Article #14: Applying Psychoanalysis
- written by Quick
These are my 3 levels of Psychoanalysis. They can be used independently, or in combination with each other. The differences in the three different approaches to getting reads this way are dependent on how much you are zooming on on the players of the game. The first level is the most zoomed out because it's based on concrete behaviors and not looking as deeply into the motivation of a player. The second level is one step closer to the player in that you are categorizing play type on a specific set of criteria. The third level is a very personal look at an individual that works nicely with the second level.
Psychoanalysis Level 1
The first level of Psychoanalysis is viewing things as very tangible, concrete behaviors that you can measure fairly easily. I call this my Pro-Town and Anti-Town lists. While the first level of psychoanalysis is a bit shallow, It can still give you an idea of who is Town in the game and can help narrow down the PoE a bit. The general way you use this method is by creating a checklist for everyone in the game and seeing who the people who fulfill the most Pro-Town criteria and the least Anti-Town behavior.
- Being active - If you are making the bare minimum of the post requirement you are probably not posting enough. Being active does two things. 1) Makes it easier for people to give you a town read and 2) prevents Scum from winning simply from lurking the whole game.
- Asking probing questions - this is a huge part of the game. If you are not asking questions to players, you best have a really good reason for why. Asking questions help in a multitude of different ways and a topic could probably be made just on this but here are a few.
1) It tells Town that you are actively trying to solve the game which can help you get a town read.
2) Obviously if you ask a question you are going to get some information out of it even if they don't answer which can help you to clinch that scum read you were thinking about or help clear someone from possibly getting lynch that is Town.
3) It can stop you from assuming something about someone by simply asking a question like "What do you mean?" or "Why?" or "Could you explain your thought process here?"
- Providing a conclusion - Simply providing a rundown of what has happened in the thread can help, but it helps 10X more when you provide what your thoughts are about what has happened means rather than simply stating facts. Conclusions should be logically sound and not something used as WIFOM to be effective. Your conclusion should be Inductive or Deductive reasoning and something that is not easily refutable. An accurate conclusion doesn't have to be a super complex thing, it can simply be used to tell if what someone says is true or not. There are occasions where giving your thoughts on things as a matter of perspective is a good thing to do as well. I just say using Inductive or Deductive reasoning is ideal.
- Putting in effort into the game - Play every game like you want to win and if you can't do that, don't play. Showing effort may not be AI, but based on the content that is produced from putting in effort very well could be.
- SCUM HUNTING - admittedly this looks different for different types of players, but it should be obvious that you are doing it. Scum hunting is the fundamental basis for a Mafia game. It is doing anything that leads to finding something out about a players alignment in the game. This can range from reaction testing to trapping Scum with a series of questions. Since Scum hunting is such a fundamental part of the game, Scum have to fake this. Scum often don't have the same level of depth with their Scum hunting that Town does.
- Making new points - if you are making new points on things and providing new analysis to the game, this shows that you are actively trying to solve the game. This is something that is Townie because Scum have a harder time to come up with new legitimate things to analyze in the game.
- Observing reactions - It is one things to make plays yourself, but it’s on another level to observe and make a conclusion (whether stated ITT or not) on a conversation that you were not even a part of. Keep your eyes sharp and watch everything that happens in the thread and comment on what what observations and conclusions you have made. I have observed that often the best posts are ones that have a lot of people involved in a single conversation and it sometimes just takes someone with the wherewithal to conclude what several people have said about a single topic to be very meaningful to the game. I admit this is very difficult for me to do personally.
- Posting WAY too much - If you are taking up a large chunk of the total post in the thread you are posting way too much and are not allowing discussion from happening between many people that would otherwise have plenty to say about the game and to each other. This is mostly a problem if you are posting fluff, but if you have half the post in the game, you are going to need to relax a bit. I have been guilty of this on occasion. Posting too much may or may not be AI for an individual, but it hurts Town's chances of finding Scum so it should be avoided.
