Applied Planning for Villagers

By UncleSam. Art by Fatecrashers.
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Note that this article assumes you are leading the village, and have collected claims from every player, or nearly every player. This is also meant to be a more in-depth, intricate, and applied guide on village leading than Mekkah's excellent basic guide, found here. If you are looking for a guide on obtaining the trust of the village, or for something more basic and general, I highly recommend it.


If one thinks about it, ultimately the outcome of a given mafia game has no direct connection to the discussions that many perceive as the essence of mafia. True, talks lead to actions, and can greatly aid in determining actions which expedite victory, but the final result of who wins and who loses is determined solely based on who does what, with what role, when. Once one refocuses their attention to this fact, it becomes obvious that abilities and votes are not something to be taken lightly, just as a chess player would not take his opening moves lightly, even though he or she is unlikely to seriously alter his or her chances of victory. With this in mind, planning one's resource use is imperative.

Part I: The Process of Planning

1. Determine your immediate goals, and prioritize them.

This seems like a no-brainer, but it is remarkable how often people do things in the absence of any plan or goal whatsoever. Your goals will vary based on the game format you are playing, but some basic village goals early game include figuring out who is lying about their role, checking as many roles for validity as possible, and getting the major roles cleaned without giving away too much to possibly untrustworthy players. Remember that just because one decides to focus on cleaning as many roles as possible does not mean that one should give up on the other priorities they have entirely.

2. Draft a plan

This is the most intuitive step to planning, as well as the one most often overlooked early game: setting up a plan of attack. Most people in the early game are content to give the inspector a few nights to "clean" people, while losing hookers and safeguards on random "suspicious" people, gaining relatively nothing. There are ways apart from an inspector of checking other's roles, and every bit of information is vital both in planning the next day's lynch, but in determining future night actions as well. It is worth noting that verifying someone's role is not the same as verifying their alliance, however. Here are a few roles that are easy to check without using up your inspector, who should generally be checking the important roles (bodyguard, hooker) during night 1:

The safeguard + two (or more) others

This basically entails putting a safeguard claim on someone random, and putting two or more other roles on that same person. The idea is to figure out not only if your safeguard can legitimately block night actions, but also whether or not others actually have a night action, and targeted the person you told them to. Several outcomes are possible from this, each of which is highly beneficial to the village. Firstly, the safeguard could successfully block all actions, which proves both the safeguard's role, and that each of the other roles targeted the test subject player with their role. Although boring, this essentially amounts to a little more information then a regular night action inspector.

The far more entertaining outcomes are the ones that involve someone lying, however. Firstly, the safeguard could fail to block any of the actions, which implies that the safeguard is either lying about his or her role or targeted someone else. This basically amounts to the safeguard claim being mafia, and the overall outcome amounts to an alliance check. Even better is if the safeguard blocks one action but not the other. This suggests that not only is the safeguard mafia, but the person whose action was blocked is also mafia, and is covering for his or her teammate in faking results. Note that the other possibility here is that the person whose action was not blocked is mafia, and targeted someone else. This is why it is sometimes helpful to have more than two roles apart from the safeguard on the test subject, as it is highly unlikely you will randomly select two or three mafia, and if you do and mislynch the next day (the worst case scenario), you have discovered all of them, another beneficial situation. Note that in some of these cases all that you get is a confirmation or denial of the role claimed, and not necessarily the alliance.

The martyr + one other

This is pretty simple: have the martyr target someone with a role, preferably something that is distinctive (such as a thief or silencer), and have the person with that role target someone else. If the person is not redirected, obviously the martyr is lying. If the person is redirected, however, is where the fun can begin. Some roles are indiscernible from the martyr's point of view, such as inspectors or bodyguards, but some can be confirmed both ways with the martyr, such as silencers, thieves (if the martyr has an item), or persuaders. Note that the gains from a plan such as this hinges almost as much on what the martyr observes from being targeted as the other player being redirected.

Multiple inspector claims

This involves not only a reasonable number of inspector claims, such as one alliance checker and one full inspector, but something which could not possibly be true, such as three full inspectors and an alliance checker, or something along those lines, where you know someone is lying. Should you allow possible enemy inspectors to be given, and check for themselves the identities of your most precious commodities as a village leader? Ultimately much of this comes down to which claims you believe, something I cover later in this article, but a good rule of thumb to play by is as follows: build from the bottom up. What I mean by this is, establish a list of inspector claims based both on how powerful they are (so full inspector is "more powerful" then ability checker, who is "more powerful" then flavor checker, etc.) and how much you believe them. Your "base" is the inspector you believe the most, whilst at the top of the list is the claim you believe the least. The inspectors you trust should check the inspector at the very bottom, while the inspector you do not trust should inspect an unimportant role, but preferably someone who is being checked in the inspector's area (ie, have the "alliance checker" check someone whose alliance you are testing by other means that night, etc.). Ultimately inspectors can be a guessing game early on; evaluating whom they are checking is the foundation for a solid strategy at night.

