Article #18: A Practical Guide to Open Wolfing
Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Lynch Villagers
- written by Mantichora
Mafia is a team game: the key to winning is utilizing all members of your faction. Mafia is a social game: the key to winning is exploitation. Mafia is a hidden information game: the key to winning is using the flow of information. These three ends may be achieved through the singular conceptual means of control. Control your allies, control your enemies, and control the dissemination of information.
A game of mafia is a tug-of-war. You stand on one side, leader of the Mafia, attempting to take down the Town. You must stop the Town from banding together because they can and will overpower you if given half a chance. While your enemies have you greatly outnumbered, you begin with an informational advantage.
Asserting Control Over the Mafia
You open your role PM.
Your eyes drift down to your partners. The resident D1 lynch; the guy who, yesterday, was unbanned after “unspecified CoC violations”; and someone with 3 total posts named “SuccDragon” who does not even have a profile picture. In that moment you consider just subbing out. This cannot be worth it. Glancing at your inbox you cringe as you see a series of PMs from a Flake Moderator inquiring about your recent string of substitutions. You remember that you are on your final warning. Do you risk it? Is a three months signup ban worth dodging this trainwreck?
To take your mind off things you open up Thingyman’s The Art of Power Wolfing when SuccDragon slides into your DMs. “Where are you?” they inquire. You are decided. No one could convince you to play this game.
You begin writing a detailed private message to the host about how your dog is on fire and you will, although it breaks your heart, have to be replaced. Half done, you drop your phone into the workplace toilet for the fourth time that week when it navigates itself to something you have never seen before: Mantichora’s Practical Guide to Open Wolfing. Perhaps that living legend of a mafia player could salvage this game for you? You ask yourself, “What would Mantichora do?”
The number one most important thing you should do when you rand mafia is to create a Mafia Discord group, or some other form of instant-messaging. The instantaneous communication, combined with the more intimate setting of an IM client is essential to turning a random of assortment of players into a Wolfpack. Some game hosts will create a Mafia Chat for your team to use. Do not use it. You want your chat to be someplace that belongs to you and your team. You want to be able to edit it freely and have complete control to customize it depending on your needs at the time. If the host tells you not to do that, whine at them until they give you administrator powers of the chat. Pictured below is a screenshot of a good mafia chat:
Once all members of your team have joined the chat, just start talking to each other. Get to know them because you are stuck with them for the coming days, weeks, or months. Talking it out with your team serves two purposes. First, it allows you to measure up your partners. How skilled are they? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How long have they been playing? Etcetera. Secondly, it allows you and the team to bond. Time and time again, the best performing packs are the ones who consist of people who actually like each other. Try and find that common ground and not only will you maximize your odds of winning, but you will also have a great time doing it. Here is a quick and dirty list of things to start doing.
- Ask your partners who they know in this game. Who are they friends with? Who do they dislike? What players do they consider good or threats? What players do they consider weak or assets? By knowing all of this going into the game it will allow you to predict how your partners will interact with other players before the game even starts.
- Add a music bot to the chat. One of the best ways to get to know someone is to see what kind of music they listen to. Some of the best times you can have in a wolf chat is you and your partners sitting in a voice chat, listening to some chill music, and just talking about anything. Raise team morale, have a fun time, and maybe find some new music to listen to.
- Make sure everyone is on the same page as far as roles go. Ideally, everyone knows and understands what roles each other member of the team has, and know their order of importance. If someone has a killing role, for example, they become a VIP that must be protected. If everyone is on the same page coordination becomes easier and there will be fewer mixups down the line.
- Be as inclusive as possible. Whether someone is considered a Titan or a fish, new player or a veteran, it does not matter. Talk to everyone, get everyone talking, and make sure everyone is as included as possible. Good ideas can come from anyone, and no one wants to feel ignored.
- Have fun. Win or lose, you are playing a game and you are here to have a good time. If everyone is having a good time, it means you are less likely to have a mishap in the private chat. Raging occuring in chat at your teammates can be a game losing hit to morale. In a similar way, never talk about concession. Keep the fire hot until the game ends. Tell yourself, "We might be losing badly, we have almost no chance of winning, but if we somehow pull out a win here we will become legends." Just ask Thingyman about the time he won 1vs16 as mafia.
The first most important rule of wolfing is to never give in, never surrender, and to put the team's needs above your own survival.
Asserting Control Over Town and the Information Flow
Your win condition is succinctly put when considered in the context of a two faction game. You win when you overpower the town. The key word here is "overpower". Your aim is to not only eliminate the town, but to take away what it wants. You are supposed to take what the town has and use it against itself in order to defeat it. You must guide the town down a path of self-destruction.Originally Posted by Mafia Host Role PM
This entire section can be summarized simply by the two words, "post more". Post about anything. Post about everything. It does not matter whatsoever what you are posting about. Take the average of post counts of the top four posters and add ten. That is how many posts you should have at the end of the day. Every post you make is a post that is not made by a member of the town. By posting anything whatsoever you are disrupting the natural discourse of the town. Anything not posted by a townsperson is a post that is not furthering the town's win condition. Just keep posting, and posting, and posting until the day ends. Then wake up the next day and do it again. Keep doing it every day until you die.
Post in the thread, post in your private chat, post in any neighbor chats or the like you might have. Just keep talking about anything and everything.
It is a common misconception that anything put into a game thread, by nature of being posted into the game, gives insight into the game thereby furthering the town's win condition. This is false. The town only has one forum of discourse available in a normal game. You, as mafia, filling that forum with your own voice are furthering the win condition by overpowering the town's voice.
