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The Mafia Series: Inspector

Updated on April 28, 2014


Firstly, if you don't know what mafia is, or how to play, see my previous hub

The goal of the Inspector is to find out with certainty whom the mafia are. You will know you are the inspector if you have the red ace card (or whichever card the host designates as inspector).

In the night, the host will first ask the mafia to select their target. Then the host will ask the doctor to choose who to save. Then the inspector, who has had his eyes closed throughout the night up until this point, will be asked who he/she believes is the mafia. He/she will point to who he/she wants to "inspect" (find out the identity of): a nod "yes" from the host means that person is a mafia member; a shake "no" means that person is not a mafia member--although it does not tell the inspector if that person is doctor or just a regular townsperson.

The goal of the inspector is to discover all of the mafia without being killed either in the day or in the night. Once dead, the inspector can no longer divulge the information he/she has gathered. Therefore, although discovering all mafia is ideal, it is not necessary, nor necessarily encouraged. Rather, the inspector should gather and divulge as much information as possible before dying--and of course, he/she should aim to avoid death altogether.

So, how do you as inspector know when to reveal your information and when to keep quiet? There's no exact science, but there are techniques which will prove helpful more often than not, and to that the rest of this hub dedicates itself.

Society of the Machine

When a power hungry robot named Sudokus tries to take control of the galaxy, Earth becomes the last safe haven. It is then up to the humans, and what else is left of the rebellion throughout the solar system, to try to halt Sudokus’s progress. But Sudokus won’t easily be stopped, as he is fighting for more than imperial gains. He is also fighting to preserve his immortality.

Follow Leon’s journey as he attempts to save himself and his planet from being forever ruled by a machine while simultaneously trying to answer the question of whether the corruption of a robot would be any worse than the corruption of the people in power on his own planet

Society of the Machine

Basic Strategy

The essential questions the inspector must ask are:

1) Whom do I inspect?

2) How do I best utilize my information?

3)When do I divulge my information?

The answers to these questions are not simple, but there are some basic strategies that are useful for beginning players.

1) Whom do I inspect?

It may seem like inspecting is just a random process; and while the inspector can inspect whomever they please, there can (at times) be a strategy even to this step.

If you're new to either the group or the game, then the process of who to select is, admittedly, random. The only advice here is just to keep track of the information you receive.

However, if you know a bit about the people you're playing with, then there is a strategy. One thing you'll notice--if you play with the same group enough--is that some players are naturally gifted. Some players can play a specific role very well, and some players are good no matter what role they have. One method then, is to inspect these players first. Since they're good players, you'll want to trust their instincts if you know they are not mafia, and you'll want to know not to believe them if they are mafia.

There is another strategy, which may seem counter intuitive at first, that involves selecting the players who are not good. Think of it this way: if a player is good, and if everyone in the group knows this player is good, then they'll be questioned heavily in the first few days. Now,because they are good, it's possible that they'll survive even if they are mafia, and it's also possible that they'll be killed out of fear even if they are a townsperson. True, it would be nice to know for certain the player's identity while this debate is occurring, but are you really going to reveal your identity as inspector on the first night anyway? Probably not. Therefore, it may be nice to instead find out about the player who is not so good sitting right next to the good player, but who no one is questioning. This player goes unnoticed because they are subconsciously not considered a threat. Because they aren't considered a threat, no one suspects them. Because no one suspects them, they go nearly the whole game without being accused once. Therefore, finding out one low-profile player's identity may ultimately prove more beneficial than knowing if the best player is mafia or not.

2) How do I best utilize my information?

At first, this may seem obvious: just shout out the people's names. And while that is sometimes the right approach, there's also more subtle ways. By shouting out the names, you are also coming out as inspector (even if you don't say it, if you are too insistent, the mafia will just assume). Therefore, sometimes you should calmly say during the day, "I think person X is mafia." When asked why, you must have a somewhat convincing reason (lest the mafia suspect you). Therefore, say "He/She seems quiet" or "He/She is talking too much." Really, anything will do, it just has to make some modicum sense. If you say, "He/she is too tall, therefore he/she is mafia," then the townspeople will assume you are a (poor) mafia player, just trying to get an easy kill, and they will turn on you.