Vigilante and rogue, BPV, or immunity

Let me start this option off with a few qualifiers. First, don't use up vigilante kills in order to clean people unless you have no good mafia targets and his kills are based on nights in such a way so that his only other option is to idle and lose his kill. Lastly, cleaning the rogue will require the rogue knowing your vigilante claim, so be very careful what you tell the rogue, and make sure to either tell him the vigilante is a good mafia suspect, or just a rand. Anyhow, this is fairly self-explanatory: the vigilante will kill someone who is supposed to survive, and if they survive, they were telling the truth. This is honestly a pretty bad form of cleaning though, and highly situational, given the possibility of mafia bodyguards, or wolves using their BPVs as part of their claim. Nevertheless, it is potentially useful in some situations, and so should not be dismissed automatically.

Again, all of these plans carry some amount of risk to them, and very few of them completely clean someone. Judging risk tends to come down to a personal preference. There is one thing you should always do when leading, however: clean someone completely, and designate that person as your successor (obviously this person should not be the bodyguard, or a similar role). Nothing is worse then when you have a plan, and it gets ruined because something you didn't expect kills you, and no one alive knew anything about what you were doing.

3. Re-evaluate the plan based on long-term goals

This is why it is important to establish one's goals for a given night before anything else; more times than not, one gets sidetracked and overlooks something incredibly important. There are several important questions one must ask oneself before finalizing a plan: What are the risks/worst-case scenarios? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Am I sticking to my goals, or am I substituting lesser goals in for greater ones unwittingly? What will the result be, and how will it set up my plans for tomorrow, the night after, and beyond? All of these questions, particularly the last one, are imperative to planning for a victory.

Part II: The Role of Trust

As a village leader you are guaranteed to get some fake claims. Obviously you will test as many of your claims as possible out, using some of the methods I described in Part I, but a big part of planning includes trusting some people over others. There are a few basic rules of thumb to follow when trying to figure out who is faking:

Ask the host if the mafias are supplied with fake claims

Kinda obvious, but a lot of people don't do this, and it is not always in the rules. The host(s) will not always tell you, but it is definitely worth a try.

Look for consistencies with your own PM

Oftentimes the villagers will have something in their PMs that links them together, generally in the last sentence of the opening, flavor paragraph. This, along with the exact formatting of night actions, exact formatting of host names, pronoun usage, and exact win conditions can all help determine who is faking and who is legit.

Expect an inspector and bodyguard claim. Be wary of multiple claims of any role

Hosts like to have variety among their villages, and very rarely do they include duplicates of roles, except perhaps in the case of the inspector (this is something I, for one, have done before as a host). However, multiple thief, hooker, safeguard, or martyr claims are generally giveaways that something is amiss, as are too many total kills (there is often more then one vigilante, but rarely more then about 3 kills per game for the village, maximum).

Look for grammar errors, strange role names, or awkwardly phrased sentences out of character for the host

This is the part of my advice most often used as a basis for a lynch, and is also the part most often used as the basis for a mislynch. This is why I include "for the host" at the end—it really dictates which claims are believable, and which are not. Some hosts are terrible at writing grammatically, and some are nearly perfect; sadly, it is often a judgment call as to whether a PM is fake based on this, which is why so many mislynchs are based off of this kind of evidence.

Much of knowing how to spot claims is already known, and honestly, it is something a little practice will teach just about anyone. Knowing how to apply trust of a claim to planning is a little harder, however.

Part III: Case Study, Redwall Mafia

I realize that the last few parts of this piece may have seemed somewhat contrived or abstract, which is why I would like to give a real example from my own experience. In Redwall Mafia I found myself in the peculiar position of having nineteen out of the twenty-three other players claim to me during Night 0 (just a role description and role name, not full PM due to the rules), which made it doubly difficult to plan ahead, as I had no basis of a PM to go on, just vague descriptions. I was twin and a flavor checker, while my twin was a total night actions number checker. First, my claims:

First of all, that is a lot of information to process, and one needs to put it into a spreadsheet rather than hope it stays swirling around in the ethers of one's head, because otherwise one will make mistakes. I decided to start by determining priorities for myself:

  1. Find as many mafia as possible
  2. Prove as many roles as possible

Note that I did not include cleaning anyone because it was Night 0, and so I could not be killed.

In any case, I first listed a few initial observations I had:

Now then, my plan:

These were the important aspects of my plan. The first thing to notice is that I am completely verifying Crux's role, or completely finding him out: if he is an announcer and succeeds, I will see it, however, I am putting a safeguard on him to ensure he is not hooked, and a priority raiser on him just in case the safeguard claim is not trustworthy, and the mafia try to hook him. Thus, I determine whether or not Crux is an announcer, under any circumstances. It is worth noting that just because Crux is an announcer, however, does not guarantee that he is "clean".

