General Mafia Theory Discussion

Open discussion on anything mafia related.

I’ve recently found myself wanting to respond to a bunch of stuff I’ve read on other forums/chat groups/etc. So I’m probably going to dump a lot of my responses/thoughts in this topic (with a link or quote to whatever discussion that motivated the response when applicable).

If anyone else has miscellaneous thoughts/questions about mafia floating around or saw some discussion elsewhere that they find interesting - I’ll be happy to chat about them here too!

Also feel free to cite/link to anything I say here elsewhere. :stuck_out_tongue:

Here’s something I’ve been wondering about due to recent games: Is it acceptable to fakeclaim as town? If so, where do you draw the line?

usually fakeclaims as town are used to draw the NK but this generally isnt done

I feel like it’s not unusual to have it blow up in your face, though. It’s real easy for scum to see through that crap, and then the town starts asking about why the super OP role wasn’t nk’d.
Claiming a PR as vanilla should be totally off the table. I assume there are times that it’s not a bad idea to claim one PR as another PR, I just have no idea when you would do it.
Like, what claim could you make that would draw the nk that wouldn’t leave you open to a possible counterclaim by town?

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: It’s very setup dependent.

There are a lot of game states where PR’s claiming VT is a decent move, I think the rationale behind this is usually clear. The more interesting case is claiming a fake power so we’ll only consider that below.

In the past, I’ve mainly done it as a product of laziness (e.g. fake-claiming a tracker guilty). The argument for it being situationally good is the following: suppose Tom has some decently high % read that someone is scum, the amount of time/effort to convince town to lynch them without fake-claiming doesn’t mesh well with Tom’s irl schedue (I think this a hidden dimension to decisions that a lot of people forget to consider), then he may rationally choose fake-claiming since he doesn’t he believe he could convince the town to lynch whoever by other means.

In general the “while not game-theory optimal, it becomes more rational given real life constraints” line of thinking can support a lot of fake-investigative results; but of course, it all boils back to the initial confidence % on whatever read.

I actually think that it would be more interesting if there were MORE cases where town fake-claiming would be rational. I think this only happens with fairly different setups/rules compared to what’s standard now. The more incomplete information anti-town factions have to deal with, the more good reasons there are to consider fake-claiming as town. As is, mafia don’t have to do a lot of deducing though.


It’s a shame that poor players who fail at catching scum give “fake claiming a guilty” a bad name. Personally I don’t mind if the “fake guilty” ends up being correct. Of course, if it ends up mislynching town, then everyone has the right to be incensed. But, if scum do it, and do manage to get away with that, it’s a different story, I’d say that’s well played.

i once played a game where a townie fakeclaimed a guilty because he scumread a person and wanted them lynched
needless to say, he was mislynched

When I was a young mafia stud I would pull this off pretty frequently, and won a lot of games as a result. It also helped my scum game, of course, since I could just fakeclaim whatever I wanted and get away with it (most times).
But that raises the question, if someone does a bad fakeclaim, should they be given leniency if they are known to do such things as town? Is it bad play to hang someone for something that you know is not AI for them?

I’m really on the fence. I want to win games, but I also want to smite townies who muss up the game with their web of crappy lies. What do?

dont fakeclaim guilties dont play with people that do as town

at least not as VT

I tend to give it a certain tolerance since Mafia as-is doesn’t have a “sandbox mode” to playtest ideas. It’s sort of like in League or Chess…you have to tower dive or go for the sacrifice a few times to know when it’s a good move, and when it’s a bad one. At the end of the day, if you don’t want to play with someone who is legitimately trying to win because they do some plays you disagree with (and I think it’s perfectly fine to not want to play with someone for any reason!), it’s the same as not wanting to play with someone for most other play-related reasons. I don’t think there’s a particular “moral/correctness high ground” though.

Depends on your goal. Some people go for the “education” route where they try to punish people who do plays they disagree with to make them less likely in future games. This is obviously not necessarily best for the individual game, nor is it effective at educating a lot of the time.

There’s a lot of factors to juggle in an individual game. Percentage they did whatever action as either alignment in the past. Probability you can end the game before their potential wrongful execution is even more damaging later. Amount of days you’d want to keep them alive as a way to juggle and observe other player’s stances. Amount you’d feel their presence detracts from the deductive ability of the won.

I’d say, mechanical-reasons outside, in most current game states + playlists you should execute a proven wrong investigate fake-claim within two-ish days of it happening.

  1. I merged your posts. Testing that feature out. Hope you don’t mind. In general I think it’s probably healthy for obviously mergeable cases like this?

  2. Disagreement with the absolutes in the above aside, isn’t it probably better to be fake-claiming investigative power as VT over non-VT given that the expected penalty for incorrectness right now is death?

