Playing Scum

Playing Scum
How to fool the town and how to stop getting lynched

The Basics

Playing scum can be intimidating - not only are your teammates relying on you, but the entire game is based around eliminating you. More often than not, you’re a part of the only enemy faction that stands against a town victory.

In this article, we’re going to discuss the essentials of scum play that every beginner needs to know. From there, we’ll move onto discussion of advanced tactics, strategies, and gambits. Finally, we’ll look at some personal concepts and examples from my own practice.

The Factional Kill - Eliminating Threats

The core tenants of scum play fall into three categories: Day play, Night play, and the Factional Kill

Why does the Factional Kill deserve its own section despite being a night action?

  1. The Factional Kill is the only power that exists in Mountainous games (games in which all town roles are Vanilla and all scum roles are Goons, i.e: no extra powers beyond vote).
  2. While other night powers have, for the most part, a town and scum version, the Factional Kill does not. It is exclusively a scum ability so it deserves special focus.

It is important to note that Vigilante kills, town or scum, are distinct from Factional Kills since:

  • The Factional Kill can be used frequently, to the excess of other powers.
  • A non-Factional Kill often has to be done by the particular player that has the power. The Factional Kill’s user is decided by the team and sometimes even doesn’t require a specific player to carry it out. This is relevant if roles like trackers or watchers potentially exist.

Why is the Factional Kill so important?

  1. The Factional Kill is the single most powerful tool for scum to re-balance the game. Scum are heavily outnumbered to begin the game so the first major benefit of the factional kill is that it reduces the number of players required for scum to mislynch and win the game. Without it, the game would be much harder to win. Not only is this because the numbers game will be more disadvantageous to scum, but also because town gets additional information with every additional lynch. With enough lynches town can eventually catch up to the scum’s starting information advantage.

  2. The Factional Kill can remove problem players from the game. Is someone onto you? Is someone too town and has too much power over the control of the lynch? Is there a player who is keeping everyone active and encouraged? Put a bullet in their head! There’s no need to mince words or to get tricky - just kill them. Later in this article, we are going to discuss the concept of Status Quo, and how important it is for scum. For now, if suffices to say that the scum Factional Kill allows them to reset the Status Quo to a more uncertain state, which is essential in scum’s attempt to shape it towards victory.

  3. The final benefit of the Factional Kill is the elimination of powerful roles. No matter how good you are, no matter how well you play, there’s going to be a role that can just end your game. Masons and Innocent Children are impossible to lynch, Cops can just kill you, and other nasty surprises can be waiting for you. The town is bringing their best weapons out… so start sniping them off. Don’t let confirmed town roles live too long and remove the ability for power roles to give information to the town. This topic will be covered more in the Night Play section, but it is crucial to not become overwhelmed by town power. Aim your shots true and fire with extreme prejudice.

Night Play - Planning and Playing Interference

Next, we have Night Play. This encompasses both the use of power roles at night, and the use of night as a period for reflection and discussion. For the purposes of this article, we will assume that scum teams have Day Talk (the ability for scum to communicate privately at any time), but it would be remiss to not mention that the importance of proper Night Play increases exponentially if scum only have Night Talk.

Good Night Play requires that players pay attention to three different things.

  1. Players should review the events of the previous day. This allows you to hunt for breadcrumbs and power role soft claims, search for odd behaviors from players, and reevaluate players stances and reads to look for potential exploitation.

  2. It is crucial that your partners and you MAKE A PLAN. Town players are going to be eager out the gate (generally), and if you don’t know what to expect or how to adapt, you’re going to quickly find yourself up a rope. What kind of plan you make is up to you, and later in this article we will discuss different strategies you can take. What is important is that you both make a plan, while not being overly married to said plan. Have contingencies, be willing to adapt.

  3. Most importantly, good Night Play involves using your actions optimally to interfere with the town as best as you can. We’ve already discussed the night kill at length so we’ll consider all other actions. It is important to note that all other roles should consider the effect of the night kill and of the previous day’s lynch prior to making their choices.

