Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Mafia theory: Reveal on lynch or not?

So one of the things we do every year when we go up to Rochester to lose in waifu card games is play Mafia. For those who are unfamiliar, I am linking the video above for reference. Mafia has a million variations, and a million house rules and roles, ranging from the core (detective/cop, doctor), to the utterly bizarre (zombie witchdoctor). Around September of this year, a clown named forte randomly reminded me mafia exists, and linked me to Dota 2 players playing it, using a specific ruleset. Now I do not play Dota 2, nor do I know any of the personalities present in these games, but the ruleset was something that really interested me, as I felt our Rochester games over the years had been rather lacking. The ruleset we had played with for three years was: randomized amount of mafia (2-3), randomized amount of cop/doctor/vigilante (0-1 of each), first phase is day (no lynch to start off), and role reveal on death. The ruleset used by the Dota 2 crew was vastly different: 15 players, 3 mafia, 1 nerfed parity detective (detective points to a user first night and receives no information, on the second night, he points to someone else and is told if this person is the same or different alignment than the first person, and so on), 1 doctor (can't protect same person twice in a row), 1 vigilante (can use one bullet during night), 2 mafia kill power when 3 mafia are alive, 1 kill power when 2 or less, and no role reveal on death. The games themselves were sort of lopsided though and really exposed the difference in abilities, it didn't really influence me until someone pointed me to Ryuzilla's channel, where my eyes were really opened to what "high level" Mafia is like. That being said there is always an imbalance in ability in players, and Mafia is no exception. You can't always have 15 players, and you can't always have super logical people who remember everything, or even people who want to engage during the game (lurkers.)

That being said, I came to Rochester with a single goal for our group sessions, and that was to get the "no reveal on death" rule instated. More than any other house rule (constant numbers, nerfing the cop, night before day, 2 kill power, etc. etc.) I felt this rule needed to be tried out in our games, as it has a huge and I would say positive effect on how the game is played. Before Nationals I would constantly complain about how the ruleset we had supremely favored town and yet our town was miserably bad and lost constantly, quite a few players just did not engage and there were tons of games where the people left could not figure out obvious logic paths. I have since revised my opinion, our townies weren't absolutely terrible per se, rather it is the gametype of role reveal on death that promotes lazy townie play. Thus people would ignore really obvious tells and game logic frequently because of the wealth of accurate information.

Put another way, I argue that role reveal on death promotes a playstyle where most town do not care about being alive (besides power roles). How many times had I heard "fine lynch me and you'll see" used as a rebuttal against any and all arguments in the previous sessions? People flat out disregarded what other people said, if two people had a disagreement you just lynched them both. Words lost meaning when people flipped over their cards, usually in anger or resignation, after all, the more perfect information the easier for the town right? Players who actually wanted to live (mafia, people trying to solve the game themselves, power roles), would generally just lurk, why risk anything when your lynching is greeted by the majority as perfect useful information. Absent from all these sessions was a simple concept that I saw in Ryuzilla's games, that is, reading a player as strongly town is as useful as reading a player as strongly mafia. Because of how the mathematics of the game works, if you are sure of more than half of the players's specific status as town, the mafia will lose by simple elimination. But that never happened, basically because it's really easy to just say garbage when you know flipping your card will tell your alignment. As such, people had a super laissez-faire attitude and were killed off constantly for jokes, it didn't matter the logic, just kill Keith lol and prove he's town.

No reveal on death changes this. You still have a source of near-perfect information, in 99% of cases when someone dies during the night, they were town. But during the day, lynching someone just for jokes or because he was loud is a terrible idea now, as you are uncertain to their status. You lynch someone not because you want to find out what he was but rather because you believe the game will progress better toward your goal (whatever it is) without them.  This forces everyone to step up their play as now bad town are an actual liability and easy to lynch.  In full reveal, building a worldview is almost trivial if you pay attention and somehow last to the end, as you will know the full status of every single person who died before you, whether by town or by mafia. The challenge is pretending you are dumb enough to not get killed either by bad town or mafia before then. Any conversation movers risk getting lynched just to figure out their alignment.  In no reveal, since only night kills are confirmed town, people must actually talk to each other, convince each other, and remember what was said to make any progress at all. I can't just kill off Comic because he tries to direct the flow of the conversation, find out he is town, and then use the knowledge of who voted for him to make a judgement, because technically lynching anyone for information is beneficial for town in all reveal. There's no concept of "keeping good town" around since a good town is just as good as a dead town on role reveal. One more thing as well, reveal on lynch makes it absolutely impossible for mafia to claim any power role. Power roles are really crazy when used properly, they are the fastest way to mathematically solve a mafia game. Detective is obvious, and for the doctor, every successful save is actually perfect information of a player's status as town, combine both of these and it becomes frighteningly easy to hit the 50%+ mark for guaranteed town win. Even in no reveal claiming a power role as mafia is ridiculously hard, but in all reveal it's a completely worthless move since you just lynch power role claimers (or who they accuse) after they make claims to verify their status.

