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A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

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A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby Metsfanmax on Thu Sep 24, 2015 9:02 am

I just looked at Streaker's F11 game, and it made me think that we probably shouldn't be using these open but variable setups here on CC. It is obvious by inspection of the F11 set up that certain setups are strictly better for town than others. Depending on how the RNG turns out, town could either have a cop and a doc -- or have only VTs. My guess is that these games are supposed to be balanced by the RNG. That is, it could work if the odds of town winning are, say, 60%, 55%, 45%, and 40% in each case, so that on average town has a 50% chance of winning if each setup is chosen equally. Now, this is already a big if -- as I have watched the evolution of mafia over the years, mafiascum keeps on tossing these setups for new variants, suggesting that the balance wasn't what the creator hoped for.

But the core of my objection is that even if the balance was there, it would only be there over many games, as the odds averaged out. If you're playing 50 of these F11 games, then it's probably a wash. But we don't do that on CC -- we play no more than one or two of these at a time, and usually with a rotating crew of newbies. In any given game, the odds are likely to be broken for either town or mafia, hurting the experience of the players. An experienced veteran knows to look at the long game and not get upset over one loss because of poor balance, but it's very different to a younger player. For them I think it makes much more sense to try to balance one setup as well as possible and just run with it. This is hard for 7-player setups, and maybe even for 9-player setups, but I am pretty sure that if we tried hard to do it, the result would still be better than the variable ones. It might take some study of mafiascum to see if any of the individual C9, F11, or 2of4 variations are themselves balanced.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby WingCmdr Ginkapo on Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:40 pm

Have you looked at the set up for Matrix 6? The games with bp townie are difficult for town, however the set up does a good job of explaining multi roles in a small game setting, which waas the reason we tried it out here in the first place.

http://wiki.mafiascum.net/index.php?title=Matrix6
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby Metsfanmax on Thu Sep 24, 2015 3:38 pm

I think Matrix 6 is less bad than the others, yes.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby WingCmdr Ginkapo on Thu Sep 24, 2015 3:41 pm

The big question is what do we want to achieve with the smaller learning games?

For me its exposure to complex roles, understanding of basic mafia gameplay and if it was possible the basics of scumhunting. I dont believe any small game really acts as a good guide for scumhunting.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby Metsfanmax on Thu Sep 24, 2015 3:49 pm

I don't think that complex roles should be a key part of the learning games. Complex roles are just toys, they superficially make the game more interesting perhaps, but the game fundamentally isn't about the roles. Cop and doctor are enough to get the gist of how to use power roles.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby Endgame422 on Fri Sep 25, 2015 12:32 am

Honestly pure vanilla seems the way to go imo.
The fundamentals are the hard part to learn and with a solid knowledge base a player can fairly easily figure out how PRs work.
With new players i think KISS applies perfectly.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby Streaker on Fri Sep 25, 2015 1:14 am

These smaller games usually tend to be quite heavily mafia favoured balance wise, and I understand your concern. But finding a completely balanced isn't that simple.
If we can agree to a 'standard' setup we use for all 'noob' games, that's absolutely fine by me. My sole intention with F11 is hosting a slightly bigger game compared to C9. I believe it can be a very good game to get people in to it.

My main objection to C9 is the smaller size, in which inactivity can be a real bitch. That's slightly countered with more players.

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http://forum.mafiascum.net/viewtopic.php?p=2234627#p2234627
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby Marashu on Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:37 pm

Endgame422 wrote:Honestly pure vanilla seems the way to go imo.
The fundamentals are the hard part to learn and with a solid knowledge base a player can fairly easily figure out how PRs work.
With new players i think KISS applies perfectly.

I've been toying with the idea of running a small vanilla game, possibly with an alternative set-up (see: True Love Mafia). And I know my wife favours pure vanilla setups.

