Scum hunting 101

Where Mafia, the party game, is played with VGF members.

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Cravdraa
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Scum hunting 101

Post by Cravdraa » Sun May 08, 2011 4:05 pm

Okay, so I said a while ago that I'd make a topic with some pointers for how to catch mafia.
What I realized after I said that, is I have no idea how to teach people something like that. :p

So instead of me just talking to myself, listing general pointers and ideas that are either too vauge or specific to be of much use to anyone, let's make this into a discussion topic.

Ask anything about the subject and I'll do my best to answer.
Other members are welcome to chime in too and share what they think on the matter, regardless of experience.

Now to get us started, here's some of those vauge and probably useless pointers:

First off, put time and effort into your search. Catching mafia isn't easy. Even for players like TML, SD, HotD, and myself. If a player is doing a decent job of hiding themself, then you're going to have to work to not only find them, but also build your case against them.
I'd go so far as to say that results are directly proportional to the amount of effort you put forward. You'll notice a lot of the so-called "good" players spend more time than others going over the games. They get more involved. And they get results. However, they also get more involved because they get results. It's exciting to catch mafia. It makes you want to get more involved when you have a success, and that can further motivate you.

Trust yourself and your own judgements. I may or may not seem confident about stuff when I play, but unless it's painfully obvious, I'm usually filled with self doubt and I know I'm not alone in that. But I don't retreat or back down. If I'm uncertain about something, I keep at it until I'm satisfied. I try a different angle or strategy if the one I'm using doesn't seem to be working. You absolutely CAN NOT be afraid to look stupid if you're wrong about something. Of course, you have to keep an open mind to. Be confident about your theories, but don't blind yourself.

Interact with people. The more you talk, and ernestly try to look for mafia, the more other people are going to recognise your effort. Take Kirbyboy2k in TG's recently finished game. I didn't play that game, but I could tell that he was a townie almost right from the start. He was actually trying. He was putting forth the effort and attempting to keep the game moving. He was looking for mafia. He was questioning people. Mafia members can try to fake that, but it only goes so far before it starts to look a little odd and out of place.
Further more, the more you talk and ask people questions, the more you can get a feel for how they're behaving and their attitude towards you. You'll be much more likely to notice if they suddenly change that attitude and start acting under a different set of motives. If you can't think of something to ask, then just ask them about what they think of the game's latest events. Ask them about other players. When they answer, ask them something about that answer. Don't be afraid to stand out as a threat to the mafia.

I was once asked why I was so talkative in these games. Why wasn't I afraid of the mafia killing me? Truth be told, I get quite nervous at night. But activity is it's own defense. I can't count the number of times I've looked at a mafia board post game and seen them discussing whether or not they should kill me after a day that I was a particularly big pain. You know what? About half the time, they decide against it. "He's so obviously town, somebody will probably protect him." they'll say. And the rest of the times, I usually am protected so I live anyway, because when people see you putting forth that sort of effort they want to believe in you and work together with you. Simply put, it works.
Even for somebody like me that other players swear they'll never trust.

That should be enough to get us started. Start asking and commenting on anything you want. Anything you've ever wondered about in one of these games and I'll try to answer.

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Post by Rainbow Dash » Sun May 08, 2011 4:09 pm

protips for being mafia: be townie a lot before you are mafia

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Post by heh » Sun May 08, 2011 5:13 pm

Be assertive and proactive. you don't have to be agressive, but if you putz around the entire day waiting for someone else to bring something suspicious up and only throw on a vote near the end of the day you are barely contributing information.

If you look at vote history... Look at the context of the votes! Vote history by itself, in vaccum, is almost meaningless imo, especially if you only count the final votes and not votes that get switched around. Make sure you know why someone didn't vote. Also, take into account how far along the lynch is when they get voted. Mafia will vote their own people when they think it doesn't matter (because enough townies are going for the lynch to pick up the slack) but unless they are taking a BIG gambit they aren't going to be the guys who got the lynch started.

