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Balancing 3rd parties

Ore_Ele
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4/10/2015 8:19:20 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
When designing a game, how do you balance 3rd party with town and scum? Normally, for straight town to scum, I try to make it so there is 1 mislynch per scum (so 1 scum to 3 town), however, different third parties should be weighed differently. A survivor does not impact the balance as much as a serial killer.
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F-16_Fighting_Falcon
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4/10/2015 8:30:55 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/10/2015 8:19:20 PM, Ore_Ele wrote:
When designing a game, how do you balance 3rd party with town and scum? Normally, for straight town to scum, I try to make it so there is 1 mislynch per scum (so 1 scum to 3 town), however, different third parties should be weighed differently. A survivor does not impact the balance as much as a serial killer.

I typically try to have one extra mislynch to lose than the number of scum. For instance 2 scum in a 9P game, 3 scum in a 13P game, 4 scum in a 17P game etc.

I think balancing serial killers is tricky. Your safest bet is to add in about 2-3 extra vanilla townies since SK is statistically more likely to hit town.
Ore_Ele
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4/10/2015 8:44:19 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I typically have cult recruit as 2 mislynches, SK (or anything with a killing win con) as a 0.8, survivor as 0.4, and a independent win con (non-killing) as a 0.6, then round everything up. I'm just wondering if that is what others do or if I'm missing something.
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BlackVoid
Posts: 9,170
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4/10/2015 9:43:28 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I think SKs are way too swingy of a role. I doubt I'll ever use it. We wait several months to mod a single game, so the risk of an SK heavily skewing the game one way or another through sheer luck is too much of a risk. I mean, if the SK shoots 2 scum, that kills the game. And if they shoot a bunch of townies, that also kills the game.

I remember in Solar System, the mafia got absolutely shredded. I think 3/5 DPs ended with a mafia lynch and the other two were VTNLs. The mafia still won the game, because the SK killed a townie every single night.

Similarly, I think standard Cult Leaders (recruit every night) cause too much swing if they're not killed off early. It gives mafia a bunch of free mislynches and it throws a lot of behavior analysis out the window because you cant rely on town-tells from previous DPs.

Honestly, I'm not really a big fan of third-parties in general anymore, at least as a mod. Im probably just sticking with town and mafia from here on out. Not just because of swing, but I also think its more fun to play as town when you can put 100% of your focus on finding mafia, without the distraction of TPs.
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
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4/10/2015 9:49:08 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
There are effects to a cult recruit beyond just two mislynches. It is very, very difficult to figure out cultists because players that were once town could become cult. This is far different than catching mafia who are the informed minority from the beginning and whose behavior can be analyzed to find them.

As a rule, I think the standard cult is overpowered i.e. a cult with a recruiter that can recruit every night. It is also unnecessarily swingy - it may be the case that the recruiter is lynched DP1 and there is no cult - or it may be the case where the recruiter lives a few nights and the cult easily overpowers the other factions.

I'm in general against cults and alignment changes of any sort beyond gimmicky games and I'd definitely classify those as bastard games. Mods should inform the playerbase before if there's the possibility of a cult. That way people can lay back and play a lolgame rather than invest their time and energy playing mafia to find that they are playing against something that skews in favor of luck over skill.

As for SKs, I'm not sure, where you got the 0.8 from but it seems fair? I think running worst case and best case scenarios helps. But they should be interpreted correctly. And both the worst and best case scenarios should still keep the game fair.

For instance, if I'm using a serial killer in a medium size game like 18 players, I'd probably have 3 mafia, 1 SK, and 14 townies.

Worst case for town:
DP1: Mislynch (13-3-1)
NP1: Mafia and SK kill town (11-3-1)
DP2: Mislynch (10-3-1)
NP2: Mafia and SK kill town (8-3-1)
DP3: Mislynch (7-3-1)
NP3: Mafia and SK kill town (5-3-1)
(At 5 town, 4 scum, Town can still win after mislynching 3 times but unlikely)

Worst case for mafia:
DP1: Mafia lynch (14-2-1)
NP1: Mafia kills town, SK kills mafia (13-1-1)
DP2: Mafia lynch (13-0-1)

So, that can lead to quick demise of scum. So, from there, I'd probably make one of the scum bulletproof, and add an X-shot doc for the scum so the other two can get protection if they anticipate kills. I'd probably also not have direct investigative roles in the town to catch them to reduce their chances of being lynched because of investigations.
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
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4/10/2015 9:54:34 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/10/2015 9:43:28 PM, BlackVoid wrote:
I think SKs are way too swingy of a role. I doubt I'll ever use it. We wait several months to mod a single game, so the risk of an SK heavily skewing the game one way or another through sheer luck is too much of a risk. I mean, if the SK shoots 2 scum, that kills the game. And if they shoot a bunch of townies, that also kills the game.

