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Author Topic: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)  (Read 1120 times)

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jotheonah

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How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« on: May 29, 2019, 09:46:56 am »

UPDATE: Google Form to weigh in on the relative strength of roles: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScknY2r6gx28HdUNGt0VoH9D39He8fhu4M9H6UPk3fXQK8gGQ/viewform?usp=sf_link

I have been looking around the interwebz and I can't really find a checklist or guide for balancing a game, so I thought that might be a fun thing to community-source. If we come up with something we like, we could even make a pinned post in the Mafia Games Thread.

To me, the most useful format would be a checklist: What are the questions you ask when trying to break (or to balance) a setup? This is what I have so far:

  • Does the game contain both a Cop role and a Doctor? If so, can the town win with "Follow the Cop"?
  • What happens if town agrees to a Day 1 mass claim? Does scum have viable fake claims?
  • Do the flips of certain roles create untintentional ICs? Are there roles that have hidden additional value because of this, and does that value unbalance the game?
  • Does a role in the game totally invalidate another role in the game? For instance, if scum has a strongman and no incentive to have anyone else do the kill, it greatly weakens a town doctor.
  • For each role in the game, consider:
    - If this role is lynched day one, is the rest of the game balanced?
    - If this role survives to LyLo, is it overpowered?

This is just a starting point. I'm sure there are a lot more. I also think there's something to be written before you get to the checklist that includes some basic heuristics -- what's an ideal scum-to-town ratio? How do third parties affect this? What are the relative strengths of various common roles? What are the broken combos besides Doctor/Cop?

Ultimately, I think more people brewing and people brewing better could both really liven up this community, and we have a ton of knowledge here. I'd love to condense it into a resource that would make setup design less daunting and more accessible, and maybe make all games here more fun.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2019, 10:38:29 am by jotheonah »
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sudgy

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2019, 11:24:50 am »

Just FYI, each number is listed twice.  Do you also do the same mistake here?
more people brewing and more people brewing

I feel like it's weird to have follow the cop listed first.  I would say all of the generic things first, then maybe have a separate section for broken combos.  There should also be something about the general power level of each faction, and the size of each faction.
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faust

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2019, 12:04:01 pm »

I don't think balance is the right term exactly. A game with Follow the Cop can be "balanced" in the sense that for some ratio of town to scum, it's going to have the right win rations for the factions, but it still is not going to be fun and something you should not do. I have started writing a sort of setup creation guide, which is still work in progress, but I could share what I have so far.
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jotheonah

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2019, 12:28:15 pm »

I don't think balance is the right term exactly. A game with Follow the Cop can be "balanced" in the sense that for some ratio of town to scum, it's going to have the right win rations for the factions, but it still is not going to be fun and something you should not do. I have started writing a sort of setup creation guide, which is still work in progress, but I could share what I have so far.

True. There's actually several things to worry about:

1. Balance
2. Fun (including solvability)
3. Swinginess

Where swinginess is "do a small number of decisions/deaths have an outsized affect on the game?"
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jotheonah

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2019, 12:29:08 pm »

Just FYI, each number is listed twice.  Do you also do the same mistake here?
more people brewing and more people brewing

Very confusing wording but I meant (A) more people brewing and (B) more of the people who are brewing it doing it well. I reworded to hopefully be clearer.
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jotheonah

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2019, 12:34:59 pm »

Also, before someone tells me, it looks like we've had something like this already!

http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=16397.0

Idk how I missed it before. I'm a dope. I still like the idea of a checklist and some heuristics, but there's no reason to reinvent the wheel if a lot of work has been done.

I'mma dig into that older pinned post a bit and see what's missing there, if anything. Otherwise I might just delete this thread in shame :P
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jotheonah

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2019, 12:43:21 pm »

Yeah that is all good stuff. I think what could still be added is:

-A checklist that people can go through before launching a game
-A specific list of broken combos, and maybe how to unbreak them (JK instead of doctor, as an obvious example to fix doctor/cop)
-A power ranking for individual roles to help in creating a balanced setup in the first place

The latter would be incredibly contentious and subjective, of course.
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Glooble

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2019, 12:51:34 pm »

I think some discussion on the merits of open/closed/ semi-open would be helpful as well.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2019, 02:16:27 pm »

I would proceed as follows

1. A game with 9 town (8 VT + 1 cop) and 3 scum is arguably perfectly balanced. If your game has a similar number of players, compare your balance with that game. don't rely on intuition, make up numbers with intuition and then look at what the numbers say. (For example, if you give cop 4 utility points, you could give doctor 1)

2. In the above, be aware that whether the setup is closed or open makes large difference. If it's open, then a doctor would basically be an IC. It would then not be a 1 but at least a 2.

3. Ask yourself how good play would look like from both sides, and if it's boring, change the setup. This catches things like follow-the-cop but it's a more general trick than memorizing a bunch of combos.
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Glooble

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2019, 03:35:18 pm »

I would proceed as follows

1. A game with 9 town (8 VT + 1 cop) and 3 scum is arguably perfectly balanced. If your game has a similar number of players, compare your balance with that game. don't rely on intuition, make up numbers with intuition and then look at what the numbers say. (For example, if you give cop 4 utility points, you could give doctor 1)


Scum have some inherent powers - a nightkill and night chat. Town has numbers. These things seem obvious, but if one is going to try and assign point values to every advantage, it makes sense to keep this in mind.
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faust

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2019, 04:26:05 pm »

With all the talk about Cops and Doctors it should be pointed out that Cop is a pretty lame role anyway and should be avoided/modified whenever possible.
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silverspawn

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2019, 06:28:14 pm »

I would proceed as follows

1. A game with 9 town (8 VT + 1 cop) and 3 scum is arguably perfectly balanced. If your game has a similar number of players, compare your balance with that game. don't rely on intuition, make up numbers with intuition and then look at what the numbers say. (For example, if you give cop 4 utility points, you could give doctor 1)


Scum have some inherent powers - a nightkill and night chat. Town has numbers. These things seem obvious, but if one is going to try and assign point values to every advantage, it makes sense to keep this in mind.

My point was that we have a setup which we can reasonably establish at a baseline and that setup has these hard-to-quantify factors which are usually the same in every game, so we do -not- need to quantify them. We only need to quantify town PRs and mafia PRs.

