Article #32: How To Throw Mafia Games
Is your high winrate causing you undue pressure to perform in games? Do you have money riding on the other team winning? Did you simply rand scum with someone that you hate the guts of? If so, this article may be for you. There are many articles that teach you how to win games, but only one that teaches you how to lose them. Here, I will cover the top tips, tricks, and strategies that will ensure you get blacklisted by the entire community while never technically breaking any site rules. So the next time you feel like your postgame DVCs don’t have enough drama, whip out this article and you’ll be well on your way to instigating the next flame war.
Faking Cop Checks
One of the most coveted roles in all of mafia is that of the investigative. It is also coveted by gamethrowers, but for entirely different reasons. Here, I will talk about the classic cop, but you can also apply these strategies to many other investigative roles, including tracker, watcher and even motion detector.
Many winning players will often adopt a nuanced, high-level strategy where they read their investigative results and then proceed to truthfully report them in the thread. You know what this strategy is? Boring. And nothing is worse than a boring strategy in mafia. If the host wanted investigative results to be reported truthfully, they would post them directly into the thread. It is your duty to ensure that any cop checks you report are false and misleading.
Do you have suspicions on a player, but haven’t gotten the chance to investigate them yet? Just claim that you did and they showed up as mafia! (Or that they visited the nightkill’s house, or whatever is appropriate for your role.) You will find out their real alignment once they get voted out, which is basically a cop check anyway. If called out on it, just claim you were playing to your role. Do you think real-life police officers bother to check whether their victims are guilty before killing them? Of course not. It was the town’s fault for trusting you, anyway.
The amateur gamethrower will often stick to just faking red checks. Remember, it’s possible for town to win after misexing a townie, but it’s not possible for them to win if they erroneously locktown a wolf. Faked greens are often more effective for getting the job done than faked reds. Were you asked to investigate some 5-posting slanker and forgot to submit your night action PM because you were too busy going on a hot date with your girlfriend from Canada? Just tell the thread that they’re town. There’s an 80% chance they are anyway, so really you’re just saving yourself time and energy.
But what happens if you didn’t roll cop at all and got some piddly little Vanilla Town role PM? Does that mean you can’t execute the advanced strategies laid out above? Absolutely not. Nobody can stop you from claiming cop. Go ahead and brashly declare yourself to be confirmed town because you have a red check on the latest player to offend you at the opening of Day 2. If a cop has already revealed, make sure to counterclaim and thunderdome them to make your claim look as legit as possible. Ideally, you will even get the real cop voted out so they can’t be killed at night. When all is revealed at the end of the game, simply explain to everyone else that you were using a complex reaction test FPS that their tiny brains are too small to understand.
Appeals to Emotion
Not every game has cops. They’re starting to fall out of favor these days as people come to the realization that it’s a stupid idea to create roles that allow players to skip all social deduction in a game built entirely around social deduction. What are you supposed to do if it’s a mountainous setup? The sophisticated gamethrower will have many tools up their sleeve, and chief among them is the abuse of Appeal to Emotion (ATE).
The Ancient Greeks are renowned for their creation of formal rhetoric, and they recognized pathos, or appeal to emotion, as one of the core pillars of rhetoric. As everyone knows, the Ancient Greeks were right about everything, like their theory that the entire world is made out of fire. Thus, you can rest assured that using as much pathos as possible in your mafia-playing rhetoric will make you seem like the most intelligent and worldly player in the game.
Here’s a fun fact: the word pathos literally translates to “suffering”. That is exactly what you must sow when you engage in ATE. Not only do you have to project an egregiously large amount of misery, you must ensure that everyone else in the game is as miserable as you are so they can relate in the strongest possible way to your emotions. If done right, you will cause the other players in the game to regret having signed up for it, or even to regret having played mafia at all. Nothing says “success” like seeing a well-respected player quietly announce their retirement after a 12-page thunderdome where you accused them of murdering your entire family.
The United Nations recognizes a standardized set of rights and freedoms for everyone in the world. You are special. You have an additional right that nobody else has: the right to not be scumread in mafia games. This is the mandate of heaven and your lawful birthright. Anyone who attempts to infringe upon this right is a supervillain the likes of which the world has never seen before, and it is your duty to impress just how morally degenerate they are to the rest of the thread. Don’t shy away from using the most explicit possible descriptions of how badly they have wronged you. You aren’t just frustrated or upset. You can barely read the screen through your tears. You haven’t slept for a fortnight because they called you mafia. Your boss fired you because your demoralization has led to poor performance at work. Of course, this right only applies to you. Not being scumread is a privilege for everyone else. If someone else objects to being scumread by you, they are simply being a whiny baby and you should let them know that.