Anyway I don't know if this will convince anyone, it didn't convince Moku, I had to wait till he had a headache, vote in the measure into the first game, then vote it again into the second game when he joined, before he saw how it changed how our players behaved and our sessions ran. Many agreed that the mafia games this year were much better than previous years.  Who knows, maybe once everyone's town game gets really good, we can start introducing more of the balance changes designed to nerf townie power.

tl;dr reveal on death promotes on average suicidal sloppy play, every terrible lynch still provides perfect information that overwhelmingly benefits town, little value in keeping strong town reads alive, strong players either gladly kill themselves thinking the rest of the town can do math (spoilers they can't a lot of the time), or lurk for as long as they can trying to solve the game looking at interactions before they inevitably get noticed by mafia doing the same thing, player disinterest is high because oftentimes the player's death is more useful than anything the player actually argues or says aka "just kill me and see"

WGP 2016 LCQ and Nationals 11/12-11/13

Oh man an update after more than a year, I always start with great motivation to do these things and then promptly forget. Hence the huge not post that was 2015. I just remembered that I played Zaelar's KOF (If you are from NYC you know this bearded hat dude) first round after dodging him for half a year at my house sessions because I hate playing him, ate 2 soul two turns in a row and proceeded to go on tilt for the entire rest of LCQ before coming out at like 18th place. Not expecting to play the next day I showed up without showering and learned that like 10 people had dropped out and that with Julian/Angelofsol dropping out of the tourney to do homework I had actually qualified as the last person in Nationals. What a circus. I did reasonably well (4-1?) until my last match where I disqualified myself out of disgust. Played compass on last 3 cards of deck, forgot it was a brainstorm and put the cards into waiting room (no climaxes), opponent let it pass since I was about to die...until I triple cancelled after refresh. At that point I was just like fuck it and resigned.

Anyway, 2016. This year I used Idolmaster Cinderella Girls Minami/Uzuki/Anya/Anzu. Why not TP? Well it's objectively better, and Rin's cool, but I basically played R/B CG since last year (it was the deck I used in free fight after I lost in Nats last year.) Back then I used Minami/Miku cause I didn't like Ranko's climax, and switching to Duki didn't feel too much different. I made TP for setrajonas instead.

Once again cockblocked in Boston (it was on the same day as the NYC quals and since we have friends and jiro ramen in Boston we went there) by pair down and Carl's mafia I get to go through LCQ again. I wasn't planning writeups so I forgot names and turn orders.

Game 1: vs Idolmaster Cinderella Girls Krone
The CG variant I knew the least of, so I had to look at some of the cards. Friendly chap with a distinct hat and fashion sense. He didn't get Mishiro until level 3. I don't remember much about this game except the triple Fumika (my main Derestage SSR) full field combo at the end threatening a potential 15 damage back into my deck. However, the timing was off and I had a waiting room of 4 climaxes and 6 other cards, so I only added 6 cards back in before I cancelled and killed him. All in all, the finisher feels way too dependent on things that are beyond the player's control.

Game 2: vs Titan zipline, Danielle
I'm somewhat aware of what Titan does, however the player looked familiar and I thought I had met her at Nats two years ago playing Phantom, as she was from the Indiana/Illinois crew. I was wrong however, as she wasn't present two years ago. Either way, not a good game for her. Ramming supports at 0 left weak bodies at 1 and generally hemorrhaging field everywhere as well as triggering up a storm, I believe I was L2-3 when she was at L3-5 or 6. She does finally get some hits in at the end with Mikasa and a 5 hit from zipline Levi's 2nd attack while I'm at 3-1 with 5 cards left in my deck scares the shit out of me since I miscounted my climaxes and thought I was out, but I do cancel and end the game.