Here are three tips to help you figure out how to use your night actions:

  1. Have a role that doesn’t effect things too much? Target someone that town would think makes sense for you to target. We will discuss cognitive consistency later in this article and how it is beneficial for scum to be seen to be taking ACTIONS that mirror their THOUGHTS and WORDS, but for this particular case, if a tracker or other such ability sees you performing an action that just makes sense, it can go a long way to clearing you in the minds of some, even if you really shouldn’t be clear.

  2. Have a role that interrupts or otherwise prevents town roles from functioning properly? (e.g Roleblocker, Redirector) Use your intuition to hunt down players who are most likely to have power roles and ruin their day. The best way to do this is to keep track of all the claims and soft claims in the game, and to pay attention to how people play. It is not a hard and fast rule, but in general, players with powerful roles will tend to play more passively, for fear they will be night killed before they can use their powers. Instead of trying to determine if someone silent does or does not have a power role, use process of elimination to narrow things down, and then use your gut and intuition to pick one from the remaining choices.

  3. Know when to use your role, and when to holster. This is especially true when you have a limited number of shots. Since some roles are so overtly scummy, they are best used only at specific times. Always consider whether using your role will actually help you compared to any risks, before you use it blindly.

Day Play - Building Connections

Finally, we we will discuss the bread and butter of Mafia, day play. This section is devoted to the basics - some of the advice in the advanced section of this article may contradict rules stated here, however it’s important to know the standard rules before breaking them. In order to successfully play scum at a more advanced level, you need to understand the basic concepts and why they exist. It is crucial simply because the foundation of why certain strategies function is based on these concepts.

To begin, the most obvious goal as scum in day play is to avoid being lynched. It turns out that if you aren’t getting lynched as scum you tend to win quite a lot of games! This is easier said than done. The truth about town players is that they are unpredictable. They may lynch anybody, for any reason, at any time. Certainly, most town players like to think themselves rational and focused on only who the scum actually is, but in reality scum make a lot less overt moves than town players may like to imply.

As a result, the single most important thing to avoid being lynched as scum is to form connections with the players in your game. They don’t need to be positive connections, they don’t need to be tight relationships, they just need to be connections that you can exploit. Its great if a connection ends with a player believing you are town, but even this is not necessarily required. As long as there are players that are easier to lynch, scummier and even more dangerous than you, you can avoid lynches by the skin of your teeth.

It is a common idea that, at the most basic level, playing scum is being seen as town, but I’d like to suggest that this not only isn’t necessary, but that it may even be actively harmful. If you’re constantly being read as very town for the entire game, people begin to question why you are still alive. It is because of the unpredictable inconsistencies of players that connections, as opposed to general sense of towniness, is important. When you have connections with a player, your posting history is more important to them, and often, your mental progression is more obvious to them.

The benefit of this is two fold:

  1. It allows for the player to see your mindset, so if you make a change in mindset in a post, that player will see that change as more natural. Town players tend to be very vulnerable to things that “make sense”. If you as a player make a connection with someone by calling them scum and giving reasons, that player will likely defend themselves. So what happens, in general, if that player makes a good post and a good point, and you decide to back off from that point? Very often, that player will see that your change in mindset was predicated from their line of thinking, which leads to the obvious assumption that you are actually considering what they have to say, which leads to the false conclusion you must be town.

  2. It makes unpredictable players far more predictable. You don’t need to know a player well to be able to predict how their reads will change. The more connection you build with them, the more access you get to their thoughts and the more your reads and thoughts will influence them one way or another. This can help in figuring out which players you should lynch and which players you should night kill. You will have a better concept of how these flips will shape the reads of the individuals you build these relationships with. Crucially, it gives you an idea of when the relationship is about to turn south, and when you need to nightkill the player in question.

So how do you build these connections? Here are three simple ways to start.

  1. Put pressure on a player. In mafia, townies will frequently apply pressure in an attempt to generate a read and genuinely parse someone’s alignment. As scum, you want to try and imitate this, because it puts you in the driver’s seat. Your ability to dictate the terms of engagement of any discussion allows for you to set the pace at which it progresses and a lot of the tone in how it is seen. If you can decide how aggressive or passive an interaction will be in advance you can plan your responses and elicit the ones you want from your opponents more often than not. People will often mistake the ability to generate a read as town. In truth, genuine fabrication of reads is a skill, not an impossible task for scum. By controlling and dictating the game and predicting reactions from connections built through pressure, you can elicit any reaction you need to build your case. This is why good town players will seek to break your flow.

