Mafia Spotlight #1: No Setup

By Snaquaza. Art by Bummer.
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Honchkrow & Zoroark

Welcome to the first edition of Mafia Spotlight! This will be a series of articles that will feature various themes over time. It'll focus on explaining both how the theme works and the strategy that comes with it. The theme for this article will be No Setup, also called NS. It allows all players to have a lot of freedom. It may be confusing to some players at first, but you should be fine after reading this article. It's a great theme if you like experimenting, as you can do nearly everything. Not everything is viable though!


No Setup only has a few standard roles. These roles are Villager, Mafia, and Werewolf. As you might notice, all of these are only used to indicate factions. Usually, only Mafia and Villager are used to have a fairly standard game, but certain unbalanced setups use Werewolves as well to balance it out. Larger games can add a Werewolf faction as well if they want to have multiple factions, but it's usually not needed. Furthermore, people can decide themselves which actions they want to use. Most actions from this list are able to be used, as well as a couple of roles unique to certain themes we play, or roles we just use at times. There will be a large database of all roles you can use soon, but that's not finished yet. The list given should include 95% of the roles used in this format. The format is technically playable with any amount of players, but it's advised not to play it with less than four players, like most Mafia themes. An important thing to notice is that you can only use active actions, so you can't just add a role. You have to use the action. Something to note is that Mafia wins if it occupies 50% of the game at any point in the game. Otherwise, you could never really say the game ended, as there will always be threats to the Mafia, even if they'd be able to block those threats. If a Werewolf is playing, it has the same win condition as the Mafia, but the Mafia and Werewolf have to remove each other as well. Town wins like usual: when threats to them are eliminated.

Advised Setups

  1. 4 Players: 1 Mafia, 3 Villagers
  2. 5 Players: 1 Mafia, 4 Villagers
  3. 6 Players: 1 Mafia, 1 Werewolf, 4 Villagers
  4. 7 Players: 2 Mafia, 5 Villagers
  5. 8 Players: 2 Mafia, 6 Villager
  6. 9 Players: 3 Mafia, 6 Villagers
  7. 10 Players: 3 Mafia, 7 Villagers
  8. 11 Players: 3 Mafia, 8 Villagers
  9. 12 Players: 4 Mafia, 8 Villagers


As nearly everything is possible in No Setup, it's good to know which actions are good to use and which ones are mediocre. Notice that you don't have to follow these and can be creative. Creativity is harder to counter by the opposing faction, as they won't know what to use to stop you.



Captain can control all other roles in the game. While there are a few variations, they are all pretty broken. They can control which roles get to use their actions and sometimes even how they use their action. This causes the game to lose its purpose and allows one player to control the game. Eventually, this will result into the game being unbalanced, centralized, and not fun at all.


Kingmaker allows the target to decide the lynch the next day. This isn't too overpowered on Villagers, as they have to guess who to make king. Even then, the king won't know for sure who he should lynch. The real problem is Mafia using this role. They can give a partner this boost and basically control the lynch both during the day and during the night. This would give the town no time to discuss and only spam night actions, which will probably not be too successful. This causes a nearly no-loss situation for the Mafia, so it got banned.


Reviver allows players to revive players who have died. This would create endless games, unless people start roleblocking. It also allows a lot of players to be confirmed as Town, so it gives Town a massive advantage. Even Mafia can abuse it to get a majority of themselves in the town, as they win if they reach that point. This causes it to be very uncompetitive, which eventually got it banned.

Mass Redirector / Lightningrodizer

These two are basically the same. Mass Redirector redirects all actions to a single person and Lightningrodizer changes someone permanently into a role that redirects all actions towards himself. This is extremely easy to abuse and allows one player to manipulate the game completely. Whether the player in question is Mafia or Town, he has complete control unless other players use it too. We deemed this role to be too powerful and centralizing and eventually banned it.


PGO-izing is a very centralizing force for the Mafia to use. They can make someone a Paranoid Gun Owner who they predict will be targeted a lot. From that moment on, the PGO can't use any actions anymore. Everyone who targets the PGO will die, so, if it's used well, a lot of players can die in one night. Only the Mafia will know who not to target, so they're basically immune to the PGO. This role would cause Mafia to become too good in the game, so it got banned. Town wasn't as good with it, as it would usually just kill a bunch of Villagers with an occasional Mafia. Even if Mafia would die, it's better to inspect the Mafia or Watch someone to see who's targeting him.


