Propose rule changes for Mafia

While no game is in progress, it may be good to discuss possible rule changes. I’ll propose something to address problems I see with early and late voting. (Early voting is almost useless: some players don’t vote at all early in the Day; others make flimsy or joke votes. Late votes lead to sudden swings; the final Lynchee might be selected “out of nowhere” with some players, including Lynchee, not even on-line.)

Someone (storyteller?) proposed that EOD time be secret (e.g. some time between Noon and 2 PM known only to Mod). An alternative would be to say that any vote during the last two minutes delays EOD by two minutes. But these don’t solve all the voting problems.

Let me propose something. It’ll seem complicated, but please consider it anyway! :wink:

Each player is allowed two final votes, and is allocated seven voting tokens to make them. The Day is divided into three phases, perhaps Phase 1 is the first 24 hours, Phase 3 the final 12 hours, Phase 2 every hour in between.

Any Unvote costs 1 token. A vote costs 0, 1 or 2 tokens depending on whether it’s made in Phase 1, 2 or 3. A player with more than five tokens at beginning of Phase 3 loses the extra tokens.

Example: During Phase 1 I vote Peeker and Planks (cost 0). I change my mind and switch the Planks vote to Pizza (cost 1 for the unvote). During Phase 2 I switch the Pizza vote to Peeker (cost 1+1 for unvote and vote). Entering Final Phase (3), I have two votes on Peeker and four tokens left, only enough for 1 or 2 Unvotes and 1 Vote. (Details open to discussion.)

These rules have several benefits. Votes would need to be serious. Earlier votes are encouraged. Last-minute switching would be more difficult. Token hoarding might be a scum tell.

Any merit to this? Any other interesting rule changes to propose?

Intriguing idea.

Personally, I think some of the best moments in a game come during the Voting Shenanigan period, which is any time during the last 2-5 minutes of the day. I’ve seen some exciting stuff happen in the final minute or so, and I would be somewhat reluctant to see that part of the game completely taken away, but the voting token idea might be worth a try.

However, I tend to find the “build-a-case-against-an-opening-joke-vote” gambit somewhat tedious, so having some way to distinguish between true opening votes and joke votes might make it worthwhile.

EOD vote shenanigans are a myth. At least in the sense of a knowledgeable set of players shifting votes to create a desired outcome.

The floating EOD you reference is a mechanism to expunge the needless handwringing that comes from players being afraid of last minute vote shenanigans. By not publicly advertising the true EOD, the functional EOD becomes a shenanigan-free EOD. In other words, a last minute vote can more easily be countered, thereby making such a move extremely risky and more likely to fail.
In practice, floating EOD does nothing.

Vote tokens seem needlessly complex to me.

I completely agree with sach on this.

I don’t consider late voting to be a problem. Players are aware of the rules. If the outcome can be materially affected by a group of players voting in a certain way, then so be it. The voting record is there for all to see.

The token mechanism adds extra complication without solving any problem. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea (sometimes extra complication can make things more fun), but it’s not a solution.

In fact, I see a serious a problem with the proposed token system–a player could be forced to vote for a player they know is town, because they have run out of tokens to unvote. I consider that to be a game-breaking flaw. Players should not have to vote for someone they know is town (this is the flaw with fixed-number Borda counts).

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Personally, I am a strong advocate of the “approval” voting system, which I implement in almost all of my mafia games. Let players vote for as many or as few players as they wish. That way, they can always can a vote on those they think need to be lynched, plus they can also weigh in on of the top few vote-getters. The record is clear (if complex) and the most suspicious generally get lynched.

I feel most of the “problems” people have the lynch votes are artifacts of the one vote per player system used. With only one vote, players often need to remove their vote from who they think should be lynched to the least-worst player who could be lynched. That needlessly muddles the voting record.

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As always, this sort of thing is a matter of opinion. vote septimus for disagreeing with me. :wink:

I think I pretty much agree with the posters before me; Voting Shenanigans are either ‘a myth’ or ‘part of necessary strategy’, so I don’t particularly see a need to mitigate them.

That being said, if a game was run with the Voting Token mechanism I would definitely play it. I’m always intrigues by new twists to the game.

I like EOD shenanigans. They’re fun! I’d play a voting token game, but I wouldn’t want to mod one (imagine trying to keep it straight for all the players!)

The proposal solves other problems than last-minute shenanigans. In Day 1 of a game still in progress, there were last-hour “shenanigans” during which multiple players were forced to claim and the Lynch finally settled on someone who was off-line. :frowning:

But I withdraw the proposal. :eek: Perhaps I over-reacted to that specific game. Still, with a Day typically 120 hours long, it would be nice to find a mechanic such that Players don’t suffer for not being on-line during the last few minutes.

Any other rule proposals?

ETA: Vote Pleonast for editing his post.

Actually, do you know what reduces late-Day craziness by quite a bit? Fewer power roles, more vanillas. When everyone is a power role of some kind, the end of every Day is going to end with a power role on the block, and the corresponding claim-and-possible-vote-switch chaos. In a more traditional game, many days will end with simple vanilla claims, usually not believed, and therefore minimal chaos.