- Posting too little - If you are posting the bare minimum of the post requirement you are not giving town enough to work with. Even if you are just posting the bare minimum and making huge gigantic posts with one liners, this does not help Town win for two reasons 1) It keeps people from even wanting to read that monster, let alone respond to everything you have said and 2) It does a lot of harm for the thread to flow organically. If people are not responding to things as they come up then there is really no change of opinion for people when you are bringing up a lot of old information that can get addressed relatively easily by just letting people think about a couple topics at a time and being able to then come up with a conclusion. This is not the same as an ISO case where you are quoting/linking many posts from a specific person.
- Extreme WIFOM - While debatably WIFOM has its place even as a Town tactic, if all you are doing is that, then you are not helping Town narrow down possibilities, but instead creating conversations that don't lead to anywhere.
- Low effort posting - while effort isn’t indicative of alignment, if all you are doing is making low effort posts i.e. just one liners, I am going to think you may be just trying to coast as Mafia to get an easy win by watching Town tear itself apart.
- Voting for yourself without a really good reason - While it's really easy sometimes to throw up a vote for yourself due to being upset or whatnot, most of the time it creates a ton of unnecessary WIFOM and is rarely productive for Town to help in finding scum. I only really "expect" for Scum to vote for themselves for a hammer to take time away from Town for the rest of the Day Phase regarding self-voting.
- IIoA (information instead of analysis) - This is where you are stating facts but are not providing any kind of conclusion on what this means. Almost anyone has the capability of giving facts that have happened in the thread, but if you are not telling what that means, it just ends up being a recap of events that doesn't add anything new.
- Sheeping too much - While sheeping as an isolated incident isn’t a Scum tell, doing it over and over without ever providing any of your own thoughts out there is Scummy.
Psychoanalysis Level 2
The second level of Psychoanalysis is used to get an understanding of the players’ psychology, which can inform you of how they approach the game in general. Knowing how a player approaches the game can give you an understanding of what they are trying to do in the game, which can help you decide if what they are saying is coming from Town or Scum mindset or not.
Approach Stong Fluid Utility Structure Creativity Method Occam's Razor Psychoanalysis
These are my own observations on different types of players played over roughly 100 games. There are four different types of players I have been able to distinguish in my time playing mafia. I do not say this as an exhaustive list and there are variable combinations of these types, but to keep this article from getting unnecessarily complicated, I will just talk as though there are 4 different types of players.
First, let's break things down. From what I see, there are two different categories that each have two different dichotomies. The first category is based on a player's outlook on how to go about doing things. This category is called their Utility. The other category is based on a player's inclination towards extrapolation. This category is their Method.
Some people like having more unknowns in a game and some people like having less unknowns in a game. People who like less unknowns in a game like to work with a known Structure to direct them. Those who like more unknowns in a game like to work Creatively. Players who like to work with a known Structure generally prefer Open, Semi-Open/Closed, and Mountainous games. Players who like to work Creatively typically like Closed Setups, Role Madness/Bastard Games, and Mismash games. The biggest difference as it appears in play for these two types is based on how organized they are in their approach to the game. Structured players are more organized, but they are also less adaptable. Creative players are very versatile but they are less organized.
Different players also have different ways they reach conclusions. Some players make conclusions based on the facts or concrete data in the game thread and some people make conclusions based on their interpretation of motive from a players post. Players who make decisions based on facts don’t produce reads as fast as those who make decisions based on interpretation because the player who makes decisions based on facts uses deduction while the person who makes decisions based on interpretation looks to extrapolate. The tool that the person basing their reads on facts uses Occam’s Razor as their Method, while the person who bases their reads on interpretation uses Psychoanalysis as their Method. Players who use Occam's Razor are looking at/for specific things and those who use Psychoanalysts try and look at what a player is telling them and deciding if it is Townie or Scummy without looking at/for specific things.
Players who use Utility of Structure and use the Method of Occam’s Razor typically do not fluff post. These players plan out their actions methodically and their content is typically very straight forward. They don’t tend to beat around the bush much. Because they generally have a lower post count, they are not usually targeted for NK early on since they don’t usually pose an immediate threat to Scum. They tend to slowly work through reads measuring the evidence both for and against whether the players in the game are Scum or not. While this type may not be all that charismatic, they can heavily rely on their reasoning to do the convincing for them. Their greatest weakness is that they tend to take longer to form reads on players than other types of players. They’re greatest strength is in their ability to generally get accurate reads in late game and are best at mechanically solving a game they have had time to solidify their reads for and look at all the evidence. These are players who are very dangerous late game because they are using information from the whole entire thread to deduce some very specific things about the game. They do not let their emotions get the better of them. This type of player is very unlikely to use Appeal to Emotions.
