This general guide highlights the fundamental themes of the game of mafia. It is not designed as an advanced guide to playing mafia, though it should serve as a nice refresher for everyone regardless of experience level. For a more advanced guide, see Ver’s TL Mafia XXX analysis. As a general note, just because a section is labeled Town or Mafia doesn't mean it isn't useful to the opposing team. There are tips in all the sections that benefit all players even if you don't share the same alignment.
Table of Contents
I. Overview of the Game
- What is Mafia?
- Why play Mafia? What is required to play?
- Why forum Mafia? Why play on TL?
- How do I join a game? What are the different types of games?
- Defining Mafia Characteristics
- Priority #1: Establishing Your Innocence
- Reading the Thread
- Blue Roles/Roleclaims
- Bad Townie or Mafia?
- Balance: Survival v. Pushing Your Agenda
- How to Argue Your Way Out of a Lynch
- Team Organization
- Kill Strategy
- Post Strategy
- Team Organization
I. Overview of the Game
What is Mafia?
To put very simply, Mafia is a game of lying. There is a group of people, some of them are lying and some are telling the truth. Your job is to figure out who is lying, or if you are lying to convince the rest of the group that you are telling the truth.
To elaborate, the game is divided into two teams: the town and mafia. Mafia know who each other are and can coordinate their actions privately. Townies on the other hand don't know anything other than their own role. To compensate, there are many more townies than mafia; usually the ratio is 1 mafia for every 4 townies. In other words, Mafia is a game of an informed minority against an uninformed majority. Can the mafia use its superior organization and knowledge to lead the town astray? Or can the town figure out the mafia and kill them before their numbers advantage runs out?
At the beginning of the game you are PM'ed your role. The game is divided into two repeating phases: day and night. Days last 48 hours and revolve around deciding a lynch target by means of voting. Every player in the game gets one vote, and each player must argue and convince the others to lynch their target. At the end of the day the person with the most votes is lynched; their alignment and role are revealed and they are removed from the game. The majority of the action in the game takes place during the day phase.
Night is 24 hours long and is reserved for private actions. Any player in the game that has an ability (such as mafia kills, detective checks, medic protections, etc.) can use their power in this phase. Usually during the night everyone discusses the results of the lynch and makes plans for the next day. It serves as downtime from the emotionally charged days. After the night ends, a day post comes up with the results of who dies. After the day post, the discussion for lynch begins anew.
Once there is a winner, everyone will typically weigh in on the game with their thought process and advice. Many times the hosts or observers will contribute their thoughts as well.
Why play Mafia? What is required to play?
Mafia is a game of logic, intuition, persuasiveness, reading ability, emotion, and will. In short, its a thinking man's game. There are many different ways to approach the game and every game is a very different experience. Whether you are looking to test and improve your intelligence or have a unique, fun experience, Mafia is the right game for you.
Be warned: Mafia requires a time commitment. This generally depends on the player, but at minimum 1 to 2 hours a day of solid effort is required. Some players spend as much as 8 or 10 hours a day playing Mafia. More time spent gives you a better chance at making the right decisions, but you can do a very acceptable job with just 1 to 2 hours a day. Mafia games typically last between 1 and 2 weeks, but usually you will die at some point before it ends.
As part of the time commitment, mafia requires a great deal of reading. Most people actually are very poor at reading comprehension and playing Mafia is a great way at improving your reading ability. As you also must be posting each cycle, Mafia is a good way to improve your writing and ability to think and argue logically.
In addition, mafia is not for the faint-hearted or overly emotional. While not occurring every game, sometimes people can get into very heated arguments with one another. People can get very emotional playing Mafia, as it is a high-intensity endeavour. That being said, playing Mafia is an excellent way for developing thick skin, improving your patience, and making yourself a stronger person mentally. In addition, there's an unspoken rule that arguments are kept in the game. After the game is over and everyone cools down, there is rarely any bad blood. Some people may be harsher than others, but almost everyone is here to help each other learn and improve.
Why forum Mafia? Why play on TL?
Many people have played mafia in real life and wonder how you can play it online. After all, real life games are in a much shorter period, with no accurate information logging, and let you interact in a more informative medium than text. To put it simply, yes you can play mafia online without any problems. No, it is not quite the same and you will need to adjust your approach and play slightly.
In forum mafia, you have the ability to view logs over a period of days instead of relying on memory during a chaotic 20 minutes. You find mafia by analyzing motives, objectives for posting, and closely scrutinizing what people write. Naturally arguments are more sterile as it is based solely on cold text.