This isn’t just true when you are town. In fact, when you are mafia, it applies tenfold. Your job as a mafia member is to act like you would as town. It therefore follows that anyone who scumreads you for your actions is scumreading you for something you would do as town. They are terrible players and should be informed of this. The simple act of flipping red shouldn’t stop you from arguing that you would have done everything you did as VT. Spec chats and DVCs exist specifically for you to make these claims after dying. Make good use of them.
Nor should you stop when the game has ended. Remember when I said that people who scumread you are reprehensible scumbags? Make sure they know it. In postgame, harass them and let them know what you think of their behavior. This is the perfect time to practice the emotional manipulation and gaslighting skills that you will be using the next time you roll wolf. Tell them that you have decided to blacklist them because of how poorly they have treated you - they will no doubt be horrified by the prospect of not playing with you in the future and regret their actions immediately. If they are removed from the game before you are, make sure to sub out so you can continue attacking them in spec chat. Evil never rests, and neither should you.
A few misguided delinquents might make the juvenile mistake of challenging your use of ATE. Like Thanos, you must use ATE to defend the ATE. Ask them if they are demanding that you be a soulless robot. That is exactly what they are doing when they ask you to tone it down. Then throw down the gauntlet and claim that they are merciless devils who cannot stand the touch of pure emotion. If you have ever struggled with your mental health, now is the perfect time to bring it up and publicly accuse your opponents of exacerbating, or - why stop there? - even causing it. (Pro tip: make sure to mention these same issues when the flake mod asks why you are subbing out of your second game this week.)
The beauty of ATE is that it doesn’t just lower the town’s morale and make them not want to play. Even against the most cold-hearted of cynical automatons, you can still ensure that they lose the game by disrupting their solving. Use text that is bold, italicized, underlined, colored and of UNNATURALLY LARGE SIZE, IN ALL CAPS. These textual features are an effective way to convey the sheer scope of your righteous emotion, and will no doubt force several pages of the thread to revolve around it instead of finding mafia.
Owing to the sheer effectiveness of this strategy, many mafia hosts have tried curbing it with rules against “excessive ATE”, which may stymie your efforts at gamethrowing. If this fails, why don’t you try…
The tried and tested method for causing chaos at EODs. I am a well known proponent of flash wagons and have written extensively on their theory and strategy. The beauty of this strategy is that there is no game host in the world that will censure you for them. On some sites, you might be banned for faking red checks, and on others, you might run afoul of excessive ATE rules. But there is no mafia community on the planet that has the cojones to ban flash wagons, and you should use this to your advantage.
The first thing any budding gamethrower learns is the “quickhammer” technique, where a player - ideally town - is majoritied in the first few hours or even minutes of the day, before anyone else can check in, in order to reduce the amount of time that townies have to discuss the game. While popular and still the bread and butter of gamethrowing all across the internet, crafty townies can play around it by simply notifying the other players of your quickhammering tendencies and not putting players at E-1.
Therein lies the genius of flash wagons. Like the Lord, you will giveth, and you will taketh away. Rather than denying the town the 48 hours they are entitled to solve in, you will benevolently permit them all the time they are allotted. Once they have discussed and found an execution candidate they agree on, you will render every scrap of solving null and void by abruptly switching the target to someone else at the very last minute. Ideally, this switch will be done with as little discussion as possible so that people are forced to make naked votes in a mad panic rather than rationally weigh the benefits and drawbacks of switching wagons. This has the additional benefit of denying the new execution target time to claim if they are a power role. However, just in case they’re quick on the draw, try to switch the execution to someone who isn’t around at EOD at all to defend themselves. Players in odd time zones, such as Australians or Eastern Europeans, are particularly vulnerable to this strategy. If they didn’t want to be rolled at EOD, they shouldn’t have signed up to a North American game.
Many towns will simply heed a call of “flash wagon!” and frantically switch targets like a raid boss having their aggro pulled by a moronic DPS. But some more skeptical playerlists might need a little convincing. Fortunately, you have a wide variety of fallacious arguments that you can pull out of your arsenal in order to convince them. Don’t bother using just one, either: use every one you think you can get away with, especially if other players have limited time (owing to the impending deadline) to refute them. It worked for Duane Gish, and it can work for you.