For example, say you have an open setup with 13 players, 10 town and a town doctor and a town commuter vs 3 goons. Is that balanced? Kind of not clear. But now compare it to the 9-3 setup with one cop. If cop is a 4 and doctor is a 2.5 and commuter also a 2.5 (open setup, so all PRs are good because they're semi-ICs) and the setup has one more town player, then we actually get a clear answer which is probably correct: no, this setup isn't balanced, it's town favored. That works without modeling the NK.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2019, 10:00:34 pm »

I'll tag to follow, but I don't have any thoughts yet
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2019, 11:10:42 pm »

How important is striving for equal win rates?
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popsofctown

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2019, 11:42:04 pm »

I'd argue you don't need equal winrates to have a fun time, but that closer to even winrates is better and erring on the side of frequent scum wins is better. .

Doc + Doc is actually similarly broken to Follow the Cop so Follow the Cop doesn't deserve a unique name.

It's important to consider how hypoclaiming and breadcrumbing impact a setup.  Hypoclaiming is a method of breaking open setups where every single player indicates what action he would take if he did have a power role, without claiming or disclaiming the power role.  I played a mafia setup full of hiders that was too broken due to this, but you could make a setup that's balanced and worth playing even with hypoclaiming happening.  The important thing is to at least consider it.

Cop is kind of a terrible role yet people stills seem to want to put cops into setups.  I don't know why.  People don't seem to suggest adding items to shooters that grant an aimbot effect for the rest of the game and they don't seem to suggest that the next mario game should have an item that causes all inputs to move him directly towards the nearest start yet people really want to play with a mafia role that plays mafia for you so you don't have to play mafia.
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jotheonah

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2019, 10:26:17 am »

I'd argue you don't need equal winrates to have a fun time, but that closer to even winrates is better and erring on the side of frequent scum wins is better. .

Doc + Doc is actually similarly broken to Follow the Cop so Follow the Cop doesn't deserve a unique name.

It's important to consider how hypoclaiming and breadcrumbing impact a setup.  Hypoclaiming is a method of breaking open setups where every single player indicates what action he would take if he did have a power role, without claiming or disclaiming the power role.  I played a mafia setup full of hiders that was too broken due to this, but you could make a setup that's balanced and worth playing even with hypoclaiming happening.  The important thing is to at least consider it.

Cop is kind of a terrible role yet people stills seem to want to put cops into setups.  I don't know why.  People don't seem to suggest adding items to shooters that grant an aimbot effect for the rest of the game and they don't seem to suggest that the next mario game should have an item that causes all inputs to move him directly towards the nearest start yet people really want to play with a mafia role that plays mafia for you so you don't have to play mafia.

pops! good to see you. you should play with us again.

Do you think cop variants like Tracker or Watcher are better? What about rolecops? Is it only alignment cops you have an issue with?

I sort of agree with you. I like cops but I like them to be limited and fallible.
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jotheonah

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2019, 10:38:02 am »

In terms of weighting the individual roles, I made a Google Form. Might be interesting to see where the consensuses and differences of opinion are:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScknY2r6gx28HdUNGt0VoH9D39He8fhu4M9H6UPk3fXQK8gGQ/viewform?usp=sf_link
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Glooble

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2019, 11:33:18 am »

In terms of weighting the individual roles, I made a Google Form. Might be interesting to see where the consensuses and differences of opinion are:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScknY2r6gx28HdUNGt0VoH9D39He8fhu4M9H6UPk3fXQK8gGQ/viewform?usp=sf_link

Is there a way to evaluate the strength of the role as scum vs. its strength as town? Because that can very wildly. It's hard to assign a number to "rolecop" for example- much more useful for scum than for town.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2019, 11:34:42 am »

In terms of weighting the individual roles, I made a Google Form. Might be interesting to see where the consensuses and differences of opinion are:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScknY2r6gx28HdUNGt0VoH9D39He8fhu4M9H6UPk3fXQK8gGQ/viewform?usp=sf_link
I think 1 - 5 is a too small range to accurately depict my feelings, especially when you include actively anti-town roles like Lynchproof who need to be in their own category, leaving only 4 for the rest. Also you might need some clarifications... Rolestopper has a vastly different power level based on whether they can prevent kills.

PPE: It says for town on the first page.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2019, 11:36:21 am »

In terms of weighting the individual roles, I made a Google Form. Might be interesting to see where the consensuses and differences of opinion are:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScknY2r6gx28HdUNGt0VoH9D39He8fhu4M9H6UPk3fXQK8gGQ/viewform?usp=sf_link
I think 1 - 5 is a too small range to accurately depict my feelings, especially when you include actively anti-town roles like Lynchproof who need to be in their own category, leaving only 4 for the rest. Also you might need some clarifications... Rolestopper has a vastly different power level based on whether they can prevent kills.

PPE: It says for town on the first page.


Doh! Missed that.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2019, 11:37:55 am »

Also, I assume Bulletproof and Lynchproof are supposed to be 1-shot? Otherwise a Lynchproof scum is basically instant win.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2019, 12:35:18 pm by jotheonah »
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2019, 11:42:32 am »

Some of the writing up I have done (work in progress, but feel free to comment):

1. General

(1) The main objective of game design is to create a game that is fun. That means it should be fun to the people playing the game, and not primarily to you, the mod. The best way to ensure that players have fun is to give them agency, i.e. to give the players the feeling that their actions really influence the way the game is going. This is a key ingredient and it will be referenced throughout this guide. There are other parts to a fun game - creative roles, interesting interactions, good flavor - but agency is the most important.

2. Conception

(1) Have a core idea. It is hard to get going on the design process without an idea of what to put in. Having an idea of what to do keeps you focused early on. The core idea can be many things - a unique mechanic, a theme, showing off an unusual role - just make sure it helps you come of with the first couple of roles. It is not a problem if at a later stage in the design process you realize that your idea won't work out as intended - by that time you have already built some of the setup and hopefully can take it from there.

(2) Don't give players bad roles. You may think that a VT without a vote would be an interesting challenge, but it is not motivating. The problem is you take away agency from the player. Try to avoid this in role design. If you need a nerf or an anti-town role, there are other options that do not reduce agency (like Macho or Hated). A plain Traitor without any knowledge or powers is a bad idea for similar reasons. You can still take agency away, but give your players something to make up for it.

(3) Opt for player choice whenever possible. A JOAT that can pick a power every Night is more fun than one that can only use a specific power in a specific Night. This is again because player choice increases agency. Therefore, an Innocent Child that can pick when to be revealed is better then one that is simply revealed when the game starts. Of course adding more choice makes the role more powerful, and sometimes you will still need to go with the weaker and less interactive version for balance reasons.

(4) Avoid random events. Leaving anything up to RNG removes agency. Consider a role that is Doctor 50% or the time and Vigilante 50% of the time and doesn't know which. That poses an interesting challenge, you may think, but it carries the risk of being frustrating. Roles that only work a fraction of the time based on a coin lip are similarly problematic; a player not knowing whether their power worked hinders their ability to figure out what is going on and thus reduces agency.