I feel like the introductory games, like C9, F11, Matrix6, 8Matrix, etc. are a good way to draw new players. Scumhunting skills take time, and once the new player has had a taste of mafia, I feel like they would be more inclined to join up for games that are more geared towards scumhunting.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby StorrZerg on Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:39 pm

i like semi open set ups. having defined area for claims is great. and i dont think their is much of an issue with this set ups provided in f11, because the balance is good. and its something many of the games on CC lack. well documented balance. Most of CC games are fun games with tons of flavor, or unique roles, and i'd be more worried about those games being balanced, and having checks in place to help insure balance.

Like a mafia game with no mafia.
Or how many non vanilla games could just end day 1, if everyone mass claimed. (no seriously lol)

Small, vanilla games, or vengeful games are solid to.

agree with marashu regarding c9/f11 etc.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby pancakemix on Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:43 pm

Endgame422 wrote:Honestly pure vanilla seems the way to go imo.
The fundamentals are the hard part to learn and with a solid knowledge base a player can fairly easily figure out how PRs work.
With new players i think KISS applies perfectly.


Except that can be crippling for town in its own right. Especially when it's easy to fall into the Day 1 trap of "we have nothing to go on". Doc and cop are pretty simple, and offer plenty in terms of strategic subtlety.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby StorrZerg on Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:25 pm

Have yo train your brain to move past day 1 trap.

Attempting to find something from nothing is far better than providing nothing
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby aage on Sun Sep 27, 2015 11:24 am

StorrZerg wrote:Or how many non vanilla games could just end day 1, if everyone mass claimed. (no seriously lol)

This


I'm staying out of most of the current games because they're either non-vanilla or seem too complicated to have some balance. Three of them are "choose your own mafia", "pick your own mystery" and CYOC... Seriously? Can't I just play a normal game of mafia? I honestly can't remember when I was last involved in a case against actual mafia that didn't rely on either power roles or flavour, and that is a bad thing. Current focus on flavour and ridiculous roles detracts from the level of actual scumhunting. This in turn lets mafia get away with almost anything. Case in point: me as mafia in my past ~5 games.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby StorrZerg on Sun Sep 27, 2015 3:44 pm

flavor games, and non vanilla are great though. I'm just saying it be nice to do have some balance checking involved. '



for flavor games, having mods ensure character does not = alignment, or having enough strong fake claims will help solve flavor issues. I feel many games struggle with this.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby Streaker on Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:35 am

aage wrote:
StorrZerg wrote:Or how many non vanilla games could just end day 1, if everyone mass claimed. (no seriously lol)

This


I'm staying out of most of the current games because they're either non-vanilla or seem too complicated to have some balance. Three of them are "choose your own mafia", "pick your own mystery" and CYOC... Seriously? Can't I just play a normal game of mafia? I honestly can't remember when I was last involved in a case against actual mafia that didn't rely on either power roles or flavour, and that is a bad thing. Current focus on flavour and ridiculous roles detracts from the level of actual scumhunting. This in turn lets mafia get away with almost anything. Case in point: me as mafia in my past ~5 games.


I don't agree that the CYOC and variables detract from scumhunting-experience. They are an alternative way to get your PR assigned, and is a game by itself. Once that part is over, game on. It adds another level to the game in the form of bluff claiming (for instance 2nd draft position to claim a powerfull town role), but the hunting remains equal to a vanilla game.

If you'd say that you would love a more basic, balance guaranteed, game then I'd hear you.
I do agree that games are getting carried away with flavour and special powers. Will host a 'standard' game once my F11 ends (feel free to join that one, Aage). There is some need of players who are capable of building cases as an example for the newer players.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby aage on Mon Sep 28, 2015 7:32 am

Streaker wrote:If you'd say that you would love a more basic, balance guaranteed, game then I'd hear you.
I do agree that games are getting carried away with flavour and special powers.