Smite bad players and commend good ones. This isn’t limited to “lying” or any specific behavior. It works on a general scale as well.

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The issue with this is that Mafia is a probabilistic game. Plays that are usually very good can lead to very bad results and often times you can’t even really blame someone for going for a 50/50 in many situations. Exclusively analyzing and reacting based on the result gets mob-like very fast and in practice I don’t think it really helps anyone.

If someone is consistently making worse plays over a long period of time they’ll eventually have a lower win rate. I think at that point if some’s into improving they can look into/reach out to others for what’s going wrong. If they’re not - they just belong in a different demographic than the players who do care about every player playing as optimally as possible.

In terms of site relevance, we’ll be experimenting with enforcing competitive vs. casual (perhaps worded differently) after our first growth push. It doesn’t make sense with our low player base atm.

So is finance and banking, but CEOs and bosses there also analyze performance based on results.

I do believe that examining a players track record is more accurate than the results of a single game, yes. Also, reputation matters a lot in mafia, since it is a community game. However, not analyzing based on results at all would make metrics pretty difficult.

I think it is not accurate to judge an individual player through win rate because of many factors: The proficiency of the scum team, The proficiency of other town, the fact that a better town player will always be night killed earlier than weaker townies and therefore have less time to make an impact on the game, low sample size due to the length of mafia game etc.

A weaker player playing on Mafia451 would invariably have a higher win rate than a stronger player who plays on MU or, because, admittedly, Town winrates over here are significantly higher than those other sites (as of 2018).

  1. Mafia is a game, not business!

  2. They’re analyzed based on their decisions/results. However “This was a 90/10 situation and the 10 percent happened” is the analysis, not “you were wrong”.

  3. Proficiency ones balance out over sample size. I think the “better town” being night killed thing is a fallacy: if you fail to make a sufficient impact in the time you’re alive you’re not better town. There’s probably a fairly elegant “weighted average based on results when alive” that can measure this. But yes - I do agree it all boils back to sample size. Since most people don’t have a large enough sample, it makes even more sense to not vilify people too much.

  4. Also true. The nuance here is that even within sites there are “mafia games” that in reality are completely different games (MU turbos vs. MS’s long opens vs. Nanook’s lovely setups here, etc.).

We’re working on making this all better! A few standardized setups with high replay value that are conducive to finishing relatively fast would help us get a lot better at judging things within that specific realm of mafia.

But I think until that exists, in this fuzzy hard to quantize mafia world we live in, it pays and makes more sense to be a bit nicer and less absolute on what’s good/bad since we all really don’t know what we’re talking about. The only thing we can talk about with absolute confidence are certain GTO role coordinations in specific open/semi-open setups. Commonly held believes have been getting flipped on their head for years. :stuck_out_tongue:

Yes, I agree with your conclusion. Though, question for your second point: How can you arrive at a probabilistic analysis of the situation, if one has not played enough games with that specific situation to even obtain a correct set of statistics and probabilities? Simply: How did you arrive at a number of 90/10, if 100 games with that situation have not been played?

Unless one is an expert at mafia (in this case, you are, but a significant majority of players are not), one is not able to accurately and correct analyze the win potential of a play, simply put, “they are in no position to judge”. It’s like an ordinary person making speculations about the stock market (I’m sorry for the business references!)

With this in mind, “This is a 90/10 situation and the 10 percent happened”, coming from any ordinary player, is more of being comforting and nice and polite, but likely not indicative of reality.

Hence, most players aren’t necessarily wrong to judge based on results, since it is simply a representation of the facts.

I probably need a tldr; on this topic.

  • Sometimes fake-claims are good. Hidden element often involves real life constraints.
  • Sample size matters. It’s hard to discover and draw conclusions without it. Can’t gather sample size on plays without executing them.
  • It’s important to have distinct casual/competitive games so people can have the freedom to test their ideas. Hyper-competitive results based environments and experimental/creative environments should both be encouraged.
  • If we want a version of mafia that’s more well-suited for the measuring tools we have, the rules themselves need to be modified.
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That’s a good question.

The way I look at is that most people are still gathering their sample. When people comment on their experiences and results to each other they’re kinda merging together their experiences into one larger sample.

I know it’s hard - but I think the attitude is often a lot more about justifying that someone’s right rather than working together to figure out what’s going on. The former is what leads to a lot of sweeping generalizations and negativity. I know the mental gymnastics involved in switching from an in-game mindset to an out-of-game mindset is a big part of what makes it hard.

On a personal level, a lot of the conclusions I’ve drawn about the game are based around and would not have existed without years and years of repeated failed experiments. (And the failing experiments are still happening!) I’m thankful for the people who dealt with me when I was figuring things out because my results were disastrous!

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