Mini's Scumhunting Kit
This article is a summary of MiniDeathStar's methods for finding the mafia in Normal games (like the Newbie queue). It's not an exhaustive list and it will be revised and updated as the author widens her sample size and site meta evolves.
- 1 Disclaimer
- 2 The Tells
- 2.1 Trying to discredit obvtown people for bad reasons (+1.0)
- 2.2 Too many (or too few) null and scum reads (+0.5)
- 2.3 Being "jokingly" scummy, self-admitting they are scummy, claiming scum (+0.5)
- 2.4 The "lol" defence (+1.0)
- 2.5 Lots of fence-sitting (+0.5)
- 2.6 Unusual activity patterns (+1.5)
- 2.7 Buttering up (+0.5)
- 2.8 Accusations that amount to nothing (+0.5), after Day 1 (+1.0), focused exclusively on a recent post (+1.5)
- 2.9 "Look at me, I'm so town!" (+1.0)
- 2.10 "A question a day keeps the tracker away" (+0.5)
None of these tells are definitive, even if their wording may suggest otherwise. Mafia is a complex game, played by complex, intelligent human beings that will always defy predictions. Some are also great manipulators, some are uncharismatic and "scummy" by nature even when town, some are just enigmatic. Additionally, scum players also read theory and once they know what town thinks is scummy, they will simply avoid it in future, and tells that were once common will become non-indicative.
That doesn't mean they are totally useless, though — just that they should not be overly relied on, and applied sparingly when dealing with experienced players.
Each tell is weighed in ScumPoints™, a totally imaginary and arbitrary currency that is extremely player- and context-dependent. But, that being said, a grand total ScumScore™ of 2.0 and above should at least raise a serious eyebrow, maybe two eyebrows. In fact, think of them as the number of eyebrows you should raise in response.
Trying to discredit obvtown people for bad reasons (+1.0)
This one is pretty obvious; the mafia can only win by keeping the suspect pool as large as possible and steer town away from themselves and their partners. They really hate townies who're never getting lynched, and they will do their best to get rid of them, even during the day.
Be careful when applying this tell too generously, especially at LYLO. Running out of mislynches creates a feeling of nervousness and panic in townies, and someone who's appeared dangerous to scum but somehow is still breathing can become a giant paranoia magnet. Of course the scum can also rely on that.
Some scum players are also exceptionally good and can look very convincingly town. This tell only applies when it's accompanied by bad reasoning.
Too many (or too few) null and scum reads (+0.5)
The mafia have vested interest in spreading paranoia and suspicion, but most of the time they also know all the innocents and thus are more certain in their reads (and can spot towntells that others can't).
Being "jokingly" scummy, self-admitting they are scummy, claiming scum (+0.5)
For some reason this is seen as "too risky" for scum to do and earns them town credit. Now it's become popular enough that it's mostly attempted by scum.
In addition, some believe they can escape scrutiny for being scummy, as long as they acknowledge it beforehand and play it off as a joke. Do not fall for this. Anti-town is anti-town, regardless of context.
The "lol" defence (+1.0)
Claiming that whatever elaborate or spot-on case you made on them was hilarious. This may sound more like garden variety scumminess, but it's a fairly strong tell and should warrant a vote every time.
Lots of fence-sitting (+0.5)
It's a fine line between the uncertainty that comes with a player's personality (hi!) or the nature of uninformed majority, and scum keeping their options open. The mafia in particular tend to wobble around town reads, small wagons, or from one wagon to another. The latter could be a sign of a partner shifting pressure away from their colleague.
Unusual activity patterns (+1.5)
In particular, when the majority of a player's posts appear shortly after an accusation is made against them, when a large chuck of their ISO is spent engaging accusers or defending themselves, or when they suddenly materialise from lurkspace and join a FoS/wagon. In the latter case, drop whatever you're doing and powerlynch the scumbag.
In general, it's a good idea to check the timestamps of players' posts and compare them to the rest of their ISO to see if a particular important post (like a sudden vote change) was made at an unusual for them time. Obviously don't put too much weight on this (we all have real lives etcetc) but keep it at the back of your mind when weighing someone's scumminess.
Buttering up (+0.5)
When the scum are obviously agreeing and trying to appease a town leader, and avoid stepping on their toes at all costs. Villagers, even town leaders, like being townread and are more reluctant to express hostility to someone who appears to be their friend.
This is different from mindless sheeping, which could also be a sign of a lazy/intimidated townie who's hiding behind the smart people.
Accusations that amount to nothing (+0.5), after Day 1 (+1.0), focused exclusively on a recent post (+1.5)
This is a combination of trying to appear helpful and attempting to cause a mislynch, but not having enough evidence. Scum would latch onto something superficially scummy or some bad phrasing, and try to make a mountain out of a molehill. It's usually super transparent, too.
Important! Do not apply this very early in the game when accusations genuinely mean little. Let players generate some actual content before trying to determine the validity of an accusation.
"Look at me, I'm so town!" (+1.0)
It's the so-called LAMIST tell and it's still relevant enough to have its own acronym! Newbscum usually are very concerned with 'looking good' to avoid falling under suspicion, but don't know how to fake-scumhunt. Instead, they will do things like pushing the lurkers to contribute, trying to "resuscitate" them by voting them, asking for reads on themselves, talking a lot about the game itself (this is called IIoA), claiming they are doing anything in their power to get information.
"A question a day keeps the tracker away" (+0.5)
Asking a lot of questions without addressing the answers or giving updated reads. This is a way to appear helpful without actually generating content yourself, while keeping others distracted by making them answer your questions.