This post will discuss playing a mafia. Its goal is to ensure that players understand common strategies and why they are prevalent. In this post, we will cover strategies for the three major alignment types: Town, Anti-Town, and Independent.
As a Towny, your primary goal is to seek out and eliminate Scum. Because the Town typically controls the Day phase, Scum are often forced to pretend like they are Townies as well. Thus, the key to winning as Town is to identify players who are not what they say.
Mafia is a deeply complex game, but even in highly situational circumstances, there are some rights and wrongs to be found. Through the application of logic, one can differentiate between these rights and wrongs.
Deductive reasoning, generally speaking, is taking a broad truth and applying it to a narrow case. While it is a fundamental of logic, it is not very useful on its own. Proper deduction leads to absolute certainty, but only because it starts with absolute certainty, and absolute certainty is not particularly abundant. It is generally used in conjunction with hypotheticals and other forms of reasoning to reach a conclusion.
Inductive reasoning, generally speaking, is taking observations and using commonalities to predict future events. This is the bread and butter of logic within mafia. Broadly speaking, induction is used to analyze past events, both within a particular game and within mafia overall, and use those to reach the likeliest conclusion.
Abductive reasoning, generally speaking, is considering all possibilities and repeatedly ruling out the least likely until only one remains. That is, it is effectively process of elimination. Abduction is primarily used alongside induction, and is itself a form of induction.
How to Argue:
I'm adding this section because, too often, I've found that players use the wrong definition of argument. As a Towny, you are effectively a philosopher, trying to seek the truth. To a philosopher, an argument is not a fight, nor a back and forth of scathing remarks. An argument should be either an assertion or a counter to an assertion, in either case supported by evidence. An argument should be kept civil, and it needs to be understood that the goal of an argument is not to win, but to reach the truth.
Scum hunting is the act of actively trying to identify Scum via a series of observations intended to identify players attempting to blend into the Town and tactics designed to make blending into the Town more difficult.
The key to observations is to look for Scumtells.
- Scum tend to lie about certain aspects of their role, especially alignment for obvious reasons. Being caught in a lie is pretty much the single most damning of all Scumtells, and is where the common Town mantra "Lynch All Liars" comes from. In a perfect world, there are no common false positives of this Scumtell; however, some Townies sadly will lie, typically because they are fearful of revealing their role because it will make them appear Scummy or because their role is powerful and may encourage Scum to target them. There are no exceptions to this Scumtell: all Scum must lie about something in order to blend in with the Town.
- Scum tend to use fallacies, statements that appear logical at first glance but which are actually inherently flawed, in order to try and mislead the Town. Fallacies are a powerful tool for any Scum, because they can be used to subtly control the Town's actions and obfuscate the actual facts while simultaneously making it seem as though the user is contributing. See the section on Anti-Town strategy for a proper breakdown of fallacies. In a perfect world, there are no common false positives for this Scumtell; however, some Townies sadly will use fallacies in an attempt to get their way, usually out of pride or incompetence. There are no specific exceptions to this Scumtell: Scum will almost always rely on a fallacy at some point in a game, as they are the easiest way to support the lies necessitated by being Scum.
- Scum tend to avoid contributing to discussions, especially early in the game. This is because the more Scum say, the more they can be held to later in the game, when more information has been revealed. By committing to a side in a discussion, they allow the Town to analyze their statements in light of information learned after the fact. Moreover, Scum will, at least on some level, be worried about appearing to side with or otherwise agree with other Scum too often. Scum do not want the Town to identify them, and contributing to a discussion may inadvertently lead the Town in the right direction. Finally, Scum do not want to draw attention to themselves, and being the first to suggest something new tends to draw attention. Thus, Scum tend to be wishy-washy. This can take the form of frequently posting meaningless or irrelevant content, only posting cursory agreement to something already suggested, or posting very infrequently. In a perfect world, there are no common false positives of this Scumtell; however, some Townies sadly will lurk, parrot, or otherwise appear wishy-washy, often because they are either unhappy with their role or overly fearful because their role is important, though this can also be borne of laziness or incompetence. The primary exception to this Scumtell is the Serial player, who will often contribute with zeal as though they were a Towny. It should be noted that Serial players sometimes display this Scumtell in the very earliest parts of the game if they are unaware as to which group of characters is the Town in the game.