Recruiting allows a player to change the faction of his target. This causes really unbalanced games because Mafia can simply recruit a bunch of Villagers. Together with a kill, this will quickly make the Mafia faction large enough to become unbeatable, which is too good. Even for Town it is overpowered! They can just spam it and hope they hit Mafia. Everyone who is recruited is confirmed Town as well, so it's basically a better cop. All things considered, this is one of the strongest roles and has never been legal in NS.


Vigilante is only too strong on Mafia. This is caused by the fact that Mafia knows who to kill to win the game. They can quickly eliminate a lot of people per night without any drawback. This would make it extremely difficult for the town to have any chance, as they can only eliminate one Mafia per day. Besides that, Villagers are not overpowered with a kill, but it's still often abused, causing a lot of random deaths. Eventually we decided that the game would be better without this.

Passive Actions

Passive actions aren't banned because they are too good, but because they break the rules of the theme. You can use any action, but these don't happen because you use an action, but because something happens to you. In the theme, you can use any action, but not any role, so they're not able to be used. They're not even usable as activate "role," as that'd be a loophole around the rule. You can change someone else into a passive role, as that still makes you target them.



The Cop is still good in this varied format! As always, it's a massive boon to Town. You can determine whether a player is Mafia-sided, Town-sided, or the rare Werewolf. It's easier to fool the Cop in this format, but the Mafia will have to make choices: they can counter the Cop, but then they will be more vulnerable to other actions. All in all, it's still a good role but is less reliable than in other formats.


Disactivator is really useful to prevent Mafia from manipulating the game. It stops all actions besides those by the user. This allows players to stop any other action used, including Mafia's faction kill. A large drawback is that fellow Villagers can't use actions either, so Town can't get needed information to determine who is Mafia and who is clean. This causes the room to be double-edged, but it can win the game if played well!


Following is an underrated action in No Setup. It allows you to see what actions someone used. Usually the player will know if the target is Mafia or Town this way, as they will usually use different actions. This allows a player to get to know quite a lot about his target. A downside is that certain actions may be used by both factions, however.

Forensic Investigator

A Forensic Investigator can learn all the players who have ever targeted a dead player of your choice. This allows you to get a clear vision of who the Mafia is, especially at the start of the game. It becomes less useful later in the game when more and more people will have targeted someone, so it's harder to point out the Mafia in that group.

Innocent Childizer

Innocent Childizer is another role that is useful in identifying the Mafia. You can use this action to forcibly change someone's role into an Innocent Child or, if the target is a Mafia member, a Mafia's Child. From that moment on, they won't be able to use special actions anymore, as they now have a specific role. The role will allow them to reveal their faction at any time. They could deny doing it, but the player will know they're an Innocent Child and can prove their faction, so they can be pressured to reveal. If they don't want to reveal anyway, they can be lynched, as usually only Mafia won't want to reveal. In the case this doesn't work, you can also use the Kindergarten Keeper the next night to forcefully reveal all Innocent Children and Mafia Children.

Lie Detector

This is one of the most reliable roles to find out who the Mafia are, which is, as you've seen, really important! This role can select a statement said by a player and check if they told the truth or not. The result may be "I don't know" as well if the player asked a subjective statement. Make sure that if you do this, you let everyone say "I'm part of the Town" before the night. This way, you can inspect anyone you want!


Roles that can figure out the Mafia are important and are usually fairly good, but they're not everything! There are many other good roles, but this one is outstanding. It allows you to stop one person from acting at night. The player will have to be good at predicting what others will do, but, when it's used well, this role can easily cause any faction to win the game.


Bus Driver

Bus Driving is a very useful action for the Mafia, as it allows the user to switch all actions targeted between two users. This is mostly good to switch between a Mafia and a Town member. This causes any inspects to the Mafia player to look like Town and any inspects directed at the Town player to look like Mafia. Overall, this is an excellent action to fool the Town.


Commuting is a very good action for the Mafia to disturb the game. It causes the user to avoid all actions targeted at him besides a few rare actions that are pretty mediocre. This causes them to avoid nearly any action that could hinder them. This makes it an excellent action to prevent the Town from getting information about the Mafia. They'll have to think ahead, though, as, during the Day, they will need a claim to not look suspicious. Commuter is usually an action for Mafia, so it's not a good claim. Another downside is that you can't use the factional kill while commuting, so one of the Mafia will have to take the risk of being targeted if they want a kill.


