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Hosting a Mini Mafia Game

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When hosting a mini mafia game (currently size 7 players or less), some things are vastly more important to focus on due to the extremely small timeframe and/or playerbase.

The most obvious is Game Balance.
It's taken for granted, mostly, that one mafia out of seven people is too much of a challenge for the mafia player, at least without some compensation (likely to be a voting advantage or 'negative' town roles in the game). On the other hand, two mafia players out of seven is extremely hard on the town; in fact it requires the town to hit a mafia in two out of three lynches. That's why, in standard setups with two mafia out of seven players, there are several pro-town roles (per example, a standard C-9 setup offers either investigator, doctor, or both).
The game balance is even more vital in mini mafia games than in the others, simply because the timeframe does not allow much analysis.

The second thing to keep in mind is that the Host effort has to be immaculate.
In larger games, the Game Host has at least some leeway in making mistakes or misjudging the game balance; a game stretching more than 10 day/night cycles and including more than 20 players can easily be balanced during the game if it proves necessary, and losing a single player early on due to some sort of mistake or misunderstanding has nearly no impact on the game, whereas in a game where you have only seven players at the most, having to remove one is basically striking a decisive blow against his team (having to remove a townsperson in a 2 mafia-5 townie game means that the town needs a 100 % lynch ratio. Removing a mafia vastly outbalances the game towards the town). Therefore, there can be no mistakes as Game Host in a mini mafia game (not that these are not frowned upon in other games, of course, they're just not as gamebreaking).

A third thing to keep in mind is that it's a good thing to be innovative.
While a standard C-9 is of course funny to play, it'd quickly become either a bore or at least fairly ordinary if it was all the mini mafia games that were hosted. Therefore, if you are to host several mini mafia games (such as I did when I started up the Seven Man Scrimmage series), it's preferable to have some different game setups at the ready. For starters, seperating the two mafia to two different teams and/or making them work together unawares of the others' identity (like in Methos' or Secura's first mini mafia games on this site) is a good idea although it takes some coordination to implement. If you want to do it a little more basic, why not discard the traditional pro-town roles for such a small game and include some more advanced or interesting roles? You could go with a bomb or two (like my first game, Seven Man Scrimmage 1: C4), or a pro-town roleblocker and an investigator. Try thinking of two roles that can work with each other in some way (be it beneficial or not ). Per example, a roleblocker could unwillingly block an investigator or a doctor, thereby working against their own cause. On the other hand, a roleblocker that doesn't do anything will be wasting his potential. Coming up with an interesting setup is rather easy when you only have seven players in a game, and takes little to no time. I know I'll be hosting more Seven Man Scrimmages with new setups, or provide "GM Hooks" for others who are interested in trying out some alternative setups I've thought out.

Despite all this which makes hosting a mini mafia look like running a minor country, I very strongly suggest starting with the minis if you're new in the hosting business. Just because a game benefits from balance, innovation and a professional host does not mean that it can't be good without any of these. Everyone has to start somewhere, remember?

Besides, if you're thinking of starting your own mini mafia game for the very first time and you are in doubt about anything, many of the veterans and Game Hosts of the Gameroom - myself included - is more than willing to help you learn your ropes as a host. All it takes is the want to do it, and a bit of time and dedication.

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  1. Subotan's Avatar
    I would say that perception of balance is more important than balance itself. If a mafia thinks he can win, then he will continue to play, even if it's statistically hopeless. And I agree that there's no room for mistakes in Mini-Mafia Games (See: Red Herring Mafia). That said, the set up for Red Herring Mafia was nice and complex, and it would be fun to do it again some time.
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