- Scum tend to be more defensive of one another than Town are. This is because Anti-Town factions are considerably smaller, and so the loss of even a single member can greatly cripple an Anti-Town faction. Moreover, Scum know the identintities of their partners from the outset. Thus, on a subconscious level, Scum tend to be more defensive of their partners than is normally expected because they have no uncertainty regarding the alignment and value of said partners. While this can manifest simply as overdefensiveness, its most common manifestation is actually that Scum are normally among the last players to vote for their partners in a lynch, if they even vote at all. The most common false positives for this Scumtell are the Mason, which has a partner or partners of which they may be excessively defensive as Town, and any Investigative role, which may have special knowledge which exhonerates a player that has not been shared with the rest of the Town. The primary exception to this Scumtell is, once again, the Serial player, which has no partners to defend; indeed, the Serial player will often display an indifference towards which player is lynched, because, on a subconscious level, they recognizes every other player as an enemy.
- Scum are more prone than Townies to try and deflect suspicion onto other players. When pressed, Scum are more likely to try and distract their accusers by pointing out another player that might be suspicious than they are to actually respond to accusations leveled against them in the hopes that these accusations will be forgotten. In a perfect world, there are no common false positives of this Scumtell; however, some Townies sadly will deflect suspicion onto others when pressed, typically due to laziness or incompetence. It should be noted that pointing out a better lynch is not necessarily the same as deflecting in and of itself; the key to deflecting is to use suspicion of another player to ignore addressing accusations made against one's self. There are no exceptions to this Scumtell, but it should be noted that a Serial player will only ever deflect for themself, while other Scum will also often deflect for their partners.
- Scum are more likely to vote with the flow than Townies. This stems from a desire to not stand out or go against the Town consensus, especially early in the game. In a perfect world, there are no common false positives of this Scumtell; however, some Townies sadly will bandwagon, normally as a result of laziness or incompetence. It should be noted that voting with the consensus is not necessarily bandwagoning in and of itself; bandwagoning is voting with the consensus without contributing anything to the discussion regarding the potential lynch. There are no specific exceptions to this Scumtell, but Scum won't always bandwagon; they are just more likely to.
- Scum have a tendency to become overly focused on opportunities to mislead the Town, which will sometimes manifest as tunnel vision. This comes from the fear that, at any moment, some new information can come to light and the tides of Day can turn on a dime against an Anti-Town faction. Moreover, certain Mislynches benefit an Anti-Town faction moreso than others, and sometimes Scum will allow their desire for that perfect moment to overrule their otherwise cautious behavior. As such, Scum will sometimes become overly committed to a specific suggested Lynch, even if a better Lynch is identified. A common false positive of this Scumtell is any Investigative role or Preventative role, which may have special knowledge which condemns a player that has not been shared with the rest of the Town. There are no specific exceptions to this Scumtell, but Scum won't always tunnel; they're just more vulnerable to allowing greed to cloud their judgment.
- Scum will often attempt to promote Townies revealing information. This stems from the fact that, while most Anti-Town factions are informed in the sense that they know one another's identities, their greatest weakness is that they don't know very much about any other player's role. Thus, Scum tend to fish for this information, usually with subtle posts that can be interpretted as a call for information but that they can later be claimed as benign and misinterpretted by whomever offered the information. Any Towny can appear as a false positive for this Scumtell, as some information is needed to fuel the Town's discussions. There are no exceptions to this Scumtell, though an Anti-Town faction that has already gathered what it deems to be sufficient information will often stop fishing for further information.
