Wednesday, August 31, 2016

[Video Game] 4 Things I Learned After Lying for 400 Hours in Town of Salem

This game taught me how to lie.

While I've always had a fascination with words (what with my love of books and writing random rambles like these), using them to spin tales of deception has never been part of my agenda.

That is, until I started playing the game Town of Salem.

And I don't mean just once either. I mean spending 400 glorious hours of manipulating words in order to get myself killed (on purpose) or to convince the other 14 people I'm playing with that I'm actually NOT out to kill them.

It has been a pretty interesting journey for me, trekking through those stories and figuring out the truth behind all the lies. While I am, by no means, the best player out there, I have learned a few things in my 400-hour Town of Salem game mark that have helped me last long enough to see victory several times. Here are 4 of them.

The Fine Art of Deception

Town of Salem (TOS) finds its origins in the party game Mafia, the StarCraft II Mafia mod, and the card game Werewolf, all of which are about getting a role and using that role's abilities to make your team win. As you never quite know who's who (unless you're part of the Mafia or in the coven of vampires), it becomes the ultimate guessing game in finding out who to kill and who to save.

When I started out, I had no idea at all what I was getting into. My little sister (yes, that sister) just told me to join her in the game then quickly gave me some tips, but I was hopelessly lost on what I had to do. Why was that guy saying I'm part of the Mafia when I'm not? Why do I always get killed on the first night? That guy asked for my role, and now he's trying to get me lynched! What?

And why do people say the weirdest things on D1?

The more I played TOS, the more I discovered the undeniably simple truth: 100% of the players I'm with are lying. If I wanted to actually win, I needed to get with the program and start lying, too.

And that's just what I did. I listened to others as they spun their tales, and tried to emulate their techniques. I wasn't always successful with my stories, but I'd like to think that I can lie a tad more convincingly now, as compared to when I first started 400 hours ago.

Undeniably, that's just part of the game. Love it or hate it, you are going to have to use some form of deception in order to carry out your role, whether you're a Mafia man or a Townie. If you want to win the game for you and your team, you're going to need to get creative and manipulate some facts, pronto. Just remember to do it with finesse and style.

Plus you can get achievements for some cool, deceptive shindigs too, like one of my proudest achievements to date: being acquitted without revealing to the Town as Mayor!

Knowledge is Power

One of the most powerful things you can have in this game isn't exactly a Serial Killer's knife or a Werewolf's rampage. It's actually the capability of using your wits to bend the truth and survive long enough to be among the last ones standing.

That being said, yes, knowledge is power. Mix this knowledge with the fine art of deception, and you've got a powerful combination. Based on my 400-hour gameplay, I firmly believe that there are two kinds of knowledge necessary to my victories.

The first one lies in having in-depth knowledge of class roles and responsibilities. I say in-depth, because to properly play out a role in Town of Salem requires more than just the information in the little text box on the right-hand side of the screen.

Knowing what the other roles can do will not only help you do your role better (after all, that little box doesn't tell you how to jail people as Jailor or how to do a seance as a Medium), but it will also help you figure out which player has which role, especially if you're playing in Classic mode.

Pro-tip: Unless you really want to get executed, don't claim to be the second Jailor when you're jailed, ffs.

One way to improve your knowledge in this department is to read through the TOS Wikia. Not only does it tell you about the hidden things you can do for a class (I'm surprised that many people don't know that you could clean gas off yourself as an Arsonist), but it also has lots of helpful tips and pointers you can use to improve your gameplay, no matter what role you get.

For the other kind of knowledge...

Hell Is Other People

Among the many modes available, my favorite has to be Chaos-All Any. Classic for me can feel like a lot of work sometimes, and I usually feel pressured to do my best, especially in Ranked. In All Any, I don't really feel that pressure, and can just fool around with people while having silly fun.

After all, there's nothing better than complaining about how All Any is just aids.

That being said, whatever mode you prefer, you will find something common in all of them: you cannot always trust in other players, even your teammates. "Hell is other people", declared Jean-Paul Sartre, and the phrase could definitely apply to the deceitful players of Town of Salem.

