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Should you randomize mafia roles?

F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Posts: 18,324
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6/20/2012 11:56:19 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Similar topics have been discussed in the past but this one is quite specific. After my last game (where roles were given entirely non-randomly i.e. I picked a role for each player), I was thinking of making my next game completely random by simply putting names in a random number generator and giving out the roles. I don't usually do this. My general strategy is to give a few players their roles and randomize the rest (Action movies was an exception since players chose their own characters, I developed roles specifically for each of them).

What are the Pro's and Con's of randomizing entirely? On the plus side, I see it as an inherently fairer system since it eliminates the mod determining which roles go to which players. I have been highly tempted to randomize to eliminate players using mod-psychology to determine who the mafia/power roles are likely to be.

There are however a few things that hold me back from randomizing completely.

1) Newer players in the mafia
Playing as mafia is often more difficult than playing as town especially if you are a newer player. This is because it is necessary to compose a story and make it fit into the game as opposed to simply paraphrasing the role that the mod composed for you and claiming it. Games in which mafia was composed of new or relatively new players have often been big failures for the mafia. Danielle's miscellaneous game (http://www.debate.org...) had 3 new players out of 5 all of whom were immediately lynched destroying the mafia.

Mafia is also generally a minority so the numbers matter even more. Having 3 new players as townies is generally not a problem since it can be offset by having more experienced townies as well. Anyways, the point is randomizing might lead to all new players being in the mafia which to me is a discouragement from randomizing although I am tempted to do it.

Now, of course I don't make mafia entirely experienced players since that would simply confirm all the newer players. The goal would be to have a combination of both.

2) Is randomizing fair at all?
One of the most appealing characteristics of randomizing the game is that it is inherently "fair" to all players. But let's say Bluesteel or Drafterman for example are the game as town. Now, the mafia (if noobs) will likely spaz out completely at their mere presence and kill them NP1. Is it fair to them (or any other good townie) that they are always killed? Now let's say the mod intentionally makes a player bulletproof based on the fact that they are usually killed early and often, would it create a fairer game to all players including the players in question? So, what is "fair" in the first place anyways?

So, what are your thoughts? Do you randomize roles or assign them or do a mixture of the two? Would you recommend I randomize roles completely in my next game? What if you get a "noob" mafia?
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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6/20/2012 12:11:31 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
A fair question.

In the Beginner games I've run, I randomized roles. I think we're all in agreement that that's the way to go, since the entire point is to expose new players to the roles and mechanics they will experience in regular games.

What about my regular games?

Batman:
This game was completely designed, but I solicited for player requests. I consider this to be random because there is no predicting what role a player will choose unless they broadcast it like TV did. Not everyone requested a specific character/role, so I just divvied up the rest by what I thought was most appropriate.

It also was an invitation-only game, so probably not a good reference point.

Choose Your Own Adventure:
Characters were decided by players. So I consider that random. No way of knowing what character a player chose. Roles I did based upon the character and/or balance needs, so I consider that random too, since it wasn't based on who the player was.

Heroes Mafia:
Completely random. I designed the game, randomized the order of the player list, and assigned roles based on that.

So, pros and cons?

I think it is inherently more fair to randomize assignments. How else are new players supposed to learn?

Also, you can't guarantee that any non-random assignment strategy will work. Let's say you give better roles to more experienced players. What if all the players are of equal experience? You now have to come up with a better strategy.

Essentially, non-random assignment is tantamount to rewarding the people you decide should get better roles and punishing people you decide should get worse roles. If you don't believe in better/worse roles, then what is the basis for assignment?
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Posts: 18,324
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6/20/2012 12:17:46 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
@ Drafterman, like I said, my reason for assigning roles non-randomly, my primary reason is that I worry that if I randomize, I might get an all-noob mafia.
Lordknukle
Posts: 12,788
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6/20/2012 12:22:11 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I usually randomize the roles until I think that the teams are fair. Usually, I don't trust myself to make fair mafia and town teams by hand because my own biases will be put into play and I will likely misbalance the game. Even though biases may still show if you randomize until you think the teams are fair, it will be much less apparent and game breaking than if you chose the teams by hand.
"Easy is the descent to Avernus, for the door to the Underworld lies upon both day and night. But to retrace your steps and return to the breezes above- that's the task, that's the toil."
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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6/20/2012 12:27:35 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 6/20/2012 12:17:46 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
@ Drafterman, like I said, my reason for assigning roles non-randomly, my primary reason is that I worry that if I randomize, I might get an all-noob mafia.