Alot of mafia make the same mistakes. Some people loooove to lurk as mafia, for instance. But it can be hard to spot them, since town players might have a lurker playstyle or just be busy. The best and most consistent Lurker Scumtell is the lurker who, when called out for lurking, either says "yeah i'm rereading the thread looking for scum right now i'll start playing for real i promise" and then goes back to lurking or the lurker who, when called out for lurking, makes a big "summary" post or parrots another person's argument... and then goes back to lurking. Sometimes town can fall into these traps too, but town will probably actually make an effort to start posting again (or replace out).

Also i plan to make a big post about roleclaiming but here's this: Holy **** mafia LOVE to make unconfirmable roleclaims, or roleclaim their actual mafia ability and sell it as town. This is why people stop voting people who claim cop, and not people who claim bulletproof or roleblocker... because they are "bad" claims.

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Post by Rainbow Dash » Sun May 08, 2011 5:20 pm

heh wrote:Also i plan to make a big post about roleclaiming but here's this: Holy **** mafia LOVE to make unconfirmable roleclaims, or roleclaim their actual mafia ability and sell it as town. This is why people stop voting people who claim cop, and not people who claim bulletproof or roleblocker... because they are "bad" claims.
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Post by The Missing Link » Sun May 08, 2011 6:37 pm

Vote: Chunky because he's obviously scum since he isn't putting forward a lot of time into his posts. ;)
Cravdraa wrote:I'd go so far as to say that results are directly proportional to the amount of effort you put forward.
I agree a lot with this. In the early Mafia games, I did EPIC amounts of research and was very aggressive in going back to earlier arguments, quoting older posts... and building long and lengthy arguments in a topic. You might call this the "Wall o' Text" approach. A lot of times, I pretty much start hitting someone at random with a big argument to see how they respond -- do they get defensive or nervous? Does someone else chime in to start defending them? Who boldly pursues the line of logic? Once you start to get into it, your gut instinct about whether someone is Mafia becomes much more than that -- you actually have evidence. Evidence vs. truthiness; in the end, evidence wins. And evidence will help convince you that your instincts were right all along.
I may or may not seem confident about stuff when I play, but unless it's painfully obvious, I'm usually filled with self doubt and I know I'm not alone in that.
Amen, brother. The interesting bit about the game is you never know 100% whether you're right or not. But rallying the town when you show lack of confidence is somewhat like wrangling cats in that it doesn't work. You have to express confidence in what you're presenting... and know when to back off when you realize that your theory has gone off the rails. Put as a Townie, you have an obligation to the Town to not just back off of a point until you're convinced.

I'm going to go forward and also say that another key element is to consider all of the other alternative theories and don't discard other possible explanations until you're completely certain that they're wrong. One of the interesting theories that got brought up in TG's recent game was whether or not Jailbreaker was actually Mafia, something I'd yet to consider. And while I never ended up pursuing that to its endpoint, there was a very logical conclusion that I *could* pull from it that was true -- if JB was Mafia, then SK could not be Town. Yes, I hadn't considered the possibility of whether there was another Indy in the game (much to my chagrin), but the end conclusion I reached WAS true. If ever stories don't jive with one another, then SOMEONE is lying. (Even if it is the Moderator. :p )
heh wrote:If you look at vote history... Look at the context of the votes! Vote history by itself, in vaccum, is almost meaningless imo, especially if you only count the final votes and not votes that get switched around. Make sure you know why someone didn't vote.
I also wholeheartedly endorse this as well. It's especially good to go back into the past and look at people who are dead but got off of the chopping block earlier. Remember that the Mafia KNOW most people's alignments in the game, and so if there was a bandwagon against a Mafiat that got abandoned at some point (and then the Mafiat later died), who started that bandwagon and why? Who joined it and why? The final vote counts against Mafiosi are going to have Mafiosi in it, yes, but it's a rare day when a Mafiat is going to be the first or second person calling for their lynch. (There are exceptions, but if it's not super obvious, then it's unlikely.)
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Post by The Amazing Tazy Ten » Sun May 08, 2011 9:01 pm

I tend to be kind of paranoid to some respect, but sometimes this paranoia is absolutely correct, like with TG in MMORPG Mafia. Conversation is always the key to these games, so you have to get people talking, and about anything.