  2. Find and fake bonding moments where you and another player mindmeld. Humans are creatures of social habit who will find a pattern where there is none and assign meaning to random events simply because it is how we are. As townies this means we are far more likely to assign town reads to people who consistently share our views and kind of pack bond (see: town blocks) with us. This tendency is more well known by towns, and so they’re often on the look out for people who will “buddy” them. To trip this up is simple, you just need to behave erratically while predict behavior. By behaving erratically, people won’t agree with everything you say or do, nor will they always understand it. This will leave them confused and people tend to lynch things that confuse them. However if you can predict their behaviors and slip in reads that they are likely to make themselves with similar reasoning, you will find that townies will often excuse your weirdness.

  3. Engage in "Points for Points”. Townies love to argue. They love to think their arguments mean something and they’re accomplishing their goals. In truth, arguments are kind of useless, it’s the manner in which you convince people to follow your votes that matters in the end. Points for Points essentially dictates that if you engage with a player and meet all their logic with your own logic, and you gum the thread and make it impossible to follow, you’ll generate apathy and people will often look at the CONCEPT of what is happening as opposed to the fine details. The goal of P for P is simply to match what is being thrown at you and annul it.

To summarize, the best methods for building these important connections is to Not do what you think a townie should do, but what you suspect others think a townie should do. The list of interactions above isn’t an exhaustive way to build connections, but they give examples of the common types. The goal of pressure as scum is to mirror how town pressures people. Are you in a game with stick in the mud players who don’t like aggressive play? Don’t pressure frequently, or they’ll lynch you just because they hate how you play. Are you In a game with a bunch of “rational thinkers” who get bogged down in the minutia of detailed posts that are 2000 words long? Make them drown in it and they’ll still call you town at the end. Match expectations and you’ll know what you’re getting. As mentioned above, town reads are not the only benefit to a connection, though obviously important to survival.

This covers the basics of day play as scum. Build connections, organize votes, keep yourself in a position of balance. Then use informational advantage during the night and the factional kill to help eliminate threads and maintain the lead in information. Have a plan, execute your plan, win the game.

We’re now going to look at some advanced scum techniques. So far we’ve been speaking in general terms, often looking at things that people will consider obvious. We’ll now assume you have a solid grasp of the game of mafia, and its basic strategies.

A Jumble of Advanced Tactics

Congrats, you made it this far and you didn’t scream at me for treating you like a child. You’re the best, time to take the kid gloves off. Scum is easy to learn and hard to master, often because a lot of the game is outside your control. The strength of your partners and of the town, the way night actions roll out, the balance of the setup, the way people are feeling on any given sunday and yes people are human and are gonna randomly do shit for no reason because they just think that way today.

Become a Chameleon

In this world of uncertain times, how does one maintain a high scum winrate?

It’s simple™. You become a chameleon.

This is something I cannot stress enough to players who think they have a good scum game then cry fowl when their team fails them and they get caught by their “idiot teammate doing a bad connective play with them”. Suck it up, we roll snake eyes sometimes. Get the fuck over yourself. The world isn’t fair. Time to make the world your bitch.

Take it from a player who has repeatedly beaten the odds in circumstances I had no real business doing it in. I’ve won games where I’ve faced down 9 townies, and won. I’ve won games where I was the only non-confirmed player in the game, and still convinced people that the roles had to be fucked with somehow (mystery roleblocker! Closed games ftw). This article isn’t about me, so let’s move on. Take it from me: There’s always a win condition, if you’re able to find it.

Which is what I mean by being a chameleon. You need to be able to change your colours, game to game, day to day, post to post. You need to be able to fucking ADAPT or DIE. Change or Perish motherfuckers. So how do we accomplish this feat?

