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Mastin's Insane Tells

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This information is probably out of date, and needs to be edited by someone who knows what has happened since the last update.

I've been wanting to make this for rather some time. It involves, basically, what I see as scum tells. Many of these are insane, and most people regard them as worthless (Mits, if you will), but some I have found to be very strong in many games and easily determining alignment.

Note: Many of these tells have received revision to be more valid, and are discussed here

Mit # 1--Confirmation

Scum love to talk. In the pregame, perhaps less, but they still do it. This is ESPECIALLY common in games with experienced scum. While newer players might not make full use of their time, experienced players would. They'd use the time to strategize, and from that strategy, their play from then-on would be decided.

But sometimes, they fear that players will confirm too quickly--that they will have their conversations cut short, and that day will begin without them having had the chance to talk about everything that needed to be said. So they wait.

Basically, this tell is the last to confirm are more likely to be scum.

NOTE: This tell was actually described in a thread, found here:

--The results prove this tell to not be particularly reliable. It is mainly used in the RVS, since it'll just be another random vote with a random reason. It probably would be best NOT to use it outside of there.

Update: As of 12/29/10, this Tell is considered by the author to be Null. However, it still makes a nice, fun, RVS vote! (What? We all have our own unique joke-tells... :P)

Mit # 2--Bandwagonning Early On

Bandwagons early-on have always been suspicious. Two-man bandwagons, even more so. This is basically a tell based off of my experience--in 742 (link:, Kronos bandwagoned Jeff's vote for the same reasoning. He was scum, exposed for it by me. He was the second, and only, voter.

It also applies to Newbie 763 (link:, where Ivanavich suggested a no-lynch, and Chief followed. Ivan was pro-town, Chief was scum. I saw blatant buddying, and I was half-right, too.

So basically, this tell is The second vote on any given bandwagon, especially in newbie games, is more likely to be scum.

NOTE: No data other than the two threads--to my knowledge--on this subject has been provided. It would be best to try and avoid using this tell until it is either shot down/confirmed with a broader info base. Except in the RVS, where it would work fairly well. ;)

Bandwagonning Redefined: "The Butter Zone"

After some experience off-site (this section is written as of 12/29/10), I came to an interesting conclusion: the scum there almost always had a particular voting range: votes 2-6. Why was that? Why that particular zone? Why were the scum almost always right there? I found the answer. Why?

Because it's right in the middle of a wagon. It's not just on MafiaScum where people late on the bandwagon are considered scummy, you know. That seems to be pretty universal, actually. But why not the first vote? It's simple scum reasoning, really. People voting early are not likely to be scum, because they're pushing for a lynch early, which is risky as scum. Quite simply put, while scum CAN start a wagon, they don't want to.

For starters, they need pro-town players lynched. A new bandwagon has no guarantee of achieving this. Scum being the pragmatic folks they are tend to want a more practical approach: stick with what's there, already. More than that, there's always a risk their started wagon IS successful. What happens to the original starter of the wagon? They will almost universally catch flak. Sure, probably not much and easily deflected, but still, scum don't like that kind of attention on them.

As for why they don't vote late? As mentioned, EVERYONE knows it's a scumtell. Everyone. That includes the scum, by the way. And as we all know, things evolve over time. Including how scum play. We all know scum voting late in a wagon is a scumtell. Therefore, scum try to avoid it at all costs. Because it's common knowledge that scum arrive late on the wagon, scum...won't arrive late on the wagon. Simple as that. It's so common, in fact, that this knowledge might as well make the tell null.

"But Mastin!" you cry. "If they don't want to be early on the wagon, yet hate to be late on the wagon, what do they do? Stay off every wagon?!? That makes no sense!" Well, let's not ramble on about that. (Fencesitting is a personal tell of mine; always has been. But as I have done it before, I recognize there's a difference between town-fencing and scum-fencing.) Instead of focusing on people not on the wagon, let's focus on a third category:

People in the middle.