I remember in Solar System, the mafia got absolutely shredded. I think 3/5 DPs ended with a mafia lynch and the other two were VTNLs. The mafia still won the game, because the SK killed a townie every single night.

Similarly, I think standard Cult Leaders (recruit every night) cause too much swing if they're not killed off early. It gives mafia a bunch of free mislynches and it throws a lot of behavior analysis out the window because you cant rely on town-tells from previous DPs.

Honestly, I'm not really a big fan of third-parties in general anymore, at least as a mod. Im probably just sticking with town and mafia from here on out. Not just because of swing, but I also think its more fun to play as town when you can put 100% of your focus on finding mafia, without the distraction of TPs.

HEY! I just said all of this and I didn't see your post. But yeah, pretty much agree here.

There are ways to incorporate SKs into games but mods need to understand balance more. Like, most games on DDO have the town too OP but there are generally too many scum for the game size. I'd encourage having a lot less town power and just MORE vanilla townies proportionally so town can mislynch a few times and still win rather than it being like the cop catches a mafia every night but if town lynches wrong, they lose quickly. It leads to too much reliance on roles rather than play.

Solar System was the game I was thinking of as well when I wrote my post. There was also another old Ore_Ele game (Drugged out) where he incorporated a non-standard cult - it was pretty cool but my role after I was recruited ended up being too OP and cult won. Blackhawk's Star Trek, and Eragon games were a mess too, balance-wise.

I agree with your stance on third parties. The game is so much more fun when it is town vs mafia. Ideally, I'd have 3 scum, 10 townies, and a bare minimum of roles. That's what my next game will be like (it'll be a 13P game btw).
EndarkenedRationalist
Posts: 14,201
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4/10/2015 10:04:15 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/10/2015 9:43:28 PM, BlackVoid wrote:
I think SKs are way too swingy of a role. I doubt I'll ever use it. We wait several months to mod a single game, so the risk of an SK heavily skewing the game one way or another through sheer luck is too much of a risk. I mean, if the SK shoots 2 scum, that kills the game. And if they shoot a bunch of townies, that also kills the game.

I remember in Solar System, the mafia got absolutely shredded. I think 3/5 DPs ended with a mafia lynch and the other two were VTNLs. The mafia still won the game, because the SK killed a townie every single night.

Similarly, I think standard Cult Leaders (recruit every night) cause too much swing if they're not killed off early. It gives mafia a bunch of free mislynches and it throws a lot of behavior analysis out the window because you cant rely on town-tells from previous DPs.

Honestly, I'm not really a big fan of third-parties in general anymore, at least as a mod. Im probably just sticking with town and mafia from here on out. Not just because of swing, but I also think its more fun to play as town when you can put 100% of your focus on finding mafia, without the distraction of TPs.

What about traitors/usurpers?
EndarkenedRationalist
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4/10/2015 10:05:01 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/10/2015 9:43:28 PM, BlackVoid wrote:
I think SKs are way too swingy of a role. I doubt I'll ever use it. We wait several months to mod a single game, so the risk of an SK heavily skewing the game one way or another through sheer luck is too much of a risk. I mean, if the SK shoots 2 scum, that kills the game. And if they shoot a bunch of townies, that also kills the game.

I remember in Solar System, the mafia got absolutely shredded. I think 3/5 DPs ended with a mafia lynch and the other two were VTNLs. The mafia still won the game, because the SK killed a townie every single night.

Similarly, I think standard Cult Leaders (recruit every night) cause too much swing if they're not killed off early. It gives mafia a bunch of free mislynches and it throws a lot of behavior analysis out the window because you cant rely on town-tells from previous DPs.

