[GUIDE] Common Mistakes in Setup Making

This forum is for discussion of individual Open Setups, including theoretical balance.
BBmolla
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Post Post #0  (ISO)  » Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:15 pm

This is meant to be a basic guide to stop you from making the mistakes people make time and time again when making their first setups.

For purposes of a "mafia setup" I will define mafia as an informed minority of two or more players vs. an uninformed majority. (with possibility for multiple informed minorities)

Spoiler: Not Mafia via no Informed Minority or Uninformed Majority
Emergency

9 Players
3 Police
3 Firemen
3 Paramedics


  • Players know who one other team mate is, in a circle. There is no night talk.
  • The team whose player was lynched gets a night kill that night given to a team mate at random.

Issue: While a game like this could be fun, it doesn't fit the definition of mafia. With all equal teams, there is no uninformed majority or informed minority, resulting in a game where a lynch is nearly impossible to achieve at some points.

Spoiler: Not Mafia via 1 scum
SK Deduction 6p

6 Players
1 Serial Killer
5 Townies


  • The first player who is lynched selects a player. If that player is the SK, the SK loses. If that player is town, they are revealed as such and the game continues.

Issue: Mafia is a game of finding mafia through lies and connections. Key word being connections. Being able to partner search is an integral part of the game and without any partners a large aspect of the game is removed (partner searching).

Spoiler: Jester/Cult
Other Fellas

9 Players
2 Mafia
1 Cult Leader
1 Jester
5 Townies


  • If Mafia is culted, they may no longer perform the nightkill.
  • If the Jester is nightkilled, he may vengekill someone.
  • If the Cult Leader is killed, the Jester, if alive, becomes the new Cult Leader.

Issue: Coming from sites that focus on nightplay, many players love to include cults and jesters in their setups. The problem is tat cults and jesters are very difficult to balance around and can not just be thrown in to "add chaos". Cults are an issue because factional conversion as power is exceedingly powerful without balances within the setup. Jesters are an issue because it punishes town for recognizing someone acting scummy, which is the point of mafia.

Spoiler: Mass Power Roles
Mass Power Roles

7 Players
1 Mafia Roleblocker
1 Mafia Rolecop

1 Town Cop
1 Town Doc
1 Town Roleblocker
1 Town Tracker
1 Town Watcher


  • Rolecop recieves full role name but not alignment.

Issue: Coming from sites that focus on nightplay, many players love to include as many named roles as possible to create a game that is "more fun." This does not work at mafiascum for multiple reasons. First off, and most obviously, having too many named roles allows for the breaking strategy of Mass Claim. Players simply claim their roles day 1, forcing the mafia to fake claim a role. This increases the chance of a town victory ten fold by creating multiple confirmed town players and eventually confirmed scum. Second off, the more power roles you include the swingier the game becomes. Third off, Mafiascum as a site focuses on day play, and it's typical for open setups to sometimes only contain 2-3 power roles.

Spoiler: Cop/Doc Combo
Original Newbie Setup

7 Players
2 Mafia Goons
1 Town Cop
1 Town Doc
3 Vanilla Townies

Issue: This setup is broken via Follow the Cop. Follow the Cop strategy is where the Cop claims day 1, allowing the Doctor to protect him every night and confirming him as town if the mafia do not counter claim. He will survive for as long as the Doctor does, ensuring at least 1 night of public reports and likely more.

Spoiler: Setups Based On One Role
The Super Coptor

9 Players
1 Mafia Godfather
1 Mafia Goon

1 Town Super Coptor
6 Vanilla Townies


  • At nights targets a player, protects and checks if they are mafia. If town, creates a private that allows the player to discuss with the Super Coptor. During the day can private message the mod to ensure only one of two players can be lynched. Also can vig instead of Cop Doccing if he wants.

Issue: This setup is far to based on one role to make it interesting/fun. If the role dies night 1, the whole possible mechanic of the setup is over with and it becomes an uphill battle. Implementing a mechanic into the setup instead of specifically one player is generally a good away to avoid "Super Roles."

Spoiler: Unfun Mechanics
The Game of Unfun

9 Players
1 Mafia Silencer
1 Mafia Bus Driver

1 Town Secret Death Miller
1 Voteless Townie
1 Town 50% Vigilante
1 Town 25% Vigs
2 Vanilla Townies

Suicidal Survivor


  • Silencer target can not talk or vote for the entire day.
  • Death Miller recieves a VT PM.
  • Blank Vig recieves a Vig pm,

Issue: Silencer, whether removin vote or just ability to talk, typically just ends up with a player not having fun. Death miller is not as fun as you'd think. Percentage roles can make a team lose just because of luck. All of these roles can work in certain setups, but in general be wary of them.

Spoiler: Doctrain
Doctrain Express

9 Players
2 Mafia Goons
2 Town Doctors
5 Vanilla Townies

Issue: The Doctors can claim day 1, protecting each other and causing them to both become unkillable, making the game nearly impossible. Even if a Mafia Roleblocker is included, if the roleblocker dies they become bulletproof, creating an enormous swing within the setup. This is generally fixable by making the Docs macho.
Last edited by BBmolla on Fri Dec 30, 2016 7:22 pm, edited 8 times in total.

mith
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Post Post #1  (ISO)  » Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:40 pm

Another common one: Too many named roles. Often the strategy in such a game is an immediate massclaim, which forces Mafia in a bad spot - either the named roles are confirmed, or the Mafia must counterclaim and put themselves in a 50-50 situation. While having the power roles out obviously makes them vulnerable to being killed, the EV gain from improving lynches is more significant, even before considering whether the outed power roles can further help the town by coordinating their abilities.