(5) Think about the rules of your game. Determining length of days, plurality lynch, whether mafia has daychat and what happens in stalemate situations often come as an afterthought. I would encourage you to consider these things early on. Some roles are going to be more or less powerful depending on those parameters, and considering them a part of your setup concept helps bring your setup together.

(6) It should not be possible to completely out scum. Even if some investigative role has an incriminating result on scum, they should have some way to credibly argue their innocence. If they don't, they have nothing to do and the rest of town just follows the Cop, removing agency for everyone but the Cop.

(7) Map your interactions. A good game has interesting interactions between different roles. You can draw a dot for each role you have and a line for each interaction. The resulting graph should ideally be highly connected. It is still fine if it splits into multiple clusters. A shape you should avoid is the star, where there is one special role that everything else interacts with, because if that role dies early, it will leave your setup sort of bland.

2.1 Closed setups

(8) Have a way to get started. Closed setups are hard, and it's hard to find things to talk about D1. In order to get the first day running more smoothly, give your players something to talk about. That could be some public information, a unique mechanic or a role that wants to claim early on. Providing an easy entry point goes a long way to keep your players engaged.

(9) Avoid red herrings. It may sound interesting to put a Ninja role into a setup that does not have any tracking roles. Usually, it is a bad idea. A Ninja role means players reasonably assume that some form of Tracker is in the setup, and when this assumption decides the game it's not going to be fun for anyone. That doesn't mean you shouldn't surprise players, but don't lead them on.

(10) Make sure that scum can fakeclaim. At some point, there is going to be claiming in your game, and then scum should not lose because you created a bunch of highly complex roles for town that they had no chance of coming up with. Either make it clear that roles are going to be relatively simple, or give scum some way to learn about the setup, or provide sample fakeclaims. This is especially important in Role Madness games.

2.2 Semi-open setups

(11) Limit the number of possible setups. It sounds cool if you might roll a million different setups, but how often is you game going to be played anyway, realistically? Usually a two-digit number is enough, and since every setup has to be checked for balance, a lot less work.

(12) Consider the solvability of your setup. How many flips/claims does it take to determine the exact setup that is played? Does scum have sufficient knowledge to make fakeclaims that cannot immediately be countered, and how quickly will they be found out? Generally, you'd want to aim for situations where "of those 3 players, at least one must be lying" rather than 1v1 situations.

2.3 Open setups

(13) Unique roles are powerful. Everyone with  unique role can claim and confirm their townieness. Keep this in mind. You can break this by putting in more than one of the same role, but consider that oftentimes, copies of the same role can be broken for other reasons.

(14) Look at possible plans. If there is coordination to be done that clearly benefits town, then this is bad. If no planning improves town's chances, that is good. The game is arguably at its most interesting if there are mutually exclusive plans and it is not clear which is the best, but that is a difficult balance to achieve. Note that the more complex your game is, the more time you should spend thinking about this. Also consider  what happens if people decide to claim "with role X, I would do Y".

3. Theme

(1) Randomize fakeclaims. If you first think about which characters to include and then give fakeclaims to scum, it will most often result in them getting only minor characters, so that their pool of possible claims is limited. A way to avoid this is to start designing by making a list of characters, one per player, and then determine randomly which of those are scum. You can then go on from there.

(2) For open or semi-open games, a different way to avoid flavor outing is to give publicly known flavors to the possible power roles.

(3) Do not get carried away with theme. Your roles should focus one one or two characteristics and turn them into powers that fit together. It is more important to have roles that are interesting to play than to have roles that perfectly fit the flavor. RMMs give a bit more leeway in this, but you should still make sure that the roles you designed fit not only the flavor, but also each other.

(4) Give informative role flips. This is mostly relevant for closed games. Maybe you want to describe the ability of your character in flavor, not with the standard mafia names. Consider that this makes it harder for your players to figure out what is going on. A flip should provide some information on what that player's powers were. You might give a standard name to the power, or reveal parts of the role PM on flip, but in general it's bad to just flip "Tyrion Lannister, the Hand of the King".
« Last Edit: May 30, 2019, 11:44:05 am by faust »
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silverspawn

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2019, 11:42:36 am »

I think 1 - 5 is a too small range

I think restricting yourself to a fixed set of numbers is usually a terrible idea. There's just no real disadvantage to using more granularity. But the scale doesn't matter; if you can just write 2,3 if you want, then having 5 max is fine

In terms of weighting the individual roles, I made a Google Form. Might be interesting to see where the consensuses and differences of opinion are:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScknY2r6gx28HdUNGt0VoH9D39He8fhu4M9H6UPk3fXQK8gGQ/viewform?usp=sf_link

Is there a way to evaluate the strength of the role as scum vs. its strength as town? Because that can very wildly. It's hard to assign a number to "rolecop" for example- much more useful for scum than for town.

Numbers should be relative to the game. Look at the setup, evaluate how strong the role is there, and then give the number.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #23 on: May 30, 2019, 11:45:23 am »

I think 1 - 5 is a too small range

I think restricting yourself to a fixed set of numbers is usually a terrible idea. There's just no real disadvantage to using more granularity. But the scale doesn't matter; if you can just write 2,3 if you want, then having 5 max is fine
Yeah but you can only select integers in the survey.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2019, 11:54:24 am »

Right, yes.

The survey is still a cool idea btw. it's problematic but if people's answers differ too much, that could be interesting anyway.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #25 on: May 30, 2019, 12:35:44 pm »

Also, I assume Bulletproof and Lynchproof are supposed to be 1-shot? Otherwise a Lynchproof scum is basically instant win.

Yeah, I left that in by accident. Shouldn't really be on the scum or SK lists.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #26 on: May 30, 2019, 12:40:50 pm »

I was thinking the survey would be a good starting point to (A) identify the roles where there is no consensus so we can discuss them and (B) identify the roles we all basically agree on so we can start slotting those into some kind of hierarchy of power levels. But I left out a ton of roles mafiascum considers "normal" because there's just so many and I wanted the survey to not take forever.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2019, 07:37:20 pm »

I'm disappointed the survey does not include vigilante.

Vigilante is one of the most well designed power roles in mafia.  It interacts with the dayplay without subverting dayplay.  The vigilante can punish scum that have exposed themselves during the day, but does not need to influence other players to agree with him unlike lynching, so it is not fully redundant.  (Treestump or double voter would be roles that are so similar to the dayplay itself that they don't really add something).