First off, a bunch of idiots are gonna be checking your meta every game. If you’re playing in a manner that your meta is ever a problematic thing, you’re already losing percentage value. As a player, I’m not going to tell you that you should tank town percent win for scum percent win. No no no. I’m saying you should play like a fucking lunatic. You’re a wave particle. It’s the same person, and it’s reaaaaaaaaaaaaallly hard to tell one wave of light from another wave of light with the naked eye (hey that town game looks like that scum game…) but when you isolate any game, you look like a totally different person.

What is the advantage to playing the game where you enter differently every time? Because you shatter your baseline into a fucking million pieces. What do I mean by Baseline? A baseline in mafia is your most even level of play, the most common thing you do. In mafia, baseline play people try to set as your town play, because as discussed above scumplay is attempting to mimic expected townplay. So what happens when you play differently every game, even slightly so, is that small deviations from your standard course of play become the norm. You can explain erratic play as BOTH alignments far more simply, and it draws way less heat. In essence, it widens your range of acceptable moves.

And in a game like Mafia, the more cards you can play the more control you have.

We should be clear. This isn’t an encouragement to go into every game and always gambit. Or to gambit 50 percent of the time. Or to play randomly. At that point you’re forcing it too hard and you’re gonna lose results down the line as both alignments. The only proper way to accomplish this is to just keep playing games and keep doing different things. Shatter your meta to pieces. Have fun with it too! Decide one game you’re just gonna be the most aggressive player in the world and focus solely on pressure. Decide one game you will refuse to write a case on anyone, and you will only Empty Vote. Decide one game you will write giant ISO cases on players. Once anything is within your range, nothing is too strange.

Getting back to the concept at hand, being a chameleon simply means you can change your colours very slightly, however they are needed, to slip behind the veil and protect yourself. To not only protect yourself, no, this is active camouflage. You can predict what events will happen from players, what and where votes will land, why people will do things… and adapt your behaviours to fit exactly into the slot you need to be in to win. Need to be the town leader who controls the game until it’s too late? Slip into the behaviours needed for that slot. Obv town actions, bus a scum buddy, be more patient with the townies and build majority good relations which you can carry into the midgame. Kill weird targets early and then use that to explain why you’re not dead. Need to be the late late game threat on day 9 in a large game? Sure, we’ve got that. Act demotivated and like you’re isolated from the game. Tunnel on a couple of players in a manner that never gets them lynched, so you can act like if the town just gave you a chance you’d do well! Make it clear the scum are leaving you alive to be mislynched, and behave just townie enough and just outside of what is NORMAL for scum in this position enough to garner late town reads. Finally, cater your play to the only 2-3 people in the game who fucking mater a lick (the ones you will leave alive in lylo with you) and find your patsy to win the game.

You can see that this kind of play utilizes the “Keep a Plan” beginner advice and the “Build Connections” beginner advice, and advances it to the more logical course. If you can predict how a game will play out (you control half the deaths in the game, then you can also lynch people, you really should be able to do this) you can design a win condition to play towards. Then it’s just a matter of finding the moves that work for that win condition, and having backups.

But it’s not enough to do that, you need to be able to adapt to bad situations too. Sometimes you won’t have time to plan and the mark of a great scum player as opposed to a good one is how that player reacts when something unexpected happens and they need to respond. You’re posting in thread and suddenly someone claims they roleblocked you last night and there’s a missing kill. You didn’t expect this because the reason there was no kill was because of the doctor, but now you need to decide how to react to this and the votes that are piling onto you. Your ability to adapt, act cool and not give away information that YOU know and they don’t is key, but also just the baseline. Great players will look at this as an opportunity to fool someone. You know what people are GOING to be looking for, because eventually it’ll come out there was a doctor or some other role and you won’t be confirmed scum. Escaping a lynch here will need you to act not just in a manner that is “not scum” but in one that bleeds town. What that is will depend on the kind of player you have staring at you, and you won’t be able to convince everyone, so also choosing WHO you convince you are town based on who has sway and he doesn’t is important too.

In this way, every choice you make, every step you take should be both calculated and improvised. If that sounds difficult, it’s because it is. Notably there are other tools at scum’s disposal to win games and this is but one of them, but if you want to find yourself increasing your win percentage, you need to take at least some amount of this to heart.