"What's so bad about being in the middle?!?" Well, true, town can be in the middle, too. It's just that it's far more likely to come from scum. Why? Process of elimination. Simply put, scum want the middle. They want that sweet spot which most players overlook in a wagon. People pay attention to the wagon-starters. People pay attention to the late-wagoners. Not nearly as many people pay attention to the middle--and as scum, that makes it the perfect hangout, no? Scum prefer to be in the MIDDLE of a wagon, which (depending on the game's size) is anywhere from votes 2-6. I call it the "Butter Zone". Where the scum have the least amount of chance (by current site meta expectations) to be found. If everyone looks at the end, and everyone looks at the beginning, hang out in the middle. My "second to vote" tell was me stumbling onto something far greater than I thought. I failed to realize the number of 2 was mainly focused on newbie games, which (being smaller) would make the zone 2-3, possibly 2-4.

Mit # 2.5--Buddying

A simple sub-section of 2, this tell is simple: Buddying is extremely anti-town. It makes you look like you're either trying to stop a lynch of a player really badly (which might be a sign of them being your partner if you're scum), or that you're trying to buddy up to a townie if you flip scum. It's a great tactic to get on a pro-town player's good side as well, by agreeing with them a great deal.

If someone buddies up to another player, they are more likely to be scum.

NOTE: Well, more accurately, buddying is anti-town. It is not a wise thing to do, period. It benefits scum more often than town; if a town player buddies to scum, it makes the town player look bad and they'll have reverse Tunnel Vision--they'll refuse to see that player as scum. If scum buddies to a townie, it makes the townie look worse and might get the townie on their side. The only time where buddying is NOT beneficial to the scum is when they buddy with other scum, which leaves both looking rather suspicious.

Buddying Redefined

As of 12/29/10, I still believe in this tell, just not quite as broadly as I used to, due to a slight thing I've noticed--I have come to a revelation: there's a difference between buddying, and "two players agreeing with each other". Like almost all my tells, it's something quite subtle. However, once again, telling the two apart will give you the difference between "probably town but might be scum" and "almost certainly scum, with a slight chance of being town".

Many times, two players simply happen to agree with each other. We've all seen this quite a number of time. At their best, these people might as well be Masons: working together, coordinating their efforts, and considering the others to be confirmed town. (They almost never are confirmed town; they just have that strong of a read on each other.) I'm not quite sure how to describe it; it's something you simply have to see for yourself in order to believe it. But basically, they mutually agree the other is town, and work with them. Unlike what I said before, this alliance, this might-as-well-be-masons, almost always is extremely pro-town, because it is that solid, and it traps scum more often than not.

How is this different from buddying? Buddying is something else. It's when one side tries to manipulate the other into gaining their trust. Instead of it being natural, it's artificial. (I suppose that's something common in almost all my tells--1: natural play versus artificial, and 2: how subtle the tells are.) It's slightly subtle, of course. However, even if the other party is fooled into trusting the person doing the buddying, there will be small differences in how they work together, differenciating this from the former. Due to the different nature of how the bond is formed (natural linking together versus artificial manipulation into the link), anyone knowing what they're looking for can spot the difference.

Mit # 3--Augmentation

It's a simple tell, really. When a player gets their facts strait, it's pro-town. They're being consistent, and are far less likely to be scum who are backtracking/making mistakes/revealing too much/etc. If they have facts that augment each other, then it looks even better for them. Yet when a player is inconsistent, it looks bad. They can get their story wrong, they can backtrack, anything can be an inconsistency. But I have found it to be a fairly solid tell, in most games.

The basic tell is If a player is augmenting their arguments instead of contradicting them, they are far more likely to be town.

NOTE: Of course, this doesn't work in reverse that well, in my experience, because from what I've seen, many players WILL contradict themselves. I have no stats to back it up, but to this day, I believe that more town players will be consistent than anti-town players.

The Tell, Redefinied

As of 12/29/10, my opinion on this has changed slightly. See my redefined tell # 5 for more details. Basically, scum are afraid of change. They'll fear the inconsistencies, and aim to fix them, whereas town will just let it be. "Isn't that the reverse of your tell, then? Wouldn't it make it null?"

If it were that simple, yes. However, all is not as it seems. Instead, I've formed a new opinion: both scum and town contradict themselves, sure. Both scum and town will augment themselves just as much, too! So, surely, that means this is a null tell?