- Scum will sometimes claim things late in a game which contradict their behavior early in the game. This is normally due to carelessness, but is still important to watch for. This is especially the case with Fake Claimed investigations. Late in the game, when making a fake Full Claim as an Investigative role, Scum will often select players that are currently dead as the alleged targets of their investigations earlier in the game, so as not to provide the Town with any useful information, as well as because dead players cannot speak up if lied about. However, by looking at how the claimant interacted with these players in light of this claim, contradictory information can be identified. When caught in a contradiction, Scum will typically attempt to backtrack, claiming that they made a mistake and that the contradictory information was incorrect. There are no common false positives for this Scumtell: this is a symptom of Fake Claiming, and members of the Town should pretty much never Fake Claim. The are no exceptions to this Scumtell: if Scum are careless and Fake Claiming, they are prone to lie in a manner that contradicts past behavior.
There are a myriad of different scum hunting tactics out there, but we're going to talk about some of the most common ones.
- The most tried and true scum hunting technique is simple observation. Being on the lookout for common Scumtells is the most paramount tenet of scum hunting.
- It is traditionally accepted that if a player claims to have information that condemns another player, the accused must make a Full Claim before the accuser reveals the information they may have. This is because, once condemning information is revealed, a Fake Claim can be tailored to explain away any information. If the accused knows that the accusations against them are based on their having targeted whomever died last night, they can claim that they targeted that player and lie about the ability they have, while if they know that the accusations against them are based on their having a Destructive ability, they can claim to have said Destructive ability and lie about whom they targeted with said ability, etc. By forcing the accused to claim before the accuser presents their evidence, the chances of Scum correctly guessing what the accuser has discovered and tailoring their Fake Claim to combat it are significantly lowered.
- The Town's most potent weapon against Scum is information, and so it is of the utmost importance that information only be released on an as-needed basis. Thus, it is fairly standard for the Town to agree to a maximum number of claims they will pursue during a Day before they buckle down and lynch one of the claimants. The exact number can vary based on how many players are in the game, how far into the game they are, and how many players have already claimed, but it is generally a fairly small number. This helps prevent an overflow of information that can aid Scum in crafting Fake Claims.
- It is generally accepted that some consensus should be reached before a player claims. A single player's demand for a claim is rarely sufficient. Typically, true consensus is shown via votes. A player may refuse to claim unless a certain number of votes is placed upon them, and some players may seek to expedite this by preemptively voting for a player they wish to claim. However, Anti-Town factions may attempt to take advantage of this to "accidentally" Speedlynch a player. Generally speaking, votes placed to prompt a claim should never exceed half the majority needed to lynch. If votes are placed in excess of half the majority, players should remove their votes to prevent an accidental Speedlynch. Townies should not place votes in excess of half majority unless the intent is to lynch the player being voted for, and should be wary of players that break this rule of thumb.
- Outlining a plan for how various players or roles should behave at Night is a delicate procedure. While it might be tempting to outline a large and specific plan, it is these that are most easily abused or worked around by Anti-Town factions. It is better to leave some variability to any plan for Night Actions. Rather than demanding that a specific player be targeted by a specific role, provide a small list of candidates for that role to target. This will not only help prevent Anti-Town factions from abusing or working around a plan for Night Actions, but may also reduce players with similar roles from redundantly targeting the same player.
- It is fairly common for the Town to require any player that investigates guilty to a sane Cop to say so before the end of Day 1; any player claiming to investigate guilty after Day 1 risks being policy lynched. This often forces Millers and Independents out of hiding, which saves any Cop that might be present from wasting an investigation on them, but also serves to deny the common reactionary tactic used by Scum cornered with a guilty investigation of claiming to be a Miller or Independent after the fact. While it is fairly common for one or even two Scum to join the Millers and Independents in claiming to investigate guilty on Day 1, the Town grows suspicious if there are too many such claims, and those who do try to take advantage are often scrutinized more heavily than those that do not, which is still an overall benefit for the Town.
There are a variety of roles with active abilities, commonly called power roles, which the Town can have. However, in order for these roles to be effective, there are certain things that must be kept in mind. Below, the expected behavior for the most common roles from each type of ability are outlined. Other roles can model their behavior after those with the same type of ability.
A Cop should never investigate a player that has claimed to investigate guilty, because whether they are telling the truth or lying, the result is the same, and is thus a waste of an action. Generally speaking, a Cop should not claim during the first couple of Days if it can be helped, and should avoid claiming if they do not have a guilty result on someone. A Cop should attempt to push a lynch against a player that has investigated guilty without revealing the investigation initially, revealing only that they has condemning evidence if the lynch is not supported, and revealing the actual evidence (the guilty result) only after the player investigated has Full Claimed.