Gunsmith is an extremely dangerous action when used by the Mafia. They can give it to fellow members to get a kill during the day. This allows the Mafia to get another kill, making them extremely dangerous, especially at the end of the game. During LyLo, this can mean the difference between winning and losing. Luckily, the shooter is revealed after he shoots, so it can't be abused. When someone shoots randomly, it's probably an action by the Mafia.


Mentor is a less strong recruiter, but it is still a very good action to abuse. It allows the Mafia to "steal" a member of the Town. This will increase their numbers exponentially when compared to the Town, as the Mentee will have no choice but to help the Mafia or die, thus leading to a quicker domination over Town. The Mentor and their Mentee also get a kill together, which leads to more deaths in favor of the Mafia. Sadly, the Mentee won't actually be a part of the Mafia, but the Mentee dies if the Mentor dies, so they'll most likely be forced to work together. It's best to act like a member of the Town to the Mentee so that the Mentee can be convinced to kill another Villager without him getting anxious.


Psychotrooper fools Cops. This allows the Mafia to avoid various inspects and even appear as a Villager. This happens because the Psychotrooper inverses all inspects that are Guilty / Not Guilty or have a similar result. If it's used well, this can cause Mafia players to appear clear or Villagers to look like Mafia. However, don't use this if there are likely to be many reversed actions. In that case, the Town will probably notice that there are too many Mafia inspects and few Town inspects to a degree to which there are an impossible amount of Mafia. The Town can just lynch the Villager who inspects then.


Silencer is a risky action. It helps, as it may make the better Villager players unable to talk in chat, discuss the strategy, or explain a lynch. A large problem is that they can still lynch, so this can't be used to make it easier to lynch a pro-Town player. Another problem is that the player will probably be seen as Town, unless you make use of the day to make the player look like a Mafia without them being able to give counterarguments. Another rough thing is to explain why a player got silenced, as there has to be a good reason or a good other claim.

Vote Thief

Vote Thief is the final highlighted action for the Mafia. This action allows them to basically neuter a Town member for a day, making it so that they can't vote and use the vote themselves. It's basically an upgraded mayor! Especially later in the game, this role is extremely helpful, as that extra vote can prevent Town from lynching one of the Mafia Members or could cause the Mafia to be able to hammer someone. On LyLo, this can win the game on itself, so the Town will have to watch out for this role!


No Setup could be described as one of the most varied, but also most confusing and difficult themes there are. Have no fear, though — the strategy doesn't have to be that hard, and most of the problems people have while trying to play the theme have to do with not knowing it well enough! Luckily, there are still many tips for this format, which many people still forget.

Starting at Day 1, many people are inclined to waste it. Usually people just No Lynch to get information, but that information can be gathered either way. Especially in No Setup, this is a problem, as everyone is excited to execute their plans at night. This should be a no-go. Day 1 is a perfect day to start scumhunting even if you don't have to lynch yet. Try to lynch a few people to test their reactions and see what others will do with it. Will someone bandwagon, will someone lynch you back, or will they act like normal? This information can be valuable later in the game when everything has been affected by the Night actions. That's why Day 1 is the perfect time for simple scumhunting. Everyone is free of any opinions; no information that could create a bias is discovered yet, and it's generally the only time you have time for it, so make sure to use it! Besides scumhunting, Day 1 can also be useful to discuss a strategy for the next night. Either be very varied or think of something hidden so that the Mafia won't be able to counter it! Otherwise, it's just giving a free Night to manipulate the game for the Mafia. This causes it to usually be better to let people do what they want Night 1 and discuss it the next day.

That night will usually be chaotic. The players will have random, uncoordinated actions besides the Mafia. A good plan of action is to create a plan immediately. It might work or it might not, but at least you know what you are doing and, if it succeeds, you can go on the next day by discussing it or, if you're Mafia, making sure that they don't expect anything. A lot of people will usually try to inspect this night or use something similar. This ensures that the Mafia will attempt to at least prevent those actions from working most of the time, as nearly all roles have a counter role. This makes it good to try out unexpected or lesser-used actions that are still decent this night. Make sure to confuse people or even start on a plan already. The confusion can help by manipulating the Town later in the game with flawed logic, setting a plan in motion is great to have actions that work well together and can lead to your victory. Don't worry, though, as not all plans are complicated and working night-to-night is decent as well!