Honestly, I'm not really a big fan of third-parties in general anymore, at least as a mod. Im probably just sticking with town and mafia from here on out. Not just because of swing, but I also think its more fun to play as town when you can put 100% of your focus on finding mafia, without the distraction of TPs.

And yaks?
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Posts: 18,324
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4/10/2015 10:09:21 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
If you want my thoughts, those would go into the "definitely not" pile. I played in a game with a yakuza (me) and an usurper once. I yak'd myself to get BlackVoid on the team (he was cult), and then he brought the cult down from within to secure an epic victory. This was Danielle's classic mafia and it was so much fun.

I'd never run a game like that though because no one realizes how lucky it was that the game was so close. Everything just LUCKILY happened the way it did. If the variables were adjusted a bit, the game would have been a complete disaster. It was extremely poorly designed and balanced. By DP3, the town were all dead. It was a gimmick essentially - and a very enjoyable one at that.
BlackVoid
Posts: 9,170
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4/10/2015 10:11:10 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/10/2015 9:54:34 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
At 4/10/2015 9:43:28 PM, BlackVoid wrote:
I think SKs are way too swingy of a role. I doubt I'll ever use it. We wait several months to mod a single game, so the risk of an SK heavily skewing the game one way or another through sheer luck is too much of a risk. I mean, if the SK shoots 2 scum, that kills the game. And if they shoot a bunch of townies, that also kills the game.

I remember in Solar System, the mafia got absolutely shredded. I think 3/5 DPs ended with a mafia lynch and the other two were VTNLs. The mafia still won the game, because the SK killed a townie every single night.

Similarly, I think standard Cult Leaders (recruit every night) cause too much swing if they're not killed off early. It gives mafia a bunch of free mislynches and it throws a lot of behavior analysis out the window because you cant rely on town-tells from previous DPs.

Honestly, I'm not really a big fan of third-parties in general anymore, at least as a mod. Im probably just sticking with town and mafia from here on out. Not just because of swing, but I also think its more fun to play as town when you can put 100% of your focus on finding mafia, without the distraction of TPs.

HEY! I just said all of this and I didn't see your post. But yeah, pretty much agree here.

Lol, thats awesome.
EndarkenedRationalist
Posts: 14,201
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4/10/2015 10:13:06 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/10/2015 10:09:21 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
If you want my thoughts, those would go into the "definitely not" pile. I played in a game with a yakuza (me) and an usurper once. I yak'd myself to get BlackVoid on the team (he was cult), and then he brought the cult down from within to secure an epic victory. This was Danielle's classic mafia and it was so much fun.

That actually sounds amazing.

I'd never run a game like that though because no one realizes how lucky it was that the game was so close. Everything just LUCKILY happened the way it did. If the variables were adjusted a bit, the game would have been a complete disaster. It was extremely poorly designed and balanced. By DP3, the town were all dead. It was a gimmick essentially - and a very enjoyable one at that.

Yeah, I could see 1,000 problems happening.
I don't really see a huge issue with a TP joint-win survivor though.
BlackVoid
Posts: 9,170
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4/10/2015 10:19:40 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/10/2015 10:04:15 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:

What about traitors/usurpers?

Usurper is still kind of swingy. If you weaken the town in order to account for the GF's likely death, then the game becomes imbalanced if that doesnt actually happen. And if you dont weaken the town, then if the GF does die due to the Usurper, you've imbalanced the game in the opposite direction.

I also think the nature of the role undermines the point of playing as mafia - to work together with you teammates.

Its not nearly as bad as an SK or Cult, but I still wouldnt use it. That said, its not so bad that I would demand someone take it out if I were co-modding with them.

I think a Yak or a mafia recruit is fair as long as you force them to use it early. That way the town can still rely on behavior from previous DPs. In my last modded game, I forced the mafia to use their x1 recruit on NP1.
EndarkenedRationalist
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4/10/2015 10:21:49 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/10/2015 10:19:40 PM, BlackVoid wrote:
At 4/10/2015 10:04:15 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:

What about traitors/usurpers?

Usurper is still kind of swingy. If you weaken the town in order to account for the GF's likely death, then the game becomes imbalanced if that doesnt actually happen. And if you dont weaken the town, then if the GF does die due to the Usurper, you've imbalanced the game in the opposite direction.