Tracker is a far better designed role than watcher.  Watcher is asymptotically close to being as bad as cop.  Mafia can get around a tracker by sending a teammate to perform the NK who is not very much under suspicion.  It's already the same motis operandi for dodging jailkeeps and such.  But a watcher punishes the mafia for having a predictable nightkill target, and when it's a closed setup where they haven't been warned there is a watcher, that is just punishing them for playing mountainous mafia correctly.  It's like a doctor (which also has its detractors, actually), but it's worse, you will actually wish you had no killed when the watcher claims and outs not just one of your mafia, but the mafia teammate you thought was performing best this game. Yeah actually it might be worse than cop.

The potential for accidentally killing a roleblocker who targetted the same guy who got nightkilled doesn't help enough.  It's still going to be correctly play to lynch the watcher's target.  The best roles put weight on what is correct dayplay without dictating the dayplay.

Confirmed innocent and delayed confirm innocent (includes masons) (if you don't crumb your mason partner as you die 100% of the time you're bad at mafia) do this and they are generally good roles.  They are harmful in the sense that the town do not get a chance to use their skill to discern the innocent players for themselves, but they create a novel circumstance where a player the mafia targetted in the dayplay can be revealed to be a mislynch target, and the mislynch target gets to participate in the assessment of whether that was malicious.  So at least you're getting something new. 

To some extent it's kind of like items in mario kart, where every single item corrupts the core technique of driving a time trial track very well.  But also like mario kart, some of them replace the original steering challenge with a different steering challenge, while some of them subvert the steering challenge altogether and just make the game not about steering anymore until they go away.  (blue shell, bullet bill in the newer game don't play the newer games that thing is cancer)
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #28 on: May 31, 2019, 02:22:47 am »

Just thinking of the idea of being a SK with a lightning rod makes me cringe
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #29 on: May 31, 2019, 03:22:15 am »

Best closed setup ever
Noah's Ark Mafia

1 Bullet Proof Lightning Rod Paranoid Gun Owner Serial Killer
3 Mafia Goons
1 Informed Townie (Information: this setup includes a Bulletproof Lightning Rod Paranoid Gun Owner Serial Killer)
1 Cop
1 Doctor
1 Tracker
1 Watcher
1 Bodyguard
1 Hider
1 Vigilante
1 Masonizer
1 Gunsmith
1 Rolecop
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #30 on: May 31, 2019, 03:28:18 am »

Best closed setup ever
Noah's Ark Mafia

1 Bullet Proof Lightning Rod Paranoid Gun Owner Serial Killer
3 Mafia Goons
1 Informed Townie (Information: this setup includes a Bulletproof Lightning Rod Paranoid Gun Owner Serial Killer)
1 Cop
1 Doctor
1 Tracker
1 Watcher
1 Bodyguard
1 Hider
1 Vigilante
1 Masonizer
1 Gunsmith
1 Rolecop

Make sure it starts at night.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #31 on: May 31, 2019, 03:57:57 am »

Watcher is asymptotically close to being as bad as cop.  Mafia can get around a tracker by sending a teammate to perform the NK who is not very much under suspicion.  It's already the same motis operandi for dodging jailkeeps and such.  But a watcher punishes the mafia for having a predictable nightkill target, and when it's a closed setup where they haven't been warned there is a watcher, that is just punishing them for playing mountainous mafia correctly.  It's like a doctor (which also has its detractors, actually), but it's worse, you will actually wish you had no killed when the watcher claims and outs not just one of your mafia, but the mafia teammate you thought was performing best this game. Yeah actually it might be worse than cop.
The advantage that Watcher and Doctor have over a Cop is that they remedy a significant problem of mafia: Usually, playing well as town is rewarded by dying. Making it more difficult to nightkill strong players that are believed to be town by many is a way to reward good play as town in a way that isn't frustrating. A agree that there is a problem if scum isn't aware of the possibility of a Watcher, so they should be, either because it's a semi-open setup or because maybe they have a 1-shot Ninja or something to tip them off.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #32 on: May 31, 2019, 10:26:44 am »

So far the only think y'all 100 percent agree on is ....

That a serial killer bodyguard is not a strong ability.

I should really have put more time into this thing.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #33 on: May 31, 2019, 10:32:05 am »

Here is a second survey which includes seven town roles I left out of the first survey (including vigilante!)

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1VdrERylX77RfhqhIWZPcr0KOr8oR8j1RIxYfa270r84/edit
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #34 on: May 31, 2019, 11:29:27 pm »

Dying for playing well at mafia is a feature, not a bug.

You can just /in to another game once you're dead.  It's not like going to a party where there's only one video game for 1v1 fights and someone implemented the rule "loser stays to fight a new challenger".

You can just use a doctor in your setup if this is the effect you're looking for anyway.  There's no need to have such a massive swing. 
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #35 on: June 18, 2019, 05:58:43 am »

Just realized that I screwed this up. The setup I was referencing (it was used in the second mafia championship and had an empirically near-perfect balance) had 9 VT + 1 Cop, not 8 VT + 1 cop. Clearly, an odd number of town players in a game without a way to prevent the NK wouldn't make sense.

I would proceed as follows

1. A game with 9 town (8 VT + 1 cop) and 3 scum is arguably perfectly balanced. If your game has a similar number of players, compare your balance with that game. don't rely on intuition, make up numbers with intuition and then look at what the numbers say. (For example, if you give cop 4 utility points, you could give doctor 1)

2. In the above, be aware that whether the setup is closed or open makes large difference. If it's open, then a doctor would basically be an IC. It would then not be a 1 but at least a 2.

3. Ask yourself how good play would look like from both sides, and if it's boring, change the setup. This catches things like follow-the-cop but it's a more general trick than memorizing a bunch of combos.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #36 on: July 12, 2019, 11:42:54 pm »

Tag
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #37 on: July 30, 2019, 01:17:12 pm »

oh man wow i miss this forum. i accidentally pressed ctrl shift t at the end of a rather long post so i'm doing the slightly abbreviated version lest i lose my mind. ask me to elaborate on these if necessary. i have a lot of experience reviewing over the years and especially a lot of experience reviewing games that are mostly comprised of the roles we're voting on. i'd say for the most part i agree with the distribution with a few comments/sticking points