The trickiest part starts the next day. More often than not, various users will have certain inspects and claim that they know the Mafia. There might be fake cop claims, redirects, or psychotroops, which you usually can only find out about once a Villager that was accused of being Mafia is lynched. So make sure there is more proof than just that, as it might be some hint, but there shouldn't be any reliance on it. Before drawing any conclusions, make sure that everyone has had the ability to claim what they've done that night and pressure them if their claim is needed to solve what has happened. If they really don't want to, let them explain why they can't and tell them that they'll either be lynched the next day, to see if the plan worked, or immediately, if they didn't have a good excuse and that they should still claim if they want to stay in the game. Cooperation is important. Others might have good ideas as well, and that could win the game. Sometimes they are just able to figure out more and point out mistakes, so try to share as much information as possible. Don't tell too much. Once too much information has been revealed, the Mafia can take advantage of it and manipulate the plan. Don't explain the details of a plan, but make sure that people are willing to support it and understand that it's good. If another user creates a plan, make sure to question it so it isn't a Mafia member trying to fool the Town into an easy win!

This plan might seem complicated, but it doesn't have to be. All you have to know is what you want to do for at least the next night and what impact it should have on the game. Knowing this is good, as otherwise, there might be pointless actions that people didn't understand well enough. The plan can either be for multiple people or for one person. If it's for one person, be careful with spreading information about it. No one needs to know anything about it to work and the less people know, the less easy it is to prevent the plan from succeeding. Another kind of plan is one in which multiple players have to use actions that work well together, conflict with each other, or power each other up. This can allow for powerful combinations, but it's very risky. Once too much information has been leaked, the Mafia can work out a better way to counter the plans! Finally, there are some plans that work over multiple nights, strengthening themselves once the game progresses. These plans are probably the hardest to keep up but are the most effective if they work. All of these plans can be very different, as there are a ton of different potential roles. The first step to determine what kind of plan to use is to pick what the plan should attempt. This can be manipulating other players, playing the game into your hand, getting to know information about others, or just surviving the night. Once the goal is clear, pick the actions needed for it, but make sure they can't be countered easily while still being fairly simple. Next, make people support you if you need people to help you. A great way to do this is to tell them a different story than the actual plan, but one that involves them doing similar or the same actions. This causes them to know what to do, but, if it's played well, the Mafia won't be able to counter it. During later nights, plans might become a little different, as you can get an idea of who is the Mafia and block them or even manipulate the game yourself so that you learn more about what has happened! Of course, you can also go with someone else's ideas, but always make sure it's clear what's happening and that it isn't all randomly trusting another player! Even in this case there can still be a sub-plan in the plan that someone else created.

If you're Mafia, make sure you think of good ways to fool people. Of course, the Mafia will want to work against the Town, so the priority should be to manipulate the game, set the game to their hand, and prevent town from having their actions succeed. This makes it extremely important to get a decent idea of the Town's plan. Once the plan has been deciphered or you at least have an idea of how it should work, a counter-plan can be made to prevent the other plan from succeeding. Another important factor for the Mafia is that they want to manipulate the game. It should be the first priority to prevent the Town from doing what they want, or else they might get too powerful or discover too much. Besides that, it's good to work towards the Mafia win- condition or just to try set the game to your hand. This can be done by changing people into a certain bad role by using an -izer, getting people to trust you, or just messing up the targets of their actions.

Luckily, the Mafia have an advantage in that they can work together without anyone knowing about the plan. This causes them to usually be able to synchronize multiple actions so that they can cover more things. Sometimes the Mafia needs to counter multiple actions or find a way to prevent the town from executing their plans, especially when they're secret. Usually, the Mafia considers what's most likely to happen. Most of the time, this results in at least one getting protected by a redirect or a bus driver. One of them often uses an action to make sure they are not discovered for countering the town, while the other one does something to manipulate the game so that they can work towards their win condition. It's usually best to kill a Town player that isn't too obvious, but still a good player; otherwise, they might have been protected. After the plan has been executed, it is important to think of an action to claim the next day. It might cause a lynch if there hasn't been a good claim. During the day, the Mafia can also think of a fake plan to advertise. If people start following it, the Mafia has the chance to manipulate the roles that they use. This causes them to know exactly what's happening and even make the Town do what they want. Mafia can even try to claim roles during the day that will help the Town with the plan. They can get someone lynched or make people do things that would be very bad.

