Calling the Game
Original Publication: September 21, 2008 by somestrangeflea
This article discusses when a game of Mafia should be declared over by the Moderator.
Normally, in a standard game of Mafia, the Mafia Win Condition reads:
You win when at least half of the living players are Mafia, or when nothing can prevent the same.
It has become impossible for the Mafia to be lynched (assuming normal game mechanics, where it would take 3 players to lynch), and hence it is impossible for the Town to win the game. It has become customary in this situation for the Game Moderator to declare that the Mafia have won.
When the Mafia control ≥50% of the population, the Town cannot possibly lynch the scum, and the scum are normally declared the winners of the game. This has become known as "The 50% Rule".
Fairness of The 50% Rule
Whether or not The 50% Rule was fair or not became the subject of debate in this thread discussing the standardization of rules and roles for Open Games. The situation first highlighted in the thread was this one:
Thesp: But do you think the mafia should win if it's 2 mafia against a vig and doc only going into Day?
somestrangeflea: Well, since it's 2v2, there cannot possibly be a [scum] lynch. In that situation, [the game] would move straight into night, and the night choices would decide the game.
This situation sparked a debate regarding the fairness of The 50% Rule, in which there were two main arguments:
- The town only loses when there is no way they can possibly overcome the odds. Any chance, however small, should get played out.
- Mr. Flay
This argument works from the opinion that The 50% Rule exists solely as a time-saving tool to prevent the players and moderator wasting time playing out situations in which the outcome is already certain.
- There is no reason anyone should rationally expect this outcome to occur, and if I were playing in the game, I would be very surprised. There's even some game-historical precedent to the concept that once the mafia reach half of the living players in the game, they come out and openly slaughter everyone left. All games I run feature this aspect - even if the town could theoretically do something at night, they won't make it there.
Other situations have since been noted in which The 50% Rule creates some dispute.
- 1 Vanilla Mafia
- 1 Doublevoter
Despite a situation in which the Mafia would clearly win under The 50% Rule, the Town automatically wins, as the sole Townie controls enough votes to lynch.
- 1 Vanilla Mafia
- 1 Bulletproof Townie
Neither group has the ability to eliminate the other faction.
Some will argue that the Bulletproof Townie's powers are made useless by an Endgame situation, and thus the Mafia will win the above situation.
However, others argue that the above situation is considered a Happily ever after. The Townie cannot lynch the Mafia, and the Mafia can neither lynch nor kill the Townie.
Consider the following situation going into Night:
- 4 Vanilla Mafia
- 3 Vigilantes
The Mafia has gained a majority of the population.
Some would argue that ending the above game would be unfair. If the Vigilantes were to shoot different Mafia members, it would be a 2v1 Endgame situation the next day, which gives the Town the opportunity to lynch the final Mafia member and win the game.
Others argue that the statistical unlikelihood of three Vigilantes shooting three different Mafia members, which is about 1 in 9 if the kills are random, means that the situation can be disregarded and it is acceptable for the game to end in a Mafia win.
- 1 Vanilla Mafia
- 1 Roleblocker
In a similar fashion the the Bulletproof Townie problem, neither group has the ability to eliminate the other faction.
Neither group has the ability to lynch the other. The situation differs somewhat from the Bulletproof problem, in that the Roleblocker is not a passive ability. Some would argue that because the Roleblocker makes a Night Choice, that ending the game in a Happily ever after in this situation is somewhat more acceptable than ending it in the same way in the Bulletproof situation.
Whilst no distinct conclusion was ever reached regarding which of the two arguments was correct, it seemed that Mr. Flay's argument was more widely accepted that Thesp's.
Because neither of the stances on The 50% Rule were accepted as "standard", it is important that moderators make it clear (particularly in Role PMs) how endgame situations will be resolved.