Think of the difference between forum and real life mafia as this: for the former, imagine a detective hard at work, pouring over reports, speeches, and witnesses trying to solve a murder; in the latter case, a detective grills someone in an interrogation room and tries to outwit or break them. Both have their perks and while the overall goal is the same, both require different skill sets to master.
As a magnified version of TL, this is a tight-knit community. Many players are long-time members, and you’ll frequently be playing games with the same people. Like a real mafia, we watch out for our own.
How do I join a game? What are the different types of games?
If you want to join a game, just wait until the next game is unveiled and type /in. Usually if you check the forum once every other day or so you won't miss out on anything coming up. You can check the active mafia games list at at the top of the forum to see what games are coming up soon. Be warned: some games, especially by certain hosts, are very popular and tend to fill up fast.
The amount of games going on depends on activity, but the goal is to have between two or three games simultaneously happening. Do your part and help make this happen!
There are three different types of games: normal, themed, and mini. Normal games are the mainstay of the forum. They typically have 20 to 30 players, and the rule sets only differ slightly between games. If you sign up for a normal game, you know what you're getting into. Setups will almost always have a good degree of balance and you can expect to have a fair shot at winning no matter which side you are on. Normal games are where the highest level of play and activity is. If you want competition, this is where it’s at.
Themed games encompass a wide variety of types. Usually they have unique roles, flavor, and game mechanics. Many hosts like to try their pet setups or whatever kooky idea they came up with. As such, theme games tend to hit or miss. There have been some very good ones, and some complete busts. Since the setups can be strange, there are usually opportunities to win by thinking outside the box and developing unique strategies.
Mini games are special 9 to 15 player setups which may be normal or themed. Since there are a smaller number of players, there is generally less to read and fewer players you will have to analyze. However this means that there is more pressure on you to fulfill your role, as one person represents a higher percentage of the total players than in a normal game.
Defining Mafia Characteristics
When looking to catch mafia, remember that the mafia are playing the stalling game. They do not care if they are eventually caught, as long as they must survive long enough while forcing the town to make errors. Thus, mafia actions can generally be split into two rough categories:
- A. Survival
- Hiding/Blending in
- Posting long but contentless posts
- Not wanting to point fingers
- Avoiding responsibility
- Apathy about who is lynched*
- Hiding/Blending in
- B. Pushing their agenda
- Promoting confusion
- Avoiding contributing new ideas
- Making a big deal about nothing
- Cherry Picking town mistakes while ignoring contributions
- Promoting confusion
Before diving into the details it’s important to note that, while not all mafia players look the same, there are some common traits that can be used as starting points for your investigation.
In general, mafia don’t blatantly make “slips” that allow you to find them through any one given post, but you will often find one critical sentence or post that is the key to unraveling their motives. Not all of a player’s posts will give off mafia vibes, and it is an important skill to be able to identify which important posts give away a players’ true colors. What you must be looking at is not necessarily what people do, but how they do it. This means it is critical to read and re-read a player’s posts in order to look for context and motive.
On the survival side, mafia generally try to blend in. The easiest job for the mafia is when they get to sit and watch the town kill themselves, as townies have a natural inclination to kill people who stick out in the crowd.
In order to blend in with the town, mafia need to appear to be interested in the town agenda. Thus, they may often feign usefulness while contributing nothing of value to the discussion. This allows the mafia to appear pro-town without compromising the mafia agenda. Methods that mafia employ to do this include: rephrasing old arguments, posting random lists of people (town or scum), or summarizing recent events.
Lurking is another tactic often employed by mafia when the town is disinterested or inactive. When the town isn’t actively working to root out the mafia, the mafia have no need to actively mislead the town and thus can simply sit back and grab the easy win. In this scenario, you will likely find multiple scum hiding among the inactives while passively agreeing with the lynch or opposing it without any real attempt at stopping it. However, lurking is only one potential indicator, and doesn’t conclusively prove that a player is mafia. Townies can often go inactive, so use this cautiously as a prompt for further investigation.
Indecision and a conspicuous lack of finger-pointing are also key mafia traits because of their perceived need to keep their story straight and avoid self-contradictions. Naturally, if they don’t take any definite positions, they have nothing to defend or be consistent with in the future. Furthermore, mafia feel uncomfortable pointing out whom they think is mafia, because they are always conscious of the fact that they cannot give an impartial answer. Not accusing anyone also helps them avoid being thrust into the spotlight in the future. Look for people who are acting like politicians and trying too hard to keep their options open.
Especially in the early game, it is likely that no mafia will be up for lynch. In this case, the mafia don’t really have a motive for pushing one lynch over another, and even if they wish to avoid appearing indecisive, still do not want to be blamed for a townie’s death. Thus, a typical mafia error is to show apathy in a lynch both to avoid responsibility and blend in with the town.