Game 3: vs Osomatsu R/G, from Seattle
What a fun set. That's all I felt playing against this nonsense. The first card he played was the P4 protag which threw me off. "Who the hell is that?" Anyway, he knew what my deck did while I wasn't sure what his did, but initial discard of Karamatsu gave an idea. Level 1 was one of the funniest experiences I have had, as he played a single copy of anti-Cost 0 and level 0s that would always die/trade. As I actually had Everyone's Leader and 3 Minami in hand I kept trying to bait him by playing level 0s and yet he somehow kept managing to clear them and his own field at the same time, leaving the Jyushimatsu as the only card on his field. This went on for like three turns until I had to give up on comboing and just played for damage. I remember getting an early play Rin for level 3 and he didn't have anti-level stuff ready, which was lucky for me, but I was pretty scared about his level 3. Choromatsu and Karamatsu came down but he didn't have Hedgehog's Dilemma for the combo so Choro just kicked -4500 Rin into my clock. On my turn I believe I had a scrub/Anzu/Uzuki vs empty/Choro/Kara, I almost ran Uzuki into Choro before asking the opponent if the clock kick was persistent (it was) thank god for that or I'm pretty sure I would have lost. Anyway I actually win off Uzuki's final restand, I think he still had quite a few climaxes left so it was pretty lucky for me.

Game 4: vs Milky Holmes
At this point my friend Ken running Abyssal is also 3-0, and given our group's penchant for team-killing I'm sort of expecting to run into him. One thing about our playgroup is that while we all meet at my house, it's only because I am in the "middle" of everyone else distance-wise. If regional seeding is ever implemented (I feel sorry for the two Londoners who had to play each other first round) it will help us not a bit, the people I drove up with this time came from Delaware, NJ, NY, PA, and we stayed with a bunch of MA. Chalk it up to FGC ties. Anyway, I don't draw Ken, but Milky Holmes. I'm actually somewhat aware of what modern Milky does (clock swap 3k counters everywhere), as I ran into Milky last year in NYC, so I know to mentally add 3000 to everything starting at level 1. However I am totally NOT aware that Milky has gotten even more cards to help their nonsense, specifically a whole shitload of Elly. Anyway this game is like a combo video for Milky Holmes. I triple Minami and climax and then realize that even with the +2K from reversing the level 0 on the right the middle alternate art Elly is 10500 and the left one is 10000 and I can't get over either of them with the other Minamis. Akatsuki Elly is some stupid nonsense where every counter he gets cards, and then he taps two chars and swaps and gets more cards on his turn. Tri-Ascend gives him one bazillion clean stock. Despite all this and bad cancels (no chance to early play just get hit to 3) I still manage to make it a game with a bazillion level 3 healers vs 18 or so clean stock. My field is actually too high for him to get over at level 3 but he has so many resources that he drops two restand Ellys and a third red level 3 that I don't remember, suicides the Ellys in (I cancel) and then they all restand and I explode to more attacks. Sure wish I had a stockbomb right around now... Although it didn't come up I like his single bounce tech for certain matchups.

Game 5: vs Triad Primus
Ken's 4-0 at this point so no more teamkills, everyone else is in the shadow realm. I notice his name on the bottom of my opponent's slip, and so I know with certainty that I am fighting Triad Primus, a deck I made for someone else. Ironically enough, the guy I'm playing is actually just borrowing the deck from a friend, he wanted to play Puyo but his blobs got held up in the middle of no where on the way to Vancouver. He has these really cool Granblue Fantasy Rin sleeves though. Anyway, I know exactly what is coming, this matchup sort of sucks because their early plays will always be bigger, their level 1 will always be bigger, their level 3 is always easier, etc. etc. Going into this game I actually keep a Mayu and two level 0s because I'm pretty sure he has Anzu as well for more stable early play. At first I felt I had a rough time climax wise but I noticed he didn't have Nao at level 0 so it wasn't as bad as I thought. While his deck did normal Triad Primus-y things...I felt that he was milling without really needing to a lot of the time. There were a lot of Rins into Rins into Arisu, that type of thing. As a Minami player maybe I'm the last person to say this but I really felt that he got himself into really bad cancel/climax situations with all the milling he was doing. He early plays Rin first and knows to attack with it first before I counter it away on his second attack, I get Anzu into Rin shortly after and get to chill at 2 a little longer while he goes into 3 with quite a few climaxes out. His level 3 lacks double attack climax combos and he doesn't cancel.

