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The Importance of Trust

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Original Publication: October 01, 2015 by Mastin2.

Last Revised: March 29, 2017 by Mastina.

Original Thread.

The Article

Mafia is a game of paranoia and trust. Sometimes the paranoia is misguided. Sometimes the trust is misplaced.

Let me talk to you about trust.

Now, when I talk about trust on here, I'm not talking about saying, "Trust me, I'm town" when town and not as scum. If done accidentally, that's a towntell. If done intentionally, that's a trust-tell. In either case, it will eventually be broken, be it by using the tell as scum (thus, breaking it), or in the case of a trust-tell, getting banned for it.

When I talk about trust, I'm talking about, "firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something", with synonyms of confidence, belief, faith, certainty, assurance, conviction, credence, reliance, 'depend on', 'count on', and 'be sure of'.

What place does trust have in a game built upon deception and lies? As part of the uninformed majority, knowing the informed minority is your opposition, it's natural to think the only player you can trust in is yourself (and maybe not even then). However, trust is a fundamental part of the game, and everyone uses/abuses it whether they realize it or not.


It's important to be vigilant and to re-evaluate reads but sometimes in a game you find someone you can be pretty sure of and they can be pretty sure of you and then you work together.

The reason trust is a critical element in every major town win is simple: to achieve an elimination, you must assume you are working with town in order to eliminate a player that is scum. Without trust, it would be literally impossible to achieve an elimination on a player, yet alone, scum.

Of course, trust is not infallible. Just because someone feels they're trustworthy doesn't mean they are; they may be working from a faulty premise. Similarly, since asking for trust is something scum can do, placing trust in them would be a mistake. Trust is both easily employed and destroyed by scum, as they manipulate the gamestate. This is particularly true in times of high apathy, as players tend to increasingly trust no-one or literally anyone, neither of which will benefit the town.

So if scum can create an environment where town doesn't trust each other, where town-town fighting is abundant, they hold the upper hand. In order to combat that gamestate, town players need to look past themselves and...simply trust in each other. In order to overcome paranoia of every player being possible scum, they must make assumptions about certain players being more probable town. Inherent also in this is natural trust in the reliability, honesty, and competency of those who are given it.

No player, not even a paragon of scumhunting, can eliminate scum on their own, and even if they could, their accuracy isn't at 100%. As a result, every player--no matter how good they are--needs to trust in others to cover their weaknesses and blind spots. In the case of getting others to sheep your reads, three of the strongest, most powerful words to utter when you lack the ability to write out a precise case are, simply: "Just trust me."

And in turn, it costs you nothing to give that same trust back to them as they seek to eliminate any area where you have gone wrong. You will still need to make an effort to convince others you are not wrong in your reads. Mutual trust allows you that opportunity, as you will give trust in areas you feel they hold merit in, and will desire trust in areas you feel you're right on. For conflicts in trust, you will explain why you don't trust their read and why you want them to trust your read instead.

This is how towns work together as a team: giving and receiving trust. Sure! Sometimes, there are players you don't want to trust, where paranoia is your ally. Sure! Sometimes trust is misplaced, allowing scum through. Rarely does a townbloc form with no scum in it at all. But the vast majority of the time, by sheer probability if nothing else, the process of trust improves the odds of correctly identifying and working with town, because the majority of players are town.

The flipside of the coin is mafia using trust. Aside from asking to be trusted by town, inherent in them is a fundamental trust that their scumbuddies share the same wincon--something which, outside bastard games, they as the informed minority should be able to hold in each other and the mod.

Yet also, outside of multiball, the scum in a game trust that a town player is being truthful in the important aspects of their play: they trust town's reads to be what they say they are, and (with some obvious exceptions) trust town to be the role they claim to be.

This trust transcends the day and extends into the night: scum trust town to not have their reads change overnight. Scum trust town to use their role as they said they would. These have some notable exceptions, but by and large, scum hold trust in town just as much as town do. That, all aside from how scum will ask to be trusted by town during the day.


Trust is the foundation on which games are won or lost.

And on that fact, you'll just have to trust me.