Status Quo and Apathy

This leads us to our next topic: Status Quo and Apathy. We mentioned Status Quo in the beginner section, but let’s define its use here. Status Quo refers not to the obvious state of the game or the individual reads of any players in it, but rather to the collective unconscious of the game and where its opinions lay. In essence, what the town would do if every player simply voted without any new information gained and without new interactions changing their views. Status Quo is an overview of the state of the town as a whole.

Similarly, we can define apathy in the way that the town as a whole is unwilling or unable to escape from its current status quo. Apathy isn’t a positive or negative connotative in this fashion, though often used negatively. Apathy levels are simply the amount at which nothing will change in the game. If Apathy is at 100 percent, then the game will play out its course exactly as planned from the prior day and as predicted. If it’s at 0, the result may still be the same, but the ability to PREDICT that result, AND the amount of CHANGE IN THE STATUS QUO (even if the lynch didn’t) is measured here.

So what do these have to do with scum? Everything really. What people don’t realize is that scum completely control the pace of the game, and so, in essence: Scum set the baseline for the Status Quo and Apathy level of the game. What is meant by this is that because scum know the correct answers and because scum have the night kill, if the Status Quo does not benefit scum, they can simply kill someone that will cause a major shift in the game’s understanding. If it does benefit them, they can kill obvious kills that will lead to the same conclusions.

Because this level of analysis is first order, this means the town is completely capable of understanding this is happening to them and they do. Literally, the paranoia that a universally town read player may be scum hiding deep within the folds of town is nothing other than town shaking the status quo. And as town has more numbers than you, they are the ones who truly hold the keys to the ability to DEFINE the status quo, if not the ability scum have to set its baseline.

So where does that leave us as scum? What can we do to use the Status Quo and Apathy as weapons in the game? Let’s look at the obvious one first, Apathy.

Apathy as a weapon in Mafia is well known for its… unsavoury response. Townies don’t like when scum players make other people care less about the game. In my mind, if you’re not breaking the rules of the game, it’s fair game. Townies have a right to kill players who are bad or increase apathy, right? So we have a right to induce it and dare them to. How does scum increase levels of apathy? Firstly, if apathy is the ability for town to change the status quo of the game over the next day, removing the players who will make the most impact on that status quo is a good way. Not just players who have already made their impact, no the most beneficial kills are the ones where the player has given the incorrect opinion and then dies JUST before they would change it. There’s an art to killing a player the night before they were going to reverse their reads and catch scum, but you get a sense for it the more you play.

Be on the lookout for anyone who is a bit on the fence, or seems unconfident with the direction of the town. Especially if they’re a competent and dangerous player. This is where your connections with players will come in handy, because when you get the sense a player is shifting out from your control, or that the connection is changing its identity, it may be time to let that fish loose. The benefit of performing this is that you can use their last wishes to your advantage keeping status quo where you want it, but also that you’re reducing the number of players who would have fought to make people reconsider.

Additionally, another method to use is simply to demotivate the town. If you have someone who is in firm command of the town, manipulating them (or just being that person yourself) will give you the ability to quash the rebelious spirit of the townies until they comply. If a townie thinks they aren’t being heard, often their response is to attack the one who is suppressing them. If they can’t do that because of the power dynamic or town reads or whatever, they become DEPRESSED. They think no one will listen to them and they stop TRYING. NOTHING IS EASIER TO BEAT THAN A TOWN WHO DOESN’T CARE. It’s essentially the art of war. Fighting is good, winning without striking a blow is better.