So now that we’ve outlined some ways of how the mafia attempt to survive, how do you spot them pushing their agenda?
The mafia’s goal is to force enough town mistakes to ensure a win. This is generally accomplished by overloading the town with useless information and promoting an atmosphere of confusion, doubt, emotion, and a lack of transparency and direction. Try to look for players who are content to stir the pot and do not try to provide clarity or direction to the town.
Priority #1: Establishing Your Innocence
So, you know how to look for mafia and are ready to smoke them out. But unfortunately, just knowing how to find mafia is not good enough. The other part of the equation is convincing the town that you’ve found them. While you may be correct, it takes more than your own vote to properly seal the deal and kill off the mafia.
As a townie, your number 1 priority is to establish your innocence.
Why? Establishing your innocence does three things:
- It gives you a credible platform from which you can push your agenda
- It reduces the mafia’s options for pushing their agenda - they can’t attack you without some serious consequences
- It reduces the number of viable mafia candidates - if the town thinks you are innocent that’s one less person to worry about
1) It is hard to get people to listen to you if they are unsure of your motives. There are times where townies will ignore persuasive evidence based on an (irrational) fear that you might be pulling the wool over their eyes. Establishing your innocence allows you to focus on hunting the mafia instead of wasting energy defending yourself.
2) Very often, the mafia spreads doubt by inflating the importance of town mistakes. By establishing your innocence, you deny mafia the chance to attack you.
3) Sometimes the best way to find the mafia is by figuring out who isn't mafia. Every player who establishes their innocence gives the mafia less room to hide. The more people acting in obviously innocent ways, the more exposed the mafia become. Furthermore, if you can ensure that you won’t be the lynch target, you increase the town’s chances of lynching correctly and ensure that they don't get distracted debating your innocence.
How do you establish your innocence? It is difficult to define parameters for this, but a good start is to know what benefits town, and act on it. As in the previous section, the town benefits from clarity, transparency, and direction. Try to contribute to these goals in whatever way possible. When you post, make sure there is a clear purpose to your post. Don’t repeat points of what other people have mentioned. Read the entire thread before posting, and don’t go back to old points unless you have something new to add to the discussion. Offer conclusions and clear opinions in your posts instead of rehashing information or being indecisive.
Reading the Thread
When reading the thread, make sure you are not caught up in the moment. This is a forum with dynamic discussion, not a novel. Reading the thread in chronological fashion will therefore likely lead to confusion and a lack of focus. Because people are reading the thread at different times and will often post their thoughts without considering if the topic is exhausted, certain controversial issues can get dragged out in the thread and become disproportionately visible compared to their actual significance.
Catch up on reading as much as possible. The more you have to read, the more difficult it is to stay on top of the game.
Remember that re-reading is very important part of mafia. Every time a player dies, his alignment is revealed. Go back and re-read everything said by and about that player with this new information. This is especially important when a town-aligned player gets lynched.
- Step 1: Get a general idea of what major events are occurring in the thread.
- Step 2: Identify the major actors in these events. Who are the “spotlight” characters? Who is pushing the big issues? Who is avoiding the big issues?
- Step 3: Assign responsibility. Which players are directing the flow of the thread?
- Step 4: Positioning: What is a player trying to accomplish in their posts? Where are they headed?
It is very easy to make a mistake on step 4 and fall into thinking that you are drawing evidence from the data when in fact you are making too many simplifications about certain behaviors. If there are multiple ways to explain someone’s behavior, consider all of them instead of jumping to the one that suggests that they are mafia.
Don’t read too many posts in succession without stepping back to see the whole picture. Going on a thread reading marathon tends to make you focus too much on the present and will wear you out, especially if there is a lot of spam and useless discussion. It can also blind you to the smaller but more critical details of the thread.
Posting in the Thread
A. General Posting Strategy
Being an obvious innocent is worth a lot more than being an active but confused poster. Don’t babble. If you speak without having a clear goal in mind, you impede the town and decrease everyone else’s productivity. This paralyzes town analysis and decision-making and allows mafia to hide in the chaos. You don’t have to be a super-active poster to prove your innocence or be useful to the town.
You do not need to be useful in an active and eye-popping way. Perhaps due to historical inactivity, TL Mafia players seem to have an unnatural urge to post everything that comes to mind in an attempt to avoid inactivity and keep the ball rolling. However, there are worse things than inactivity, and a game can hardly be called active if it is only the same 8 people repeating themselves in the thread. Your primary goal should be post quality rather than quantity. The game thread is not twitter. You don’t have to reply to every post or question you see with “@PlayerName”.