A Doctor should never protect a player that has claimed to be immune to kills, because an Anti-Town faction is unlikely to risk a shot against a player that may be immune to kills, or that investigates guilty, as an Anti-Town faction will rarely waste a kill on a player that may serve as a fallback lynch for the Town, not to mention that a player claiming to investigate guilty may be Scum themself. Generally speaking, if it can be helped, a Doctor should be among the last players to claim, as they are one of the most important roles for Anti-Town factions to eliminate. A Doctor should try to prioritize protection on a claimed Investigative role, if possible, but should not be afraid to occasionally stray from an outlined Night Action plan to try and keep Anti-Town factions on their toes.
A Roleblocker should never block a player that has claimed an Investigative or Protective ability, unless Town consensus dictates otherwise, because such abilities are the most important to the Town. A Roleblocker should use their ability every night, and should prioritize players that either claim to have no Night Action or that they won't use their Night Action, because blocking such players has the least potential to harm the Town while still having the potential to harm Anti-Town factions. A Roleblocker should not block the same player twice consecutively, unless a kill failed the same Night said player was blocked the first time, in which case, the Roleblocker should always block that same player again; if a kill fails on both Nights the same player is blocked, this should be considered condemning evidence against that player, and the Roleblocker should continue to block them until they are either lynched or a kill does not fail without the total kill count being reduced.
A Vigilante should never shoot a player without a consensus from the Town the previous Day indicating that a Vigilante should shoot said player. This is because the Vigilante is potentially one of the most harmful roles to the Town. While a Vigilante can make their own judgments if consensus is not explicitly stated, such as a Mislynch after a Counter Claim, they should always treat their action with the utmost care. The exception to this is players that have claimed to be immune to kills, which Vigilantes can shoot in order to test such claims without Town consensus.
A Bus Driver is a difficult role to play as Town. The primary use of a Bus Driver for the Town is to switch an important player, such as a claimed Cop or Doctor, with a player of lesser value, such as an inactive player, acting in the place of a Protective role. It is imperative that a Bus Driver be open with the Town, should their action lead to confusion, especially regarding condemning evidence. A Bus Driver should never be afraid to claim to clear up a situation affected by their actions.
An Inventor is a role that must be played very carefully, as it can just as easily benefit an Anti-Town faction as it can the Town. Inventors should try to only send their gifts to players that are very likely to be Town, such as players that have been investigated innocent or players that have confirmed abilities that are traditionally Town.
Depending on the host, a Mason Recruiter can act as a weak Cop by announcing whom they intend to target each Night, as Mason Recruiters traditionally either die or fail to recruit members of Anti-Town factions. However, Mason Recruiters need to be keenly aware of the possibility of Chaotic roles, and should always query the host as to what occurs upon targeting a member of an Anti-Town faction.
As Scum, your primary goal is to seek out and eliminate Townies and Scum from competing Anti-Town factions. Because the Town typically controls the Day, Scum are often forced to pretend like they are Townies as well. Thus, the key to winning as Anti-Town is to blend in with and mislead the Town.
Mafia is a complex game, and while there are sometimes rights and wrongs in many situations, they are not normally very clear cut. Fallacy is the bread and butter of Scum, because it appears to be logic on the outside, but actually serves to mislead the Town.
- Appeal to Common Sense: The user makes an assertion and acts like it should be common sense rather than providing specific evidence. The user hopes that others will be too afraid of looking stupid to ask for evidence. See also: Appeal to Ridicule.
- Appeal to Flattery: The user compliments others rather than offering any evidence for an assertion. The user hopes that those receiving compliments will feel obligated to support the assertion despite the lack of evidence.
- Appeal to Force: The user explicitly or implicitly threatens to do something if an assertion is not supported. The user hopes that others will support the assertion out of fear of whatever was threatened.
- Appeal to Majority: The user insists that an assertion must be correct because most people support it. The user hopes that others will support the assertion out of fear of standing out or going against the flow.
