The Design Phase is the part where a prospective Host turns his/her idea into a complete Mafia Game ready to be added to the queue (or played right away). There are also players that prefer to design (turn initial ideas into a game with complete Role Descriptions and game mechanics) and are unable to host all their ideas due to IRL time constraints.
The following list of tips must be kept in mind as fundamental building blocks in the design phase, that should be taken into consideration before evaluating the balance. This design mainly pertains to the structure of the Uninformed Majority (Maj), and Informed Minority (Min).
1) When designing factions, you should start with a ratio of about 3:1, Maj roles to Min roles.
- True evaluation of each faction's chances to win and overall game balance comes later, but this ratio is a good starting point. It will probably be a little heavy in favor of the Maj but it's easier to eliminate or tweak one or two roles later than to add entirely new roles.
2) ALWAYS include a Non-Maj/Min RID killer role, or other role that greatly benefits from learning IDs and is not a member of the Maj or the Min.
- Reasoning: Mafia is essentially a game where there's an Min faction vs an Maj faction. In order for a game to remain this way, there must be a natural in-game check on all of the uninformed players simply disclosing their roles publicly and simply becoming an overwhelming informed majority. Some hosts tend to take a stance of banning the disclosure of roles, but it still does not prevent the equivalent of indirect disclosure through overt and non-ambiguous hinting. This Non-Maj RID kill should either be a role that is a member of an independent faction, or it could be an option on the Min 's regular night kill that makes it unsavable and unblockable. Either way it will serve to prevent the Maj from throwing the game out of balance by mass role disclosure. If not, consider making the Min's night kill upgradeable. In other words, allow the Min to have the regular night kill, but if it is combined with an RID then it becomes unblockable and the target is unsaveable, and/or the kill can be used during the day cycle.
3) A design should NOT include BOTH an RID Killer role, and a Spy role, in a faction that starts with BTSC.
- Reasoning: It really just makes the "RID" part of the kill worthless, and is just a kill with an ability to spy the player. This is an incredibly destructive combination in the hands of a typical Min BTSC with a regular night kill because it essentially grants the single faction 2 kills per night.
4) Maj Killers should never be RID killers.
- Reasoning: It's good to give each player a role that contributes to the game. Regular Maj killing roles typically do not act for at least the first two nights for fear of friendly fire. And even in the rare situation where a Maj Killing Role does act, they only know the faction of their target, not the exact role. Because of this, a Maj Killing role that is also restricted to RID his target is essentially a useless role that would likely only be able to contribute once over the course of several games.
5) Consider the repercussions of allowing roles to choose their faction.
- Reasoning: If a host is considering allowing a role to choose which faction to officially align with, the player will typically choose the strongest faction, which will tend to unbalance a game.
6) Consider the repercussions of allowing roles to be recruited from a pool of recruitable roles.
- Reasoning: Avalanche recruiting (one faction quickly and successfully recruiting more roles than another faction) can destroy a game. Having a pool of recruitable roles requires stringent and thought-out restrictions and contingencies to avoid the possible avalanche recruiting that can quickly and drastically throw a game out of balance.
7) A game designer should carefully consider what actions to include and not include in the night posts.
- Reasoning: For example, if there are only one or two blocking roles in a game, and there are only one or two independent roles in a game, and that independent role gets blocked early in the game, then his RID will be disclosed to every player in the game if the block's target is made public in the post (thus potentially destroying the independent faction). This may be perfectly fine in many games, but it is something that should be considered (and not just with respect to blocking roles).
8) Consider what to do in the event of a tie lynch.
- There are typically three scenarios that are used, each with benefits and drawbacks:
- Both Players Live
- Benefit = No lynch.
- Drawback = Players may tend to intentionally create ties on D1 and D2 to prevent a likely Maj lynch.
- Flip a Coin (50/50 chance)
- Benefit = Only one player gets lynched.
- Drawback = It makes the huge decision of a player's dismissal from the game completely out of the in-game events. Thus neither team could truly be said to have won or lost the game based on how they played.
- Both Players Die
- Benefit = Players tend to intentionally avoid ties altogether for fear that they may lynch not one, but two of members of their own faction.
- Drawback = A planned last minute "flash-vote" by the Min faction may cause the Maj to take double-damage in a lynch (at the cost of being outed as members of the Min faction).
For more information, read the Guide to Hosting.