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FourTrouble's Thoughts on Catching Mafia

FourTrouble
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5/19/2013 8:41:53 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Introduction

I'm writing this "guide" (don't like calling it a guide but it is what it is) for some of the new players (and some older players, too) who consistently call certain behaviors scummy that aren't actually scummy, and even worse, call other behaviors towny that are actually scummy. It goes without saying, of course, that the process of catching scum is incredibly complex. There are many tools the town have at their disposal, including character analysis, setup analysis, behavioral analysis, and process of elimination. Regardless of how you approach the game, however, the single most important factor to consider is context. There is no single tell that applies in every single circumstance.

The key to improving your town play is about understanding the differences between town and mafia, differences that hold regardless of circumstance. It is impossible to play well as both town and mafia without having some differences in your play. How do town and mafia differ? The answer is deceptively simple: 1) mafia already know who all the mafia are, and 2) mafia are trying to lynch the town. Hence, you can distinguish between two kinds of tells: tells that come from knowing who all the mafia are, or tells that come from wanting to lynch the town.

If you think you've caught scum by applying an abstract tell, say pointing out logical contradictions in a player's analysis, it means nothing if you can't tie that analysis back to one of these two differences. When you approach a game of mafia, then, these two points must be the central assumptions underlying your analysis. It is also why tells that may have worked in one game may not work in the next game; subtle differences in context will reveal a lack of connection with one of these two differences. If you gain anything from reading this, I hope it is the understanding that nothing in the game of mafia is absolute except the noted differences between mafia and town.

Knowing too Much

The first category of tells comes from the fact that mafia already know who the town are. What does this mean in practice? When townies read posts, they immediately start trying to figure out whether it is comes from town or mafia. They cannot help but treat the game like a puzzle that has to be solved. When mafia read posts, on the other hand, they already know whether said posts come from town or mafia. They know the solution to the puzzle. Hence, they have to consciously fabricate analysis to create the illusion that they are looking for answers just like the townies. To explain how this looks in practice, I'll go over some posts from town and some posts from scum and point out exactly what the difference is. First post is from a recently completed town game:

At 5/1/2013 3:03:17 AM, FlippantBuoyancy wrote:
TA isn't gonna explain his read on Sisy so I guess I'll explain mine in more detail. His self-conscious "flip-flopping" and "sitting on the fence" initially gave me a gut town read. I thought F-16 wouldn't draw that much attention to himself as scum by pointing out his safe non-committal stances, which made me think his lack of certainty was genuine. I started to get more suspicious when F-16's behavioral read on Bull lacked a clear thought process, and later when F-16 asked me why I thought bossy was scum when a couple posts earlier F-16 had cited my own post wherein I had explained why bossy was scum. I found that very strange, almost as if F-16 were skimming my posts looking for points to nitpick but ignoring the larger thrust of our reads and thought process. TUF says F-16 is town on the basis of character but as we've said and pointed out, our role PMs seem to be crafted from a subjective POV, which means if there are inconsistencies between them that probably have nothing to do with alignment, then consistencies are also not indicative of a positive alignment. Sisy is null, pending his contribution on D2 and the subsequent lynching of scum that should follow from our eventual buddying if he is town.

This post from Castle in the Sky (http://www.debate.org...) displays the kind of in-depth thinking, specifically the sustained attempt to figure out whether F-16 is scum or not by carefully evaluating his behaviors and motivations, that is nearly impossible to fake as scum. The thought process is extremely clear, it shows engagement with the game, and a sustained effort to determine whether perceived hints of town and hints of scum from another player are sufficient evidence for a lynch or not. You simply don't see this degree of depth and fluidity from scum because scum already know who the other scum are. When scum try to fabricate the illusion that they are trying to figure out the game, it looks something like this:

At 3/13/2013 6:03:54 AM, trekie wrote:
Zaradi had a bunch of suspect posts during DP2, and I thought Ore jumped on BH's bandwagon with a pretty flimpsy excuse at the time, but then again Budda did too, and I think Zaradi actually didn't agree with that position after he took over. His role is both confirmed by FT and TUF visiting him. Although Bull already outed that TUF had tracked him before he confirmed it, but I don't see how somebody would lie about being a self-watcher. It would be too risky. So yeah, that's at least a role confirmation, even if I personally find his posts more on the side of scummy. I don't think a mafia lookout is out of the question and he may has an additional role.