No. The difference is--once again--quite subtle. Scum players will aim for that consistency. They'll try beyond what's natural to nail that feeling of it being consistent. They put in the effort, make it deliberately overall the same pattern. And in doing so, it becomes somewhat artificial. Town, however, will just keep themselves spewing out what they please. And in doing so, they'll keep themselves rather consistent, simply because they're town; they're being honest, and speaking their truthful opinion. And because there is no lie involved, because it's natural, instead of artificial, they are less likely overall to slip up. Sure, they'll have contradictions, but their contradictions will mostly seem natural, honest mistakes which can be made simply from not thinking. Scum, however, when making their contradictions, will read more like a slip, something which slipped through the cracks in their web of lies--not from not thinking, simply from not thinking enough.

(Disclaimer: like all tells, this is not universal. And like most of my redefined tells, this is something subtle, hard to pick up. If you master it, you're far more likely to find scum.)

Mit # 4--*filler*

I forgot what this one was. It'll come to me. Placeholder for later.

Mit # 5--Caution vs. Recklessness

It's a simple tell. I've seen it dozens of time.

In 742, Caleb (town) recklessly hammered Datadanne.

In that same game, Jeff (m. goon) had the chance to hammer, but didn't, thinking it was the pro-town thing to do and that to not do so would look scummy. Instead, the wagon stopped, and he got lynched.

In 763, Tubby had the chance to hammer, but didn't. For the exact same reason: he thought it was pro-town to show caution. He got lynched instead. See the pattern?

In Polygamist Mafia, Zazie insisted that we shouldn't hammer when we had the chance to. Caution. Guess who lost the game? We did. I was hammered day one.

So, basically, this tell in simplest words,

Caution is a scum tell, where Recklessness is a Town Tell.

NOTE: This WAS true at the time I wrote it. I really did think it was the case. I think it was almost site-wide, in fact. Of my tells, I've even heard people call this one actually useful whereas the others received a less positive opinion. However, this was months ago. Things change. I'm no longer positive in this tell like I used to be, and I think it might actually be starting to be neutral again.

The Tell, Updated

As of 12/29/10, I've formed a new opinion: this tell was valid...but not in the way I thought it was. I thought that showing blatant caution was a scumtell, but in truth, many players are just cautious. And others are reckless as scum. Instead, it applies to how things are worded. It's basically a more subtle thing. I've seen many others use this wisdom, too. Essentially...scum are afraid they'll get caught. Their posts are more well-thought-out, and actually less likely to contain things they consider to be slips. (Not that they don't contain slips, though.) They don't want to contradict themselves. Town, on the other hand, are far more likely to just post a first draft, essentially. Scum might not put a great deal of work into their edits, but I've certainly observed that scum DO take more time on their posts, and are more careful, even if they don't realize it. It's such a subtle tell that most probably can't tell the difference.

It's so fundamental, that it might even be subconscious, but it's there. Think about it for a solid minute. If you've been scum, do you just post whatever you happen to be thinking? Probably not. You post whatever you think your town self would be thinking. However, in that, you have to get it perfect. You have to nail your town thought process, and that takes a great deal of effort. You also have that fear of slips, so actively try to avoid them. You might avoid posting something you would as town, simply due to the fear of it being seen as scummy.

Basically, there are so many reasons why this tell is right. It's difficult to explain in more concrete terms; just know that it works. (Disclaimer: However, like most tells, this is not universal. And this tell is also something a bit hard to pick up on. Because it's such a small difference, you have to put in a great amount of effort to notice the difference. If you can pull it off, however, you'll find the scum.)

Mit # 5.5--Gambling

A sub-set of 5, this basically involves bets offered between players. Those who offer and don't back down on a bet have always been proven to be town, from what I've seen, as have those who accept the bets willingly. However, if someone backs out of the bet, then they're showing caution and a lack of desire to gamble, or never take the bet at all, showing that they're not confident in their choice of whatever the bet's about (usually about someone else's alignment).

This, essentially, means that those who refuse know they'd be wrong and would lose the bet--caution. A scum tell. While those accepting it would be more likely to be town, not knowing if they'd lose or not. Recklessness. A town tell.

Those who are unwilling to follow through/accept a bet are far more likely to be scum.

Update: As of 12/29/10, the creator of this article still thinks this tell is true, albeit highly unorthodox and generally not recommended.