  • neighbors/neighborizers aren't that strong i find. the consensus on MS is that you don't even treat them as the same amount of power as like the most basic investigative. they just rarely make or break the game and people aren't even active in them half the time. i promise. might be wrong about how effective they are on this forum but they tend to be overestimated as well, stuff that happens in neighborhoods could often have just happened in thread with a tad more work. still feel free to put them in your games though, they're fun
  • i promise neapolitan is like a 4/5 when at least 1/3 of the game is VTs. even when there's just like 1 or 2 it's still good since it makes it hard to fakeclaim VT
  • pretty confident watcher is a 5 or rounds up to 5. focus on the nightkill
  • a mason pair is a 4/5. i suppose an individual mason is 2/5. is there anyone on this forum that's good at math that can help me out? (aside: i'm now studying math/statistics at my school)
  • just found it funny that everybody put UB at 3. yup! totally depends
  • vig is a 5 when mafia are unable to kill and there aren't serial killers, because finding the extra kill confirms the claimant as town. otherwise it's a 4 maybe. i really hope the idea that vig shouldn't shoot is like dead here, even if you're just shooting consensus scummies you're vastly helping town unless you think reads are worthless (..................which i also hope is a dead idea here)

other things fun to put in your game actually no screw it i'm clicking post here and doing this in another one
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #38 on: July 30, 2019, 01:34:13 pm »

oh yeah town rolestopper about as good as doctor imo. sure it blocks out other investigatives (watcher!) or whatever but it also blocks out scum roleblockers / invests on the town PR that you're saving. and like if you have a town watcher and a town doctor/rolestopper in your game then that can get rough anyway. also the norm on MS is that it works in spite of strongman i think. ok

on with some Fun Suggestions
  • role modifiers! not just 1-shot 2-shot red-shot blue-shot. loyal: only works if you target the same alignment; see also disloyal. loyal doctor and disloyal roleblocker both have a way of saving headache. weak: dies if it visits opposite alignment. already used here i think but probably not ENOUGH!! both of these change how something gets used. loud: lets its target know "hey [player] visited you" whenever it targets someone. really fun to add on to scum roles, especially investigatives. odd-night/even-night/novice: i.e., this role can only be used on odd-nights or even-nights; novice means "not the first night". also if you want you can specify a list of nights that the role can work; in particular i like "nights 2 & 3". x-shot is fun in concept but often means "hey this role can't be nightkilled effectively because it will probably be done with its work by the time you find it" and i think it's crucial for scum to be able to hunt PRs. combined: just graft two roles on top of each other, sort of like jailkeeper. combined rolecop tracker is a fun idea; you get detailed information but you also have to choose between tracking the same target or getting new rolecop results
  • use gunsmith instead of cop - gunsmith finds people who have a gun, i.e., all mafia (except mafia doctors/healers!!) plus town roles like cop, jailkeeper, vigilante, other gunsmith, et cetera. doesn't find SK since they use knives or whatever. haven't you watched dexter?? i vastly prefer gunsmith since a really good scum can wriggle out of it if they get guiltied - imagine being somebody who everyone knows is a good scum player so everyone knows to just cop you right away. kind of sucks!!
  • i personally dislike: ninja, traitor, serial killer (!), survivor (!!!!!!!!!!) (!!!!) (do not use this please) (it's somebody who has almost nothing to do the whole game except worry. at LEAST give them something interesting to do other than Just Survive)
  • if somebody wants a cool setup to run, i have a 9p non-role-madness that i can call my magnum opus after a couple years of modding. the thing is that it's closed and i have run it before on MS - if you want, i can send it to somebody to rerun and you guys can rely on the honor system / the fact that it's kind of hard to find; or, i can give you guys the post-mortem as to what mechanic(s) i think worked
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #39 on: July 30, 2019, 01:41:49 pm »


here are (part of the) results of a poll i took about a year ago. missing bars, in order:
  • negative utility roles in general, 6/31
  • mafia ninja, 12/31
  • high power setups (strong town vs. strong scum roles), 7/31
  • people being shitty to each other, 28/31

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #40 on: July 30, 2019, 01:56:16 pm »

what's implosion?
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #41 on: July 30, 2019, 01:58:38 pm »

oh yeah town rolestopper about as good as doctor imo. sure it blocks out other investigatives (watcher!) or whatever but it also blocks out scum roleblockers / invests on the town PR that you're saving. and like if you have a town watcher and a town doctor/rolestopper in your game then that can get rough anyway. also the norm on MS is that it works in spite of strongman i think. ok

on with some Fun Suggestions
  • role modifiers! not just 1-shot 2-shot red-shot blue-shot. loyal: only works if you target the same alignment; see also disloyal. loyal doctor and disloyal roleblocker both have a way of saving headache. weak: dies if it visits opposite alignment. already used here i think but probably not ENOUGH!! both of these change how something gets used. loud: lets its target know "hey [player] visited you" whenever it targets someone. really fun to add on to scum roles, especially investigatives. odd-night/even-night/novice: i.e., this role can only be used on odd-nights or even-nights; novice means "not the first night". also if you want you can specify a list of nights that the role can work; in particular i like "nights 2 & 3". x-shot is fun in concept but often means "hey this role can't be nightkilled effectively because it will probably be done with its work by the time you find it" and i think it's crucial for scum to be able to hunt PRs. combined: just graft two roles on top of each other, sort of like jailkeeper. combined rolecop tracker is a fun idea; you get detailed information but you also have to choose between tracking the same target or getting new rolecop results
  • use gunsmith instead of cop - gunsmith finds people who have a gun, i.e., all mafia (except mafia doctors/healers!!) plus town roles like cop, jailkeeper, vigilante, other gunsmith, et cetera. doesn't find SK since they use knives or whatever. haven't you watched dexter?? i vastly prefer gunsmith since a really good scum can wriggle out of it if they get guiltied - imagine being somebody who everyone knows is a good scum player so everyone knows to just cop you right away. kind of sucks!!
  • i personally dislike: ninja, traitor, serial killer (!), survivor (!!!!!!!!!!) (!!!!) (do not use this please) (it's somebody who has almost nothing to do the whole game except worry. at LEAST give them something interesting to do other than Just Survive)
  • if somebody wants a cool setup to run, i have a 9p non-role-madness that i can call my magnum opus after a couple years of modding. the thing is that it's closed and i have run it before on MS - if you want, i can send it to somebody to rerun and you guys can rely on the honor system / the fact that it's kind of hard to find; or, i can give you guys the post-mortem as to what mechanic(s) i think worked

Curious, why ninja in particular? How do you feel about Godfathers?