The second thing to notice is the chain ending in the safeguard on Team Aether, my "test subject". As my only bodyguard claim, zorbees is among my most trustworthy claims, and so I have few qualms in relying on him to tell the truth. First, Bunnymaster will redirect him, then he should be blocked by ABT620, whose role I will check as a result, along with Bunnymaster's. I will check HD's role by him putting a posting restriction on Kharozz and seeing what happens, while I will check ABT620 for his ability in order to have a secondary check on him should Bunnymaster be lying, and I will personally check Altair in order to make sure his report on DLE is trustworthy. Thus, I am checking, in all, 8 people (Crux, ABT620, Altair, DLE, J-Squared, Bunnymaster, Bish, HD) in full, and several others (Assassinfred, Fangren) partially or conditionally, using only 12 night roles. I was originally planning on more, but several persons (HFB, coolking49) chose to ignore my orders and do their own thing. Still, I patted myself on the back after issuing orders, and went to sleep. I was done, right?


I woke up to see an update with a rather unpleasant surprise for myself: I was kidnapped! Although my planning had gone decently, I wasn't there to sort through it, because I hadn't asked myself one simple question: What could go wrong? I had two safeguard claims, yet all I was thinking of was clearing people's roles, rather than what detrimental stuff could happen. I completely ignored the possibility of loss, and it came back to bite me. Fortunately, however, my oversight only cost me a cycle out of the game—after all, the reason I overlooked it in the first place was that it was not a big threat.

Fast forward to Night 2.

ABT620 and Bunnymaster had both died during Night 1, and both had been exactly as they had claimed. I had lynched the mafia mole, HD, during Day 2. Additionally, through various discussions, I had determined that Exarius, Team Aether, and Johann (who had been subbed in for Bish) were on one mafia team, along with an unknown, while Kharozz, Xyphang, the deceased HD, and an additional unknown were on the other team. Along with this, the_angry_scientist (who had been subbed in for assassinfred) was the wolf, with a kill and inspect. I had also gotten claims from Nook (1-Time vigilante), Jigglypuffers42 (Killer should Nook die), and RaRe555 (Ability copier, had copied coolking49's martyr). I had also discovered that Altair was a neutral that needed certain players dead, including one of the mafia. Now, it had taken quite a bit of work the past day for me to get to this position, and I was determined to drive a stake through the heart of all opposition to the village that night. With this in mind, I again set up some priorities for myself:

  1. Kill as many mafia as possible.
  2. Prevent any possibility of an alliance between the mafias or the wolf from having any conceivable chance of victory.

Fortunately for me, I had made a "deal" with one of the mafia to control their silencer and safeguard, which gave me an interesting combination of roles to crush the opposition with. Here was my plan:

Now, let's examine the kills I set up first:

From the looks of this, there will be 2 of each mafia left, along with one wolf. Then we lynch one of the mafia, and have such a crushing numbers advantage and information advantage that we will win. Note that I don't care if I die or not, as my twin becomes a vigilante in that case, while I have long ago appointed several successors should I die. The only kill I am not controlling is the kill of Mafia A anyway.

Also note that I am checking several suspects for the last few spots in the mafia, while I make the call to kill one of my inspectors, as I have too many, and the rest have been cleaned. Now, remembering back to Night 0, I examine the worst case scenarios. What if I die? Well, I have set up the village for certain victory in that case. Sadly though... that's all this plan takes into account. The thing I got bitten for Night 0. Of course, there is more then one thing that can go wrong with a plan, but, again, what I have overlooked costs me, even if it doesn't cost me much, and I have overlooked it for that very reason.

Results: Team Aether and J-Squared die. Both members of Mafia A. Xyphang and Improbability are inspected as Mafia B. All members of the mafia, and the wolf, are known.

Now, I was fortunate enough to avoid being killed, and the village avoided the kill from Mafia A due to priorities. However, something puzzles me—why didn't Kharozz, a member of Mafia B, get godkilled? Did I overlook something? Of course, it is not until RaRe555 posts in the thread that I realize that, again, I have overlooked something that could have been vitally important: I told him to martyr Improbability. What didn't occur to me was that Improbability was the persuader, not Xyphang. Then I reexamined my orders, and realized something: why did I have RaRe555 martyr Improbability? It served no purpose; it was essentially a victory random target, yet it had come back and cost me a kill. Now, the village was routing this game so it didn't really matter, but in closer games one kill is the difference between victory and defeat.

So, what was the purpose of me sharing this little experience of mine with you all? Well, quite simply, to show that everyone makes mistakes, and that mistakes are pretty much inevitable. You will overlook something, and it will cost you. The key, however, is to plan ahead for as many possibilities as you can, and to make your actions as efficient as possible; after all, nothing is over until your enemy is completely defeated. The one person you neglect may be the one who turns your rout victory into a stunning defeat. Also recognize that, in most cases, there is something more you can be doing, and should be doing.


When you are in command, put in the time to make a plan. Nothing runs a village into the ground faster than if the village leader is disregarding important aspects of his or her team, and letting those resources go to waste. This also ties in with the need to get organized as quickly as possible; every night where the village lacks a cohesive plan is another night wasted. Randoming does not win games, planning does. Plan well, plan thoroughly, and plan often; if you don't, you may find what you did not see coming is what smarts the most.

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