You should not post without a plan or agenda. The more obvious your agenda is, the easier it is for people to see your innocence. Make sure there is a purpose to every post. You should never post reflexively or impulsively. The content of your posts should flow together naturally while indicating “I am helping the town”.
Mafia is a game where it is not uncommon to draw multiple conclusions from the same facts. Make sure your “analysis” is clearly drawn from the facts rather than superficially pointing out irrelevant facts to prop up your theory. Do not fall into confirmation bias by believing so strongly in your conclusions that you twist every possible thing your target says to support your case and ignore evidence that contradicts your conclusion.
When digging for information, don’t just ask the direct questions expecting the answer you want to hear. The mafia are obviously not going to want to answer the way you’d like them to. Don’t ask questions hoping for a slip-up; ask questions intending to force the mafia to give up information. Before asking a question, you must have a realistic expectation of what the answer will be. Many townies ask open-ended or direct questions that have zero chance of bringing out useful information. You must predict the answers to the questions before asking them in order to avoid pointless questions. Don’t repetitively ask questions unless you know you can accurately process the information you receive.
One common phenomenon these days is that people spam the question “what do you think of player X?” or “what do you think of the current situation?”. These questions can certainly get a player to respond, but the broadness of the question doesn’t really force out information. In many cases, it just invites people to post already stated opinions and leads to more spam.
Just because someone makes stupid posts does not mean they are mafia. Oftentimes, the people who make the blatantly bad posts are not really mafia; they are just careless townies. Townies are frequently bored, while the mafia are not. On the other hand, townies usually aren’t afraid to post, while the mafia are. When you are considering whether a post was made by a mafia or a townie, make sure to consider the motivations behind the words. If you end up thinking that the player is mafia, go back and ask yourself if there is a possible townie explanation for a player’s posts. If some sort of reasonable explanation exists, it is okay to go forward with your accusation, but don’t go overboard. Many townies have been lynched by overzealous townies who convinced themselves that their target was mafia, even though there was plenty of doubt as to their actual alignment.
B. What Not to Post
Refrain from posting insults, spam, and 1 liners. Contrary to what you may think, insulting people is a good way to ensure that people won’t listen to you.
Stray away from subjective and speculative posting. Draw conclusions from facts rather than making the facts fit your desired conclusion.
Don’t argue with your target. They are never going to agree with you, so you are just taking up space. If it appears that your target is convincing the town not to vote for them, re-evaluate. If you are still confident in your analysis, focus on convincing the other townies. You want to intimidate your target and convince the town, not the other way around.
Don’t try to say everything. Don’t respond to every point. (This means don’t post an analysis quoting all of your target’s posts!) This muddles your agenda and clutters up the thread. Stick to the important points.
Don’t repeat yourself unless your original statement was spammed out the first time (which also means, don’t spam your own points into oblivion).
If you find yourself saying: “It's reasonable to assume that...”, stop. Especially when followed by “the mods [would/wouldn’t]...” These types of assumptions can be fatal and could potentially lead to a loss if the town pursues this type of witch hunt for too long. It's best just to never start in the first place.
As a townie, you may think that you have no power. The power to vote may sound boring but, if used correctly, can be very influential.
Do not throw a vote around nonchalantly. Just like your posting, make sure your voting is also deliberate. Your vote should convincingly express your opinion and intimidate the mafia. Votes are not be something to be ignored. If you are not using a vote to express that player X is 100% mafia, you should be using it to draw out information. You may be surprised how well votes force people to talk. Seeing how people react to your vote also gives you an indication of what bandwagons people are willing to jump on.
Generally, two types of lynching systems are used in TL Mafia games: majority lynch and plurality lynch. It is important to distinguish between the two as each system calls for different strategies from the town and the mafia.
In a plurality lynch system, the player with the most votes is lynched, regardless of whether or not he had a majority of the votes. This system encourages people to vote according to their own reads and promotes polycentric discussion among multiple candidates. In contrast, in a majority lynch system, a player is only lynched when he obtains a majority of the total votes. This system promotes a focus on fewer targets and forces a consensus in order to lynch.
A common misconception in a majority lynch system is that no-lynch is bad due to the notion that flips are the only source of information. While flips are useful in confirming information, there are many cases where it is clear that town is bandwagoning a player and will lead to a mislynch. In most cases, a bandwagon lynch on a townie is not going to produce any useful information. Without serious competition for a lynch target, the mafia don’t have any incentive to either jump on or stay off the bandwagon. Unless there is insurmountable evidence that the target is mafia, a quick bandwagon usually suggests that the player is town. Don’t be afraid to no-lynch in this situation. Going with the flow and agreeing to bandwagon a townie stifles discussion and allows the mafia to coast through the day without giving up any information. It is better to force the discussion and risk a no-lynch than to go along with an obvious town bandwagon. Do not use the excuse that “Player X is a useless player, so I’m ok with lynching him” as an excuse to jump on a bandwagon. While it may be true that the elimination of Player X won’t significantly hurt the town, wasting an entire day’s discussion certainly does. Lynching useless or bad players isn’t necessarily bad, but never let it happen without discussion. Unless there is a convincing case that someone is mafia, finding useful information should be prioritized over lynching. Thus you should only lynch a useless or bad player if there is a decent likelihood they are mafia or if they are actively hurting the town.
