Commonly Asked Questions on Mafia Theory

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Post Post #51  (isolation #0)  » Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:27 am

I think the only real way to avoid being lynched when under heavy suspicion as town is to start/continue scumhunting, as well as possible. What can you deduce from people aiming at you? (It's not necessarily the case that they're scum.) You need to be more open when under suspicion, too; say everything you're thinking, talk through your scumhunting processes. This makes it a bit easier for scum to hide, but it's also very hard to pull off as scum, and so it should make you look townier. (You're also likely to make accidental townslips while doing this, which will save you if the town can, or think they can, distinguish them from intentional townslips made by scum.)
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Post Post #53  (isolation #1)  » Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:34 am

In post 52, Faraday wrote:ATE'ing like a motherfucker helps.

It shouldn't, but…
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Post Post #129  (isolation #2)  » Fri Aug 19, 2016 12:54 pm

Speaking from a purely mathematical/EV point of view, if there are an even number of players going into day (thus an odd number at the start of the night), shoot the cop, if there are an odd number of players going into day (i.e. evens at the start of the night), shooting the vig is better if close to endgame; shooting the cop is more viable the more players are still alive (although if you know that you can kill the cop tomorrow, you should still shoot the vig). (Note: I'm assuming NAR here: if shooting the vig prevents them from taking their shot, which is nonstandard but something that does happen in some games, the odd/even argument swaps the other way round, and makes shooting the vig a little more helpful in every case.)

This is because a cop confirms (as clear/scum) one player per night, whereas a vig confirms two players every two nights (because after the vig kills two players who would have been ynched anyway, that's effectively skipped two night phases; this gives you a spare mislynch which confirms the player you lynched and also confirms the player the scum nightkill). The cop's confirmations are more useful than the vig's confirmations because they're all aimed by town (as opposed to only half being aimed by town), so in the long term the cop averages as more helpful to the town. On the other hand, shooting a vig while the town's on odds will cause the vig shot to put town into evens, which doesn't help them at all, whereas leaving the vig alive another day would let the vig put town back to odds and give them another two confirmations. So while town's on odds, shooting the vig lets you strand them at an unfavourable player count, giving a short-term advantage. This is more useful than stopping a Cop shot close to the end of the game (and is more useful than stopping a Cop shot if you know you can get rid of the Cop tomorrow). Earlier in the game, it's probably worth taking advantage of an opportunity to get rid of a Cop if you aren't sure you'll get another one, because Cops will give the town a very large advantage over time.

In a real game (as opposed to the mathematical idealization), there are a few other factors to deal with. For example, do you know that the Cop is a full Cop? They're rather more likely to be limited-shot than a Vig is (and likely to have a lower limit when they are limited), and shooting a Cop that's out of shots hardly helps you. Another thing to deal with is that vigs rarely follow the optimal strategy (barring Jesters and the like, the correct shot for a Vig is to shoot whoever they believe is most likely to be lynched tomorrow); if a vig is acting as a loose cannon rather than playing as part of their team, and if their reads aren't great, leaving them alive may be helpful (because if a Vig shoots a townie who wasn't otherwise going to be mislynched, it only helps scum). You also have to take the players' reads into account (if a town power role is likely to investigate and/or shoot you in the near future, you probably need to kill them before they kill you).
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Post Post #132  (isolation #3)  » Fri Sep 09, 2016 4:15 pm

You know, the rule against talking about ongoing games applies to games anywhere, right? If one of your players happened to come across the post it'd give information about the game.
Last edited by callforjudgement on Sat Sep 10, 2016 2:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Post #137  (isolation #4)  » Fri Sep 30, 2016 3:59 pm

Normally the roleblocking part of the role is more important. Catching scum is normally much more valuable than saving town. It's easier to predict the nightkill target than the nightkiller, but the actual gains from a protection are much lower than the gains from a roleblock on scum. (The main exception is normally when you're protecting a power role, but jailkeepers can't usefully protect power roles anyway.)

