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How to Win as Mafia: Calculated Inaction

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Editor's note: This article was originally posted here by Lord Gurgi. The original 12 points were his; the last three were adopted.

The Article

So you've started a game. You say your role is mafia? Well congratulations, you probably just won. But here's a guide to help you win more easily. Always keep in mind, that playing as mafia is a game of waiting. Wait long enough, and the town will kill itself.

  1. You don't want to eliminate the people you call scum. You want the town to eliminate the people you call town. Towns tend to look at successful wagons for scum. If you're not on them, you'll do better.
  2. Do not call the strongest members of the town scum, rather pick on weaker but more neutral figures. If you pick on people that are too easy, you will eventually run out of valid scumreads, and if you only pick on the strongest members of the town, it will likely turn on you. Attack the people that can't defend themselves. Newbies are a good choice.
  3. Early on, post a lot, and frequently. Most people will subconsciously treat active players as town. Almost nobody will suspect you for this on its own.
  4. Call out lurkers. They are easy to eliminate, but don't try to eliminate them until later in the game. Their wagon will provide good escape later if you need it. Be sure to make this a long-term campaign. If you notice the flow go against your allies or your scum-calls begin to push the lurkers.
  5. Outline rough suspicion of your dumbest partner. Do not push their wagon, just list them as neutral-leaning-scum or something to that effect. Meanwhile, defend your other partner from significant attacks. This will separate your team in the minds of the town.
  6. Defend the strongest players of the town. Pick one in particular to defend excessively. If you die, this will tie you to them and allow your team to eliminate them quickly. As a note, generally, if you build a meta for defending people you will do well in all your games.
  7. For elimination on the first day, push the second or third most popular elimination. Do not try to make your wagon fail, but hope that it does. After that, continue to push reads that are less likely to be eliminated. If one of your reads becomes a major elimination though, eliminate them. Do not back down.
  8. If you notice someone acting scummy, and no one else has yet picked up on it, take the opportunity. If you eliminate an unexpected person the next day reverts to earlier elimination prospects much of the time. Essentially the town loses a day.
  9. Kill the stronger members of the town at night. Nobody analyses night kills anymore, and if they do just bury them under a mountain of WIFOM logic. It actually works.
  10. Taper off your posting as you go. Do not suddenly disappear, just gradually reduce your rate of posting. Try to keep large but infrequent posts at first, but later shorter posts will do. You want to appear like you are losing interest in the game. You also want to have an excuse for dodging the nightkills. Living too long being too town will be problematic.
  11. Do not fear people who are getting things right. Even if they are right about everything, there will be idiots that refuse to believe well reasoned and logical cases. Don't mistake being caught for being eliminated. Stay calm, and it is critical that you do not suddenly change your reads. Don't underestimate the ability of a town to eat itself, or to change off of a correct wagon at the last second. Often you can survive a day or two after you should if you play calmly.
  12. Claim vanilla. Do not try to gambit. Conservative is the best way to play scum. If you claim earlier than you need to, you will likely be believed in today's meta. Of course, extreme circumstances call for extreme measures, and in some cases claiming a power role may allow you to live longer than you deserve. But keep in mind 11) you are not always in as bad a position as you think.
  13. Attack players that do not know how to defend themselves properly. Start with a case that is factual, but weak. When the player overreacts and digs themselves deeper and deeper, you will have a good wagon to sit on. If it sees elimination, you have eliminated someone that everyone agrees deserved it, and if it doesn't you have a plausible distraction from the main eliminations.
  14. Don't underestimate the power of subtle praise. "That's a great point" and "I didn't notice that" or even "I'm sheeping X, who is obv-town" helps building false confidence in townies. This will make the townie think you are town, and if they turn out to be wrong they get the blame and their confidence is shaken. It is generally good to leave the responsibility for the town's eliminations on the town.
  15. The town tends to believe that it ought to win. They are wrong, but you can take advantage of this. If someone has been on many of the major wagons, you have just found a free elimination target. Similarly, if there is someone that seems to be causing the town not to succeed, they are a good target. Generally, the mafia should be encouraging the idea that the town is being conned by their leaders.


It has been noted that these tips comprise one approach to playing as scum. While at press time there was not much doubt that the above strategies work, there is no obligation to follow this approach.

As always, there is always the caveat that as soon as strategies are publicly viewable on the wiki, the strategies will become ineffective because people know to watch for it. Whether this criticism is valid is debatable.