Also very intrigued by this magnum opus.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #42 on: July 30, 2019, 03:13:39 pm »

implosion is the name of the moderator in charge of normal games writ large


i dislike godfather yeah. if you get a cop inno or a tracker no-visit with one mafia left, you know that person is town............................... unless they're a godfather/ninja! and there isn't anywhere for you to go from there - there's a few shallow ways to try to deduce whether somebody is godfather / ninja (like - did they say "investigate me!!!" ? no? ok well thats the end of the flowchart) it's just a question of "do i think the mod would put one of those in this setup?" which itself is really hard to assign any actual value to.


what often happens when somebody gets a false inno, then, is that either scum wins or it gets down to like one scum left. in general, something i find is that when there's one scum left, activity and scumhunting slow down a lot and the person who got false inno'd can just sort of coast along and rely on the fact that it would be hard for the remaining townies to doubt them. and games like that are just really tiring i think.


i can PM you the setup if you'd like
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #43 on: July 30, 2019, 03:58:37 pm »

I kind of agree with you, but I think closed vs open makes a big difference. Godfather in a closed setup is approaching bastard levels. But Godfather in an open setup seems OK to me.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #44 on: August 23, 2019, 02:46:28 pm »

Open setups are awesome do opens
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #45 on: August 28, 2019, 04:34:51 pm »

What do people think of this open setup?

Trust Nothing

2 scum, 7 town

Town PRs: 2 Masons, a cop, and a doctor

BUT two of the three is true and town, including the affected roles, doesn't know which two:

-The Masons are lovers
-The cop is insane (results are opposite)
-The doctor is naive (or possibly a bodyguard?)

Scum chooses one modifier, and the other is chosen at random.

So, like, it's a super strong town, but the mods make it unwise to use any of the roles in their normal ways. Masons can't claim and become ICs without giving mafia an extra kill, cops can't claim a result until they have more than one (or they've determined the other two mods are in effect), and the doctor can't rely on their power, so follow the cop becomes less attractive.

My big worry is that a mass claim breaks it since there are only 3 VTs, so it gives town a 2/5 chance to lynch scum, which is rough on scum even if they get a double kill next night phase, which they only get 2/3 of the time.

Also, I'd almost rather have a fourth mod so it was a 50% chance of each one being in the game, but damned if I can think of a good one (scum has an RB? scum has an extra shot one night? VT becomes Jester/survivor/compulsive vig?)
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #46 on: August 28, 2019, 07:29:02 pm »

I think scum always chooses Lovers and Cop.  Doctor becomes bodyguard is the same as doctor, since scum needs to kill the doctor to disrupt FTC.  Naive just makes it another VT, which I guess is more attractive, so they could go with that every once in awhile to throw off town thinking.

As long as town gets a correct lynch once in the first two days, you guarantee basically two shots at winning, with at least one cop result.  Town wins many, many times.

Mass claim, mislynch, lovers die.  D2 is 50% chance to lynch (2 out of 4 VTs, 2 PRs left).  Thatís best case D2 for scum, same as a claim/counter, except that guarantees a correct lynch the next day, so I think itís strictly worse.

That ideal D2 means cop has one result on a VT, must be claimed but can be ignored.  If scum wins the coin flip, they win with an NK of the doctor, another 50/50.  Thatís where the cop/doc mod choice comes in, I guess.

I think this could work as blitz?  Might need some slight tweaks.
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ashersky

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #47 on: August 28, 2019, 07:54:13 pm »

Off the top of my head:

2 Innocent Mason Lovers (Mod-confirmed at game start)
1 Cop
1 Doc
3 VTs
2 Mafia

Each night, mafia chooses to make the cop insane or doc naive.

Iíd probably add at least one more option or make one of the goons something better.
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Town: 47 Games, 24 Wins
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jotheonah

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #48 on: August 28, 2019, 08:38:26 pm »

RB is slightly interesting. Another possibility if you don't mind extreme swinginess is a vig that can be compulsive.
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ashersky

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #49 on: August 28, 2019, 11:04:46 pm »

Not on theme, but two doctors, both fail if they target the same person, could be cool.  Need a mechanic that prevents or disrupts coordination.
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f.ds Mafia Board Moderator

2013, 2014, 2015 Mafia Mod of the Year

Games (30): Mafia: 17, 21, 24, 31, 39, 43, 67, 72, 86 || Newbie: 7 || RMM: 6, 7, 10, 20, 22, 26, 32, 45 || Blitz: 4-7, X, 17-19, 22, 24 || BM: 14, 19

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #50 on: August 29, 2019, 03:06:34 am »

Off the top of my head:

2 Innocent Mason Lovers (Mod-confirmed at game start)
1 Cop
1 Doc
3 VTs
2 Mafia

Each night, mafia chooses to make the cop insane or doc naive.

Iíd probably add at least one more option or make one of the goons something better.

I would play this.

Would it be public info that the mafia has the choice of insane/naive?
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ashersky

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #51 on: August 29, 2019, 03:20:06 am »

Open setup, so all public.

I think you could game out all scenarios (mafia shoots lovers x% of the time, etc.) and whatnot, so blitz would force quicker decisions. 

Maybe a vengekill for first lynched scum?
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faust

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #52 on: August 29, 2019, 04:58:48 am »

I'm generally not a big fan of setups where a bunch of roles are confirmed town. It takes away an important element of the game, which is convincing others that you are town as town. Open setups tend to have that sort of problem, and even if they are balanced, they're just sort of boring.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #53 on: August 29, 2019, 10:25:39 am »

A really important principle about cops which seems to be overlooked here is that the thing which makes them worse is the possibility that they could be insane. Whether they're actually insane doesn't matter.

Say you're the cop and you know there's a 50% chance that you're insane. Now you cop someone and get, say, an innocent result. That actually tells you precisely zero about the person's alignment, whether you're actually sane or not. Because you don't know whether you're sane, so you can't trust the result. It's only once you get more than one result that they become useful: if two people both come back as innocent, you know they have the same alignment. Or if they come back with different results, you know their alignments are different. Once some player you have investigated flips, you know whether you're sane or not. At which you're effectively a cop, sane or insane again doesn't matter.

(You can also show this mathematically. For example, you can show that P(innocent result | person is town) = P(innocent result) which implies that both events are independent.)

So you definitely don't always want to make the cop insane as scum. Actually, if the cop knows you picked it, then it becomes useless. If they expect a 50% chance that you picked it, you get the worst possible situation for the cop; namely that their first result is useless. That would be the ideal case. If the game is repeated, that means you should choose the cop thing with some probability between 0% and 50%. If it's just one game, it becomes a pretty interesting WIFOM, where your optimal choice depends on what you think the cop thinks you do. If you think the cop thinks that you choose insane with 50%, you should not choose it, because it doesn't make any difference. If you think the cop thinks you definitely don't choose it, then you should choose it, because it'll make the cop falsely rely on their faulty results.
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jotheonah

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #54 on: August 29, 2019, 11:15:59 am »

I'm generally not a big fan of setups where a bunch of roles are confirmed town. It takes away an important element of the game, which is convincing others that you are town as town. Open setups tend to have that sort of problem, and even if they are balanced, they're just sort of boring.