Game 6: vs Symphogear
Probably the closest to a "bad game" I had for LCQ. I had cards to play and all and don't quite remember the early game and all besides Shibiki, but it was in no way terrible until I think mid level 1. With 3 or so climaxes left in 10-12 cards or so I expected to cancel around mid level 2 and then be able to Anzu it up. Instead a large chunk stuck and I found myself at 2-6 with definite two climaxes left in like a 3-4 card deck. Not willing to clock into climaxes and level 3 I'm more or less forced to play Anzu then brainstorm into refresh. Maybe not the right decision in hindsight but I couldn't really think of a better path forward. I never really recover and just eat straight damage at level 3 from Maria.

Ken's at 5-1 but not top 8 apparently until 3 people fail deck check (lol) so he gets in at 7th. As for me, I lost to 1st place and someone 5-1 who lost to 1st place so I'm 9th by strength of schedule (after all the deck check failures get sorted out, this includes the Symphogear player I just lost to RIP)  Zaelar (KOF beard hat man) is also 4-2 but is quite far down strength of schedule wise and is told to show up to Nats without high hopes.

Usually regardless of LCQ shenanigans (after the first year Boston regional I've always had to qualify through LCQ) I do the best among our group in Nationals. That totally didn't happen this year. The games will be short. Zaelar actually gets into Nationals with his strength of schedule but is totally not feeling it and declines the position even though he is present at the store.

Game 1: vs Blue Snake Cat thing Monogatari, Tim?
I'm somewhat familiar with meta Monogatari (fat face Mayoi) but am totally unfamiliar with what blue does. It actually doesn't matter though. Rin whiffs (no blue characters) and Minami manages to mill 3 climaxes and a character. I emphasize the 3 climaxes to my opponent because I'm pretty sure what is about to happen, having played Zaelar enough times. Sure enough I am 2-souled into oblivion next turn. The rest of the game is trying to equalize damage but it never happens, he quad cancels the last turn as well.

Game 2: vs Triad Primus
A NYC face that was unfamiliar to me, he said he was a relatively new player. Either way this was a Triad Primus combo movie and shows why Minami/good stuff has a hard ass time against them. He basically gets everything he needs, his cheap level 1 field is hard to consistently climb over without comboing, his Anzu is fatter cause of the global level support, as is his Rin, he doesn't even need to level counter my early plays just kill them with the +2500, I find it really hard to maintain any field whatsoever. The only saving grace is he doesn't have the climax to hit me 5 times but I have an empty field and less than 3 climaxes anyway on the final turn at 3-6. It's here where he does a potentially DQable misplay, as after brainstorming once, he plays another Karen and Nao in front and brainstorms again without the stock to do so. He flips over the last 3 cards of his library and reveals two climaxes before he realizes what he's done. I think the rules state here that because he gained information that could affect his play (trigger order) it would have been a game loss. To his credit he offers to immediately scoop but I feel this would be akin to taking a game from someone who paused during the super animation of a kill combo. I let him turn his library back over and lose as expected.

Shortest Nat run I've had in the four years I've been there, oh well. Ken gets into top cut with a 4-1 record and proceeds to misplay level 1 and not put green in his clock to play Hoppous, what a clown. At least he did really well this time, I always said he should use better decks than Miku. Alex gets into top cut with 3-2 because of some wack ass rule where your strength of schedule is determined by how well-represented your set is in top cut, as Alex is playing Shiyoko which is represented by a whopping zero other players he slides in and keeps the meme alive. Hyeon returned from Korea (forced army?) and qualified in LCQ with 5-1 before making top cut as well for Nationals. However, his first game apparently was the worst game of Weiss ever played, lasting 6 minutes. (9 level 3s and 8 climaxes pass through his hand, clock pass until lose) He reminds me to pick up European fleet though, as I had sort of chilled on the Kancolle after Abyssal.  All in all, a pretty good year, I played against a lot of different sets that I wanted to, didn't misplay to the point of DQing myself, and got to actually eat on time on the day of Nationals in exchange for 0-2.

Next post is on what really made the weekend for me though, mafia lol.