The main exception I can think of is when there's a player who's an obvious nightkill target based on dayplay (someone leading the town, etc., who is thus probably VT) and there's an even number of players. That way, you can gain yourself a mislynch and keep a strong player alive, at very little cost.
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Post Post #141  (isolation #5)  » Sat Dec 17, 2016 12:16 pm

In post 139, LicketyQuickety wrote:
In post 137, callforjudgement wrote:at very little cost.


Can you talk about this more?

The main costs here are the opportunity cost of not using your role to block scum, and the (minor) chance that scum track/watch your ability and use it to gain information about the gamestate that can be used against the town (e.g. by killing you and preventing you catching them in future). Those are pretty small compared to gaining a mislynch and keeping a strong town voice alive.
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Post Post #143  (isolation #6)  » Sat Dec 17, 2016 5:32 pm

It's probably just best to conclude that nobody has a clue how hiders work :-)

One of the main reasons they were made not-explicitly-Normal is that there was no sort of consensus on what the role actually did.
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Post Post #146  (isolation #7)  » Sat Dec 17, 2016 7:17 pm

In the deflect-a-copy-onto-self variants, you'd expect a Doctor targeting the scum in question (i.e. the Hider's target) to work and save the Hider (because the role gets copied), much like a Weak role can be saved by a Doctor. Not all Hider variants work like that, though.
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Post Post #158  (isolation #8)  » Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:57 pm

In post 157, Shadow_step wrote:What result should a follower get if they target a JK?

Normally it's ruled as "protective + intefering". Admittedly, that doesn't leave much guessing as to what the role was.

In Normals, a Follower actually sees a "jailkeeping" action being performed; it's a category of its own there. (This might or might not have been intentional, but it certainly helps to resolve arguments.)
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Post Post #160  (isolation #9)  » Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:13 pm

Indeed, in queues other than Normal, Open, and Newbie (and there are no Followers in Newbie games at the moment), it would be up to the mod as to exactly how they wanted their Followers to work. (Although returning something very out of place, like "communicative", would likely be treated as bastard.)
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Post Post #163  (isolation #10)  » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:45 am

Most non-role-madness setups benefit from a compulsive Mafia kill (nearly all the situations in which the Mafia would choose to no-kill imply that something is broken in either the current state of the setup or in the win conditions; the 3:1 standoff is a common example). However, making the kill compulsive is not standard.
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Post Post #165  (isolation #11)  » Sun May 07, 2017 6:41 pm

The problem is Mafia choosing not to kill in situations where they can't reasonably fake anything other than a no-kill, just to waste the town's time. That happens more often than it should.
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Post Post #167  (isolation #12)  » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:43 am

No nightkill is not good for town in 3:1. Town will nearly always just no-lynch in response (and may well have no-lynched into the situation in the first place). So far, in every case I've personally seen, the scum eventually relented first, but I'm aware that other people have run into problems where this lead to a standoff that eventually had to be resolved by moderator intervention.
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Post Post #170  (isolation #13)  » Fri Jul 21, 2017 1:35 pm

A motion detector is a binary role, so they just see "there was motion".

If you're using a role that's capable of detecting more information, such as a Tracker, the exact resolution isn't standardised as far as I know; some mods allow blocked actions to nonetheless be tracked, some mods don't. This doesn't seem to be standardised even in Normals (where it should be standardised). I'm going to ask the NRG for a ruling, because this is a clear omission in the current rules.
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Post Post #176  (isolation #14)  » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:17 pm

A lot of the wiki is outdated, but not all of it.

You can check a page's history to see when the last update was.
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Post Post #181  (isolation #15)  » Fri Nov 23, 2018 5:03 am

In post 177, naturalbreadcrumbs wrote:In a Mountainous set-up, is it really possible for Town players, through only experience and skill, to raise the chances of a correct lynch above random selection? What's the consensus on this? Is Mafia a skill game or are Mafia players really only kidding themselves about the power of scumhunting to actually find scum?