Players who use Utility of Structure and use the Method of Psychoanalysis are generally not the type to fluff post, but they might join in with RVS if they think they might be able to get something out of it. The way this kind of player plans is by being very articulate with their word choice. They know themselves that what they say can be analyzed so they may take the pains to analyze themselves/their play at large. They can have some unique insights about things which makes them a valuable part of the Town because of the content this generates. This player might change votes without a visible reason, but they can usually back up what their reason is if you ask. This type of player would rather try and sway people based on their reasoning for their reads than through personality alone. Their greatest weakness is that sometimes their interpretation of a player's post(s) are completely inaccurate. Their greatest strength is in analyzing key posts to make really good reads either very early or late in the game or based on the information they have on players in the game. This type of player doesn’t typically like giving “gut” reads, but they may occasionally give gut reads that can be accurate.
Players who use Utility of Creativity and the Method of Occam’s Razor are typically high volume posters. They are not afraid of fluff posting to spice things up a bit and attempt to generate some early reactions. This type of player likes to throw a lot of ideas out into the game and feel out what players reactions to what they do is. These players like to engage with players in real time. They are not at all shy about throwing their votes and reads around if it gets them closer to solving the game through a mistake of the opposition. This type of player tries to convince others that the are right through their charisma and charm. Their greatest weakness is that because they are changing their reads around so much, they don’t have a lot of consistency in what they are pushing and it’s easy to point out contradictions in their play. Their greatest strength is in causing the other team to mess up at a key point in the game practically showing them their role card. These kinds of players can be very competent but they often have a Scummy meta so when they are Town they have difficulty generating a strong Town read for themselves.
And finally, players who use Utility of Creativity and the Method of Psychoanalysis don’t really consider anything irrelevant in a game and are probably best at being themselves in a game regardless of if they are Town or Scum. They might not think they are fluff posting when everyone else does think they are. These types of players are the type to jump on any wagon at practically any time. They are unpredictable and that is what makes them excellent at generating content for the game. They convince Town to vote with them at key moments in the game such as close to deadline. They will probably try and start a Chinese Fire Drill on someone near End of Day if they are around and there hasn’t been a lynch yet. They really like to mix things up. Their greatest weakness is that they don’t really have a whole lot of meat and potatoes in their play and so their reasoning for their read are sometimes not very satisfying. Their greatest strength is in keeping the morale of Town high and generating lots of content for people to digest down the road. These players are usually a bast to play with if you don’t mind laughing… lol.
People’s preference for different kinds of setups is something that may be interesting to analyze. Players whose Utility is in Creativity do not want what is "plain" whether they know it or not. They view such things as insignificant because there is not anything that is explicitly dramatic in the structure itself. Players whose Utility is in Structure would much rather play a setup that is at least somewhat predictable. A game that doesn’t have features of explicit drama built into the structure allows players to use the predictability of the setup to narrow their focus on the key things that they want to address. Power Roles are often a source of internal conflict within the setup. The more Town Power Roles you have, the more the Scum Power Roles are going to directly conflict with the Town Power Roles. The greater the conflict a game has by way of contrast between TPRs and Scum PRs produces an anticipation for all the players in the game, the more players have to keep their options open on the "main actors" (the PRs) until players have found the limit to the chaos [climax] and start to put the pieces together [resolution].
Psychoanalysis Level 3
There is one more level of psychoanalysis… This is the most complicated of the three. What the third level of psychoanalysis is, is taking into account what the specific characteristics of a player are both in an individual game and what you know of them from past games and trying to find what makes them a unique player in the world of mafia. Everyone is different, and as such, everyone has things that make their play unique to them. This level of analysis depends not on specific things that a player does as either alignment, but instead based on the narrative that they have established.