While I agree with the above, I’d stress the part of the problem due to players unvoting someone because of a forced claim. A player forced to claim something near the end of the Day should be looked upon skeptically. As a group, we need to be more clever about which claims are worth lynching and which are not. (I think the last game I was in demonstrated how poorly we as a group are at evaluating role claims.) Smarter players should not so easily switch their votes at the end of the Day.

You’re making the mistake of thinking that being lynched is a negative. It’s not; it’s simply a part of the game.

Instead, think of the big mistake town made by lynching based on online activity rather than in-game criteria. And while it’s a worthy goal to try to prevent town from doing stupid stuff, at some level, it’s the players’ own responsibilities not to play stupid. Maybe next time, some players won’t be so quick to switch votes around.

Personally, I think that end-of-Day voting shenanigans mostly are, and should be, self-policing: If they’re truly shenanigans, then the other players are free to use them as a basis for voting the next Day. Unless it’s LoL, and the shenanigans seal the fate of the game, but in that case, shame on the Townies for letting the game get into that situation. And yes, incidentally, that does happen: The Scarlet Letter game, for instance, ended with the Scum coming out and mass-voting Meeko (a confirmed Mason) in the last five minutes, and they got away with it because of inactive Town players.

Now, there can be a problem with last-minute claims causing vote swings, and possibly cascading. That, I think, is best solved by players not waiting for the last minute to make their claims. If you think your claim might actually sway your fate (as opposed to just wanting to make sure your information doesn’t go to the grave with you), then you should make it at least a full real-world day before the end of Day, to give people time to discuss and evaluate your claim, and if they accept it, to choose a new victim.

I agree with septimus’s feelings that players not-online at EOD should not suffer a disadvantage. I’ve been of the opinion that online mafia is not a realtime game. Under this philosophy I’ve discouraged mechanics that reward players for being online at a certain time of day. Simply put, not everyone can be online at EOD (or Daybreak as the case may be). Being at a disadvantage due to personal scheduling is something to be avoided in the game design.

Presence at EOD will aways be slightly advantageous, but those advantages should be limited when possible.

We don’t disagree, but they do, even the smartest of them, because in a game with copious power roles focusing on the powers and their applications becomes a substitute for playing the game meaningfully. I’m not sure there’s a way to prevent that as a game designer - we can talk all day about what players should do, but there are things they will do and that’s just that - other than including a fairly large proportion of vanilla players in the mix. But if you do that, you get less interest pre-game in my experience; more players sign up if you offer an all-power-role, crazy-ass-twists-and-turns game (although I find interest stays sustained longer in more conventional games once they’ve started).

I think of one way to make it work, but I don’t think you’ll like it. Make votes completely private, as a PM to the moderator. Only after the lynch are you told the vote tally and who voted for whom, so you can sort through it for information. Scum doesn’t have the information to create voting shenanigans. Of course, players also don’t know they are on the lynch block, but isn’t that how the real life party game goes, since you vote at night, when no one is allowed to look?

No, you vote during the day. Only the mafia and any power roles are active at night.

Private votes wouldn’t work, since everyone would just declare publicly whom they’re voting for, anyway. People could lie, of course, but that would just guarantee their own place on the chopping block once the official tally was posted.

Only if you forced them to tell you who they are voting for. That’s something the group would have to choose to do, by lynching anyone who didn’t tell who they were going to vote for. It’s a fundamental change in how you play, which is why I said you probably wouldn’t like it.

And I do remember a little more clearly now. As I played the party game, you vote during the day, but it’s still private. Someone calls for a lynch vote, and then you’re told by game runner to close your eyes and put your head down. Then they list off each person, having you raise your hand to vote for their lynch. If a certain threshold is reached, a lynch occurs. Otherwise, the Day resumes.

I think I got confused because, if a lynch does happen, Night does immediately fall. And usually, in my experience, a lynch did occur.

Then again, I played the game twice in my life with the same person in charge, with that person being the only one who had ever played before. Are you saying the voting is normally public?

Yeah, I’ve never played Party Mafia with lynch voting the way you describe.

One way to get the best of both goals (fun roles, but Townies are equally valuable) is for several (or all) players to cycle Night-by-Night through 5 or 6 roles (Doc, Cop, Vig, Bulletproof, 2xVanilla).

How would it work? Mod sets each player’s schedule randomly? Or players use the powers in the order they prefer?

Help me: This idea needs a twist or boost before it’ll become a good idea.

The twist would have to be that everyone is “vanilla” in the sense that they don’t know they get a one-shot power until the night it happens.

What storyteller was referring to is the clusterfuck that happens when everyone is a power role and we get claim after claim because Town has to lynch somebody on day one. In other words, the desire to lynch someone conflicts with the desire to NOT lynch claimed power roles.

If everyone was a Night N one shot, they would still have the potential for a claim-fest.

Have you ever read my “ship” mafia games? SS Insipid and SS Incorrigible.

Most players are vanilla. The powers come from the position of the players on the player list. (There are mechanisms for moving players around, plus death means everyone slides up to fill empty slots.) The upside is that all power roles are filled and everyone knows who they are. The downside is that scum can fill power roles just as well as townies.

It’s potentially a very pro-townie mechanism, but it takes some skill to take advantage of it. The two times I’ve run it, scum have won.

Also, I’ve come up with another mechanism to distribute powers, without fixing them to individual players. I’ll run this game next time I run (or this time, if I don’t get the required number of players for Apocalyptic Mafia.