Yes, I would like that. I don't think Mets is correct in his first post in this thread, I think closed setups aren't necessarily worse than closed setups. The problem is balance, it always comes back to this. A closed setup is so easily rigged for or against town, most times even without the mod noticing because it's a closed setup, since players (and I am guilty of this as well) will try to find a way to 'break' the setup by finding regularities or adding up the power roles. In some cases, it becomes an exercise of flavour probability. In others, it simply becomes a mathematical exercise of lining up the night actions to reveal the liars. These games also often involve people asking the mod numerous questions about how night actions work - I've even had mafia teammates asking the mod questions about town roles that were claimed... That is not a deception game, that is a logical puzzle which comes down to "the mod doesn't lie" rather than "which player is lying?".
For instance, in the Harry Potter game and the Foundation game, I was more concerned with how we (the mafia) should use our night actions to our full potential, and which town roles we should block, than I was concerned with the day discussion. I'm not trying to brag - I'm trying to point out that the focus of my game as mafia was highly irregular, mainly due to how the setup worked and the sheer number of town roles.
In Wheel of Time, I (town) was running down the last mafia based on the flavour of his role vs. the flavour of the game, rather than his actions during the day phases; it was literally a process of breaking down the setup and finding that his role didn't fit. That's a logical puzzle, not a mafia game. Like Storr said, flavour games require alignment =/= role, which in turn defeats the point of having a flavour game.

Open setups can be broken, but I think there is a better case against closed setups. Especially flavour games are highly susceptible to being hijacked based on the flavour. We could all go around and say "well you shouldn't do that then", but a better solution would be to actually solve the problem: either don't make flavour games, or don't make "town hero" roles. I think I mentioned this after the HP game as well - in most cases, the flavour is based on some book, show or movie that has a clear "good guys" and "bad guys" distinction. If you don't give the "bad guys" a "good guy" fake claim they will die upon claiming. Even that might not be so bad, but these games usually have several early name claims, and almost always result in premature mass claims. Again, we could all say "well you shouldn't do that then" but that doesn't un-break a broken setup. I'm considering modding a game as an experiment to try and avoid this problem, because I don't think I really want to play another closed setup again if this continues.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby StorrZerg on Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:44 pm

hp, you also had the advantage of not actually losing anything when a mafia team mate died. (seriously so broken lol) so made sense to play like that. All mafia having access to all powers, and never losing a power when a mafia died was kinda dumb. fake claims had been good imo, and flavor was all right with abilities, nothing to broken imo. (from the town side)

i think we are just getting more to the point that when flavor games are hosted, mods need to be thinking more about the aspect of fake claims and alignment checks. The time and effort put into the games is fantastic, and i love playing in a good flavor game, that has quirks and tells to hint back to the show or tv. but from a flavor standpoint.

Idk, just having mods ensure that mafia have decent fake claims or having a pool of characters and just randomly rng'ing which character is mafia. (which is what i did in game of thrones mafia, )
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby Metsfanmax on Wed Sep 30, 2015 1:59 pm

I'm not arguing against open setups, I'm arguing against variable open setups.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby StorrZerg on Thu Oct 01, 2015 7:58 am

Yeah I understand, I just think it isn't even close to being a real issue
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby Marashu on Thu Oct 01, 2015 4:31 pm

Metsfanmax wrote:I don't think that complex roles should be a key part of the learning games. Complex roles are just toys, they superficially make the game more interesting perhaps, but the game fundamentally isn't about the roles. Cop and doctor are enough to get the gist of how to use power roles.

The problem there is how really effective follow the cop is - from what I've read, even new players would figure it out really fast. These other newbie setups were made to try and balance that out.

Endgame422 wrote:Honestly pure vanilla seems the way to go imo.