Medic hasn't seemed to be very involved with this game, so it's hard for me to peg if that's an act or just a genuine lack of interest. His instant town read on me after he thought I role or character copped him is a strange conclusion to reach. At least to me. He voted for TV because... he had the most votes on, compelling argument. Although, I could get behind that if he was just frustrated about not getting anywhere, but he didn't articulate that kind of emotion either. We have a lot, and I mean a lot claimed protective or semi-protective roles, yet we can't seem to catch anybody doing anything, while scum manages to kill just the right person every time without any problems.

FT has been FOSing people last DP who by all means should have been obvious townies by that point. And I still don't understand how LK is still in his possible scum pile. I also wanna figure out the mine situation, that's why I'm asking him about who did he visit NP1. It would be nice if he answered.

Also, if you(IFLY) were really redirected last night, then that could mean that there was no mine death at all, that's relevant to the FT situation. If you were roleblocked, then logically the two deaths would had to be a mine and a regular NK.

I still think that Johnny is probably scum, but since a) TUF tracked him NP2 and he didn't do anything and b) Drafter revealed that mafia is fewer in numbers than expected, I'm really wrecking my brains around what kind of passive role he could have that would not make mafia totally weaksauce. I guess he could have waived that particular NP, since there were obvious doubts around him, but that would have been either a very lucky or well executed move on the mafia's part. So I'm way less sure about it now, and we are past the point where I would risk lynching a BP claim, unless we caught other scums first and POEd evrerybody else out as town. It's still frustrating though, because I feel like lynching him DP2 still would have been the best move, or at least certainly better than a no lynch.

This post from Naval Warfare (http://www.debate.org...) is pure fluff. It lacks any concrete analysis whatsoever, instead just restating other people's opinions, summarizing events, or making vague references. For example, Trekie doesn't provide a single reason to think Zaradi is scum other than calling posts from D2 (which ones we don't know) scummy...
FourTrouble
Posts: 12,757
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5/19/2013 8:42:38 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Finishing up the discussion of Trekie"s post, you can note the characteristic wishy-washiness that scum often display. I know this tell has been applied countless time, often wrongly, so it bears elaboration here. Town will often be wishy-washy but it happens when there is a clear reason for that. For example, a town player"s gut instinct might be at odds with logical evidence, so a townie might become wishy-washy and begin offering vague analysis and and taking non-committal stances. When mafia are wishy-washy, however, it happens for a very different reason. It is the result of not knowing how a townie would react to a certain situation. In Trekie"s post, you can see Trekie say things like "Johnny is probably scum because of reason X, but since Y happened, I"m no longer sure what to think of them." This is what scum wishy-washiness looks like.

Moving on, I'd like to discuss another post from Naval Warfare that clearly comes from scum:

At 3/12/2013 11:43:10 PM, Bull_Diesel wrote:
You're saying that Johnny nit playing and me being the polar opposite of Johnny and his scummy role makes me a hypocrite? And that warrants a vote on me?

This is a major reach and is really beneath and beyond you FT.

Unvote, VTL FT, for being the snekiest third party SK ever. You guys are buying into the CRAPIEST claims, FT just omgus voted me, he's tried several times to get me to react and I wouldn't take the bait until now... Game on motherfvcker.

Here, you have Bull respond to my vote on him by voting me back, and then calling me a "third party SK." I want to draw attention to the fact that Bull assumes I am a third party. This subtle point reveals that Bull already knows I am not mafia, hence his only other option for calling me scum is calling me third party. It happens that sometimes townies will speculate that another player is third party but townies will never call another player third party for no reason whatsoever. This is the key difference here. Townies are trying to figure out who the scum are, and sometimes there might be a reason that suggests a player is third party, but in absence of such a reason, suggesting that another player is third party suggests the player in question already knows who the mafia are, knows that player is not mafia, and therefore is calling that player third party for what they perceive as scummy behavior.