As stated earlier, always vote deliberately. However, this does not mean that you should always say why you are voting the way you are. Never reveal that you are pressure voting, as this destroys its effectiveness. Refrain from saying that you are “pressure voting” or “policy voting”.
As the game progresses and people start to flip, reread the vote lists to see who voted for these dead people. This is especially important when a mafia gets lynched, as fellow mafia members may have voted elsewhere to try to save their buddy, or they may have jumped on the bandwagon to look innocent. If the vote count is very close, the mafia will probably be on the other lynch candidate to attempt to save their fellow mafia. On the other hand, if the lynch was an overwhelming majority, the mafia will probably have voted for their buddy to try to blend in with the town. Typically mafia try to spread out their votes as much as possible to avoid being connected to one another if they have no vested interest in the lynch.
Blue Roles and Roleclaiming
A. Blue Roles
When you find out that you have a blue role, the general knee-jerk reaction is that you are too important to the town to risk being lynched or shot by the mafia. This can cause people with blue roles to lurk and exhibit posts that suggest “fear”. However, a good player with a blue role will appear exactly like he is a townie, though this is not easy to do. When you have a blue role, you should be posting as if you are a townie. The only difference is that you are more well-informed than other townies. Use that knowledge to aid the town without letting a feeling of your importance as a blue role alter your posting habits.
As a general rule, normal townies should not attempt to direct blue roles or try to find out who is blue and who is not. Town power roles work better if the mafia are uncertain of what the blue roles will do. It is not uncommon for the mafia to have anti-blue roles such as roleblockers, medics, framers, etc. Therefore, if the mafia has a general idea that the medic will protect X, or the DT will check Y, they are free to mess with those actions if they feel it to be necessary. Do not make medic lists, DT lists, or vig lists, as they are generally unhelpful or even detrimental to the town. As long as you are doing a good job of posting constructively and sharing your suspicions, good blue roles who are reading the thread should have the information to know what to do. Don’t direct their actions just because you suspect they are incompetent.
Recent games have had the not uncommon phenomenon where a player will “catch” someone on a “blue slip”. Besides “blue slips” like this generally being incorrect and distracting the town, there is no reason for a townie to reveal who they suspect is blue. If someone is blue, then the last thing you want to do is announce it to the whole thread, as if you’re right you just made the mafia’s job a whole lot easier.
Should the game include PMs, do not privately roleclaim to anyone unless you are absolutely certain they are innocent or if you need someone to act as your mouth in the thread. The outcome of many games will revolve on the status of a “blue circle”. Be very cautious of people in the circle as mafia will almost always have an infiltrator.
Playing each of the more common blue roles should be handled in a simple manner. Medics should protect people who are making sense in the thread. Vigilantes should shoot players who are anti-town or lurkers. Detectives should be finding mafia and not using their powers to confirm people as town.
If you are in a tough spot and are thinking about roleclaiming, stop and then think again. Roleclaiming should never be taken lightly, especially if the game setup is closed or if the mafia has powers that can sabatoge your role. Do not roleclaim out of a panic just because you have a few votes for you. If you are truly town, you should be trying to argue your way out of a lynch, not needlessly giving up information on your role. Chances are, if you are truly that suspicious, your claim won’t be taken seriously anyway.
If you are roleclaiming, why are you doing it? How does the town benefit from your claim? If there is no clear benefit to your claim, then don’t claim. Claiming that you have a town check on player X just because player X is beginning to get votes is not a good reason to claim. Claiming that you took a hit last night as town is always good, since it is (usually) information that the mafia already has, and the mafia usually cannot take advantage of this information anyway. Claiming that you shot player X as a vig after the fact is usually a good claim if you have no shots left, especially if you hit a red, as you bring new information to the table that the mafia cannot punish.
Unfortunately, in many games, people roleclaim needlessly for bad reasons. Unless there is a clear method to confirm a roleclaim or the claim brings other game changing information to the table (for example, a red check), put it away to discuss/resolve later. A poorly thought-out roleclaim coming in the middle of the day is very disruptive to the thread and can cause the town to lose focus, resulting in much unneeded drama and ill informed lynches.