- Appeal to Ridicule: The user acts like an assertion made by someone else is so ridiculous as to not need specific counterpoints. The user hopes that others will be too afraid of looking stupid to ask for evidence. See also: Appeal to Common Sense.
- Appeal to Tradition: The user insists that an assertion is correct because it has always been accepted in the past. The user hopes that others will feel obligated to support the assertion out of a false sense of obligation to tradition.
- Argument from Repetition: The user continues to make an assertion, even after it has been countered, without providing any new evidence. The user hopes that, eventually, everyone else will get sick of the discussion and just disregard it altogether, treating the assertion as equally valid to any alternatives.
- Bait and Switch: The user subtly alters an assertion previously made such that it looks the same but is fundamentally different, and then offers evidence supporting the altered assertion as though it supports the original assertion. The user hopes that people won't notice the difference and will assume that the evidence is valid for the original assertion. See also: Straw Man.
- Cherry Picking: The user points only to favorable specific events or statistics as evidence for an assertion while outright ignoring relevant events or statistics that do not support the assertion. This is used to give false weight to the assertion.
- Circular Reasoning: The user supports an assertion with evidence that only applies if the assertion is assumed to be correct. This is used to give false weight to the assertion.
- Correlation Proves Causation: The user points out a correlation between two things and then treats this correlation as proof that one thing causes the other thing. This is used to give false weight to an assertion.
- False Analogy: The user offers an analogy for an assertion which is inherently flawed or otherwise doesn't fit the current situation. This is used to give false weight to either the assertion, or a counterpoint of the assertion, depending on the nature of the analogy's flaw.
- False Compromise: The user suggests a compromise between two assertions purely on the grounds that compromise is inherently better than choosing one or the other. Alternatively, the user can first suggest an infeasible alternative to an assertion, and then offer to compromise, once again purely on the grounds that compromise is inherently better. The user's suggested compromise is often designed to negate the pros of one or both suggested assertions.
- False Dichotomy: The user insists that there are exactly two possible assertions, and then shows one to be either false or undesirable. The user hopes that others will support the other assertion without considering alternatives to the two suggested assertions.
- Hasty Generalization: The user points to specific events or statistics as evidence for an assertion when the events or statistics represent too small of a sample size to come to any conclusion. This is used to give false weight to either the assertion, or a counterpoint of the assertion, depending on the nature of the generalization.
- Kettle Logic: The user offers multiple statements in support of an assertion, and while any single statement might be valid, the individual statements contradict one another. This is used to give false weight to the assertion.
- Loaded Question: The user asks a question, typically a yes or no question, that assumes something that has not been proven, such that, regardless of how it is answered, it implies an assertion the user has made. This is used to give false weight to the assertion.
- Non Sequitor: The user offers evidence which may be correct, but which is wholly irrelevant to the assertion or counterpoint it allegedly supports. This is used to give false weight to the assertion or counterpoint.
- Poisoning the Well: The user ignores counterpoints made against an assertion, and instead verbally assaults the person offering the counterpoints. The user hopes that others will call into question the credibility of the person being insulted and ignore the offered counterpoints.
- Red Herring: The user makes a contentious assertion which is ultimately irrelevant. The user hopes that everyone else will be too busy arguing about this new assertion to remember whatever they were previously debating.
- Slippery Slope: The user insists that if a certain course of action is taken, a chain of events will follow leading to an ultimately unfavorable result. The user hopes that others will be too concerned with the stated potential end result to notice that the suggested chain of events leading to it are actually unlikely. Alternatively, the user offers a seemingly innocent course of action which, if taken, may lead to a chain of events which are ultimately unfavorable. The user hopes that this seemingly innocent course of action is taken without considering the consequences.
- Straw Man: The user subtly alters an assertion made by someone else such that it looks the same but is fundamentally different, and then offers counterpoints against the altered assertion as though they counter the original assertion. The user hopes that people won't notice the difference and will assume that the counterpoints are valid for the original assertion. See also: Bait and Switch.