"Fearmongering" and "WIFOM" can also be quite annoying, because it's a whole lot of assumptions that go nowhere, and that's what usually sets my Mafia meter off. "If I come up town you're gonna get lynched tomorrow", "If you lynch me, you will lose because you need my ability to win.", "If I were scum I'd do the opposite." It never sits right with me.

Also, don't feel like you need to come up with your own reasons for voting someone every time. Bandwagoning can be both good and bad, and unless the person being voted on can prove he's town, than there's no reason to unvote just because someone chimes in to say everyone is bandwagoning. Just pay attention and make sure your votes go where you believe they should, and not just because someone says you should.

At least, this is what I think.

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Post by ZeldaGirl » Sun May 08, 2011 10:21 pm

I have found that in more recent games, my ability to find mafia has greatly diminished from, Zelda Mafia 4, where I managed to figure out who most of them were. It goes with what has been said above - how much time you spend investing in the game really affects performance. In games when I haven't been as interested in rereading through posts, or posting a lot, my performance suffered.


BUT, I think it's important to remember that not everyone can be a rockstar every game. Because in the end, it IS just a game, and you shouldn't let it consume your life, especially not to the point where you get tetchy with other players outside of the game (and I admit I've done that). Bottom line, if you have the time to invest, GO FOR IT. If not, don't pressure yourself to play for the wrong reasons. Have fun! :)

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Post by Rainbow Dash » Sun May 08, 2011 10:29 pm

1) going sort of with what zg said, it's just a game. don't be afraid to mislynch first day! mislynch is better than nolynch because it gives you just that much more to work with. take for example cyor mafia that just finished, not lynching the first two days really killed their chances. it wasn't until day 3 when i stepped up with the choice of vote, along with tg's plurality lynch scheme that anything started happening. the town probably would've had a better chance of winning if a lynch had happened on either of days 1 and 2.

2) do not try to metagame. just because tg has been mafia a lot and i have been town almost exclusively does not mean that that is the alignment someone has! this falls in line with the gambler's folly, wherein someone MUST be due for a big win! everyone has an equal chance of being mafia in every game. do not discount someone just because they have a past record!

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Post by Cravdraa » Sun May 08, 2011 10:53 pm

Umm, Chunky, that's not really the meaning of metagaming. I mean, it is and it isn't. Meta Gaming is ANY observation made or action you might take without looking at the game as a vacuum. And yeah, it should probably be avoided by most people for most reasons.

Also, I totally disagree with the day 1 lynch. It's a tactic. but if you look at the history here on VGF, usually when there's been a day one lynch the mafia has won. But let's not turn this into an argument on day one lynches.

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Post by Rainbow Dash » Sun May 08, 2011 10:55 pm

i meant it as an example of a facet that is most common!!

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Post by ZeldaGirl » Sun May 08, 2011 11:18 pm

I think the more general example would be: don't be afraid to make a decision because of the possible outcomes. Don't be afraid of being wrong; just playing the game, even if you occasionally make bad decisions, is more fun than not doing anything. :)


EDIT: that being said, if you CHOOSE to not lynch day one, that's fine; you're playing the game, and are actively invested (rather than letting the game play you). And if you choose to not lynch on day one, I fully support you because that is always the best plan if you are town. ;)

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Post by The Missing Link » Sun May 08, 2011 11:22 pm

The solution to the Day One problem isn't necessarily to lynch.