I actually did that with one of my Beginner's games. I made sure that there was 1 pro on the Town side and 1 pro on the Mafia side.

The problem is, once they are on to that, you get confirmation of one once the other dies or is otherwise confirmed.

That example is exaggerated because they were the only two pros in the game, but it applies in a more diluted form if you randomize Town/Mafia in regular games.

If the mafia offs more experienced players this will incriminates the survivors, since they'll reason that the mafia has to have some experienced players on it.
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Posts: 18,324
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6/20/2012 12:28:17 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Okay, here is how I made roles in my games:

1) Beginners 2.4 - Made Bluesteel and Medic the dons, made Mestari 3P and PR the JOAT. Randomized all others.

2) Aeriel Warfare - Made Drafterman mafia leader, BlackVoid mafia JOAT, TV the beloved bomb. Randomized all others.

3) Harry Potter - Made Lickdafoot Voldemort, Bluesteel bulletproof, Drafterman Moody. Randomized all others.

4) Action Movies - Nothing randomized - all roles picked. I think this should not count as random even though players picked their character. "Random" to me involves using an RNG.
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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6/20/2012 12:32:46 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 6/20/2012 12:28:17 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
Okay, here is how I made roles in my games:

1) Beginners 2.4 - Made Bluesteel and Medic the dons, made Mestari 3P and PR the JOAT. Randomized all others.

2) Aeriel Warfare - Made Drafterman mafia leader, BlackVoid mafia JOAT, TV the beloved bomb. Randomized all others.

3) Harry Potter - Made Lickdafoot Voldemort, Bluesteel bulletproof, Drafterman Moody. Randomized all others.

4) Action Movies - Nothing randomized - all roles picked. I think this should not count as random even though players picked their character. "Random" to me involves using an RNG.

I don't see the difference. RNG simply make choices that are obfuscated enough as to not be predictable. The same applies to player choices. Though, instead of mod psychology they just resort to player psychology.
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Posts: 18,324
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6/20/2012 7:24:43 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
So, you would rather I randomize than create an awesome role for awesome Drafterman? Okay.

What about the point about getting a noob mafia? It has the potential to ruin games (Miscellaneous mafia for instance).
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Posts: 18,324
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6/20/2012 7:27:33 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 6/20/2012 7:24:43 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
So, you would rather I randomize than create an awesome role for awesome Drafterman? Okay.

What about the point about getting a noob mafia? It has the potential to ruin games (Miscellaneous mafia for instance).

Never mind. Didn't see the response.
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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6/20/2012 7:27:36 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 6/20/2012 7:24:43 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
So, you would rather I randomize than create an awesome role for awesome Drafterman? Okay.

Well, yeah. We all can't have awesome roles and I really can't make an argument as why I should get one but not others. So randomize.


What about the point about getting a noob mafia? It has the potential to ruin games (Miscellaneous mafia for instance).

It's the risk you run, and how they learn from the game.
Logic_on_rails
Posts: 2,445
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6/21/2012 6:43:57 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
My preferred solution is the make the problem non-existent. Forget about curing a disease, prevention is the key.

A small, high quality game of only invited players circumvents the issue of a Mafia comprised of new player. Voila, that problem is solved and randomisation vs. selection is almost a non-issue. In that case I still have a mix between hand-picking and randomisin, but it's a near non-issue.

Simple solution, although it requires quite a bit of work to get an ultra high quality game going.
"Tis not in mortals to command success
But we"ll do more, Sempronius, we"ll deserve it
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Posts: 18,324
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6/22/2012 5:02:11 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
That is a really good idea Logic. I think I am going to try that: Invite prodominantly experienced players and leave the last couple of spots open. Then use an RNG to determine roles.