Why does town do so badly with the White Flag mechanic?

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Mafia Scum
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Post Post #0  (ISO)  » Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:05 pm

Results from Opens actually run on mafiascum.net:

White Flag (Open Setup): 8 scum wins, 2 town wins, EV 47.8%, observed win rate 20%
Lovers Mafia: 11 scum wins, 6 town wins, EV 60%, observed win rate 35.3%
Grey Flag Nightless: 5 scum wins, 0 town wins, EV 45.9%, observed win rate 0%

I've been considering the long string of scum wins in Grey Flag Nightless to be something of an anomaly – it's clearly reasonable that it could happen by chance – but when we combine all the "one scum left = town win" setups that have been played often enough to give reasonable statistics, there's a clear pattern here. OK, so White Flag itself is a long-duration setup with a regular scum nightkill, and scum doing substantially better than EV there is possibly not too surprising as a result. But Lovers Mafia and Grey Flag Nightless are very limited in scum nightkills, something that in practice normally gives a huge advantage to town, and yet scum is doing considerably better than EV.

It's possible that all this is a coincidence, but I've now seen enough to suspect that there's something of a pattern here. It'd be useful from the setup-balancing point of view to figure out what's going on here, in order to help make future setups more balanced.

Some theories I have:
  • The White Flag mechanic is typically used to allow more scum to fit into a vanilla game than normal, and with no power roles to centralise discussion, the large scumteams have a lot of control over the lynch vote, making it hard for town to get in early lynches on scum;
  • The White Flag mechanic reduces the number of scum flips observed in a typical game (regardless of who wins), and towns are generally particularly reliant on scum flips;
  • The White Flag mechanic discourages bussing-to-kill, helping scum in one of the two following ways:
    • Bussing-to-kill is typically a bad strategy but is nonetheless commonly attempted, and discouraging scum from it therefore causes them to play better; OR
    • Bussing-to-kill is a component in a WIFOM matrix that town have got used to allowing for, and thus a reduction in scum's WIFOM opportunities isn't hurting them as much as mathematics would predict.

Of course, this might all be completely wrong! Does anyone have their own ideas about this phenomenon? Can anyone think of ways to test any of the above theories (e.g. a setup that would interact with some theories but not others)?
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Post Post #1  (ISO)  » Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:51 pm

Is this trend distinct from other mountainous setups?

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Post Post #2  (ISO)  » Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:40 am

Probably due to the scumteam being larger than normal means that they have larger influence over the game
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Post Post #3  (ISO)  » Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:15 am

Didn't "epic duel" have a white flag mechanic?

I think the main thing is that white flag setups usually opens, and open mountainous setups probably have high town burnout rates as people realize their dayplay will never be corrected by night actions. If anything I'd say get a group willing to run one a few times in blitz and see if the winrate stabilizes there.
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Post Post #4  (ISO)  » Sat Feb 02, 2019 7:20 pm

I think it's not the white flag

Its mountainous plus generally it's easy to sweep as wolf anyway
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Post Post #5  (ISO)  » Sat Feb 02, 2019 10:48 pm

In post 2, BulletNLynchproof wrote:Probably due to the scumteam being larger than normal means that they have larger influence over the game

In post 4, RadiantCowbells wrote:I think it's not the white flag

Its mountainous plus generally it's easy to sweep as wolf anyway

I think it’s halfway between these answers

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Post Post #6  (ISO)  » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:02 am

I think that on MS, a lot of scum teams can crush games barring a lot of town PR help. In white flag type games, town's edge is that it's easier to put away scum teams that are struggling, but the scum teams that are doing well aren't really affected by the mechanic at all (barring there being a slightly higher cost to early bussing, but even that isn't huge).

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Post Post #7  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:50 am

does this phenomena occur on other mafia sites?

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