scrabble words.
More/Fewer Wolves: Although we recommend four wolves, try playing with three or five wolves for a bit of variety.
Quick Play: Play only one game; the Wolf player wins by scoring 11 or more points, otherwise the Farmer wins. Alternatively, players may bid to be the Wolf with the highest bidder having to score that many points to win.
One dead sheep upon the grass, 25 to go.
One dead sheep upon the grass, 25 to go.
If any of the wolves out there should want to say "hello", there'd be
Two dead sheep upon the grass, 24 to go...
Iterate as required.
Mutton rules and design by Stephen Tavener and Cameron Browne, copyright (c) Cyberite Ltd 2008.
Online play: http://www.gamerz.net/pbmserv/List.php?Mutton
"Wolf meets sheep" illustration by Cameron Browne (c) 2008.