BBmolla
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Post Post #2  (ISO)  » Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:58 pm

Lemme know other ones any of you guys can think of. I consistently see the mistakes I've listed over and over in the open setup discussion but I know there are more.

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Post Post #3  (ISO)  » Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:17 am

In post 1, mith wrote:Another common one: Too many named roles. Often the strategy in such a game is an immediate massclaim, which forces Mafia in a bad spot - either the named roles are confirmed, or the Mafia must counterclaim and put themselves in a 50-50 situation. While having the power roles out obviously makes them vulnerable to being killed, the EV gain from improving lynches is more significant, even before considering whether the outed power roles can further help the town by coordinating their abilities.


This is probably the biggest problem that I see over and over again. It turns the value of a powerrole into a process-of-elimination device by way of claiming during the day, without fully utilising its night potential, which doesn't make for a fun game. A lot of open setups have been broken by massclaiming or partial claiming strategies.

Some good ways to counter this problem is adding a higher ratio of VT's, make the setup variable (0 or 1 Trackers, 1-2 Doctors etc.), or add mechanics that disincentivise claiming on D1 (or at all), for example; the daykill mechanic in Masons and Mafia which allows scum to daykill a mason if they name one correctly.

Another design strategy to dodge the named role is to design a game based entirely around mechanics rather than roles, such as Double Day Unlimited, or to give each player the same role like Duck, Duck, Goose!.

And then sometimes the best design decision is start over again and not force inelegant tweaks onto a setup just for the sake of making it work.

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Post Post #4  (ISO)  » Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:37 am

Can this be stickied?
De Mol failed. Genius Game anyone?

I'm mabye a serious player, but I'm capable of joke. Ok?

MURDERCAT
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Post Post #5  (ISO)  » Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:17 am

What about mistakes that don't involve balance issues? For example, including unfun mechanics or roles. And what about issues of swing? What's good swing and what's bad swing?

callforjudgement
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Post Post #6  (ISO)  » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:43 am

Excessive swing is, in my experience, a mistake that happens far more often in Closed games than Open games. (The usual cause is flooding the game with roles like Tracker that get much more powerful when there's only one scum left; trackers can get both innos and guilties when there's one scum, but only guilties when there are more.)

We should probably add "broken by circle-targeting" / "broken by pair-targeting" (these are much the same strategy) to the list at the start. Also, "broken by repeated no-lynch". Both of these are fairly common mistakes in making role-heavy Opens.
scum · scam · seam · team · term · tern · torn · town

BBmolla
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Post Post #7  (ISO)  » Sat Jul 02, 2016 2:38 am

yeah I'll edit it before bed to add those

BBmolla
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Post Post #8  (ISO)  » Sun Jul 03, 2016 5:03 am

In post 5, MURDERCAT wrote:What about mistakes that don't involve balance issues? For example, including unfun mechanics or roles. And what about issues of swing? What's good swing and what's bad swing?

Thoughts on some unfun mechanics?

Plotinus
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Post Post #9  (ISO)  » Sun Jul 03, 2016 5:04 am

governors that aren't limited to 1-shot with 48 hour twilight

edit: really long twilights, mechanics that make stalling the game out to a no lynch be a viable tactical for either alignment
Last edited by Plotinus on Sun Jul 03, 2016 5:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Post #10  (ISO)  » Sun Jul 03, 2016 5:05 am

The one in my unfun mechanics list will be role swap. I have no problem with cult (alignment change), but a mafia roleswap with town is just dumb.
De Mol failed. Genius Game anyone?

I'm mabye a serious player, but I'm capable of joke. Ok?

MURDERCAT
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Post Post #11  (ISO)  » Sun Jul 03, 2016 8:04 am

Tree stump from the start is an obvious one that comes to mind (I have seen it suggested for a setup before).

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Post Post #12  (ISO)  » Thu Jul 07, 2016 3:29 pm

In post 8, BBmolla wrote:
In post 5, MURDERCAT wrote:What about mistakes that don't involve balance issues? For example, including unfun mechanics or roles. And what about issues of swing? What's good swing and what's bad swing?

Thoughts on some unfun mechanics?


Delayed/no flip tends to poison games.
"Don’t buy a dozen eggs if you just want a hardboiled egg. Don’t buy a head of lettuce if you just want a salad. Don’t buy eggs and lettuce if you want egg salad because those are not the right ingredients." -Julius Bloop

callforjudgement
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Post Post #13  (ISO)  » Thu Jul 07, 2016 6:41 pm

Anything that allows a player who doesn't have the scum wincon to know the identity of the entire scumteam is broken (this includes all scum → something else alignment changes). If you put enough restrictions on to prevent it breaking the game by itself, the restrictions will themselves make the game oppressive.

Post restrictions to prevent players claiming are always a bad idea (and something new mods try surprisingly often).
scum · scam · seam · team · term · tern · torn · town

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Post Post #14  (ISO)  » Tue Oct 04, 2016 2:28 pm

In the Cop/Doc combo, wouldn't the follow the cop strategy fail if the mafia fake claim cop?

callforjudgement
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Post Post #15  (ISO)  » Tue Oct 04, 2016 4:24 pm

That's a commonly tried counter (and the one used in, say, Original Newbie to bring town win rates down to around 50%), but it puts scum into a 1v1 right at the start of the game, which is typically seen as undesirable. It also means that scum need to be aware of the optimal strategy for the setup right from the start of D1, which is reasonable on sites which play hundreds of marathon games in a row, but not on a site like this one where a player might only ever play a given setup once.
scum · scam · seam · team · term · tern · torn · town

BBmolla
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Post Post #16  (ISO)  » Tue Oct 04, 2016 5:56 pm

If it fails it almost guarantees scum loss.


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