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Author Topic: Hosting and Balancing  (Read 20739 times)

Bird

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Hosting and Balancing
« on: January 05, 2013, 01:40:59 AM »

Want to know if you can host? Want to know how to host? This is the place for you. Here you can find out if you meet the qualifications to host a TWG, and there are also three great guides to walk you through the design, balancing and hosting processes. Use this thread to ask questions about hosting or designing games, or post your game and ask for feedback!

Table of Contents:
  • Hosting Requirements
  • Game Design Guide by Liggy
  • Balancing Guide by Bird
  • Hosting Guide by Thiannon
---------------------------------------

To be allowed to host, you must meet the following requirements:
  • You must have played in at least 3 games.
  • You must be active in those 3 games.
  • You must have demonstrated a firm understanding of TWG fundamentals.
  • You must know the game well enough to constructively criticize and analyze players during the Post-Game.
  • You must have received explicit permission to host from any member of The Werewolf Council (Bird, Mashi, and vermilionvermin).
The best way to find out whether or not you are qualified to host is to ask a member of the TWC. Please do not post a game in the host sign-up topics unless you are sure of your qualifications. It would be really awkward for everyone if you posted a game you wanted to host, and then we told you to remove it because you weren't qualified.

As part of a new rule, players who enter into a host sign-up topic are prohibited from entering the next two sign-up topics unless they get second place in the poll. This will go into effect starting with the TWG XLVII (47) host sign-ups.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2013, 11:19:42 PM by Bird »
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Bird

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Re: Hosting and Balancing Guide
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2013, 01:41:25 AM »

This guide was written by Liggy.

Game Design Guide

--------------------------

PART I: PREFACE
1. Why This Guide?

PART II: INFLUENCE
2. Designing for Influence
3. Freedom of Speech
4. Influence as a Mechanic
5. A Note on Conversions
6. Closing Notes on Influence

PART III: MECHANICS
7. Synergy
8. Minimizing Luck
9. Counter-play
10. Final Thoughts

PART I: PREFACE

1. Why This guide?

Currently on NSM, there are two fantastically written guides from two of the best hosts that I've seen.  They cover some pretty important stuff, too!  Without proper hosting, even the best designed game can fall flat, and a game that isn't balanced is very likely to be a game that isn't fun!  But one thing those two guides fail to mention is what makes a game fun.  Bird's guide touched on proper game design a bit, so it's likely that I may reiterate some ideas that he brought, but for the most part I'm going to be discussing things that were glossed over in previous guides, or expanding on unelaborated ideas brought up earlier.

In short, this guide will tell you how to take that neat idea you have floating around in your head, and tell you how to flesh it out into a TWG people actually would want to play.  It's not really going to mention the finer details of what makes a TWG balanced or what makes a good hosting job, but it's certainly going to help explain what exactly makes one game more interesting than another.

PART II: INFLUENCE

2. Designing for Influence

A good rule of thumb is the more power a player feels that they have in the game, the more enjoyable the game will be for them.  This makes sense; that's why everyone wants to be a special human or a wolf!  In these roles, it's obvious to see how a player's direct action influences the results of the game.  If you a kill a player as a wolf, you've already altered the course of the game, potentially in your favor!  By seering a player, you've narrowed down the list of possible wolves by that much more.  These actions make it clear to the player that they mattered.  If I wasn't in this game, the game would have a different outcome.

Got that?  Good.  Now for the tricky part.

Give every player this feeling of influence.

Historically, the major reason for inactivity is that the humans don't feel like they have a voice.  Inactive games tend to be uninteresting games, which means players are less likely to want to participate, and everything goes downhill from there.  The simple solution for this problem is to design your game such that every human feels like they have a voice.  This doesn't have to be very complicated; here's a fine example of a game that would work, typically referred to as a manhunt:

1. Wolf
2. Human
3. Human
4. Human
5. Human
6. Human
7. Human
8. Human
9. Human
10. Human

On the flip side, here's an example of a game that's not quite so good (and also unbalanced!):

1. Wolf
2. Seer
3. Guardian
4. Mason
5. Mason
6. Human
7. Human
8. Human
9. Human
10. Human

As special humans and wolf inherently have a good deal of influence, most of this section will be talking about how to insure that normal humans have influence.  Keep these examples in mind, because for the rest of the section, we'll be analyzing exactly what the first game did right and what the second game did wrong.

3. Freedom of Speech

By far, the easiest way to give humans the influence they need to feel important is to give them a voice.  This is a concept that I suspect most people understand, even if they don't consciously think about it while designing their games.  Unless there's some mechanic otherwise, every player in a TWG has one key way to express their opinion: their voice.  This leads to a good general rule; allow humans to express their voice.