The first argument you will be using is DADV, which stands for “Dead Air, Dead Villager”. The real-life Italian Mafia abide by a strict code of silence known as omertà. Similarly, forum mafia teams are also bound to a strict code of silence that forbids them from talking whenever a villager is being wagoned. It therefore follows that any game thread which goes for more than five minutes without a post is guaranteed to be wagoning an innocent townie. No self-respecting mafioso would ever wolfread - or, god forbid, vote - a teammate, and so if someone in the game is a consensus suspect, that person is confirmed town, and you should treat them as such.
The second argument is known as “TWTBW”. All the good arguments in mafia have complex acronyms. Like many things, the longer they are, the more attractive they will be to the general population. In this case, TWTBW stands for “Too Wolfy To Be Wolf”. The premise behind this argument is simple. Wolves are not wolfy. In fact, wolves are never wolfy. As a result, anyone who is wolfy cannot possibly be a wolf. The only people who are wolfy are townies, so if you find someone acting in the most scummy, unjustifiable, anti-town way possible, you can rest assured that they have a green role card. If anyone challenges this logic, mock them for making “level 1” reads. Level 1 reads are never correct because anything obvious cannot be true. This segues neatly into…
“The game can’t be this easy”. There isn’t an acronym for this one, but I’m sure there will be by this time next year. Mafia games are never easy. No matter how stacked the playerlist, and how well you’ve been doing, the game is always the most fiendishly difficult, labyrinthine, and impossible solve imaginable. It doesn’t matter if town is well on its way to a sweep. There is always a deepwolf, this is mandated by the laws of man and God, and it is your responsibility to find them. Reject all attempts at peddling solves which are logical consequences of the game’s events. Flash wagoning is your one chance to earn glory and a champs advance by swapping wagons onto a deepwolf. Since they’re deep, you will usually want to target only consensus, obvious town with your flash wagon. Those are the most likely to flip mafia.
Which brings us to our fourth and last argument, “let it rand”. This one is the most situational, as it can only be used when there are two competing wagons - although you can always create a competing wagon using the first three if it doesn’t already exist. Out of everyone in the game, who can you be completely certain isn’t mafia? That’s right, Modbot. Not only is Modbot confirmed to not be mafia, it also knows the identities of all the mafia members, as it was the one who sent them their role PMs. Therefore it is obviously correct to let Modbot make all your decisions for you. Rather than using their brains to figure out which of two possible candidates is scummier, frivolously encourage the town to force a tie and allow Modbot to sort it out. Random chance is always superior to reasoned analysis in games of deduction.
If all else fails, there’s always “vibes”.
So despite your best efforts to derail the game, it seems pretty locked up. You have a consensus towncore - made up of people who’ve been mech cleared, people who’ve vastly exceeded their wolf range, and strong town players who’ve buried multiple wolves. You have a well-defined POE and the threadstate is strong and healthy, with robust debate and high morale. What could you possibly do to make this game go wrong?
The answer is tinfoil and paranoia. A town is nothing more than a mob of paranoid yahoos, and if there’s one thing those are good at doing, it’s turning on each other. Make sure not to bring up tinfoil suspicion on people when the game is going poorly, as you might inadvertently actually catch a deepwolf that way. It’s best to do it when the game is going well and there are no indications at all that the town is barking up the wrong tree.
Beginners to gamethrowing often think that they must create compelling, nuanced cases in order to bring suspicion down on someone who has been beyond suspicion for most of the game. Not so. The undisputed king of tinfoil, Alex Jones, has never made a coherent argument in his life. Yet he has swindled millions more people into believing obvious nonsense than you ever will. So follow his example. No chain of logic is too dubious, no associative too indecipherable, for you to somehow make it about how the claimed PR who has buried 2 wolves is fooling everyone.
Start by looking at associatives with flipped wolves. Associatives are like a coin; every one has two sides, and as the person constructing the case, you have the right to choose which side applies to your position. Did the mafia townread your tinfoil victim? That’s a classic case of wolves trying to clear each other. But if they scumread your victim, it’s obviously bussing or TMI. (If you’re instead trying to tinfoil clear an obvious mafia, reverse these arguments. A townread is TMI, while a scumread is them trying to get a villager killed.)
Next, examine the nightkills and their legacies. I know, I know - you were taught in Gamethrowing 101 to make sure that the town doesn’t look at dead town legacies at all. But now you can use them for your own ends. As with associatives, a dead town that scumread your victim was obviously killed for their reads, while one that townread them was killed for WIFOM.