If you analyze the posts I've quoted here in detail, you should be able to locate the subtle differences between the in-depth kind of thought process that town have and the superficial and mechanical analysis that mafia fabricate. Point here is that the mafia already know who the mafia are, so as a result, all of their analysis will always be contrived. You'll also notice subtle details like the one in Bull's post where scum reveal that they already know who the mafia are through slips like calling a player third party for no reason. There are other examples of slips betraying more inside knowledge, but these slips always have to be analyzed in context. If Bull had a reason in the game for thinking I was third party, then that tell wouldn't apply to his post. Context is key.

The last major point I want to make here has to do with getting credit for the lynching of mafia and credit for the defending of town. Mafia already know who the mafia/town are so they will do their best to get their town reads mislynched as well as convincingly busing their partners in such a way that they receive town credit. What emerges from the fact that mafia already know how players are going to flip after a lynch is one of the strongest town-tells in the game: a player who tries to gain town cred for a mislynch. I think this is such a strong town-tell that it fully turned around one of my strongest scum reads during D1 of Castle in the Sky:

At 4/30/2013 12:15:35 PM, Sui_Generis wrote:
Before everyone gets on Flip before I have a chance to post reads, I support the FOS on him. I realize I am already late having had two people point it out, but better now than after 1 when I am able to post full reads and everyone has already ganged up on Flip.

This post (http://www.debate.org...) convinced me that Sui was town for the rest of the game. Why? Because Sui was attempting to get town cred for the lynching of town (me) before knowing that the person he was FOS'ing was town. It became 100% obvious from this post that Sui genuinely thought I was scum, and therefore, that Sui had no idea who the mafia actually were.

There are a few other points I want to bring attention to regarding tells that derive from knowing more than you should. First, players who are more passive, emotionless, and disinterested than usual are more likely to be scum than town. The best example of this is actually drafter's play in Naval Warfare. He didn't give off any major tells but his general passivity and lack of interest in getting things done is where I see his mafia alignment revealing itself. The flip side of the above point is something that is widely misunderstood on DDO: the player who is active and aggressive and trying to move the game forward and relentlessly trying to figure out alignments is far more likely to be town than scum. I've noticed a lot of newer players falling into the trap of paranoia, thinking that players leading the town are trying to fool them, but in practice this is simply not the case most of the time. I'll say it one more time cause it bears repeating: the most active and aggressive player in the game, leading the town and trying to figure out alignments, is far more often town, not scum.

Second, internal logic. This is a word people have seen me toss around quite a few times so let me explain. Town will often change their opinions about things - reads are fluid - so that's not what I'm talking about per se. What I am talking about is being able to locate a reason anytime someone changes their read. If there is clear progression in a player's thought process that shows they are truly engaging with the game and trying to figure it out, that player is more likely to be town because it shows they don't know who the mafia are already. Mafia, on the other hand, will often change their opinions for strategic reasons, and often the change in opinion will be inconsistent with their internal logic. That's when you know you've caught scum. Internal consistency of this kind also has to do with what a specific player is capable of, and the specific way that player thinks about things. When evaluating Lannan, for example, the kind of logic you have to look for in his reads and changes of opinion is very different from the kind of logic you have to look for when evaluating Budda. If Budda changes his opinion about something, but offers as his reason something that makes no sense given Budda's approach to the game, then that suggests the change in opinion is internally inconsistent.

Third and final point regarding tells that come from knowing too much: players that just follow the majority consensus and rehash the same points presented by others are often scum. Again, this falls into the category of not treating the game as a puzzle to solve. Instead, mafia will just go along with whatever is the popular opinion because they already know who the scum are. This is not nearly as solid behavioral evidence as the other points I've mentioned already but it is something to think about, and to be on the lookout for. If a player never offers a single original thought, it would be wise to take inquire further into their thought process and see whether they genuine believe in those lynches or whether their entire thought process is contrived. Note, also, as a kind of reverse logic, that players pushing crazy ideas or reads that no one else agrees with, are often town. TUF's belief that drafter was scum in Castle in the Sky is a good example of this.
TUF
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5/19/2013 8:53:32 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
You should do a theory debate with some one. I'll have to read over this also later, but I skimmed a few points. Interesting stuff.
"I've got to go and grab a shirt" ~ Airmax1227
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Posts: 18,324
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5/20/2013 1:25:24 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
FT, you make great points. There is a lot of good information there especially about players who lead the town. It is quite frustrating when noobies get intimidated by leaders and think that they are scum.