Finally you can increase apathy by making the thread hard to read. This should be made clear. Don’t deliberately make the thread a shitpost zone and call it scumplay. Don’t insult people and make them not wanna play anymore and call it scum play. (People will get mad, insults will get thrown… if you make someone wanna quit that way you’ve got bigger problems and you should apologize. I know I’ve done it, I’ve been that angry and I’ve regretted it every time.) No, the method described here is an inundation of INFORMATION. Flood the town with posts that discuss the same things again and again, not by spamming, simply by having the same conversation 10 different ways. Encourage a spammy poster to go on a deep dive where they post 20 long wall posts about every interaction in the game that NO ONE WANTS TO READ. Townies are susceptible to the concept that they feel they need good reasons to kill someone, and don’t consider “is overloading information instead of analysis” to be a good one. People call it a policy lynch and then shit goes wild. Until townies are willing to lynch people who do this kind of play (and sometimes you convince townies to do it for you even) doing this is the punishment that townies get for not wanting to lynch policies/information overloads. Feel no shame in doing this. If it makes a player not want to read the thread, guess what they will do? They’ll default to their start of day reads and just go with those instead of reading 20 pages of nonsense that makes their eyes cross.

So if apathy is driven up when the status quo is good for scum, obviously scum benefit. And if the status quo doesn’t benefit scum? Scum can use night kills and proper day play to let town hang themselves… then drive them into their graves.

In summary, and I’ll make this point abundantly clear: Until the town decides that combating apathy by treating those who spread it as scummy is something they will do, use apathy to your advantage without any shame. It is the single best way to control the actions of the town en masse.

One of the best ways to spread apathy is to simply say the game is drowning in it already, then say you’ll combat it… then push for the status quo in a loud manner. People will often confuse “loud and active and rallying” for “decreasing apathy” when in truth you can actually increase apathy by forcing people to remain on the same path while being sly.

Cognitive Consistency

Next, we should talk about cognitive consistency. Earlier we talked about predicting what town want to see from you to read you as town, we talked about Meta we talked about adaption and we talked about how to convince people of things. One of the biggest threats of all of this is that by performing actions with ulterior motives, you don’t actually HAVE the motivations that townies have to tell the story of how you got from point A to point B.

Sure, you looked townie while in the middle of it, but why did you do it and how did you get to where you were? Being able to tell a convincing story that checks out your mental progression is a huge boon for any player as scum, and is crucial to survival. This skill is known as cognitive consistency.

In its simplest forms, cognitive consistency is the connection between your actions, the time at which they were performed, the fake reasons they were performed for… and the story you tell people WHY tiy performed them and for what purpose and goal you ended up with them at. In essence, it’s how your actions and motivations connect to your intentions in real time, looking backwards. If you’re unable to tell a convincing story, people will think you rightfully fabricated your reads or actions to suit your needs, and you will die. A lot.

So how do you gain cognitive consistency? As a scum player it’s hard to do, because you’re literally faking these intentions, because you’re trying to accomplish the opposite. The art of lynching town and making people believe you were trying to lynch scum is a difficult one, but it’s doable. More than just your actions and reactions, and how things look in the now, this is what you need to plan ahead for. When people re-read your ISO, when people ask why you did X or Y on day 2, and now it’s day 5, you need to be able to explain and show it as truth.

If you just explain, anyone can brush you off and give their own explanation. You need solid storytelling backed with post evidence. Further than that, this also applies to anytime you create a read on someone. Obviously that read was faked and you created it, so it’s not gonna have the same impact on you as it would on town. Knowing who you are town reading and who you are not, and maintaining that cognitive consistency of behaviour while you still hold those beliefs is important. It’s ok to change your mind, as long as you show your work.

And that’s the baseline version of it. Sometimes scum get caught when they suddenly call someone they called town for most of the game scum and then can’t justify it well. Oops. Bad call.

Sometimes you need to justify your whole game 5 days after you made those moves to a player who is deciding your fate. If you didn’t make moves back then to show as evidence of how you grew, your story won’t hold water.

So as scum you need to be CONSTANTLY thinking about what your reads are, where your reads need to be, and setting your reads up to change in advance. This too is a balance. Too little preparation and suddenly after you lynch that townie and you’re out of scum reads, you have to flip on someone and you don’t have the mental progression to do it without selling out. Too much preparation and people will accuse you of lynch chaining, and think you’re scum for a whole different reason.

