A dilemma is one where there are two options presented, neither of which are clearly good for the player.
As it applies to Mafia, a Dilemma occurs when it appears that multiple factions must cooperate to win, and frequently the Townie(s) in the game appear to be Kingmakers. Here are a few common examples.
- Three-player endgame: One Townie, one Mafioso, and one Serial Killer.
- Four-player endgame: Two Townies, one Mafioso, and one Serial Killer.
- Five-player endgame: One Townie, and two Mafiosi each from different factions.
- Six-player endgame: Two Townies and two Mafiosi each from different factions.
Here it is assumed that the identities of the scum players (or just the Townie) is known. For when it isn't, see Caveats below.
Yomi Level 1
In these situations, if the Townie votes for anyone it is tantamount to suicide - the scumteam they don't help destroy will just endgame them.
Thus, the Town will always lose.
Thus, the situation seems hopeless...
Yomi Level 2
As with most dilemmas, the correct response for the Townie(s) is to take a third option and No Lynch. There is absolutely nothing the scum can do in this situation but follow suit.
At Night, the dilemma shifts to the scum. The only way for either scum to win is for them to shoot the other scum. But if both scum do this, then the Townie(s) will be the only player(s) alive, and the Town will win. This is a disheartening outcome so late in the game!
The other option, shooting the Townie, is clearly suboptimal. Going with the three-player example above, if the Mafioso shoots the Townie and the Serial Killer shoots the Mafioso, the Serial Killer wins (and the Mafioso feels dumb afterward). Thus, to the scum, the choice is between giving victory to the other scum or the Townie.
It is worth noting that depending on the moderator, if BOTH scum shoot the Townie, the result is a draw. Since a draw is less than a win, there is no real reason to not shoot the other scum. (Or is there? See Caveats below.)
Thus, the Town will always win.
But now the situation seems hopeless for scum...
Yomi Level 3 (three-player case)
As with most dilemmas, the correct response for the scum is to take a third option and agree during the Day to lynch the Townie(s). With only scum left in the game, they either leave with a joint win or shoot each other at Night to get the draw. This can be applied iteratively in the five-player and six-player scenarios until they work their way down to the three-player case.
Thus, in the three-person case, dilemmas that are as stated should always result in the two scum teams drawing.
Yomi Level 3a (four-player case)
In the case of a 2:1:1 setup, the third option mentioned earlier is no longer accessible to the scum; they don't have enough votes to push through anything other than a no-lynch. However, a fourth option is available to individual scum players. If a scum player makes it publicly known that they will not shoot that night, then this protects them from dying overnight (if the other scum crosskills, they will get lynched by the surviving town players and lose). This means that scum cannot be killed overnight and cannot be lynched during the day, most likely leading to a happily ever after scenario. (The only way to break out of the loop would be for one of the scum to eventually back out of their promise and unexpectedly shoot a townie, thus reducing the case to the three-player scenario. It's a bad idea to do this if the other scum has any way to anticipate you might – as it gives them an incentive to shoot you – and it's dubious whether it's even playing to your win condition, as you can't win the resulting setup and may well not even draw. Most likely, the loop will never end, leading to a three-faction draw.)
Yomi Level 4 (three-player case)
We've now established that if the Townie makes any vote (or doesn't vote), and the scum can react to the Townie's vote, then the Townie will lose. This means that playing to the Town win condition requires taking any chance to win, no matter how small.
The important thing to note is that the scum will not necessarily be able to react to the Townie's vote simultaneously. If the townie votes for scum, this loses them the game if the other scum is online to hammer. If they aren't, though, the voted-for scum has to choose between the certainty of a loss if the other scum comes online (as the other scum would hammer them for the win), and the mere high probability of a loss that comes from voting No Lynch (which the Townie will hammer). The townie will not change vote except to hammer No Lynch, having no reason to do so (it would leave them in a worse position than before), so if the townie can successfully predict which scum will be online first, they can collapse the game to the Yomi Level 2 situation. If the townie predicts wrong, they lose, but they were going to lose anyway; a better-than-50% chance of a win (because the guess as to activity is not purely random) is better than no chance at all.
It is not good to have your alignment known in a Dilemma. For Town, it removes any hope the scum might have of gaining a win at Night (meaning that they will prefer to go for a draw in the Day instead, which is bad for the Townie). For scum, it means that the other scum will definitely shoot you, thus blanking out your chance to win.
If the Townie's alignment is definitely known to both players, the scum are best served by aiming for a draw.
If Scum A's alignment is definitely known to Scum B, and Scum A knows it, Scum A is best served by offering a draw. If Scum B declines, Scum A will definitely not win as Scum B will shoot them. Whether Scum B wins or the Town wins is entirely dependent on who Scum A shoots - thus, 50/50 between the two.
If no alignments are known to any other player, then all of the players are best served claiming the same kind of scum. In that case, the win probabilities are as follows:
(1/4) Both scum shoot the Townie. Draw.
(1/4) The scum crosskill. Town win.
(1/4) Scum A kills Scum B; Scum B shoots Townie. Scum A win.
(1/4) As above, but switch scum. Scum B win.
It is the Townie's prerogative to ensure that any of these situations occur, and while their chance of winning is maximized by tipping off to one of the scum who the other scum is, it's much easier for them to maintain the ruse of claiming scum just so they have any chance to win at all.
It should be kept in mind that scum are still best served shooting to kill the other scum if in doubt.
One should always play fairly when one holds the winning cards. ~Oscar Wilde
In theory, that's how the dilemma works. There are a few instances where dilemma scenarios can take unplanned directions.
- If one of the scum is Bulletproof, then the Townie is indeed a Kingmaker deciding whether to lynch the Bulletproof scum (and lose to the other scum) or do anything else (and lose to the Bulletproof scum).
- If both scum are Bulletproof, then the Townie is a Kingmaker, but in a different way - the game is much more likely to end with both scum alive.
- If it is not known that the game should be in a Dilemma state for whichever reason, then none of the "rules" of the dilemma apply. This is not common, but ideal for allowing scum to trick the last Townie into voting the way they like and thus avoid all of the above.