I think the part about taking credit for a mislynch isn't always true. Scum will take credit for a mislynch if they feel that it makes them look town.

I don't disagree that your read of Sui in Castle in the Sky was dead on. However, with a different player, it may not be as accurate. Consider Royalpaladin in one of Drafterman's old games, "Choose your own adventure:"

http://www.debate.org...

She is mafia and supposedly "catches" a townie while saying things like "I just caught a Mafioso that nobody else would have caught."

In fact, she was adamant that she be given credit for that lynch:

At 3/23/2012 8:18:52 PM, royalpaladin wrote:
At 3/23/2012 8:18:22 PM, Hardcore.Pwnography wrote:
At 3/23/2012 8:17:44 PM, royalpaladin wrote:
At 3/23/2012 8:16:15 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
Guys, don't lynch anyone yet. Did Royal and HCP claim?

If you do not trust me, just have dreams about me. I just caught a Mafioso that nobody else would have caught.

Jordan? You caught Jordan? WTF?!

Yeah, I demonstrated that he was lying. What, are you going to take credit for this lynch?

On the very next page, page 18, look at my reaction to that. I had a strong scumread on Royal (correctly) but once she starts taking credit for lynching one of my townreads, I say:

At 3/23/2012 8:22:38 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
Guys, seriously don't lynch until I catch up and post some analysis. I'll try to make a list of all night actions, who visited who etc, and then we can decide on the best course of action.

I am somewhat convinced that Royal isn't likely mafia though I am not positive. I doubt she would demand credit for a lynch if she was mafia. Maybe we should hold off on the claim for a bit and come back to it later.

just as you have done with Sui.

Further down the page, she says things like: "FOS HCP for taking credit for MY CATCH. He is trying to appear Pro-Town."

And later, she says:

WOW
I CAUGHT HIM IN THE LIE. YOU JUST SAID "ROYAL IS TELLING THE TRUTH SO JORDAN IS MAF."
BRILLIANT CONCLUSION. THAT WAS OBVIOUS.

and also:

Complete bull. I posted the results about my vest and how I was silenced. I then pointed out he was lying and voted for him. All you did was say that if he is lying, he is probably maf. Brilliant. A kindergartner would have seen that. It was MY catch.

Normally, that would be a huge town tell but this was so over the top WIFOM, I got wary of using this tell - for good.
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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5/20/2013 9:20:07 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
The problem with your passivity tell is that it can backfire, especially when it becomes a known trait of a player. For example, me. In medic's Gangaster mafia, BV was convinced I was Town because of how aggressive I was being, in response to my normal "sit back and let Town tear itself apart" mafia mod.

For the most part, this is some solid meta-analysis.
FourTrouble
Posts: 12,757
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5/20/2013 10:29:20 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
No tell is absolute. There are a lot of factors to take into account. I think the case regarding royal is not really analogous to Sui. There are subtle differences, royal is way over the top and trying to deny others credit. Sui was trying to wagon and didn't want to get left behind.
G6
Posts: 54
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5/21/2013 3:31:13 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
FT that was truly inspiring! I am amazed at how ell you actually conveyed it to me!

One problem though... Any Scum who read this will know what to avoid now. =.=
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Posts: 18,324
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8/26/2013 8:48:22 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/19/2013 8:43:28 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
I'm gonna finish writing this up later but wanted to get out the beginning to see what you guys think so far.

I'd be interested in seeing the rest of it.
blackhawk1331
Posts: 4,932
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8/26/2013 9:37:10 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
This is great.
Because you said it was a waste, numb nuts. - Drafter

So fvck you. :) - TV

Use prima facie correctly or not at all. - Noumena