Survival v. Pushing Your Agenda
As mafia, you are playing a stalling game. But survival MUST be balanced with pushing your agenda if you are to successfully gain the advantage. A common mistake of newer mafia players is that they emphasize surviving at all costs without giving consideration to furthering their own agenda.
So, what is the mafia agenda? It is primarily to prevent the town from gathering critical information and realizing what is going on. Thus, the mafia benefits from an atmosphere of chaos, confusion, and lack of clarity.
At the start of the game, you possess the information advantage over the town. Use this to your advantage and don’t give it up lightly. Sometimes, mafia will give up information to appear pro-town, when in fact that information later comes back to haunt them as town puts the pieces together.
When you are about to reveal a piece of information (such as a role claim, hit claim, etc.), you should ask yourself how this claim benefits your agenda. If your claim casts suspicion on a player or doubt on a situation, while making you appear like you are trying to figure things out, then by all means claim. However, if you are not currently under heavy suspicion and your only answer is “it makes me look pro-town”, it is probably not a good idea to reveal the information.
As mafia, you may often see that townies who are generally accepted as “pro-town” early in the game can hold a disproportional influence over the town. You might think to yourself, “We need to prevent that from happening, or at least, become that person”. The first part of that statement is correct; the second is not.
Although the temptation of appearing to be the most “pro-town” player may be great, you often cannot hold this status for long enough as mafia for it to truly benefit you. Town players who gain the “pro-town” status usually are able to hold onto it because their motives are consistent throughout the game. However, as a mafia, the longer the game goes, the harder it will be to keep your story straight, and the easier it will be for you to lose your status. In other words, “town credit” decays over the course of the game. Against a competent town, don’t expect that you can set yourself up for a free win by acting too pro-town early in the game. Many newer players will often erroneously overvalue town credit. In reality, town credit is very fickle and lynches are seldom based solely on someone's town credit.
Even if your team isn’t thinking “We must get the perfect win”, it is often difficult to get out of the mindset of “If one of us is lynched, we are all doomed!” While it is nice to have more members alive, it ultimately doesn’t matter if you win with 2 or 10 members remaining at the endgame. One of the most difficult, yet most overlooked, decisions as mafia is choosing whether or not to defend a teammate.
The weakness of an active mafia team can usually be traced to the decision-making process with regard to defending teammates. When attacked, many mafia will usually react on the fly without thinking things through. They may not be able to accurately judge how much support an accusation may get, and thus are not quick enough to decide what is the best course of action. This is a mistake you want to avoid. Before giving your opinion on one of your fellow mafia members, the most critical step is to assess the presented case. Do not mindlessly jump in and defend or waver over an indefensible accusation, as it may implicate you in a future lynch. On the other extreme, do not simply sit there and watch a teammate die if the case is weak. When town makes a weak or questionable case, you should feel free to logically pick apart their case, as even if the target flips red, you should be able pass off the previous accusation as logically weak.
How to Argue Your Way Out of a Lynch
There is never a concrete or easy way to avoid getting lynched. Nevertheless, be calm and logical when defending yourself against accusations. Don’t immediately accuse your attacker for voting you. Oftentimes a person will get lynched for overreacting to the accusations. Remember that you do not need to convince everyone (including your attacker) that you are innocent, just enough people to save yourself from being lynched. You only need a small majority of the town to think you are worth keeping alive. Better yet is when you can get other townies to vouch for your innocence. Small but vocal groups can be influential to turning lynches around. It is easy to think that you are doomed because the entire town is voting you off. While this may be the case, usually it is only a few people who are actively pushing the lynch. Gaining favor with a few influential players is usually a better strategy than attempting to persuade each individual voter, whose reasons may simply be that they agree with one of your vocal accusers.
If one of your mafia buddies is being attacked, do not freak out and immediately defend them. However, do not totally ignore the case against them either, as you will only look suspicious should they get killed. Generally, there are two things you can do to help ease the focus off your ally. You can either dismiss the case by attacking it head on (i.e., dismissing the accusations as fallacious), or distracting the town (i.e., bringing up another subject, or proposing an alternative target). In keeping with the above advice, determine how strong the case against your ally actually is and plan accordingly. Sometimes, a combination of the two works best. If the case is weak, you can often get away with acknowledging it then quickly dismissing it while moving on to a different topic.
When you have limited KP and multiple targets you wish to eliminate, it is important to prioritize your kills.
