Live Action Mafia

A game of sneakiness and paranoia
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 Post subject: Potential Rule Changes
PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2014 6:06 pm 
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So, game was mostly balanced off of a program of mine. It runs a series of randomly generated games and spits out mafia wins vs town wins. It assumes mostly optimal play from both sides, and it does not include backups, mayor, mike/receiver pairs, the fake ID, or the difference between a conscription and an extra mafia at game start. Lucy and I decided that taking into account those differences, and the fact that kills this game would be really obnoxious to make, we wanted the game to be balanced so it was somewhat mafia biased.

Upon realizing that despite being revealed, Dgrazian and I would have still been able to power through and win game, I started to wonder what was up. I ran the game start conditions, and it spat out 53.5% mafia win rate (which accounting for the differences mentioned above, is actually close to being even). However, when I put in the day 2 start conditions (medkit with a mafia, two known innocent children, one known gay knight pair, two fewer investigators), it gives a 89% mafia win rate. If I add the conditions of Jugalde and Victor being inactive (1 fewer desperado, 1 fewer conspiracy theorist), it goes up to 96%. Basically, game is very swingy if, even in a game this small, a single day makes that much of a difference.

So, in light of this, do people have suggestions for rules changes? My suggestions:

1. Compensate for non-optimal play. In real mafia games, there are both new and inactive/mostly inactive players. These disproportionally hit town, because a new mafia will be advised by more experienced mafia, and mafia will poke and prod all but the most resistant inactive mafia into activity. I don't know if there is a better way to do this than to just lower what is considered to be a balanced mafia win rate.

2. Compensate for aspects of gameplay that can't be simulated. The biggest difference here is between theoretically making kills and actually making kills. I tried to initially compensate for this by raising the balanced mafia win rate and by making sure that there were plenty of powers like poison and hire a hitman. However, mafia will additionally compensate for this themselves, for instance, by staking out locations for hours. And I really don't think that should be as much of an optimal strategy as it is, because it makes planning and executing skills take a lot out of the mafia players' real lives. So, I advocate for more strict enforcement of making informative introductions, especially in summer games.

3. Lower the overall power level (and thus lower the swinginess) of game. Especially in small games.
Part a. I advocate for fewer total mafia powers, but the same number of options for mafia powers. In a game like this, I'd say something more like 1 use of either frame an innocent or plant evidence, 2 recharging kabooms, 1 recharging set a trap, one use of either scheme or another set a trap, 1 slaughter the weak, 1 use of either poison or hire a hitman.
Part b. I advocate for less town power. Particularly with prophet. Simulation-wise, prophet is BY FAR the most powerful town role. I'd be interested in perhaps changing prophet to be more like the old role, seer, with a once-per-game ability to find out someone's role. It would make prophet claims much less clear cut, and it would prevent the incredibly swingy (and broken, in my opinion) "get all the backups to backup prophets" game. I wouldn't want to go back to having vanilla townies, but I think it would also be good to have games with a disproportionate number of conspiracy theorists. I like conspiracy theorists because unlike vanillas, they have something to strategize about, but unlike many town roles, they are low power and low swinginess. They also encourage the mafia to be sneaky and subtle, which is much more in the spirit of the game, in my opinion, than what game would have been had it played out.

4. Misc ideas. Not a solution to any particular problem, but something I think would be cool: some sort of power for manipulating the time of death. As long as people were good about not letting on that they died unless they were directly asked about game (like Kemus in 2014 Spring 1!), I think it would be a neat addition.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2014 6:11 pm 
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In the one game where I was god, I made prophet symmeterical, so that if he smited someone correctly, the didn't die until the end of the following day. The prophet didn't know whether he had smited correctly or not until god announced who dies at the end of the following day. I thought that prophet hitting mafia was too swingy, but the thinking at the time was that dying rampages were things to be avoided. I still think that instantly killing a mafia and confirming someone as innocent is far, far too powerful of a move.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:39 pm 
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I think that dying rampages are what we want tasers for, not prophets. Prophets should smite people they are suspicious of/randomly, and using a smite on a known mafia is an awful, awful waste of one. With this game, a single prophet was close to taking out 100% of the game's mafia.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2014 4:43 pm 

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I agree. I'll generally be in favor of pretty much anything that takes excess power away from the town. I agree strongly with Katie that power levels on both sides (still) need to be toned town. I say 'still', because power levels have been reduced a bit in recent games.