This is the problem, especially when you're trying to work in the constraints of a small game. Essentially, in an open setup, any town PR has small letters (+ IC) tacked onto it, and IC is one of the strongest roles in the game. The idea of the setup was to get around that by heavily discouraging early claiming with role downsides.

Silver's post made me realize you could create a 50% insane cop without actually randomizing their role (though there's still an element of randomization built in). Consider:

Quote
Fruit Cop

Each night, you may investigate a player and be told they're either a Banana or an Apple. Each fruit corresponds with an alignment (town or scum) but which fruit corresponds with which alignment will be randomly determined at the start of the game.

So it's insane cop without the confusing terms "town" and "scum".

In that case we can drop the role randomization and the doctor entirely and run the setup as follows:

2 goons
1 fruit cop
2 mason lovers
4 VT

Now your mass claim only gives you a 1/3 to hit scum, scum gets a guaranteed double kill, and it takes the cop at least one night to "get online" (theoretically, they can investigate a mason and then they'll know the fruit code starting day 2, but scum just kills them night 2 so it's useless in a mass claim situation). Now, on day 2 you have either:

2 goons
1 fruit cop
3 VT

or

1 goon
1 fruit cop
4 VT

And, assuming town misses it's 1/4 to lynch, day 3 is either game over (2 goons, 2 VT) or mylo (1 goon, 3 VT)

So mass claim is bad, FTC is nonexistent, and the PRs are incentivized to play PRs in an interesting way.
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MiX

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #55 on: August 29, 2019, 11:32:14 am »

I think the correct way to look at "Fruit cop" setup (with massclaim) is 4v2 but scum doesn't NK first 2 nights (or 6v2 with 2 ICs, really). So, what are the odds for 6v2? If it's in any way town sided then massclaiming here's amazing and thus it's a bad setup.

Another way to think about it is just there's 3 trigger ICs but 2 are lovers (and have a secret chat for fun), which sounds like too many ICs. Oh and the other IC has the uncanny ability of being able to IC someone else if they live. Regardless sounds town sided and, well, too many ICs.

And the doctor setup that ash described is essencially the same except there's scenarios where the doc picks correctly, which gives cop correct results and basically wins the game on the spot.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #56 on: August 29, 2019, 11:37:25 am »

I think the correct way to look at "Fruit cop" setup (with massclaim) is 4v2 but scum doesn't NK first 2 nights (or 6v2 with 2 ICs, really). So, what are the odds for 6v2? If it's in any way town sided then massclaiming here's amazing and thus it's a bad setup.

Another way to think about it is just there's 3 trigger ICs but 2 are lovers (and have a secret chat for fun), which sounds like too many ICs. Oh and the other IC has the uncanny ability of being able to IC someone else if they live. Regardless sounds town sided and, well, too many ICs.

And the doctor setup that ash described is essencially the same except there's scenarios where the doc picks correctly, which gives cop correct results and basically wins the game on the spot.

I think that assumes that the town gets onboard with the massclaim, including the two masons who are guaranteed to die if they do... You just have to make mass claim bad enough that it's not a slam dunk. If you're saying "all town has to do is NL twice and mass claim on day 1"... well good luck ever finding a town that will actually do either of those things.
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MiX

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #57 on: August 29, 2019, 12:11:34 pm »

I think the correct way to look at "Fruit cop" setup (with massclaim) is 4v2 but scum doesn't NK first 2 nights (or 6v2 with 2 ICs, really). So, what are the odds for 6v2? If it's in any way town sided then massclaiming here's amazing and thus it's a bad setup.

Another way to think about it is just there's 3 trigger ICs but 2 are lovers (and have a secret chat for fun), which sounds like too many ICs. Oh and the other IC has the uncanny ability of being able to IC someone else if they live. Regardless sounds town sided and, well, too many ICs.

And the doctor setup that ash described is essencially the same except there's scenarios where the doc picks correctly, which gives cop correct results and basically wins the game on the spot.

I think that assumes that the town gets onboard with the massclaim, including the two masons who are guaranteed to die if they do... You just have to make mass claim bad enough that it's not a slam dunk. If you're saying "all town has to do is NL twice and mass claim on day 1"... well good luck ever finding a town that will actually do either of those things.

(Assuming this is about your fruit cop setup) even if you don't massclaim, you just put someone in L-1, wait for their claim, if they claim a PR wait for a counterclaim, otherwise you move along. In this case it's even better than a massclaim (scum can counterclaim the cop but that really doesn't help them). And even without all of this, it's still similar to having 2-3 trigger ICs, which sounds really good for town.

It's also a very small setup, so it's easy to break, even day 1. There will be something akin to a massclaim, mostly because scum can't truly afford to claim PR. I would add more VTs and scum (not sure how many) to this, then the fruit cop would actually be useful (they would live longer) and scum could claim cop too.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #58 on: August 29, 2019, 01:23:57 pm »

An idea I have been experimenting with includes 2 cops, one of which is "insane" but not in the way that it inverts results, rather results are randomized. Essentially making them worse than a VT in some ways.

Therefor both cops have to determine if they are the one who is nuts or not. This has always been an intriguing way to lower the power level of investigative roles for me.

Another interesting nerf is making one player a hidden "miller" in that they are seen as guilty to the cop despite not knowing this themselves, but the cop knows that such a player exists. This makes guilty results slightly untrustworthy, but still useful.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #59 on: August 29, 2019, 01:45:46 pm »

Funny idea, you're definitely right that it's functionally identical to a cop which has 50% to be insane.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #60 on: August 29, 2019, 01:49:56 pm »

An idea I have been experimenting with includes 2 cops, one of which is "insane" but not in the way that it inverts results, rather results are randomized. Essentially making them worse than a VT in some ways.

Therefor both cops have to determine if they are the one who is nuts or not. This has always been an intriguing way to lower the power level of investigative roles for me.

Another interesting nerf is making one player a hidden "miller" in that they are seen as guilty to the cop despite not knowing this themselves, but the cop knows that such a player exists. This makes guilty results slightly untrustworthy, but still useful.


That's called random cop.

I think that's not a good idea because it's just unnecessarily random.

For example, if the two cops can coordinate, it might be good play to investigate the same player twice in a row. If you're lucky, you get two different results, and know that you're the random one. If you're unlucky...