Hm. That's true. I haven't seen a usurper on DDO. I guess that's a good reason why.

I also think the nature of the role undermines the point of playing as mafia - to work together with you teammates.

Its not nearly as bad as an SK or Cult, but I still wouldnt use it. That said, its not so bad that I would demand someone take it out if I were co-modding with them.

I think a Yak or a mafia recruit is fair as long as you force them to use it early. That way the town can still rely on behavior from previous DPs. In my last modded game, I forced the mafia to use their x1 recruit on NP1.

That's a good idea, actually. Something to keep in my back pocket, anyway. :-D
BlackVoid
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4/10/2015 10:22:42 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/10/2015 10:09:21 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
I'd never run a game like that though because no one realizes how lucky it was that the game was so close. Everything just LUCKILY happened the way it did. If the variables were adjusted a bit, the game would have been a complete disaster. It was extremely poorly designed and balanced. By DP3, the town were all dead. It was a gimmick essentially - and a very enjoyable one at that.

Most gimmicky game ever was either my Sci-Fi game or TUF's DBZ game.

Seriously, I look back at some of the games from a long time ago when crazy roles were a thing, and I'm just like wtf.

I let the town freaking replay a day phase. LOL. Such BS.
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
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4/10/2015 10:48:42 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/10/2015 10:22:42 PM, BlackVoid wrote:
At 4/10/2015 10:09:21 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
I'd never run a game like that though because no one realizes how lucky it was that the game was so close. Everything just LUCKILY happened the way it did. If the variables were adjusted a bit, the game would have been a complete disaster. It was extremely poorly designed and balanced. By DP3, the town were all dead. It was a gimmick essentially - and a very enjoyable one at that.

Most gimmicky game ever was either my Sci-Fi game or TUF's DBZ game.

Seriously, I look back at some of the games from a long time ago when crazy roles were a thing, and I'm just like wtf.

I let the town freaking replay a day phase. LOL. Such BS.

Lol, yeah that takes the cake. Only thing more gimmicky was bluesteel's ????? mafia. I actually re-read it during Pantheon to meta you and Medic and most of the time, I was shaking my head. At least he admitted it was a bastard game once it ended but it was so far beyond even a bastard game, it was not even mafia. Drafterman was right - it was a psychological experiment to see how a group of people deal with going insane. If a scum player died, he would put them back into the game and claim that there is no scum, just 3P and death millers.
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
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4/10/2015 10:52:24 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I think DDO is moving away from gimmicky type games to more serious mafia games that actually give both sides a fair chance of winning. In the old days, it was routine for everyone to comment/complain about game balance - and actually be right.

I'd like to think my Fantasy Mafia game was reasonably balanced despite you being a hybrid vig/SK because I added in enough low power roles to not make it very swingy and the killing roles were all nerfed so it doesn't become a crazy massacre. Town mislynched 5 times and lost if I recall correctly.
Ore_Ele
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4/11/2015 3:00:26 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
I've been looking at ways to try to balance some of this. One thing I found is that while starting "balance" can be done, the more tweaks and powers you put in, the more unstable a game can become. I would think that for the most part, regardless what is done, by the start of DP3 or 4, both Town and Mafia still have a chance of winning.

Some things that I was looking at was.

Cult Recruiter being an X-Shot (and having some town that cannot be recruited)
Having a Medium that rather than getting info each night, it is tied to other events, such as recruiting. So each time there is a recruit, the medium gets more and more info (they would be immune to recruiting), though if they are killed, that will swing the balance their role creates. And of course, the ultimate in lazy "how to create role stability?" Universal Backup.
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Buddamoose
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4/11/2015 3:01:51 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
This thread saddens me and my love of third parties :(
"Reality is an illusion created due to a lack of alcohol"
-Airmax1227

"You were the moon all this time, and he was always there to make you shine."

"Was he the sun?"

"No honey, he was the darkness"

-Kazekirion
Ore_Ele
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4/11/2015 3:09:24 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/11/2015 3:01:51 AM, Buddamoose wrote:
This thread saddens me and my love of third parties :(

there will always be 3rd parties in my games.
"Wanting Red Rhino Pill to have gender"
Buddamoose
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4/11/2015 3:16:08 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/11/2015 3:09:24 AM, Ore_Ele wrote:
At 4/11/2015 3:01:51 AM, Buddamoose wrote:
This thread saddens me and my love of third parties :(

there will always be 3rd parties in my games.