Because the Town controls the Day, Scum must blend in with the Town out of necessity. This means that Scum must appear as though they are Town to an uninformed player, while working against the Town in actuality. This entails several things.
First, Scum must be careful about contributing to discussion for a number of reasons. For one, taking a side on issues can lead to problems for an Anti-Town faction. If Scum take the "correct" or Town side of an issue, they risk assisting the Town, which may ultimately lead to the Town catching other members of the Anti-Town faction. On the other hand, if a member of an Anti-Town faction takes the "incorrect" or Anti-Town side of an issue, they risk Town identifying that they are Anti-Town later. The best type of contribution for a member of an Anti-Town faction is information that appears to be helpful but is actually misleading. Misinformation is a very powerful tool for members of Anti-Town factions, but it must be used wisely. Obvious misinformation can draw the attention of the Town, after all. The use of fallacious reasoning can be very helpful both in obfuscating which side of an issue is "incorrect" and in distributing misinformation.
Second, by necessity, members of Anti-Town factions must lie. While the Town will seek to minimize the lies that can be told and identify the lies that are told, members of Anti-Town factions must lie in spite of this. The truth is the Town's most powerful weapon, and so members of Anti-Town factions must seek to obfuscate it as best they can, both surrounding themselves and the Town. The key to lying believably is to lie about as little as possible to get the job done. Lying is necessary, but that does not mean that members of Anti-Town factions must lie about everything always. Half truths are much easier for the Town to swallow, and thus will be easier to sell as truths. The same can be said of fallacies, as well. A subtle fallacy is always preferable to an overt fallacy.
While it is the goal of Anti-Town factions to eliminate the Town, one must recognize that it is also the goal of Anti-Town factions to eliminate other Anti-Town factions. In games that feature more than one Anti-Town faction, an opportunity is presented wherein members of one Anti-Town faction can gain clout with the Town by hunting for members of another Anti-Town faction. This is a very powerful tool, as it allows members of an Anti-Town faction to actually contribute and otherwise behave like members of the Town without risking themselves or their teammates.
Finally, and most importantly, one must seek to minimize any idiosynchrasies or quirks that easily differentiate one's normal Town playstyle from one's normal Anti-Town playstyle. If one is always active as Town, one must also be active as Anti-Town. If one always takes a front role in scum hunting as Town, one must appear to take this same role as Anti-Town. This is another place where fallacies can be of assistance. Through the use of fallacy, one can ostensibly seem to be playing in the same manner that they always play, while actually corrupting their normal playstyle. The key is for the difference between one's Town playstyle and one's Anti-Town playstyle to be as subtle as possible. Alternatively, if one frequently changes how one plays as Town, so long as they do not have a set manner in which they play as Anti-Town, they can get away with more.
There are a variety of roles with active abilities, commonly called power roles, which Anti-Town can have. However, in order for these roles to be effective, there are certain things that must be kept in mind. Below, the expected behavior for the most common roles from each type of ability are outlined. Other roles can model their behavior after those with the same type of ability.
An Investigator's primary goal is to identify important Town power roles. If possible, a Investigator should avoid investigating players claiming to have no active abilities. Moreover, Role Cop can prove to be a good fallback Fake Claim for a Investigator.
A Doctor's primary goal is to keep important faction power roles alive. Priority should be given to a Hitman or Converter when they are present. Moreover, Doctor is a great fallback Fake Claim, as the Town will almost always hesitate to lynch a claimed Doctor, and if the real Doctor Counter Claims, the trade is almost worth it.
A Prostitute's primary goal is to shut down Town-aligned Investigative roles. A Prostitute should block players at random until a player with an Investigative role claims, and then attempt to shut down that player.
A Hitman/Killer is the mainstay of a Mafia or Serial player. They should prioritize killing Town power roles, but need to care for Town protection and kill immunity. They should never fire on a claimed Iron unless there is serious reason to suspect the claim, or unless they have the ability to kill through immunity. If possible, eliminating Town protective roles is ideal.
A Bus Driver is a very powerful ability for an Anti-Town faction, because it not only allows the Anti-Town faction to manipulate set night plans and mess with Investigative roles, but it also allows the Anti-Town faction to kill or convert through protection.