There's also naive cops which return innocent all the time. I once ran a game here where cops were not guaranteed to be sane; I put in 2 naive cops and one sane cop. The sane cop was 2.71... and ended up living the longest and getting two different results the first two nights, so it was quite powerful. But without RNG.
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ashersky

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #61 on: August 29, 2019, 07:30:07 pm »

At some point you need to question why you are doing any of this?  If you want a sufficiently weak cop, do you really want a cop at all?
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Games (30): Mafia: 17, 21, 24, 31, 39, 43, 67, 72, 86 || Newbie: 7 || RMM: 6, 7, 10, 20, 22, 26, 32, 45 || Blitz: 4-7, X, 17-19, 22, 24 || BM: 14, 19

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popsofctown

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #62 on: August 29, 2019, 09:53:00 pm »

This is the problem, especially when you're trying to work in the constraints of a small game. Essentially, in an open setup, any town PR has small letters (+ IC) tacked onto it, and IC is one of the strongest roles in the game.

Yes.  I prefer the Named Townie nickname but essentialy IC.
Many open setup designs focus on adding special mechanics to the game that affect the game as a whole instead of just one player getting to be Superman.  It's too birds with one stones, not only do you add fewer or no Named Townies, but there is less variance in joining for people who feel that it's more boring to play a game as a Vanilla Townie than it is to get ot use roles.  I finished losing Role Call mafia recently, that was like that. I also lost at Dance Mafia, which had a special mechanic letting any player pair off with another player.

Another option is smalltown setups, which are rather underutilized.  In a smalltown setup, all the roles are public and openly known, but the alignments of the players with the roles is random.  Of course, the balance can come out different every time, if the cop is mafia and you don't get any real cop results all game, that setup will be harder to win than the time when the cop is town.  But balance can be pretty overrated.  Was everyone's chance of winning between 30% and 70%?  I think people will have a pretty good time so long as it is.  You of course design the smalltown setup carefully to make sure each possible combination doesn't swing out too far - if the town vig is very important to how you think it works, give the doctor role a modifier that he can't protect his partner, or whatever, etc, that wasn't a perfect example because a vig role that can be scum raises many questions but you get the idea.  I think they are A. more work to design and B. people value being able to claim a setup is balanced more than it actually being balanced.  If I claim a smalltown setup is balanced, you will point out either the rerand of the game where the cop is scum or the cop is town must not be 50/50, it's obvious.  Then you'll go join some open setup the designer insist is perfect and is 80/20.
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ashersky

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #63 on: August 30, 2019, 01:59:13 am »

I get the feeling that a lot of recent issues with the cop role, and the FTC problem, stems not from the roles or game design as much as the evolution of how we play the game and the roles.

I could be wrong, but there seems to be a general feeling that the power of the cop needs to tempered; that a cop catching scum is somehow unlucky, unfair, or sad, I guess for the scum team?  But originally, that was the point of the role.  I think when the game was created, there was a cop who could cop scum, basically had to claim it out loud, then died to the next night kill. FTC was born from that, where doctors just kept the cop alive, which of course sucked.  Then modifications came along like x-shots, etc. to curb that.

A cop catching scum, or town vig shooting scum, or a doctor protecting a victim, are planned-for actions.  You balance for them to happen sometimes.  I think we are trying to design away some sort of bad feelings that shouldnít exist.

Not sure my main point, but it was a thought I had.
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Games (30): Mafia: 17, 21, 24, 31, 39, 43, 67, 72, 86 || Newbie: 7 || RMM: 6, 7, 10, 20, 22, 26, 32, 45 || Blitz: 4-7, X, 17-19, 22, 24 || BM: 14, 19

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jotheonah

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #64 on: August 30, 2019, 08:26:38 am »

Hmmmm. I guess Iím trying to design a cop that can catch scum but had to work for it. And the volunteer mechanic in unfortunate events was me trying to design a doctor who had to work for it.

I think early claiming a power role is the most boring way to use that role. Being Masons is fun until you claim, at which point itís boring. But claiming is the most powerful thing masons can do because TWO SCUM have to counterclaim them.

I just want to design a setup where the incentive is for secret roles to stay secret and for people to use them in stealthy ways rather than clunky obvious boring ways that involve claims.
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Glooble

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #65 on: August 30, 2019, 08:51:59 am »

I think the cop that can catch scum but has to work for it is a tracker. Or a psychologist. Or any investigate role that gives the accused an opportunity to talk their way out of it/ requires the investigator to corroborate their information somehow. Even asher's "shares your win-con" cop ability was good in this regard, since it allowed for third-party claims and kept some amount of doubt around.


That being said, if you're scum and you got caught by a cop, you also acted in such a way as to make that cop decide to investigate you. So some of that is on you.
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popsofctown

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #66 on: August 30, 2019, 10:44:46 am »

I am not sure how I feel about cop but would not begin a campaign against it until I have more fully convinced everyone on the planet that watcher is the worst thing ever.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #67 on: August 30, 2019, 09:21:01 pm »

I am not sure how I feel about cop but would not begin a campaign against it until I have more fully convinced everyone on the planet that watcher is the worst thing ever.

Even a scum watcher?
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faust

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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #68 on: August 31, 2019, 02:26:30 am »

I could be wrong, but there seems to be a general feeling that the power of the cop needs to tempered; that a cop catching scum is somehow unlucky, unfair, or sad, I guess for the scum team?
I think the main problem is that a Cop catching scum is kind of boring. A Cop catches scum, claims, then the next actions are scripted. Town lynches the scum, scum kills the Cop. Noone really has anything to do until the situation is resolved. And in the end, the other townies won't feel like they've accomplished anything. So I guess for me, Cop results are mainly sad for the rest of town and not for scum.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #69 on: August 31, 2019, 02:30:23 am »

I just want to design a setup where the incentive is for secret roles to stay secret and for people to use them in stealthy ways rather than clunky obvious boring ways that involve claims.
I think if you want that, you just shouldn't design an open setup. There are some ways to get around this kind of thing - like make two copies of the same role, then it's more feasible for scum to counterclaim - but options are limited. Claiming will always happen sooner in open games.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #70 on: August 31, 2019, 04:19:17 am »

I am not sure how I feel about cop but would not begin a campaign against it until I have more fully convinced everyone on the planet that watcher is the worst thing ever.

Even a scum watcher?
A scum watcher is totally fine
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #71 on: August 31, 2019, 10:27:22 am »

The old Lincoln quote about pleasing all of the people all of the time seems highly germane when it comes to mafia setups.
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Re: How to Balance a Mafia Game (A Community Project I Hope!)
« Reply #72 on: August 31, 2019, 08:14:37 pm »

His quote was about fooling all the people all the time.
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