The best way to use cognitive consistency to your advantage is to do a bit of both. No townie is perfect. Plenty of townies have done 180s on their reads after they are wrong. But do it the DAY after. Additionally, having that “if this happens, I think this is probably due to this” 2 days before it occurred will help you justify WHY you have these beliefs and why they are GENUINE. Townies love it when you have evidence that shows you are genuine… even when you could have planned for this moment and forged that evidence.

In summary, cognitive consistency is less a tool and more a necessary task that scum need to complete to look townie as the game progresses, but you are able to weaponize it against the town if you’re the one doing it the best and they’re lacking it themselves. Townies make mistakes, and forgetting that they also need to look townie to their friends is one they make far too often. Don’t be afraid to capitalize.


Before we move on, we should talk about bussing. Most of this article has been written with the concept of your teammates being dead hunks of rotting wood. And in truth, you don’t strictly need them. I’ve won games with awful scum players who didn’t know how to sell an interaction worth their lives. Certainly you don’t need to rely on your partners to win. But sometimes numbers are nice and sometimes bussing isn’t necessary or useful, even on players who are totally absent! Bussing is something that should be done, and this leads into our next topic rather well, for the purpose of subverting expectations.

If a bus won’t give you sufficient town cred, the vote and number is more important generally. If it will, then it can be worth it. In both situations, you should consider not just whether the death of the person and your position will improve your win percentage, but also what people expect of you. If you have a reputation for busing frequently, subvert it by protecting scum to the end. If you flip that expectation and now people think you will do either one, do neither and totally ignore them. Remember that unlike a townie, the town WILL look at what you did while you were alive once you die. What you do with your life will affect your death. If you subvert expectations, people may be fooled into doing the wrong move when you die.

The Sub-Optimal Move

And that’s our next tactic: The Sub-Optimal Move. Townies love a good story, and one that makes sense too. If something is too weird, too silly, too BAD of a move to be done, they’ll often discard it. “WHO WOULD DO THAT AS SCUM?” is a wonderful place for scum to hide. After all “I’m not scum!” is just what a scum would say, isn’t it? Just like with Apathy, town has a bad habit of refusing to play against sub-optimal plays correctly by analyzing them on their total gains from every perspective. As long as you can trust that town will discount small percentage or weird or bad plays from you (because you’re a good player) feel free to do them! Kill someone totally useless instead of the confirmed townie! Claim a result on a target that makes no sense, but actually hurts scum badly! Mix it up and keep town off balance. Once townies need to become paranoid about bad moves being used to hoodwink them, you can abuse town’s mistakes far more. Until they do that, find refuge in audacity to your heart’s content friends.

The Contingency Plan

In truth, I could talk about a ton of situational moves for ages, and this would go on forever. Perhaps I will talk about those kinds of moves another time in another post. However for now, we want to move on to the final and most important move: The Contingency Plan. In truth, you can play really well and still lose… is what people will tell you. Too bad, so sad, you tried your best right? Wrong. You’re XANATOS MOTHERFUCKER, THIS WAS YOUR PLAN ALL ALONG.


Ok, being serious, if your plan loses to another plan, and you don’t have a contingency, your plan is bad. If you’re certain your plan will win you the game on Day 6, but you don’t have a plan for what happens if X happens and you lose, your plan is bad.

The best contingencies are not the ones that are simply backups for your main plan. You know the saying “the best plans never survive first contact with the enemy?” Well it works well here. Your plans will never work EXACTLY how you want them, even if they succeed exactly in the outcome you desired.

So the best contingencies are the ones which in themselves are simply… another victory plan. For this one, we will give an example. In the Mafia Universe Game 5 Season 6 Prelim game, I won by enacting my main plan of lynching town on day 6 to win. I had this plan since Day 3, after bussing my partner on Day 2, and seeing I had full control of the town. However, it was never certain after I bused my partner that I could have this much control. It could have been that many things went wrong. Cop investigation on night 3, people ignoring me again, paranoia… all kinds of things.

So I had an earlier contingency plan: by bussing FDAS on day 1, with my 2 partners being AFK and useless (later replaced) I can take refuge in audacity that me (a competent and powerful player who likes to live and carry scum games) would never trust a bus onto my only other active scum partner in a game where I could get copped and have to trust Bobberino or Qtesseract!