An Inventor effectively further augments an Anti-Town faction's abilities, as an Inventor knows the identities of his allies. An Inventor can prove his ability by sending items, which makes Inventor a decent fallback Fake Claim.
Conversion is incredibly powerful for Anti-Town factions, as it allows them to simultaneously reduce the number of the Town and increase their own number. The best targets for conversion are claimed power roles and players that have been "confirmed" as Town, whether via investigation or other means.
The various neutral third-party factions have a myriad of unique ideal playstyles, depending on their exact win conditions.
Survivor is one of the most common Independents. As a Survivor, one must be careful not to anger either the Town or any Anti-Town factions that might be present, because a Survivor's victory is very much in their hands. Moreover, it is key for a Survivor to come forward as soon as possible.
To placate the Town, a Survivor should appear cooperative and provide any information requested. Naturally, if information is requested that might anger an Anti-Town faction, a Survivor should lie to the Town so as not to anger said Anti-Town faction. So long as the lie is believable, the Town will be none the wiser. A Town will normally only lynch a Survivor if they believe the Survivor to actually be Anti-Town, because it is a waste of a lynch otherwise.
To placate Anti-Town factions, a Survivor need only be aloof and distant in discussions. If the Survivor has an active ability that could be useful to the Town, it is important that the Survivor either lie and say they do not have such an ability, or lie about how they are using it. An Anti-Town faction will normally only shoot at a Survivor if they believe that the Survivor poses a greater threat to them than the Town's major power roles, or if the Survivor refuses to cooperate during an endgame Gambit.
When a Survivor is present, it is fairly common for an Anti-Town faction to come forward and demand support from a Survivor in what might otherwise have been a Lynch-or-Lose situation for the Town. This is a type of endgame Gambit. If the Survivor cannot rely on the Town for protection, has no means of self-protecting, and cannot reasonably guarantee that the Anti-Town's kill is either lynched that Day or blocked that Night, a Survivor should always cooperate with the Anti-Town faction in this situation. However, if the Survivor can either rely on the Town for protection, self-protect, or otherwise reasonably guarantee that the Anti-Town faction's kill will be a nonissue, they may choose to side with whichever faction they feel treated them better.
Jester is a rare Independent, because it is incredibly difficult to balance. Getting lynched is pretty straightforward, and a Jester almost always ends up harming a Town. Still, they are sometimes used. The key to winning as a Jester is to get one's self lynched without the Town realizing that they are lynching a Jester. A Town will always opt to shoot a Jester at night rather than waste a lynch if they recognize it for what it is. Thus, the key is to instead be "caught" as scum. There are many ways to achieve this. It is also generally wise to very lightly hint at being Iron; the key is to hint lightly enough that the Vigilante doesn't bother to test it, but overtly enough that the Mafia is hesitant to test it as well.
The first is for the Jester to act generally scummy, and then claim an important character or role in the hopes of being Counter Claimed. Being on the wrong end of a Counter Claim is almost always a guaranteed way to get lynched. The Jester should fight the lynch, so as not to draw suspicion, but shouldn't fight it effectively enough to turn the lynch on whomever Counter Claimed him, as this will normally result in being shot the following Night by a Vigilante.
The next is for the Jester to Counter Claim a player that has recently claimed. This should only be employed if a Vigilante is likely not to be present, because it is likely that whomever has been Counter Claimed will be lynched first, meaning that a Vigilante may eliminate the Counter Claiming Jester the Night after rather than the Town lynching him the Day after.
Another effective method is for the Jester to claim to have condemning evidence against a specific player. Like the previous method, care for Vigilantes while using this. Moreover, the Jester should be careful not to accidentally get real scum lynched in this manner, as that will cement the Jester as "Town" and may draw Anti-Town kills.
Finally, a Jester can act generally scummy, and when asked to claim, "botch a Fake Claim". Effectively, the Jester lies in their claim, but intentionally makes some mistake that the Town identifies and uses as justification for a lynch. This can be difficult to pull off correctly, however; if the mistake is too obvious, the Town may grow suspicious that a Jester is in play, while if the mistake is too subtle, the Town may miss it altogether.
