Shifting Balance

Playing Town of Salem in Chaos (any/all) has felt pointless since the last update, but I don’t know if that is the effect of the new scrolls or just a run of bad luck. The new scrolls let you pay for better odds of getting a particular role. Here is what I am seeing this weekend:

  • fewer Town in any/all. I have not counted in games where I am not Town, but my four games as a townie today have had 6, 6, 6, and 5 Town. That is out of 15, and Town’s odds drop towards zero when Town is less than half the population. I have won as a 3-person town, but you’d be a fool to bet that way. You do not play any/all to play Town; you get all the Town roles and more consistently in the normal game, so you play any/all to see the neutral and Mafia roles that do not come up in the normal game. So this is where you play using the new scrolls.
  • 2+ Town suicide immediately. Seeing 5 suicides per game has been common. Maybe the game’s connection has gone to heck, but I’m guessing those are people who did not get their scroll role or were otherwise playing for all the reasons noted in the previous point.
  • Combine the two above and see that it becomes increasingly rational to immediately suicide as Town. The instant you get a green role, you suspect your odds are horrible due to low average Town population, then to drop again due to high suicide rates. You could stick around in your 2- to 4-person Town and hope for luck, or you can see which way the wind is blowing and bail.

Of course, this could just be absurd luck this weekend. But if the scrolls let you raise the odds of getting non-Town roles, they pretty much finish killing any/all.

: Zubon

ETA: I’ve also been disconnected twice this weekend after ~0 before that. If servers are in trouble with post-update downloads, that could speak to some of the suicide problem. I’ve also had an invisible game where cosmetics never loaded.

Town of Salem Referrals

Town of Salem added a referrer bonus system. It’s not a big one, but if you’ve become interested and try out the game, tell ’em Zubon sent you?

Other things in the update: new Forger mafia role, new chaos mode with lots of colors and killing roles, new cosmetics. Not sold yet on the new, unnecessarily long role selection animation.

: Zubon

Deceptive Honesty

Honesty can be an amazing tactic in Town of Salem. No one sees it coming. Almost every time I have gotten lynched as Jester, I told people I was Jester. “Surely no one would admit to that, he’s just trying to avoid getting lynched!”

When people expect lies, truth is a great way to trick them. That works well with people playing one level of recursion below you. The problem is people playing two levels below: they don’t know enough to be bluffed or double-bluffed. This leads to the common and exciting dynamic, “is this person playing dumb or actually stupid?”

: Zubon

Metaphors for Gaming, Metaphors for Life

Plugging in a USB drive the right way on the first try feels like an accomplishment. There are only two ways to do it, but it feels like I am scoring below 50%.

Part of the problem is when it takes three tries. I try to plug in the drive, flip it over, try to plug in the drive, and flip it back over. I had it right the first time, I was just a couple millimeters off where I needed to be.

Other times I realize that is not a USB slot.

: Zubon

Leavers and Balance

For Chaos games, assuming leavers are random (not quite true), game balance should not be affected. The effect is the same as have a game with fewer players. Even if the roles are unique, there is no practical difference between a role that was not picked and a role that suicides. It feels different, but the odds are the same. Similarly, if you held a raffle and randomly picked some losers before picking a winner, it would feel like those people were cheated, but picking WINNER, LOSER, LOSER gives the same odds as LOSER, LOSER, WINNER, or picking 3 and then picking which of those 3 is WINNER.

Quitting in Chaos games looks pretty close to random. I have seen just about every role quit, from Mayor to Werewolf. Some people hate town, some people hate neutrals, or they hate particular roles like Medium or Disguiser. The only real worry is snowballing suicides, say if one Mafia quits so another quits so… The same can happen when Town loses a few important unique roles early.

But still, you’re a jerk if you force 14 people who signed up for a 15-player game to play a 14-player game. 1 isn’t a big deal, but it feels like it is rarely 1, so those 3 jerks just forced a 12-player game on everyone else.

In the standard game, leavers are less innocuous, and therefore more problematic. Every role is random in all/any. Roles are added in a particular order in the standard game, so a planned 12-player game is not just a 15-player game with 3 random roles removed. Also the roles are almost entirely fixed, so one missing role gives a lot more information than it would in Chaos.

: Zubon

Leavers and F2P

Playing Town of Salem, I am constantly annoyed by suicides, i.e. people quitting the game. They don’t like their role, they started without time, they anything — I’m alt-tabbed and typing this now from a game that has had 4/15 people quit so far. It adds quite a bit to the randomness when one team suddenly loses several members, which can snowball. No one cares if a neutral benign role leaves, but everyone is cheated of a decent game when one side is hamstrung. I’ve seen other perversities like a 3-arsonist game where they would have won pretty handily had not one of the arsonists quit on day 1. Even worse is when an important, unique role is AFK; I have had two games with AFK mafiosos so the Mafia just could not do anything. And then town is hamstrung when people quit after dying, given that town can have a rezzing role.

But Town of Salem is also free to play. I want there to be some disincentive to ruin the game for others, but what are you going to do, ban a F2P account that someone can re-create in a minute or two? Ooh, you wiped out their cosmetics. That is hardly a speed bump for the sort of jerk who doesn’t care about ruining others’ fun, to say nothing of the actively griefing troll. I am interested in ranked play, where those players tend to fall out as they cannot rise in the ranks, but ELO is broken and most of the roles do not appear in ranked play.

Having real costs in a game is a useful thing just because it imposes costs. If there is no cost for bad behavior, you are free to impose costs on others.

: Zubon

ch expansion sci fi Card Hunter is now on Steam, free to play with cash shop (same as in browser). The new sci fi-themed Expedition to the Sky Citadel expansion is also live, free unlock once you’ve completed the main campaign, with free loot daily for launch week.

The Steam client seems less responsive than the in-browser client. [ETA: I was wrong. The game is now running more slowly in the in-browser client as well. It is a problem with the game, not Steam.]

: Zubon