That's how the cool kids like us roll
"Reality is an illusion created due to a lack of alcohol"
-Airmax1227

"You were the moon all this time, and he was always there to make you shine."

"Was he the sun?"

"No honey, he was the darkness"

-Kazekirion
Ore_Ele
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4/11/2015 3:51:34 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/11/2015 3:16:08 AM, Buddamoose wrote:
At 4/11/2015 3:09:24 AM, Ore_Ele wrote:
At 4/11/2015 3:01:51 AM, Buddamoose wrote:
This thread saddens me and my love of third parties :(

there will always be 3rd parties in my games.

That's how the cool kids like us roll

whens the last time you actually signed up for a game?
"Wanting Red Rhino Pill to have gender"
Buddamoose
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4/11/2015 3:55:30 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/11/2015 3:51:34 AM, Ore_Ele wrote:
At 4/11/2015 3:16:08 AM, Buddamoose wrote:
At 4/11/2015 3:09:24 AM, Ore_Ele wrote:
At 4/11/2015 3:01:51 AM, Buddamoose wrote:
This thread saddens me and my love of third parties :(

there will always be 3rd parties in my games.

That's how the cool kids like us roll

whens the last time you actually signed up for a game?

Months ago
"Reality is an illusion created due to a lack of alcohol"
-Airmax1227

"You were the moon all this time, and he was always there to make you shine."

"Was he the sun?"

"No honey, he was the darkness"

-Kazekirion
bluesteel
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4/13/2015 1:55:17 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
I don't use 3P generally. I think it makes the game less fun. And I hate cult recruiters. It defeats the point of the game imo.

If I do use it, I generally use 3P the same as a negative utility town role. I treat a survivor the same way I'd treat having two cops in the game (i.e. a mislynch is likely because of this). Lynching a survivor is indistinguishable from mislynching, in terms of the advantage it gives to the mafia.

The only game for me that was an exception was Dexter. And in that game, the mafia were the distraction from the SK. The SK was the main town opponent. Mafia was just a distraction that the SK could use to hide for a few extra DP's.

So basically, figure out the main anti-town faction. Figure out how the other anti-town faction can most screw up town's chances of beating the main anti-town faction. And balance accordingly.

SK and cult seriously screw up games for the reasons already mentioned. SK can end up killing the entire mafia or can make it impossible for town to win even if they lynch scum every DP, since two townies could die each NP. Cult is dumb. You'd never make a mafia role where if the town doesn't catch the godfather by DP4, they basically can't defeat the mafia. But that's what would happen in practice with a recruiter. Two or more recruits will often mean a cult win.

Unless you can figure out how to address those concerns, I wouldn't use those roles. You could balance cult by limiting the number of recruits of by having a huge number of investigative roles and shield mafia from most of them (which almost forces cult to out themselves and play pro-town). But that's the problem I see with a lot of 3P roles. Survivor can out themselves and play pro town. SK can out themselves or claim vig and play pro-town. They can really screw up a well-thought out game based on how they play. You can't necessarily assume that a 3P will be a negative utility to the town. It's easier to balance a game using just two factions.

Usually the least fun games I've played in involved having too many factions, particularly the ones that had more than one mafia faction. Or an unbeatable cult.

Cult sucks either way. Either you play well and don't get recruited by endgame, so you basically helped kill all the mafia, but lose just cuz the recruiter didn't target you. Or you do nothing all game and win because the cult happened to recruit you the last NP, after the game was already basically over.

Cult also makes it easier to find mafia. Assuming the recruiter dies upon recruiting mafia, it's basically a Mason. Everyone in the PM is confirmed non-mafia. Between confirmed townies and confirmed cult (to people in the PM), PoE makes it easy to lynch scum.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
bluesteel
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4/13/2015 2:01:46 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/10/2015 10:48:42 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
At 4/10/2015 10:22:42 PM, BlackVoid wrote:
At 4/10/2015 10:09:21 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
I'd never run a game like that though because no one realizes how lucky it was that the game was so close. Everything just LUCKILY happened the way it did. If the variables were adjusted a bit, the game would have been a complete disaster. It was extremely poorly designed and balanced. By DP3, the town were all dead. It was a gimmick essentially - and a very enjoyable one at that.

