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Welcome to Circus! In this subforum we play long-term, strategic forum games. One of the big problems with this subforum has been that it is difficult to figure out what we are doing simply by reading the threads that are posted here. In an attempt to make it easier to join the community, we have written this guide to help you figure out what’s going on. Sound good? Let’s get started.

We play a number of different games here, but by far the most common and popular is Mafia. We also play other games, such as role-playing games and Diplomacy, but those games are largely self-explanatory. Mafia is, however, more complicated, and I think it's what we do best. This guide will explain what Mafia is and how to play.

Why play mafia? For those of you who have played the party game mafia before, you already know how fun the game can be, and the additions we've made to the game only make it better. In addition to the game itself being paranoia-inducing and great, the community that we've developed over the years is one that has always been superb and continues to get better. We are always excited to welcome new users, and we hope that many of you reading this will join us.

If after reading this guide, you have questions about the game, you can find most of us at #circus on irc.synirc.net. If you don't use IRC, you should, it's great and there is no downside.

Mafia Overview:
While mafia is not the only game that’s played in Circus, it is certainly our favorite game, and over the course of the last several years, we have developed several variations of mafia that we really enjoy.

Mafia is a game of deception and psychology, of politics and diplomacy, and above all else, of trying really, really hard to win.

It originated as a party game. The rules of that game are as follows:

rules said:
Players are split up into two teams in secret. Most people are assigned to be on the “village”, but a few people are assigned to be on the “mafia”. The object of the game for the mafia is to eliminate (kill) every member of the village without the village figuring out who the mafia are. Similarly, the village’s goal is to find and eliminate every member of the mafia before the village has been entirely eliminated.

This happens in two phases - a night phase and a day phase.

At night, the mafiamen secretly determine who they wish to kill and that user is eliminated from the game at the end of the night.

In the day phase, everyone votes on who they think is the most suspicious person alive. The person with the most votes is eliminated. This is how the village eliminates the mafia. This goes without saying for people who have played before, but a mafiaman will really want to convince the other players that he is a villager so that he is never voted out.
The game is very easily adaptable to play over the internet via forum - the host can tell each player via PM whether they are mafia or village and the mafia can tell the host via PM who they’re targeting. (In real life, everyone has to “close their eyes” to let the mafia secretly determine their kill target.)

Modern Smogon Mafia has evolved far past its party game roots. Because it allows players to communicate by any medium rather than simply posting in the main game thread, it focuses more on politics and information control than simple psychological “scumhunting”. The most common formats are:
  • Mafia vs Village:
    These games have the format described above, in which one or more secret mafia teams seek to eliminate the village before they’re voted out. This format is the most faithful to traditional mafia among formats allowing outside contact.
  • Multifaction:
    This format eschews the Mafia vs Village format entirely in favor of multiple small teams (called “factions”) of usually roughly equal size, which may or may not be told who their teammates are.
  • Free For All (FFA):
    In these games, there are no teams. Each player is fighting for their own cause, whatever that might be.
  • NOC:
    NOC, short for “no outside contact”, is the most similar thing to the party game mafia that we play on Smogon. The format of almost all NOC games the same as Mafia vs Village. However, players cannot communicate via IRC, private message, or in any other way outside of the thread of the game. This changes the strategies involved enough that it gets its own category.
  • Big:
    Big mafia games can take any format they want, and are different only in that Big games have many more players and are played with the help of off-site anonymous forums.
Other styles of games that don’t get categories of their own:
  • Lynchpin:
    This is a type of Mafia vs Village game in which there is one special villager called the “lynchpin”. If the lynchpin is killed, then the village splits into two opposing village factions. These village factions now need each other dead in addition to the mafia. A game of this style is still classified as “Mafia vs Village”.
  • Viva style:
    Getting its name from the first game to use this mechanic, Viva la Mafia, viva games are characterized by each faction being able to recruit neutral “freelancer” players throughout the game to their own team. A game of this style is classified as “Multifaction”.
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is a Forum Moderator Alumnus
What to expect when you join a game:
At the beginning of each game, every player in the game is sent a “role PM”. A role PM is a private message from the host of the game that tells each player who they are in the game. This role PM will tell you multiple things about your place in the game. It tells you:

1) The team you are on
2) Your win condition, that is, what you have to accomplish in order to win
3) Your teammates (UNLESS you are on a team that does not know who its teammates are to start the game, such as a village team in Mafia vs Village)
4) Your role name
5) Your night action, sometimes referred to as your “ability” or “role”
6) Your alias, if the game has aliases
7) Other player-specific or game-specific information

1 through 3 are pretty self-explanatory, but the rest will need further elaboration. Your role name is simply the character your role represents (this often has no significance to the game other than to make it cooler). Your night action is the special ability that your character has in the game. When the game goes to the “night” phase, everyone in the game will decide how to use their own night action. A list of potential night actions is given below.