So that other kind of knowledge I was talking about? It's something I mentioned earlier: know that every person out there is lying, and you better have a knack for scumreading. Else, particularly deceitful players will take advantage of the fact that you're not as experienced as they are, and will manipulate you for their own gain.

(After all, everyone, including the newbies, can access most of the modes at once, so it isn't unheard of to see a 1200 Elo newbie be pit against players with 2000 to 3000 significantly higher Elo in a Ranked game.)

Sometimes they even pretend to love you, sleep with you, and pull on your shorts, but inevitably end up lynching your Werewolf pillion in the end.

Oh, and yes, beware of your teammates, too. If you're not careful, they might just end up revealing your own role and hurting your faction as a whole. It sometimes breaks my heart being in the Mafia and seeing the Framer target the confirmed Veteran, but that's the truth behind the randomness of the spins.

So, in summary: You won't win because long-time players will take advantage of you, and you won't win because your faction members are totally unreliable. So stop playing today and get guaranteed peace of mind!

Or get good, peasant.

Just kidding, don't close that window just yet. After all...

TOS is Really Fun 

I had quite a rocky start in Team of Salem, but I've learned enough to keep my head cool and continue weaving my lies for 400 hours. Sure, I still have a lot to learn, but I know enough to be challenged by other players and have lots of fun regardless.
I also like that I can trade some clever jokes about Schrodinger's cat with the Town every so often.

After all, TOS is essentially a text-based game, and winning relies on the magic you make with your keyboard, and not in your deftness with M1+W or how many quests you've completed. You're essentially talking with other people, and working to convince them that your own story is better than those of the others. It may sound easy enough, but your role can only make you do so much, plus the others (looking at you, damn Transporters) will disrupt you and mess up your supposedly flawless defense.

In addition, you get to meet really interesting people who have different ways of playing the game, too. I mean, just look at the Strategy portion in the Wikia's Jester page! There are tons of methods listed there on how to get yourself successfully lynched, and I'm sure that many others have their own styles that aren't listed there at all. You have so many courses to take just to complete a single objective, and you can always change your playstyle to match the conditions of the game you're in, too.

Adaptation is very important in TOS. Even if it means lynching the Veteran and claiming Survivor, do it -- if only to reveal as Mayor on the very last day and claim the win for Town.

And that's one more reason I really enjoy Town of Salem. Each game you play will always have a different flavor to it, even if you only play Classic, which has a set role list and only 2 random roles. You never quite know what the others will say, and you never quite know what role you'll get (even if you have dozens of scrolls for Consigliere). With so many strategies, so many roles, and so many minds working at the same time, each TOS game is a different experience, even if you play with people in a party.

Speaking of parties, I also enjoy the social element of this game. When I play All Any, in particular, I'm usually out to have a casual game and just interact with the 14 other people in Town. Sure, I've died more than once because I protected the friends in my party (instead of those in my faction), but I've had many good laughs, nevertheless.

Yes, even if it means sacrificing my own personal goals to protect my fam.

I also occasionally enjoy themes, and have had fun lynching others who weren't part of the theme (and who usually end up being Neutral Evil roles, like Arsonist or Serial Killer). I like making friends in TOS, and there are more than a few (from all around the globe) that I've traded real-life stories with and who have become my regular party-mates.

A Game of Murder, Deception, Lying, and Mob Hysteria

400 hours is a lot of hours spent in a single game, and I'm proud to still be standing amongst the great storyweavers and charismatic liars that I meet with each game I play on Town of Salem. Sure, I bump into godlike Jesters or gamethrowing Godfathers who write all the Mafia members in their will then leave, but all in all, it has been a pretty positive experience for me, and I can't wait to spend even more time on TOS to be called a child born out of wedlock, a bumfuzzle, and a zounderkite.

Just don't be cancer please. Be love.

What about you? Have you tried your hand in Town of Salem, the ultimate multi-player game of murder, deception, lying, and mob hysteria? I personally recommend this game, and it's completely free to play on the browser and just $5 on Steam. (I play it on Steam myself. It just loads better for me there.)

So try it out, and dip into TOS's bloody waters. There are many good Townies to kill, and not enough lies to cover up the stains. Just remember: don't get caught.


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