I've been insisting during the past few games that the games have been substantially town-biased. Town power has been reduced over the past few games (the worst offender was last fall, for which I am as responsible as anybody) but as of the last game (Spring 2), I still believe that the town had an enormous advantage.

In contrast, I think we all agree that the mafia was too strong here (in terms of game mechanics.) This shouldn't be all that surprising. Town power was reduced slightly (and justifiably) from last game, but mafia power effectively skyrocketed, because the mafia retained all their abilities (and gained a bit more) even though this game was much smaller!

But yes, power definitely needs to be toned down, ideally while still allowing every townsperson to have a satisfying role. I believe this is doable. A couple specifics that are floating through my head right now:

1. Return prophet to aok's version. Or something like that.
2. Reduce the volume of kills that mafia can make. I very much like the mafia being able to make multiple kills in a day (in fact I think this was originally my innovation) but I believe it's gone a bit far. Publicly revealed mafia should not be able to force win with three times as many townspeople remaining.
Possible changes include:
- reducing the number of times per game that the mafia can use set-a-trap. We have to be careful that this doesn't incentivize mass-revealing.
- removing scheme
- allowing only one use of setATrap + slaughterTheWeak per day, instead of one of each.
3. Reduce the power of investigators (by allowing them to investigate on less than 100% of days, or increasing the mafia's uses of Manipulate the Press)
4. Keep desperado at two days of power, even for longer games.
5. Keep the Police Officer out of the game

Note that all of my suggestions except for (2) are aimed to reducing town power. I do indeed believe that (2) is the sole culprit for excessive mafia power this game.

Please feel free to comment!

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2014 5:30 pm 
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I like these changes, especially aok's version of prophet and not having a police officer. Police officer isn't that fun of a mechanic and its powers have been changed so many times I can never remember what they are. The only problem with the mutually delayed prophet deaths that I've seen mentioned is about-to-die rampages, and I've always liked the potential for madcap chases across campus. I do have a clarifying question about aok's prophet mechanic though. If a prophet smites someone, that person knows whether they're going to die or not, but the prophet doesn't. Does the prophet get to PM god and find out if they're going to live or not, or do they not know until their death is announced publicly?

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2014 7:16 pm 

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I think the idea is that they would not know. That way the mafia has another day of potential anonymity.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 10:13 am 
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In response to Dgrazian:

1. As I mentioned to Dgrazian in real life, aok's version of prophet is slightly better, but ultimately it just adds another day to the current system. Additionally, it does not solve the biggest problem with prophets: how they stack with backups. If anything, it makes the problem worse, because a prophet could smite and a backup could back them up on the same day. So, I propose bringing back seer, with a slight modification. For reference, the old seer could, once per game, see someone's role, although mafia would look like vanilla town. Since there are no vanilla town, I suggest having the seer's result randomly come back as conspiracy theorist, desperado, investigator, superhero, or backup. I believe this would make a very fun role, and while it could be used similarly to prophet, there would be much less certainty for town as a whole if it were.
2. Partially agree. We had a LOT of kill power (as of day 2, we could have killed 7 people: two slaughters, 1 trap, 1 regular, 1 scheme, 2 poisons). However, I don't think we want to target set a trap and slaughter the weak. Honestly, town just needs to stop being so loud with role reveals. However, I would be in support of getting rid of or limiting scheme and poison. Scheme, I believe, was for back in the day when mafia was much more disorganized, and there was a real danger of mafia unknowingly killing people at the same time. Poison is a solution for a very bad problem -- people not being accessible to kill -- but it is the wrong solution. What there actually needs to be is stricter enforcement of introductions.
3. Disagree. Especially in small games, investigators are pretty weak. In fact, I don't believe that the role investigator has led to ANY mafia deaths in the past four games. I think their number should be limited, but investigators are definitely OP the same way prophets are.
4. Agreed.
5. Although I'm reluctant to do this because I helped develop the idea for police officer's interrogation power, I do agree that police officer, as is, is not a good position. Prior to the interrogation power, police officer was so weak that it almost wasn't worth electing, but with interrogation, it is powerful in a very awkward way. Really, all interrogation means is that mafia has to target their kill on whoever is police officer, particularly if interrogation is two or three days. So yeah, unless we can think of a better way to implement it, I think police officer should be tossed.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:14 pm 

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Another idea that I'm a major fan of:

Make the Innocent Child's reveal ability a once-per-day power.

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