- Posters that are making sense and are on the right track
- Townies that are known for being dangerous analysts
- Blue roles (especially DTs and Medics)
- Confirmed townies
Your first priority is to kill players who are on the right track. As mafia, you need to stall and keep the town in the dark. Just because a player may not be the town leader doesn’t mean their ideas cannot be influential. Kill players who are on the right track above all else; otherwise it will come back to bite you. Do not take the unnecessary risk of thinking that “I can outargue this player”. Though a player may not currently have clout in the game due to early lackluster performance, all it takes is a good post or two to sway the town and shift the momentum of the game.
Your second priority is to focus on players who are traditionally strong town analysts. These players have a serious possibility of ruining your game if they end up being able to get their reads right. If there are no players who are presently on the right track, it is usually a safe bet to shoot one of these strong analysts. While these players have varying styles of play, don’t wait until they are correct in order to shoot them. Some of these players hide their reads until they come out with an ironclad case - in which case you are too late. Other players may be wrong initially, but will eventually piece things together and swing things against your favor if you leave them alone for too long. Shoot these players before they ever get to that point.
Your third priority is to kill dangerous blue roles. As the game goes on longer, blue roles tend to have a larger effect. DT investigations become stronger when compared against all the other information in the thread, while remaining medics in a smaller pool of players makes a game-changing save more likely. Roleclaims also become more powerful and compelling when matched with good gameplay. If you choose to ignore the blue roles, they will eventually come back to haunt you. Thus, when there are no bigger kill priorities, you should attempt to shoot blue roles, as this not only reduces the threat of late game blue roles, but demoralizes the town. Hunting for blue roles is somewhat complex and is beyond the scope of this guide, but in general, a newbie blue mistake is to hide and express fear of becoming a high profile target. As a start, blue players are ones who are not really aggressive in the thread, but still try to contribute to the town without sticking their neck out. Also, blue players often have a habit of talking about and discussing the rules pertaining to their role.
Lastly, it is important to kill off confirmed town players. Especially as the endgame approaches, live confirmed townies are a headache because you know you won’t be able to get them lynched. Unless they are actively sabotaging the town by having a bunch of followers blindly following their incorrect reads, keeping these players alive isn’t going to do you much good. They’ve already been eliminated from the pool of potential mafia candidates, and it's better to keep the townies suspicious of each other rather than letting one confirmed townie lead them all.
As with town, make sure that there is a purpose behind every post. You want to keep the town confused while avoiding responsibility for it. When deciding how and what to post, you need to consider how the town is doing and react accordingly. Is the town being dominated by aggressive players, active posters, thoughtful posters, or inquisitive posters? Are the players generally cooperating on figuring things out, or is there a lot of tension and drama in the thread? The more things go the town’s way, the more important it is to intervene and cloud the thread. You do not want to play passively as mafia if the town is laying the foundation for a good town atmosphere.
When the town is allowed to focus on one or two key topics at a time (without the same points being repeated over and over), then the town is in a strong place. Lack of doubt, inflammatory posting, and strong town leadership must be avoided. Here are some of the things mafia can do to steer the town in the wrong direction:
- Incite active or aggressive players to do the work for you. If you can get a player emotionally invested enough in one train of thought, they can likely cause the chaos you need without linking you directly to the bad atmosphere. If something goes wrong, the town will generally blame the most vocal and aggressive person, even if someone else was really behind the chaos. By letting other townies do the work for you, you allow them to take the fall when town realizes they were on the wrong track.
- Inflate unimportant matters. If town is spending the first day debating whether to lynch or no-lynch, then that is an entire day lost where they could have been analyzing and pressuring people. In general, policy debates are unproductive for the town and are a good way to create distractions.
- Crowd out any important posts that the town makes. If someone makes a post that implicates one of your allies, consider whether or not the player who made that post is credible and active. If they are not, you don’t necessarily need to respond to it head on. Continue on with discussion about other topics and bury that post so that it is hopefully ignored. Even if someone does come back and find it later, it will be difficult for anyone to trace the post burying back to you.
- Post misleading analysis. Newer mafia are usually afraid to push suspicions and instead wait to see what the town consensus is before jumping onto any particular lynch. This is a mistake that can often get you caught, particularly if other mafia are on the chopping block. Don’t be afraid to push for the lynch of suspicious townies. Focus on the suspicious aspects of their play and punish them for it.
Many times, the town is not destroyed by direct mafia intervention, but by sheeping and a lack of critical thinking. When the town tends to base their accusations off of flawed assumptions, you must simply punish them by feeding their conviction in their own misconceptions. Here are a few examples of bad town plays that you can take advantage of:
- Lynching for information. Townies will frequently come up with reasoning such as “lynching X will give is the most information”. While it is sometimes true that lynching a mafia will lead to more juicy information, lynching a townie almost always tells you nothing. Since mafia has nothing at stake when a townie is lynched (except when one of the only two viable lynch candidates is red), town cannot gather much information from a mislynch.