Aliases are used in some games to give the players some anonymity. In these games, each player is given an “alias” which functions as their name for the purposes of the game. If you want to target someone in one of these games, you will need to target their alias.

Also, when you die in the game, your role PM is posted publicly for everyone to see.

Here is a sample role PM taken from one of my games:

Dear idiotfrommars,
You are Richard Nixon.

You are the former US president who forged today’s bond between the United States and China. Additionally, after reassuring everyone that you were not a crook, you were the only president to ever resign from office.

At night, you may PM the host, “Night X - Forge bond between the US and <user>.” You will come to a trade agreement with <user>. <user> will be forced to target you that night.

You are allied with the Republicans. You win if the Republicans are the last team standing.
In this role PM, idiotfrommars learns:
His role name, Richard Nixon
His night action, which in this case is what we call a “martyr”
The team he is on, the Republicans
His win condition, eliminate all teams other than the Republicans

In this game the Republicans were a village faction, so idiotfrommars was not told who his teammates were in his role PM.

If you look through other games that have been hosted, you will see the role PMs of players in that game if you look through the thread. Looking through those may be useful to you in figuring out how everything works.


is a Forum Moderator Alumnus
List of notable night actions:
  • The inspector. This night action allows the player to see another player’s role PM. This role is seen in some variation in almost every game. Variations on this role include the “cop” or “sheriff”, who only learns of his target’s team, and the “ability inspector”, who only receives his target’s night action.

  • The bodyguard. This night action allows the player to protect another user from being killed.

  • The hooker. This night action allows the player to stop another user from using any of their night actions.

  • The mayor. A player with this role has their vote count as 2 in the daily vote instead of 1.

  • The safeguard. This night action will stop the target from being affected by any non-killing actions. In some cases, it only protects from harmful actions, such as the hooker or silencer.

  • The rogue. This night action allows the player to protect themselves from being killed by one specific player in the game. Sometimes, the rogue will gain an ability if it can successfully stop a kill.

  • The silencer. This night action stops someone else from posting or voting in the vote the following day. This is often a mafia role in Mafia vs Village games, but is sometimes seen on the village.

  • The persuader. This night action forces one user to vote for another user in the vote the following day, or makes their vote count for that user no matter who they actually vote for. This is also usually a mafia role, but does exist on the village in some games.

  • The mole (this role is falling out of fashion with many hosts). This role is a mafia role, but looks like a village role when inspected.

  • The martyr. This night action allows you to force someone to target you.

  • The reverse martyr, or decoy. This night action allows you to “step in front of another user”, making all actions that were going to target them target you.

  • The kidnapper. This night action allows the player to "kidnap" another player for the night and often the following day, which effectively takes a player out of the game for those turns. The targeted player cannot use their night action, be targeted by other night actions, vote in the daily vote, or be voted out.

  • The tracker. This night action allows you to see who your target targeted with their night action.

  • The watcher. This night action allows you to see who targeted your target with night actions.

  • The announcer. This night action allows you to write a message which will appear anonymously in the update at the start of the next Day phase. This can appear on any faction and is usually included for fun.

  • The bulletproof vest (BPV for short). A user with this role can survive the first night kill aimed at them.

  • The voteproof vest (VPV for short). A user with this role can survive the first daily vote aimed at them.

  • The omniguard. This night action protects the target from all actions, essentially being both a bodyguard and a safeguard.

  • The redirector. This night action forces one player to target another player.

  • The backup. This night action allows a user to use the role of a player who has been killed.

  • The vigilante (vig for short). Often in village vs mafia games, one villager will have the power to kill a mafia member at night, and that person is called the vigilante. Usually this power is very limited - that is, perhaps the vig can only kill once in the game, or perhaps he needs several nights of preparation to kill someone.

This is only a partial list. The list of potential night actions is endless, and hosts often make up new roles for new games.
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Leading this village
is a Forum Moderator Alumnus
Communication in Mafia Games:
  • Most mafia games in this forum are OC (Outside Communication) games. This means that communicating with other players is allowable, both via Smogon PM as well as external chat clients.
  • Circus officially uses three chat clients, but anything is allowable so long as you follow the rules of the forum. The chat clients used are IRC, where the channels #fluodome and #circus are used for general mafia discussion, and PokeShowdown, where most discussion takes place in the Circus Maximus room on Showdown. The discord channel is linked in the post below this one.
  • As a general rule of thumb, upon death, do not say anything about a game. This goes for non-players as well. If you do say something, make sure it reveals no information not publicly available and does not indicate you approve of any particular strategy to the players still alive in the game.
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