Lyncher is a fairly common Independent. Unlike a Survivor, a Lyncher should try to remain unknown for as long as possible. The key to winning as a Lyncher is to ensure that one's target is not killed at night, while casting enough suspicion on them that they will eventually be lynched.
Ultimately, a Lyncher needs to cast as much suspicion on a player as possible. Constantly calling into question their motives or picking apart their arguments is a good start, but one must be careful not to appear to have tunnel vision. So long as the target is under suspicion, it is unlikely that the Mafia will waste a kill on him.
If a Lyncher can't seem to get a Town to commit to a lynch, or finds himself under suspicion because of how hard he is pushing against a specific player, the best way to proceed is to claim as a Cop or similar investigator with incriminating evidence on the target. This will normally be just enough to convince the Town to lynch the target, and once the target is lynched, the Lyncher has won and doesn't care about any consequences.
The primary drawback of the investigator claim Gambit is the threat of Counter Claim. In the event that a Lyncher is Counter Claimed while fake claiming as a Cop or similar investigator, they should push to lynch the target on the grounds of "proving" their investigation. Once again, once the target is lynched, the Lyncher wins and is immune to consequences, and the Town should go along, considering that, for Anti-Town, this would be a 1:1 trade, which is only ideal in a Lynch-or-Lose situation.
Alien is an uncommon Independent. It is a difficult role to win with simply because games are normally too short for an Alien to have sufficient opportunity to saturate their ability. There are a couple of strategies that an Alien can employ to attempt to achieve victory.
First, an Alien can try to keep whomever they have already targeted alive. This can be pretty difficult, but if at all possible, an Alien cannot afford for anyone they have already targeted to be lynched or killed. On principle, an Alien should probably oppose plans that involve lynching or killing someone they have already targeted. Still, this can be very difficult to effect.
Ultimately, an Alien wants a game to drag on for as long as possible, and wants the game to end with as few as possible players left alive. To this end, an Alien should try to take steps to delay the game without giving advantage to any particular faction. Lynching claimed Independents and supporting No Lynches are both decent ways to slow the game down, but these can also lead to an Anti-Town advantage.
An easier method is for the Alien to figure out who the Anti-Town are, target all of them, and then try to work against the Town, acting as a sort of secret ally for the Anti-Town faction. Even if the Alien is eventually killed, so long as the Anti-Town achieve victory, the Alien has also won (provided the Alien targeted all
of the Anti-Town players that survived to the end). While this is somewhat easier than trying to keep previous targets alive or delay the game, especially if the Alien manages to identify a Serial, it is still fairly difficult, and requires a mixture of luck and skill to achieve.
Savage is an uncommon Independent, and is a bit more loosely defined that other Independents. A Savage wins by killing other players. Sometimes, it is specific other players, while other times, the Savage simply has a quota. Exactly how many and which players must be killed are determined by the host, but generally a Savage should need to kill more than one, and unlike a Lyncher or Unlyncher, a Savage never knows which players they have to kill, just which characters (or from which factions) they must kill.
Playing as a Savage is, in many ways, similar to playing as a Serial. Savages usually have some manner of kill, and generally have no explicit allies. Savage is simultaneously more difficult and easier to play than a typical Serial Killer. On one hand, a Savage can win with other players, which is generally easier than having to kill everyone. On the other hand, the game does not wait for a Savage the way it does for a Serial: if all that is left is a single main faction and the Savage, the game is over whether the Savage has achieved their win condition or not.
The fewer players a Savage need kill, the more tactical and less like a Serial the Savage will want to play. This is because, the more players a Savage kills, the more likely the Savage will be identified by the Town as a Serial Killer, which makes it increasingly difficult to win alongside the Town.
Another important difference between Savage and Serial is that a Savage needs to be responsible for the requisite deaths, while a Serial does not. This means that a Savage cannot rely upon the Mafia's kill or the Town's lynch to eliminate a target, and indeed is threatened by these methods of elimination, because a Savage will generally lose if it fails to eliminate its target. A Savage wants to identify a target and be directly responsible for that target's death.