If you’re doing everything right, you should be able to get a few paranoid townies on your side, while your victim starts to become concerned at the tides turning against them. Sensing a shift in the gamestate, they will no doubt try to defend themselves by refuting your arguments and undermining your case. That’s when you hit them with your trump card: they are a good wolf.
That’s right. The person you are scumreading is skilled at playing the mafia alignment. That means that they are always mafia, and if you ever townread them, no matter how solid your reasons, you are being tricked by their devious mafia ways. The better they are at wolfing, the more you should scumread them for it. Needless to say, being the master manipulators that they are, nothing is out of their scum range. No action, no matter how townie, is beyond their grasp. Did they singlehandedly kill half the mafia team? That is exactly what a skilled wolf would do. Having three red flips by day four is a tell-tale sign of strong wolf play. Did a flipped cop check them green? Perhaps they are the Godfather. It’s not like anyone’s going to bother checking the first page where the host confirms that investigations will not be falsified. And if they did, well, who’s to say this game isn’t bastard? The host could have lied.
Playing as Wolf
Many people underestimate the subtle art of throwing games as a wolf. There’s a common misconception that the best way to do so is simply to post your entire mafia team in the thread. Sure, that works - for one game, then you get banned and can’t throw again. If you want to be a perennial SuccDragon that will cause the most ardent frivolous-replacement absolutist to RWSTFO when they see you in scum chat, this section may be enlightening for you.
Being caught as wolf is relatively easy. Just post the bare minimum, make obvious bad-faith arguments, and exhibit copious amounts of TMI. If you want to really push it, make blatant mechanical mistakes or fake a 1610 in the thread. The challenge, however, is finding a way to ensure that the rest of your team goes down when you do.
It all begins with spew. Spew is how you discreetly signal to the town who your teammates are without being so direct that you get banned for it. The rule of thumb when spewing your teammates is to go to extremes. Either you never interact with any of your teammates (while interacting plenty with townies), or you have tons and tons of the most awkward, fake-looking, “hello fellow wolf, uh, townie” crap ever churned out. The idea is to draw the eye of anyone combing through your ISO for spew, either to the sheer wince-inducing artificiality of your interactions with teammates, or to the gaping lack thereof.
A sense of coordination is important for establishing the presence of a unified mafia team. When your teammates votes a certain way, follow them as quickly as possible, within such a short period of time that it is almost certain you coordinated it on voice chat. This is especially effective during tense EODs and endgame situations. It works best when you don’t have a reason for shifting your vote, particularly to someone you previously townread.
Sometimes a town is so incompetent that they somehow bumble into an impending misexe despite your best efforts. Not to worry. All the advice about using flash wagons from earlier has become relevant again, except this time, you are making yourself the target of the switch. Lie low the whole day, then waltz into EOD making random votes while pretending to be clueless. When someone finally suggests voting you instead, ask “why me?” and claim a mechanically impossible PR, then OMGUS the person who tried voting you. Flash wagons on a wolf often spew the whole wagon town because of the speed and energy of their switch, so make sure to get as much mileage out of this as possible.
Speaking of spewing people town, you want to try to do it as much as possible. It’s well known that finding enough players as town and putting the rest in a POE wins games just as effectively as finding all the mafia and directly voting them out. Similarly, spewing enough people as town works just as well as spewing your teammates as mafia. Exhibit blatant TMI. Confidently townread people for completely nonsensical reasons and act hurt and depressed when they’re skeptical of the way you’re treating them. Buddy up to players in the most ostentatious way possible. If the rest of the town doesn’t suspect that you’re trying to subtly flirt with them, it isn’t ostentatious enough. Finally, make sure to get into knock-down drag-out arguments with another player that are so intense and personal that it practically guarantees you aren’t aligned. Bonus points if you sub out after the argument. Refer to the section on ATE for more advice on how to really sell the conflict.
If nothing else works, bus your entire team into the ground for no conceivable gain, then concede when you’re the only wolf left while loudly proclaiming that there was no way to win because your teammates were all useless and obvious.
Vigilantes and ITAs
Vigilantes/ITAs are a gold mine for gamethrowers, as they’re the easiest way to make a high-impact misplay that you cannot be held accountable for. Some vigilantes give off the impression of being loose cannons that somehow got their hands on a gun. You must go even further beyond. The town should start thinking of you as a psychopathic terrorist who indiscriminately murders innocent people to spread their agenda of fear and despair.