You might be sitting there saying, "it isn't that easy, I don't know how to post. I don't know what to say, and I always stumble over my words." Part of the beauty of forum mafia is the impersonal nature of the game. You are on the internet, and on the internet you do not have to be yourself.
- Fake content isn't. You cannot fake content, because to be "content" it has to be something real and tangible from the thread. Express your real thoughts wherever possible, and try not to overthink things. If you have nothing to say, find something to say. Open up an ISO selected at random. Begin skimming it, looking for posts that stand out to you. When you have something ask yourself, "What does this post make me feel? Why does it make me feel that?" You now have something to say.
- Constantly ask questions. "Why do you have that read?" "What made you change your mind?" "Why are you voting who you are?" These types of questions are extremely easy to ask as either alignment. Follow up every single question with a response, that way you are showing that you are actually thinking about the posts you are making. People find this to look townie.
- The biggest piece of information a town can obtain is the death of a mafia. Do your best to keep your partners alive whenever possible. If saving your partner is impossible, control the way they go down. Make sure town gets as little information as possible or make catching your partner a painful lose-lose situation. Claiming a PR before you die is good to do, for example. If you can out the town counterpart on your way down, it means your death was not for nothing.
- Be confident. People love confidence, and it makes them want to listen to you. State things with conviction. This goes hand-in-hand with never showing fear. Confident, fearless people have nothing to hide. Just be sure not to come off as arrogant. If you can walk this balance, you will be better equipped to influence people.
- Have fun. Post funny pictures, make jokes, be friendly. This is a game, and everyone in the game is here to have fun. If you act like a fun, likable person, people might think twice about killing you. No reason to make unnecessary enemies. In this way, if you have no response to something or someone, just hit them with a funny gif. Memes disarm people in a weird, roundabout way. If you frustrate someone with comedy, when the rage dies down, they chuckle and laugh with you. Memes are the bread and butter of an open wolf.
One of the most crucial decisions you will have to make in a close game as mafia is choosing whether or not to bus. Never let fear dictate your choices. In general, busing is a highly polarized strategy. It is often said that you should never bus. This is an overgeneralization. You should try your absolute hardest to avoid busing whenever possible. There will always be times where a slot is unsalvageable and will go down no matter what. What matters most is limiting how much town is getting from this dying mafia.
Make sure your partner gives as little spew as possible. Talk to your partner, make them aware of the dangers. Do not tell them to go into "anti-spew". Anti-spew is useless. In general, it is possible to identify where about a player goes into anti-spew, allowing for some reads to be made, even if nothing is given after a point. What you should do is drown out the real spew with even more spew.
Make yourself not partners with as many players as possible, whether they are with you or not. Do not do it all at once, though. Ramp it up. Do not ignore anyone. Make posts at everyone, and talk to those players about things. Ask them about reads, express doubts, shift reads. If you throw spew at every player in the game, people will read your ISO and come away with nothing. This is a high risk strategy, but it can help avoid giving out unnecessary information.
As the title of this article implies, you are the most likely player to get bused on your team. Remember your win condition. You are here to overpower the town. You do not care about survival. Keep posting, and fighting, and doing anything and everything to turn the town against itself till the moment you die. Be confident. Even if you do not survive, have faith that your team will pull through. Leave with them a legacy, much like a townsperson would post in thread.
Then go into DVC and continue to troll the dead villagers as relentlessly as possible, and cheer your team on in spirit.
Losing sucks. Losing when you could have done better sucks worse. It is of the utmost importance that you always keep track of your win condition. With you and your team controlling the thread to the best of your abilities, you should be able to subjugate the town and overpower it. Your aim should always be to dominate the town, never allowing them a reprieve.
I always say, "the madder DVC is at the game, the better you're playing". It is of no importance at all to fool players who are not in the game. If the people in the thread cannot lynch you, then no one can lynch you. Everyone in dead or spectator chat saying you are an obvious wolf or any such variation can pound sand. It is your job to strive towards controlling the game, no matter how subtly or overtly you end up playing it.
- Post more. Clog up that game thread. Get people complaining about how it is impossible to read everything. The madder they get, the easier the game is.
- Respect your fellow mafia. They are your team, the people you are supposed to count on. No matter how bad they are, and no matter how awful their plays are, try to be supportive. You are all in it together and infighting only works against you.
- Never give up. In almost any non-trivial gamestate there is buried deep down a line to winning. "Unwinnable" gets thrown around a lot. People call games unwinnable or impossible to make them feel better about losing. You are better than that. Beat the odds or die trying.
- The informational advantage your team has at the beginning of the game is your single greatest tool to winning. You already know the alignments of your team, unlike the town. You know who you can trust, unlike the town. Use that information. Insert yourself into the town circle, or batter your head against it until they have to let you in. When you are making hundreds of posts each day phase, making posts that appear to be solving and appear to be forwarding the game, something is bound to give. If they give you any ground at all, even an inch, take it and throw it in the bank. You are going to need it when it comes down to lynching a townie or a partner.
- Have fun. Relax. Mafia is a fun game. Post some funny pictures of cats. Just talk to people, make some friends, get to know people. People can sense fear or discomfort. Forget for a second that you are playing a game of mafia, that you are lying to all these people, and just live a bit. It will be worth it.
Finally, and most importantly, take care of yourself. Go take a walk. Go eat an apple. Get some water. Hydration is key, it keeps your brain working. Listen to some music. Watch a TV show. Do anything but play mafia. Get yourself into a good state of mind so you can come back and completely destroy the town.
Never, ever forget to meme.