However, sometime people won't listen to your suggestions. This is okay if you and the townspeople can afford to possibly kill the wrong person (remember, the game ends when the number of mafia is equal to or greater than the number of townspeople). However, if you absolutely must kill a mafia, then it's time to reveal your identity and start giving out names.

3)When do I divulge my information?

I already stated that even if you know some information, you probably won't divulge it on the first night. However, if you've never played mafia before, that may not have made sense. Allow me to explain. If the inspector reveals his identity to the group, he will be safe in the day (maybe--I'll explain later) but the mafia will target them incessantly in the night. If the doctor is alive, he may save the inspector, but a smart mafia would then target the doctor (or someone else entirely). And if the doctor went to save himself, he leaves the inspector open for attack. Basically, if the inspector comes out too early (and if the mafia are competent) then he is only guaranteeing the deaths of many people in the night.

Then there's the other end of the spectrum. An inspector may have found out the identity of a mafia on the first or second night, and say to themselves "let me get at least one or two more mafia before I divulge this information." In the meantime, they don't even so much as hint to anyone that they are inspector. Now it's the sixth night and the inspector has just found the identity of the third and final mafia (let's say there's twelve people in this game). The inspector has done his/her job and is ready to reveal every mafia player's identity in the daytime, only for the host to reveal that the inspector has died in the night. Now the inspector can't tell anyone anything and they've wasted their role!

Therefore, the inspector must carefully choose the right time to come out. Sometimes, the choice is made for the inspector. If the townspeople are about to kill the inspector mistakenly in the day, then the inspector should certainly come out. Say, "I'm the inspector, and person X is a mafia." Now, there are caveats on this. 1) If you don't know any mafia at the time, then you must resort to saying, "I don't know any mafia, but I do know that person X is not mafia." However, this is not as convincing. 2) If you come out as mafia in this situation, a smart mafia will then jump up and say, "He's lying, I'm the real inspector," and then it boils down to he said she said. There is more to this strategy, but I'll discuss this in a future post on advanced strategy for the mafia.

So, knowing all this, when do you, as inspector, reveal your identity and your information? There are advanced strategies for doing this, which I'll discuss in the final section of this hub post. However, in a basic sense, the answer is that it depends. If the townspeople are doing a good job of reasoning and figuring out mafia, then just influence them in the right direction. However, if the townspeople are mistakenly killing too many of their own people, then you should come out and reveal whatever information you have. It's all about risk and reward. You risk your life, and hurt the doctor, but you may just save the game. If the game is close and it's unclear who will win, wait until you have at least two mafia (if three remain) or one mafia (if one or more mafia has already been eliminated--Again, in our game of twelve players and three mafia). If you only have one mafia out of three remaining, you won't impact the game significantly enough, and if you try to get all three, you may wait too long.

So ultimately, you have to pay attention to the game and do a cost-benefit analysis.


When Do You Prefer to Reveal Your Identity as Inspector?

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Advanced Strategy

With the information I've given you so far, you can proficiently play the role of inspector. At least you'll avoid the post game lamentations of the townspeople as they declare they could have won if they had a competent inspector on duty.

But you've already got your feet wet, and you're ready to plunge deeper. What follows in this hub is more abstract than the preceding text. This capsule deals more with psychology and theory. Some of these tactics may only work once, some may not work at all depending on the group, but they are tactics which I have seen work in the past. These are tactics which beginning players generally can't comprehend, since there's just so much to take in with the game. I mention this to point out that if you are a beginning player, you've probably never even contemplated some of these strategies. But I also point it out to say that if you ever find yourself as the most experienced player in the group, the other group members will probably never be able to counter these strategies, aside from pure dumb luck. So, without further ado...