In fact that is exactly what I did. And I told my replacement partners this when they came in. If I ever died, there was a land mine the town would have had to overcome. I do not think they would have, alas it was never needed and so we will never know.

But that is the power of the contingency plan that is in itself a deadly plan and not just an inferior backup. If you plan out attacks that you never need to use, you’ll be ready if you need to use them and it’ll be devastating. You can make these plans by simply analyzing the game, CREATING your win condition path and what it takes to get there… and then for every thing that could reasonably derail your win path, consider what you could do to counter it. If you can act to prevent it, prevention > contingencies. If you can’t make the contingencies and rely on them. Always be prepared, scum scouts.

Wrap Up

To wrap this all up, to be good at scum is to have all these moves and more in your arsenal. To be good at scum is to know when to use what move, to know how to slip under the guard of specific townies with whatever moves you have available, and it’s to win. Just win. People always long for the beautiful victory, but they’re rare. Know one thing, if you take one thing away from this. An ugly victory is always better than a beautiful defeat, within the rules of the game and the site and decency. Never give in, don’t give up, lie as hard as you can and use any weapon you have at your disposal to convince the town to lynch themselves.

Ok, that’s quite enough words for today. Thank you so much for reading this self indulgent mess, I hope that some of you have learned some things today, and I hope that I can learn from others as well. This guide is not meant to crown myself the best player, or to say this is the only way to play scum. This is simply the accounts and views of a player who has experienced a lot, and had to put on a lot of different masks to win games.

Thank you for your time and reading,

Lady LambdaDelta (Lexicat) <3


r.e. Factional Kill:
I wish you had a section on balancing killing roles vs player threats because that’s always a tricky one.

r.e. Meta:


But yeah I more or less agree on the section of meta - I view it as an arms race in finding patterns that whatever player let slip through. Still think it’s much tougher on scum because it’s easy to not notice something they unconsciously do consistently as town and never do as scum (not to mention just unconcious things they still every game as scum even while trying to adapt). Still think it’s a gargantuan task for scum to actually fight but most peoply only on vague playstyle things in games they’ve played together so in most cases your advice more than suffices.

r.e. Apathy:

Agree with this - it’s town’s responsibility to not let apathy stuff happen. It’s unfortunate how often it works.

I think this kinda reinforces my belief that playing scum is dramatically harder than playing town past a certain level since town just has to find correct patterns into gg. Scum have to subvert that and in some percent of the time they can just get fucked by people (on both teams!) with too high a variance by alignment.

This topic and new feature break the current incarnation of my custom style sheet. I will be working on fixes quickly because I agree with elli that “not having a table of contents” for a post like this is dangerously stupid at best.

Got it up and running.

I read the heck out of the basics section just now but might need a cup of tea before I get into the advanced! It looks like they could almost be separate articles. Page of contents is a help for that.

On the basics section though, it’s pretty dang comprehensive on its own. It has a much more nuanced view of night actions than what normally goes through my head - like if the action isn’t going to have a big effect you can use it to deceive trackers by targeting someone that makes sense, or if it’s super scummy you can target no one at all.

The dayplay part was really valuable as well, with good snippets like noting that townies tend to lynch things that confuse them :stuck_out_tongue:

Overall this is an incredibly useful resource! You have such a cool and collected view of scum strategy, whenever I roll scum I become a mess.

Thanks heaps @LadyLambdadelta!

Cleaned up the first part.
Second part soon.

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Question; is there anyone on the site who can rand scum and have an equal or better chance of winning compared to if they randed town? Anyone who you think is better as wolf than town?

Just kinda curious because while I know some people are considered particularly bad (cough me cough), who do people considered good at being mafia here? I never really see this side of people because I think town has won every game I’ve played here.

Hi my name is DS

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I also think Andres is good at scum

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I think @Urist is the best player on site overall and also prolly best or second best at scum.
Would def have him first if I were making a power rank or something of that sort.


Wow congrats urist


Ok urist you will be my new mentor, this is all I was looking for

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hi my name is m2h recipient of participation trophies ama


I’m best scum

I would have to rand wolf to know if I can fool you all.

I await the day