Mountainous games (games with no PRs on either side) seem to heavily favour mafia. The theoretical town win rate with 10 town and 2 mafia is roughly 33%, and with 11 town it's roughly 36%. ( http://wiki.mafiascum.net/index.php?title=Mountainous ) Not sure how that would translate to a smaller game, but I'd imagine the town win rate would go down by a decent amount.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby Metsfanmax on Thu Oct 01, 2015 9:33 pm

Marashu wrote:
Metsfanmax wrote:I don't think that complex roles should be a key part of the learning games. Complex roles are just toys, they superficially make the game more interesting perhaps, but the game fundamentally isn't about the roles. Cop and doctor are enough to get the gist of how to use power roles.

The problem there is how really effective follow the cop is - from what I've read, even new players would figure it out really fast. These other newbie setups were made to try and balance that out.


The mafiascum wiki page on Matrix6 says that the empirical town win rate for the variant that only has a town cop PR (column B) is 51%, which is pretty damn good.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby Streaker on Fri Oct 02, 2015 1:04 am

Balance is important, but even a half-skewed setup (favouring either side 60-40 or even 65-35) is not that bad for a newbie game. Balance takes a second place to overall game experience fun factor for a newbie game, imo. Balance becomes much more of a factor in larger games with more experienced players.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby rishaed on Mon Oct 05, 2015 12:00 am

Streaker wrote:Balance is important, but even a half-skewed setup (favouring either side 60-40 or even 65-35) is not that bad for a newbie game. Balance takes a second place to overall game experience fun factor for a newbie game, imo. Balance becomes much more of a factor in larger games with more experienced players.

I'd agree with this. IMO Balance can be crap (not that i intentionally make mine crap, i try to balance roles as much as possible, except when otherwise noted), and if the experienced players are playing up against noobs, they can still win. (sometimes Vice Versa) However, unless the game is just broken, (relies on the mod) the noob can get some experience on how the experienced players start to formulate reads on other players, and how they try to hide the fact that they are mafia.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby Epitaph1 on Thu Oct 08, 2015 2:02 pm

I don't think there is something inherently wrong with the open-variable setups. Yeah, some are more balanced than others, but perhaps we can steer clear from the more unbalanced set ups. They are still a good introduction for new players by limiting the possibilities to only the most basic PRs.

---

Personally, I think balance should be the primary focus when creating our games. Whenever you create your own setup, whether it's flavored or not, it's really hard to maintain a perfect balance. There should probably be at least two sets of eyes that review every set up before we open signups for our games, unless the game is listed as being experiment or disclaimed that it could be unbalanced. Official games won't get the "Official" classification without having a neural party review the set up before the game goes live.

---

I love flavored games, but Aage's point is well taken. It should still be a game of mafia, whether it's flavored or not. If the game is properly set up, people shouldn't be doing their sleuthing based on name claims and such. So, believable fake claims are a must at the least unless the name has not connection to the role as Aage and Storr discussed. The flavor is just to jazz it up for a bit of fun.

---

Storr still be hating about the mafia's abilities in HP. That could be true, but it wasn't the difference maker in that game. The town were led by 3p and mafia for most of the time. That win was well deserved if you ask me.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby Epitaph1 on Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:10 am

I just learned that Ultimate Werewolf has a system for creating balance. Each role is assigned a number (positives for townies, negatives for werewolves) and you use those to get as close to zero as possible.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/641590 ... calculator

I haven't played UW yet (I will tomorrow) but my understanding is that most of the roles correlate to what we have in mafia. Perhaps we can adopt the number system to mafia roles and try a few setups based on that.
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Re: A Case Against Open/Variable Setups

Postby subtleknifewield on Fri Oct 09, 2015 11:56 pm

Epitaph1 wrote:I just learned that Ultimate Werewolf has a system for creating balance. Each role is assigned a number (positives for townies, negatives for werewolves) and you use those to get as close to zero as possible.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/641590 ... calculator

I haven't played UW yet (I will tomorrow) but my understanding is that most of the roles correlate to what we have in mafia. Perhaps we can adopt the number system to mafia roles and try a few setups based on that.

Do they explain how they came up with the number values based on those roles? Also do they account for how some roes are useless if certain other roles are or are not in the game?
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