- Discussion about game balance. In closed or semi-open setups, town often spends time arguing about how the host balanced the game, either in role balance, or player balance. More often than not, this discussion is just time wasted that could be used to hunt mafia and pressure people. Debating these items only disorganizes the town and distracts them from achieving their overall goal.
- Bussing. When mafia let one of their own get lynched on purpose, this is called throwing your teammate under the bus, or ‘bussing’. This tactic should rarely be employed, but players will often discuss it when debating lynch candidates. Simple explanations are often the most correct, but playing on the town’s fears and allowing them to run with these conspiracy theory-like ideas can often lead to wasted days and mislynches.
- Assumptions as knowledge. It is not an uncommon phenomenon that a townie is attacked for “knowing something” that townies would not know for certain when they are in fact simply making assumptions about the setup. Even if the assumptions are wrong, playing on the town’s fears and misconceptions will benefit you and keep the town in the dark.
- Assuming the worst. When a player is inactive, townies will often read the worst case scenario into the situation. As the player isn’t there to defend themselves, these suspicions will naturally never be countered. If you can get townies to convince themselves that a certain player is suspicious without explicitly attacking that player, you can sometimes get away without being held accountable for it.
Inexperienced mafia teams often suffer from a lack of cohesion and planning. Though the team may have one or two active members, the rest often suffer from fear of posting. Because of a lack of communication between the mafia, they are stuck more in the mindset of individual survival, rather than looking at the bigger picture of how they can be working together to push their agenda.
The first step in having a cohesive team is to listen to the head of the mafia. While the mafia head doesn’t need to approve every single post, they should be guiding the mafia with a broad strategic overview. How do you want the game to unfold? What happens if one of your members is attacked? What are the strengths of your players, and what does that mean for your interactions with the town?
It is very important that all the mafia members are communicating and planning together. Many mafia teams are wiped out because they stop communicating and lose a sense of direction after their leader is killed. Be sure that you let your entire team know what is going on. Having all your members all on the same page goes a long way into keeping you from shooting yourselves in the foot.
Take note your team composition and your players’ strengths. It is important to have at least one player who has a high profile and can keep the thread under control. Use this to gain political support in the thread. If you do not have enough high profile players in the thread, you risk being unable to turn the tides of a bad lynch.
It is inadequate to focus solely on your own interests and viewpoints. Especially in PM games, it is important to keep a couple townies close so you can discover what they are thinking. This will go a long ways in grounding yourself in the townie mindset so that you can have a more accurate picture of how easy or hard it will be to push certain lynches. Also, keeping notes on who tends to agree with your points of view is helpful when it comes down to a close lynch, as these are the first people you want to go to in case things aren’t going your way. When pushing your agenda, always try to grab the easy voters first before attempting to argue head on with vocal and opinionated players in the thread.
Though it is important to make sure you are disassociated from your fellow mafia members, many inexperienced mafia become fearful and overcompensate for this knowledge. Most of the time, the best way to keep yourself from straying to the extreme is to tie yourself to townies instead. Having a vocal townie who thinks you are innocent can go a long way in preventing yourself from getting lynched and can give you allies to help ease the pressure off you. Even in the event that you are lynched, if you have done a proper job at tying yourselves together, you may even be able to lead town to a mislynch after your fall. Many times townies mistakenly go by obvious thread associations to suggest that two players are mafia supporting each other in the thread when this is usually not the case.
It is not always necessary to create your own unique position in the thread. Rather, support the popular positions that act against the town’s interests. By contributing to ideas that do not help the town catch mafia you can make it appear as if you are an active, beneficial asset to the town without being responsible for the position should it end up backfiring.
Mafia have different needs in different situations. For example, there are some instances where strong, clear logic benefits the mafia (e.g. when a mafia is under attack, but when the accusation is full of logical holes), and some instances where confusion, blind aggression, and a lack of clear logic is more beneficial instead (e.g. when townies are likewise accused). Because these different situations require different types of players, it is good to have each of your members specialized for a certain role in order to maintain a consistent persona. Have some players play the logical role, while some players play the chaos-inducing role. That way, one player will not have to carry the burden of having to rebuff all the possible town attacks or be accused of playing inconsistently and toward a mafia goal.
Minister of Secretive Affairs - Incognito
Executive Logisitics Director and King of the Jocks - Foolishness
Dude, Where’s My Shoe? - Ver
Captain Quetzalcoatl, Esquire - Qatol
Mr. Nice Guy - dreamflower
Probably doesn’t remember this was his idea - Meapak_Ziphh
Random guy who contributed the first 2 days then went mia - Palmar