This might sound a bit fatalistic but I was curious since the wiki has this whole thing about WIFOM and how scumtells change all the time and doubts that scumtells really work reliably.

In Nightless games, town consistently do a lot better than they would via random lynching. This pattern doesn't hold in games with a regular nightkill.

The most likely conclusion from this is that although townies can raise the chance of a correct lynch above random, scum are quite good at identifying which townies are thinking along the right lines and nightkilling them.
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Post Post #187  (isolation #16)  » Thu Nov 29, 2018 10:27 am

That sort of reasoning is considered to be nightkill analysis, yes. Votecount analysis would be something like "player A has flipped scum, players B and C were normally very free with their votes but never voted for player A, that's suspicious".

Some people use this sort of analysis more than others. (For example, I normally check to see if someone's votes are consistent with their stated reasoning, but in shorter games, consistently voting town or consistently voting scum are both things that can easily happen to a townie by chance; so in short games, VCA is of limited use, and thus I don't really use it.)
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Post Post #191  (isolation #17)  » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:05 am

In post 189, naturalbreadcrumbs wrote:But doesn't that run into WIFOM problems? If players know that people who mysteriously never voted for scum are likely to be under suspicion, doesn't that mean that they'll just adjust their play so that they vote for their scum teammate earlier in the wagon?

Yes, and VCA fans try to allow for that. For example, many players who are heavily into VCA do things like guessing where scum would likely be on the wagon.

Personally I think regular scumhunting is more useful than VCA for this sort of reason, but analysing votes isn't entirely useless – sometimes when scum try to vote artificially to avoid being caught by VCA, they look scummy simply because the artificiality of their actions comes off in their posts.

On the subject of nightkilli analysis, you normally want to provoke scum into making weird nightkills! That means that the most threatening townies are still alive, giving town a large advantage. So even though it's WIFOM, you need to at least force the scum to consider not making the obvious kill. (As such, I'm more of a fan of nightkill analysis than voting analysis.)
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Post Post #194  (isolation #18)  » Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:58 pm

In support of mastina's point: the biggest thing that determines the relationship between EV and town win rate in practice appears to be the nature of the scum's nightkill.

The more control scum have over who dies, the worse town does relative to EV. (In the extreme – a pure Nightless setup – town win rates tend to be much better than EV.)
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Post Post #200  (isolation #19)  » Tue Jan 15, 2019 6:41 pm

It's possible that some setups will attract particular players. If those players have a particular town/scum bias (e.g. are particularly easy to read, helping town, or are particularly hard to read, helping scum), then that will show up in the setup results.
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Post Post #222  (isolation #20)  » Fri Jul 19, 2019 6:03 pm

Face-to-face/in-person games are more townsided than forum Mafia. This is mostly due to the potential to read someone as town or scum via body language (especially in response to a question directed at them).

Town:scum ratio is something it's hard to talk about in absolute terms because it depends so much on what power roles and mechanics exist. Just under ¼ of the game as scum is common for both face-to-face and forum games, but the amount of power you need to balance that is somewhat different in the two cases (and also depends on the size of the game, e.g. a 7:2 game doesn't need much power to balance it on a forum and likely needs no power to balance it face-to-face, a 10:3 game needs considerably more town power in both cases).
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Post Post #227  (isolation #21)  » Thu Jul 25, 2019 1:54 am

A 4p mylo is way harder on town than a 3p lylo (optimal town play is to give scum an additional kill, which isn't really that great for town), so if you have a normal day/night cycle with one lynch during the day and one kill at night, starting with an odd number gives a more sensible ending.

The relationship doesn't hold if you have a lot of killing/protective roles or a weird day/night cycle. (If you have a small number of killing roles, sometimes evens even works out better than odds.)
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