When a vigilante or ITA shot is made on a consensus townie, it is referred to as a “hero shot”. It is so named because the people who make hero shots are all heroes and will be treated as such by the rest of the mafia community. You should strive to make nothing but hero shots. Never shoot in the POE. The town will handle that for you, and it’s not your job to make life easier for them. Blast away at the towncore until people intentionally start acting scummy just so they don’t die at night.
In many games, the game host does not specify which nightkill was made by mafia and which was made by the vigilante. Nevertheless, the town can usually figure out which is which. Your job is to make it impossible for them to tell. The night belongs to the mafia, so make sure your KP works for them and not town. In games with ITAs, especially mashes, your kills are public, and the town will sometimes try to force you to use your ITAs in a pro-town way by asking you to adhere to a “shotlist”. Never do this. Look them straight in the eye and make an ITA shot on someone who is confirmed town. When you then get voted out, complain bitterly in DVC about how you always get misread. Make sure to make vague references to “tyrannical and toxic behavior from certain players” in postgame.
Are you on thin ice for a series of “accidental” misplays and have the site moderators looking over your shoulder? Don’t take the risk of getting banned. Instead of shooting confirmed town, instead shoot the mafioso that is bulletproof or that has a lowered chance of ITAs hitting them. Complain afterwards that you can’t expected to keep up with all the mech flying around and that bulletproof is a bull$%#! mechanic anyway. To make sure people know you’re serious, heavily insinuate that you intend to blacklist the host for unannounced bastard games in the future.
Many gamethrowers think that their work is done when Modbot announces that their faction has been defeated. Not so. Postgame is still part of the game, and it is your job to ruin it as well. After publishing this article, many players will be savvy to your gamethrowing techniques, and some will no doubt try to call you out on it. That is toxicity. Calling someone out for throwing a game is what it means to be a toxic, abrasive, and all-around terrible person. Make sure they know that by informing them, as well as pinging the game host and perhaps even the site mods to make sure they see it too. If you have been so blatant in your behavior that you cannot plausibly argue that you are in the right, take an enlightened centrist stance and argue that “both sides” are in the wrong and you need time to cool off. Remember, if the game host has to mute DVC because of an argument between you and your opponent, you have won.
DVC is the perfect place to hash out personal disputes between you and the other players in the game. Has someone caught you as scum twice in a row? Post bitterly about how they “always suspect you due to OOG grudges” despite you “acting the same way as both alignments”. Many game hosts who have excessive ATE rules in their games foolishly do not enforce those rules in their DVCs, and you should take full advantage of this.
In the dystopian world of 1984, all history is malleable according to the will of Big Brother. Your reads should follow the same principle. When you enter DVC, immediately ask to be spoiled and look at who the mafia are. You suspect all these people of being mafia. You have always suspected these people of being mafia. Any posts you made in the game that suggested otherwise are lies, jokes, or reaction tests. Furthermore, all the mafia members are extremely obvious and outed, and really, it’s the rest of the town who are gamethrowing by not already having executed them. Wantonly mock everyone in the game who does not have the perfect solve, like you do.
If you were a wolf, you will often be offered the option to either reveal or hide wolf chat. Always hide wolf chat. Horror writers know this rule: an unknown monster is always scarier than a known one. Make offhand references to “some of the personal comments made about players in wolf chat”, then smugly inform anyone who asks for specifics that it would be toxic to say. Lines like “yikes… I’m not revealing this one for sure”, or claims that you are trying to hide your wolf meta to avoid being readable in future games are also suitable for this situation. If the host forcibly reveals wolf chat, make sure to delete all your posts in it to remove as much context as possible.
After the heat has died down and everyone has moved on to the next game, stay in the now-dead DVC or wolf chat server. This is the perfect place to store your personal collection of pornography, chat about American football with nobody in particular, and angleshoot anyone who might stop by to check another player’s meta in future games.
If you have followed this guide to the letter, congratulations. You have now ruined as many games as you can and probably gotten blacklisted by everyone on the site. Make sure to loudly and indignantly defend yourself by saying that your actions were not an intentional attempt to lose the game, and that you’re genuinely just this bad at the game. This is a meaningful distinction that everyone on Mafia Universe will care a lot about, and will do a lot to salvage your reputation.
Finish strong by making a feedback thread about elitist cliques on MU that ostracize people for having unorthodox playstyles, then watch the fire burn.
- Fake cop checks
- Use ATE
- Flash wagon villagers
- Tinfoil obvious town
- Spew your entire team as wolf
- Make hero shots
- Gaslight everyone postgame