The solution is to talk. And talk. And talk.
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Post by Rainbow Dash » Sun May 08, 2011 11:25 pm

the best case scenario is to talk and talk and then lynch. this way everyone's happy!

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Post by The Missing Link » Sun May 08, 2011 11:41 pm

Rainbow Dash wrote:2) do not try to metagame. just because tg has been mafia a lot and i have been town almost exclusively does not mean that that is the alignment someone has! this falls in line with the gambler's folly, wherein someone MUST be due for a big win! everyone has an equal chance of being mafia in every game. do not discount someone just because they have a past record!
Metagaming isn't entirely that, but that said, I think metagaming DOES have some uses here.

Chunkster, I have NEVER on my life seen you do as daring a play as you did on Day Three of TG's Mafia. Was that because this was your first time as Mafia and you wanted to make a play? Or have you just been waiting for a long time to get comfortable in that role of leader? Because as a forever-Townie, you've never really stepped up to the plate like that. And now as Mafia, you acted different. Does that mean you're not Town? Or can I assume nothing?

If someone has obvious scumtells (you've seen them play both sides and they behave differently), metagaming is okay. It's by no means conclusive on its own, but then again, nothing in Mafia is really a slam dunk thing. :)
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Post by heh » Sun May 08, 2011 11:45 pm

the solution is to talk. and then lynch so you have some sort of base to put the talk on.

Night actions are not a good basis to try to kick off a real discussion on. No lynch is literally a worse outcome then lynching the cop day one (which should never happen because the cop can claim). because day two will be just as stagnate as day one. And we all know day one sucks and is unfun.

There's no question of likelyhood to lynch mafia. Everyone can see that your likelyhood of hitting mafia d1 is very low even without considering its piss easy to not get targeted for a lynch on day one. But it doesn't matter because the game has actually been started and you have a basis for your next lynch, your next night actions and every lynch and night action thereafter. This is way more important then one town, even the cop.

also lol at chunky on day 3 being "daring"

"guys lets actually lynch a dude. these two are generally agreed to be the most suspicious. lynch one. i'm choosing this guy. LOOK AT HOW DARING I AM"

he didn't even make, like, a case.

not that it wasn't a great play but lol

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Post by Rainbow Dash » Sun May 08, 2011 11:47 pm

The Missing Link wrote:Chunkster, I have NEVER on my life seen you do as daring a play as you did on Day Three of TG's Mafia. Was that because this was your first time as Mafia and you wanted to make a play? Or have you just been waiting for a long time to get comfortable in that role of leader? Because as a forever-Townie, you've never really stepped up to the plate like that. And now as Mafia, you acted different. Does that mean you're not Town? Or can I assume nothing?
you'll recall a similar situation from your MMORPGFPSBBQ Mafia, actually! i tried to do it then but there were far too many people busy shouting at each other to listen to me. the reason i did it was actually pretty much tg nudging me to get the game going a bit. he didn't want a day 3 stagnation, too. the choice lynch thing came from somewhere, and i'll actually be going into some detail about it when tg gets around to posting cycle 3 comments in his thread

e: here's the instance in mmorpgetc mafia

e2: i posted some more about THE PLAN on the top of page 41 for cyor mafia

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Post by The Missing Link » Mon May 09, 2011 1:03 am

Y'know, it's so easy to forget all of the details of your own Mafia game. Especially when you're busy being a player in it as well. XD
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Post by Calamity Panfan » Mon May 09, 2011 8:52 pm

Protip: 9/10 times I'm in a Mafia game, Panfan is Mafia.

LYNCHING HIM IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA
and that's the waaaaaaaaaay the news goes

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Post by Rainbow Dash » Mon May 09, 2011 11:03 pm

no panfan this goes against everything i said stop that

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Post by Cravdraa » Mon May 09, 2011 11:24 pm

Sorry little pony, but panfan's argument seems somehow more credible.

You know, it just occured to me that this is the one time you didn't get lynched.
I'm... honestly not sure what leason we should take away from that.

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