The False Inspector:

This one involves some cooperation. In the first night, inspect the person next to you. If they are not mafia, then in the day, you must find a way to secretly tell them that you are inspector (you under no circumstances may show them or anyone else your card though). They may not believe that you're inspector, but they hopefully will when you present as evidence that you already inspected them and know for certain that they are not mafia (If you think about it, they're are ways for the mafia to cheat this system, but that's why I'm not guaranteeing the success of these strategies--they're just things I have seen work in actual games). Now that they know you are inspector, you must get them to agree to pretend to be inspector. The subtler the better. You, as inspector, want to feed them all your information, and then have the other person try to influence the group as if they were the inspector. This serves two purposes. Firstly, if the mafia get suspicious, they'll kill the other townsperson instead of you, and it's better for a regular townsperson to die than for the inspector to die.

Secondly, and more importantly is this: let's say there are three townspeople (none of which is the doctor) and two mafia. You must kill the right person and you know one mafia. Get the false inspector to "come out" and then the group will (hopefully) vote to kill the right mafia. In the night, the mafia will kill the false inspector, knowing the doctor is already dead. However, you, as the true inspector, will still be alive and will now only have two people to inspect (two of the original five in this scenario have died, and you obviously know your own identity). Either you'll pick the mafia, or you won't, but either way, you'll know who the mafia is between the two options. In the day, you come out as the true inspector and reveal the final mafia. Now, the other mafia may also claim to be inspector, but at least you'll have increased your chances of winning.

Inspector, Come Out!:

This one is simple. In a situation where it seems like the mafia might win, simply call for the inspector to come out and reveal the identity of one of the mafia under the guise that you'll lose if you don't. If someone comes out as inspector, you'll know they are lying and that they must be mafia. Then you simply come out as true inspector and have them killed. Granted, you may be mistakenly killed if the townspeople don't believe you, but when they see you were the actual inspector, at least they'll know who to kill next round.

Mafia Follow the Leader:

This strategy relies on you knowing at least one mafia. Once you do, just listen to the daytime accusations and, more importantly, pay attention to the voting. The mafia tend to vote together (to maximize their voting strength). If you know one mafia, see who goes along with them in their accusations, and, most importantly, in their voting. These people are most likely (although not guaranteed) to be mafia.

Remember: you can claim to be anything you want, whether you are actually that or not. You can, as inspector, say that you are doctor and your card is the red jack of spades (or any other card and corresponding role). The only thing you can't do is show anyone your card.

Types of Inspectors

Finds out the identity of the best players early on. Comes out early as the inspector in order to eliminate known mafia.
Ability to eliminate mafia before mafia can figure out who inspector is.
Increases the chance of being killed by mafia in the night. Puts the doctor in a difficult position
Inquires about people who might not otherwise be considered mafia during the day. Won't reveal their identity unless they are targeted in the day. Uses subtle or cryptic phrases to accuse people of being mafia without revealing their own identity.
Provides useful information with reduced risk of being discovered by mafia
Mafia may be able to still figure out who inspector is. Requires faith of townspeople to be successful, as this inspector may provide little to no evidence for their accusations.
Inquires about as many people as possible, but doesn't reveal any knowledge until necessary.
Mafia have no way of detecting this inspector
Townspeople may die while the inspector waits until the last moment to reveal knowledge. The inspector may die by chance before revealing any of his/her information.

Leon: Book Two -- Coming Soon!

Be on the lookout for the sequel to my first book, Society of the Machine.  The title of this one is a secret for now.
Be on the lookout for the sequel to my first book, Society of the Machine. The title of this one is a secret for now.

Thanks For Reading

Now you have all the skills necessary to play the role of inspector. As far as the advanced strategies go, feel free to use them at your leisure. If you come up with any advanced strategies of your own, or have any exciting inspector stories in general, leave it in the comment section below.

In the next installment of this series, I'll discuss strategy for the role of doctor (one of my specialties).


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