Article #30: The Toxic Link: what is it and how can you find mafia with it?
Linking living players together is something that is being done by town and mafia players alike. But in some cases, these links serve the purpose of spreading distrust in town or create bad chain eliminations. Those links are mafia motivated and I call them “Toxic Links“. Correctly identifying these will out a wolf in most cases, and sometimes even more than one.
Note that I wrote “living players”. Linking a dead (mafia) player to someone is interaction analysis and a completely different topic.
An overview of possible linking you might encounter in a game:
1) The “coaching or bussing link”: A player accuses someone of coaching or bussing someone else.
Town: might out the suspicion but will never use this as a hard conclusion on anyone’s alignment. Town would note this observation and revisit it if one of the two “accused” flips wolf. It is a bad reason to attack or vote someone and town instinctively knows this.
Mafia: often uses this as a reason to vote someone without providing any reasoning beyond the coaching as for why both parties are mafia. It doesn’t clear the two other players: it’s not uncommon to tie a buddy to a townie to get a chain elim in case the buddy kicks the bucket.
How to spot the difference?
If someone accuses someone of coaching or bussing and keeps attacking both players, then look for other reasoning for their reads.
• If there is no reasoning, you probably found a wolf
• If there is reasoning on one but they are attacking both or voting the other, you probably found a wolf. Added bonus: if they attack one and vote the other, the one they attack is often a buddy (the attack is real, the vote is meant to mislynch)
• If there is reasoning on one and they focus their attacks and vote there, it's not a toxic link
• If there is reasoning on both, it's not a toxic link
2) The "I think X, Y and Z are scum together" link in the early game
Town: many players like solving the game early for postgame cred and will sound too sure of an early scumteam. Town should however not be as sure as they sound, especially early game.
Mafia: it's a working tactic to bite into scumreads and hold on to them: you will get the scorn of the players you're calling scum, but all other townies can remain on your good side. If you choose a pool big enough to contain the mafia team early on, you can coast on that the whole game.
How to spot the difference?
The main tactic here is to not attack these reads: see if they evolve naturally. If the person is still focusing on only these reads at EOD or even next Day(s), then you found a wolf. Town will naturally have changed their reads.
If, and this is important, you push on the person doing this too early, you will lose the chance to catch a wolf as you will force them to re-evaluate and the narrative of both town and mafia will change.
- Links aren't always toxic
- If someone attacks someone for coaching or bussing, investigate their OTHER reasoning for thinking those people are mafia and compare that to where their push and vote are
- If someone creates a scumteam early on, don't attack those reads so you can investigate if the reads evolve naturally