One of the tools of this method is looking for internal consistency in a way that a player behaves in a way unique to themselves as a player. What we can say about this is that as you get more experience with a player, you start to understand the narrative that they use to view the game and other players. Some players are very easy to understand on an individual level and others takes a lot of time. The question you have to ask yourself when looking at a player's consistency as a player is to ask yourself "Does this line of thinking match up with what I have known from them in the past?" You can use this way of viewing things to generate a Town read on someone if they do have a consistent narrative and a Scum read on someone if they an inconsistent narrative.
An example of how I correctly used this Method of Psychoanalysis is when I made a bet with Makaze based on Ardent's alignment in Game 1 Season 5 of the Mafia Championships. There was a supposed "slip" that Ardent did that people in the Discord chat had varying opinions on. Some people were Scum reading Ardent not based on the supposed “slip” but their reaction to what they did after people accused them of such a slip. I was not Scum Reading Ardent based on the slip or their reacting to the slip. I found by about Post 400 that I had more or less understood a key component to the kind of player that Ardent was and was Town Reading them.
The so-called "slip", and exchange that follows, starts here:
In Ardent's first post of the game, Ardent said that "Elusia is playing a bit dumb so far, as well." Ardent had to clarify they meant Elusia was "playing dumb" later, which I suspect is because this is a Mafia Championships game after all, and Elusia had said they have only played in 3 games so far. Elusia thought Ardent was saying that Elusia was dumb rather than that Elusia was "playing dumb" as in, acting like they were not as smart/experienced as they actually were. This set the groundwork for how Ardent was perceived by others, effecting how Ardent was viewing their own play in this game, and how Ardent was viewing how other players were viewing their play.
The key factor that tipped me off that Ardent was Town in relation to the way they reacted towards being accused of Scum slipping, was that they previously had been misunderstood before in this game. The slip is explained by Ardent's misunderstanding the way the JailKeeper role works on this site because JailKeeper works differently on their site. Later when they were accused of the slip, they felt like they had made a BIG mistake, when really, it was a very easy mistake to make given that Jailkeeper works differently on their home site. It seemed reasonable to me that Ardent would notice how people were treating them and react the way they did after being accused of slipping after making a "dumb" mistake. I can relate to Ardent's reaction a lot because I also tend to be put in the position where what I am saying is misunderstood and it makes me look very Scummy at times. Ardent had accepted their lynch, so the Discord chat had assumed that Ardent was Scum while I was seeing that there was a Town perspective in what Ardent was doing that others did not see.
The point here is that different people react differently to different things. Ardent could have been stubborn and not admitted he made a mistake until he was forced to and still gotten lynched. But Ardent reacted in a more self-conscious, reflective, and responsible way rather than an aggressive, defiant way. The narrative that Ardent had was that of being misunderstood, which is an internally consistent narrative for them to have. In this game Ardent chose to "man up" to their mistakes and admit fault when there is fault to be had, which is an extremely self-sacrificing and humble way of playing in the Mafia Championships.
In closing, I would like to say that this is just one way to view the game and there are other valid and good ways to get reads on people. You can also use this method as Scum because it is a method that is malleable enough to spin things to your liking since most of it is subjective. You can also inform your Scum buddies that you are going to be using this way of playing so that they know they are using this criteria to Town Read people so that you can justifiably Town Read them for fulfilling your criteria.
Thanks for reading this post and I look forward to playing with you.
- There are different ways to read people depending on how far zoomed in/out you are looking, which I call Psychoanalysis.
- The first level of Psychoanalysis is based on very tangible, concrete behavioral data that is the same for everyone and can help with generating a few Town Reads to narrow down the PoE a bit
- The second level of Psychoanalysis is based on identifying the type of player you are playing with.
- The type of player you are playing with can fit into one dichotomy of two categories for a total of 4 different types.
- Depending on the type of players you are playing with, you can get an idea of what they are trying to accomplish which can be used to understand motive.
- The third level of Psychoanalysis is based on how every player is different and have different things that motivate them.
- One way of using the third and most personal level of Psychoanalysis is by looking at whether they have a consistent narrative that flows throughout their play. If they have a consistent narrative, they have a better chance of being Town vs an inconsistent narrative which means they have a better chance of being Scum.