Article #17: A Beginner's Guide to Excessively Large Games
- written by Chris
Some key terms to keep in mind, beyond traditional mafia terms:
- "Mash"/"Mishmash" - a (very) large mafia game, typically role heavy, with various events/activities
- Events - (Usually) quick mini-games that occur within the game, often featuring prizes. Prizes typically, though not always, give the winner some competitive edge, like an extra night ability or kill
- ITA - In Thread Action/Activity. As the name applies, some sort of event that occurs within the gamethread. The most common would be "shots"/shooting
- Shots - An ITA session where all, or nearly all, players have the ability to shoot at another living player. Windows where shots will be allowed are typically advanced at the start of day. Shots typically have a very low percentage to hit and are resolved immediately; this allows for tracking of who is alive, who has been killed, and who killed them.
With that out of the way, let's establish some nearly universal guidelines for playing mafia.
1) Do your best to read every post.
2) Interact with the ~entirety of the game; avoiding focus on a small subsect.
3) Assert yourself to the best of your ability.
4) Worry about yourself as much as you do the rest of the players.
...These are fundamental "rules" of mafia that, quite frankly, you should probably throw out in excessively large games. Regardless of your alignment, none of these are necessarily going to help; one might argue they're going to become a detriment.
Most games have phases long enough to ensure that any reasonably active player is going to be able to interact with every other player. It's not uncommon to see mash-style games have 12 hour day phases. If you spend a portion of that at work or school, or are otherwise preoccupied, you might miss the only time a large number of players are in the thread. Interacting with them is going to be quite literally impossible. Similarly, posts will often come too quickly to stay caught up. Your goal is not to stay caught up. Your goal - at least early in the game - is to do your best with the posts you're around for. Focus on what is happening around you (disclaimer: this does not apply to reading dead mafia for associations).
Town should have a lot of reads right. They should have a lot wrong. They're going to have an exceptionally high number of nulls, because you can expect roughly a third of the game to either lurk or outright flake. If you're town, your goal is to put your thoughts out there. If you're mafia, your goal is to feign putting your thoughts out there.
There are many approaches to making reads in regular games. These all apply to mashes, as well, but it's hard to find strong associations/disassociations in 100-player rosters. Mechanical reads are going to be few and far between, at least early. You're going to have to rely on your instincts. There is precisely zero wrong with throwing a weak read with minimal confidence out there. If you're tonw, you have nothing to hide; if you're mafia, you need to portray that you don't - and you have too many teammates to never bus, to never defend, and to never ignore.
There are two schools of thought on ITA shots. Neither is inherently more right than the other:
2) Independent thoughts/"hero" shots
If you go into a mash expecting to never contribute to the death of a teammate, you're wrong. It's certainly not going to happen if you're town, and it's going to be nearly impossible if you're mafia. No team has swept in a mash. As the saying goes...if you're going to make an omelette, you have to be prepared to watch your teammates die.
That means it's completely acceptable to risk shooting a fellow townie to help clear up the POE. 100 player games are not won with 40 players left. It would be great to clear up those habitual lurkers by assessing their posts, but the benefit of having the ability to remove them from the game is two-fold.
First, it makes it easier to find mafia. The fewer inactives to be a distraction that are in a game, the less time it takes to get the right answer. Second, it puts more pressure on mafia to either bus or push/shoot more obvious townies. Mafia bussing results in less work for YOU. Mafia trying to kill obvious townies makes them stand out like a sore thumb. Clear up the POE with the expectation to shoot some townies... it happens.
Hero shots have the potential to do exactly what the name implies - make you the hero. The downside, of course, is that you run the risk of becoming the zero when you're wrong. Strong players can float by with cheap townreads for days, and exceptionally strong players can find their way to lead town. If town intends to win, sooner or later, they have to gamble on going against the consensus when they feel strongly about a consensus townie. Remember, it's okay to be wrong - it's not okay to be wrong with no justification. If someone is going to take a hero shot, they need to be prepared to explain why when it goes badly. Also, failed hero shots usually result in two deaths - the person shot and the person who took it shortly after.
Roles, abilities, and claiming:
The optimal way to use your ability varies greatly depending on what the role is. The most important thing to keep in mind is that people are going to attempt to figure out what you did with your ability once you die. If a player has an investigative role (or another role that yields information), experienced players will expect reads and comments to reflect that information. Cops should not be stating "Player X is definitely town" on D2 if Player X isn't peeked; similarly, they should not be saying negative things about someone they know to be town. Mafia is a game of information - the more information you're able to leave when you exit the game, the better off your team will be.
One thing to remember is that individual roles are less crucial in larger games than smaller, heavily vanilla games. If the only active ability in the game is one cop, that player can influence the game on a much greater level than the remaining totality of players; that does not apply in a game where there are 60 other players, 30 active abilities, and every role imaginable under the sun. That means the player has less "obligation" to play with the goal of self-preservation. It also means that players have a greater margin for error.
Mislynching the sole power role is a kick in the teeth - and one many players might not gamble on, unless absolutely necessary. Claims often become saving. That is far less likely to be true when players know that, even if you're telling the truth, there are still a few dozen other roles. Plan accordingly.
- Focus mostly on what's in front of you - not on catching up.
- Put your thoughts out there (as either alignment)
- It's okay to be wrong... nobody can keep track of 100 players.
- Use events/shots/abilities strategically. Do your best to put your team in a good position.
- Have fun!