Lynching is still very important. Even with the huge amount of potential things you can do, there are still days! These phases are chances to lynch a potential Mafia, and there will not always be information that confirms that someone is Mafia. Strangely, in this format, you'll rarely have a "clean" or "confirmed Mafia" player because all results can be manipulated. All actions are relative from each other and, to know things for sure, you need to know everything that has happened, which requires a lot of thought and is sometimes nearly impossible, depending on what happened. So, in some sense, there's a lot of information and, in another sense, there is none. So watch out! Don't trust people immediately, but it can be used as a hint as to what has happened, so it can be used as a reason for a lynch as long as it's not the only reason. Besides figuring out the actions, it's important to notice how people are acting. Mafia will often try to manipulate the town, make hasty, incorrect decisions, or try to perform actions that go against the town in general. It might seem easy to spot these kinds of things, but they usually try to mask it by giving seemingly logical explanations. Don't just trust anyone; always think about what they're saying. Another sign of someone being Mafia is that he is prolonging the game. Mafia usually loves the nights in No Setup, as they can get closer to their win condition with less risk than during the game. So watch out, stay rational, and don't be naive. Mafia will try to find arguments for a person to be lynched or try to get NS in later nights when it isn't needed anymore. They know pretty much what has happened, so they can perfectly create a speech why someone else is Mafia. Watch out for this, as they probably caused some action to be different than it should be, so always consider how the Mafia might have edited it. Usually, there is no one right decision. Mafia will usually be afraid of getting lynched, especially if they're the last Mafia, as they lose afterwards. Pressure them and hope for reactions that cause them to stop being rational. They might start giving unreasonable arguments!

One thing to watch out for are roles such as Mentor. They can cause situations that make MyLo appear to function as LyLodue to the fact that if the Mafia is killed, the Mentee will die too. Usually it's better to consider MyLo as LyLo unless it's clear that there is no Mentee. During LyLo, there will be a large reflection on the game most of the time and everything done matters. People will get somewhat paranoid due to the fact a Mafia has to be lynched to be able to win. Luckily, there's usually a high chance of lynching one. Look back on the game and try to find generally scummy actions; what didn't seem right? Finding a Mafia still works the same in LyLo — the only difference is that you can't wait a day to get more information. Eventually, the Mafia will usually team up on someone so that they can get that person lynched more easily. They win if they can succeed in this. Sometimes they try to separate themselves as well to make one person less scummy, but this is used less often due to the many ways to check someone in NS, as well as the fact that it's much harder to be Mafia on your own, as you can't use as many roles.

Hosting Tips

No Setup is one of the most difficult setups to host. This is caused by the fact that all actions are able to be used, so anything that conflicts or reacts with other actions can be used. If you want to host this theme, you'll have to know nearly all actions and reactions and know how to use them together. This includes priority and chaotic conditions during which a lot of manipulative actions were used. Due the difficulty of hosting this theme, it's usually only available to host for the Room Drivers (%), Mods (@), and Owners (#), though not even all of them can host this without mistakes. At times, an experienced Room Voice or regular user may be given permission. Usually, this will need a co-host with a staff member or another experienced user. This way, the players can comment on each other's mistakes and work together to figure things out.

An important thing in No Setup is to first find all actions that cancel out another action or change another action. Once these have been found and handled correctly, it shouldn't be too hard to find out what happens. There will still be exceptions, so make sure to check things, especially if roles influence each other. Also, make sure to know what roles block out others, as, if you don't know what roles do, you can't regulate their influence on the game either! Finally, a tricky part is learning which actions are roleblocked or not and how these can be prevented. As well as when manipulative actions coincide, which can cause strange situations. Make sure to ask a staff member who is not playing if there is a problem with these.


In general, No Setup is a very flexible and fun theme where you can let your creativity get ahead of itself! You will have to understand the standard rules of Mafia quite well and know what is possible, but don't be afraid if you don't know everything! A lot of roles are listed on MafiaWiki, and you can look them up if someone mentions them. If you want to host, you have to make sure to understand all of them quite well, so don't attempt to host this too quickly. Knowing what you're doing is arguably the most important thing in the game. Have a solid idea of what can be achieved by what you're doing and whether you need others to support you. This can be anything, but make sure it's useful for you or the game so that it's not a wasted idea. Also, consider if it's the most useful action you can do at the moment, as well as the amount of risk the action has. Besides that, it's important to know what others are doing, as, if you know what is happening in the game, you can also track what's right, what's not, and what has been disturbed, which can lead to the Mafia. One faction might seem pretty overpowered, but both Town and Mafia generally have a decent change of winning, depending on how good the players play. Hopefully, this complicated game is somewhat clearer and easier to play! We hope to see you soon in the Mafia room.

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