Most gimmicky game ever was either my Sci-Fi game or TUF's DBZ game.

Seriously, I look back at some of the games from a long time ago when crazy roles were a thing, and I'm just like wtf.

I let the town freaking replay a day phase. LOL. Such BS.

Lol, yeah that takes the cake. Only thing more gimmicky was bluesteel's ????? mafia. I actually re-read it during Pantheon to meta you and Medic and most of the time, I was shaking my head. At least he admitted it was a bastard game once it ended but it was so far beyond even a bastard game, it was not even mafia. Drafterman was right - it was a psychological experiment to see how a group of people deal with going insane. If a scum player died, he would put them back into the game and claim that there is no scum, just 3P and death millers.

lol yeah, looking back I took it too far. Had I stuck to more defined criteria about how I would and would not bastard mod, town likely still would have won.

The context was also important. I can't remember which games, but there had been a string of games where mods experimented with bastard modding (e.g. letting scum write portions of the mod's OP message each DP). It was also kind of just to prove a point to mods to stop bastard modding because it was annoying. So it was also a political statement.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
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4/13/2015 2:08:16 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/13/2015 1:55:17 AM, bluesteel wrote:
I don't use 3P generally. I think it makes the game less fun. And I hate cult recruiters. It defeats the point of the game imo.

If I do use it, I generally use 3P the same as a negative utility town role. I treat a survivor the same way I'd treat having two cops in the game (i.e. a mislynch is likely because of this). Lynching a survivor is indistinguishable from mislynching, in terms of the advantage it gives to the mafia.

The only game for me that was an exception was Dexter. And in that game, the mafia were the distraction from the SK. The SK was the main town opponent. Mafia was just a distraction that the SK could use to hide for a few extra DP's.

So basically, figure out the main anti-town faction. Figure out how the other anti-town faction can most screw up town's chances of beating the main anti-town faction. And balance accordingly.

SK and cult seriously screw up games for the reasons already mentioned. SK can end up killing the entire mafia or can make it impossible for town to win even if they lynch scum every DP, since two townies could die each NP. Cult is dumb. You'd never make a mafia role where if the town doesn't catch the godfather by DP4, they basically can't defeat the mafia. But that's what would happen in practice with a recruiter. Two or more recruits will often mean a cult win.

Unless you can figure out how to address those concerns, I wouldn't use those roles. You could balance cult by limiting the number of recruits of by having a huge number of investigative roles and shield mafia from most of them (which almost forces cult to out themselves and play pro-town). But that's the problem I see with a lot of 3P roles. Survivor can out themselves and play pro town. SK can out themselves or claim vig and play pro-town. They can really screw up a well-thought out game based on how they play. You can't necessarily assume that a 3P will be a negative utility to the town. It's easier to balance a game using just two factions.

Usually the least fun games I've played in involved having too many factions, particularly the ones that had more than one mafia faction. Or an unbeatable cult.

Cult sucks either way. Either you play well and don't get recruited by endgame, so you basically helped kill all the mafia, but lose just cuz the recruiter didn't target you. Or you do nothing all game and win because the cult happened to recruit you the last NP, after the game was already basically over.

Cult also makes it easier to find mafia. Assuming the recruiter dies upon recruiting mafia, it's basically a Mason. Everyone in the PM is confirmed non-mafia. Between confirmed townies and confirmed cult (to people in the PM), PoE makes it easy to lynch scum.

You're probably going to love my games. You should sign up for my next mafia game right now. I was just venting to FT in a PM about how cults suck and outlined how I'd run my next game:

1. 100% randomized, no tweaking (seriously wtf is wrong with people that they don't fully randomize?)
2. I will decline /ins from serial flakers, fake-claimers, and players who have created a detrimental impact to the game.
3. I'll invite all the top players.
4. No bastard mechanics. No mod lies. No recruitments, no third parties, no nonsense. 13 players, 10 town, 3 mafia. No godfathers. No flavored cops. No death millers.