Looking at the first game, it's obvious that everyone human has a vote.  No one human has more authority than another sheerly based of their role, and no one is preventing from posting or voting.  However, in the other game, this isn't entirely the case.  Everyone has the ability to vote and speak, but it's important to realize that, in this game, an alliance of the Seer, Guardian, and two Masons is likely to form.  The people in this alliance, due to their status as confirmed humans and ability to confirm other humans, make it so that they have much more authority than an unconfirmed human.  A normal human's suspicion is much less likely to encourage a seering or lynched than a Mason or seerings suspicion, so the voices of the normal humans are drowned out by the specials.  For a clearer example, consider this game:

1. Wolf
2. Human
3. Human
4. Human
5. Human
6. Mute - Is unable to post, PM, or otherwise contact living players.  All votes must be done via PM.
7. Mute
8. Mute
9. Mute
10. Mute

Ah.  It's obvious here what the problem is; half of the game can't speak!  The game would be pretty dull for the 5 Mutes, even if they have the wolf figured out, they have no real way of expressing it.  They likely wouldn't even pay attention to the game at all!  Now granted, this was an extreme example, but it illustrates the importance of voice well.  If a player doesn't have a strong enough voice or feels like they don't have a strong enough voice, they'll have a lot of trouble remaining interested in the game.

This yields the question: how do you avoid drowning out the votes of the human?  Well, some ways include, but are certainly not limited to:
  • Making special roles unreliable - If there's uncertainity in the results of a special role, then the special roles cease being the ultimate authority in everything.
  • Making special roles able (and likely) to be fake claimed - See above.  If there's uncertainity in the claim, then special roles are no more likely to be trusted than a normal human.
  • Preventing special roles from claiming in the first place - After all, if a special role can't publicly claim, they can't drown out anyone's voice.  Removing the guardian or adding a way for the wolves to bypass the guardian works for this.
  • Removing humans - People are very good at shifting blame and spreading responsibility.  The more players who can step up and voice their opinions, the less likely it is for the average player to feel the need to.  This should be done carefully, as removing too many humans could unbalance the game in favor of the wolves.

4. Influence as a Mechanic

Giving voice is an important tool to give influence, but by no means is it the only way!  Have you considered...


Some of these games turned out well, others not so much.  The outcome of these games is less important than the concept driving them: every player has roughly the same influence over how the game occurs.  Giving humans influence through the mechanics could be as simple as giving the humans something else to vote on besides lynches or giving every human a single-use power!  There's a lot of creativity to be had at there, see what works and see what doesn't!

5. A Note on Conversions

Conversions can be fine, but a major problem with them is that, when used incorrectly, they take a way a player's influence on the game.  When you add a conversion mechanic to your game, players suddenly have to realize that the team they may end up playing for at the end may not be the team they are playing for right now.  If they don't have the ability to control their conversion, then the amount of influence a player feels he has is diminished.  They may have the ability to win the game for the team they are in, or help them in their victory, but they wouldn't know if that would ultimately help them win.  Uncontrollable conversions leave a player feeling powerless, which goes against everything you've done as a host to prevent that.

6. Closing Notes on Influence

If there's only one thing you take a way from this guide, it's what's been said about influence.  The stuff that'll be covered in the next section can turn a good game into a great game, but without the proper distribution of influence, a game will probably fall flat.  Influence isn't too hard to use correctly.  It's as simple as asking "Does any one role exert too much authority?"  If the answer is yes, consider redesigning the game so that normal humans have a larger say in the mechanics.

PART III: MECHANICS

7. Synergy

Synergy is what turns an unconnected mess of powers and roles into an enjoyable, coherent game.  In short, it's the "wow-factor" present in most good games.  Synergy helps to make the game more interesting because it adds depth to the mechanics; instead of each role doing their own thing, they can all interact and influence each other.  Bird's guide covers this part pretty well, but it's certainly important to at least bring it up again.

8. Minimizing Luck

Losing because of bad luck is no fun, and no TWG is going to be able to completely eliminate luck.  Sometimes, players take a shot in the dark and lynch a wolf, or correctly suspect a player for all the wrong reasons!  In certain situations, however, you can minimize the effect of luck with the use of clever mechanics.  As an example, take the following game:

1. Master Wolf
2. Wolf
3. Wolf

4. Vigi
5. Seer
6. Guardian

7. Miller - Is told he's human.
8. Human
9. Human
10. Human
11. Human
12. Human

There's lots of things that can go wrong here!  What if the Master Wolf is someone who usually gets lynched?  What if the Vigi kills the Seer or Guardian randomly Night 1?  What if the Miller is incredibly suspicious for some reason?  What if the Miller is someone who never gets seered?  These are things that there's either no control or little control over, and all of them can affect the balance and enjoyability of the game!  But some of these things can be changed.  If you let the wolves choose the Master Wolf and Miller Night 1, and change the Vigi's role a bit, suddenly it becomes...

1. Wolf - On Night 1, all the wolves collectively choose one wolf player and one human player.  The wolf becomes permanently seered green and the human becomes permanently seered red.
2. Wolf
3. Wolf

4. Poisoner - Poisons a player each night.  Can choose to administer the antidote to that player during the day phase.  If he does not, the poisoned player dies at the end of Day.
5. Seer
6. Guardian

7. Human
8. Human
9. Human
10. Human
11. Human
12. Human

...less luck-based!  If the Master Wolf and Miller end up being given to players they are useless on, that's the fault of the wolves.  If the Vigi/Poisoner targets a vital human at night, that person has the chance to speak up and save themselves before being killed unneccesarily.  Of course, it should be noted that even in this game there's still some luck involved.  The wolves could end up wasting their red power on a special human, or the Guardian could be wolfed Night 1.

However, it's important to realize that balance should not be lost while trying to minimize luck.  In this game, for example, you shouldn't see the Guardian potentially dying Night 1 as something to fix.  You could make the Guardian immune to wolfings, or at least the first night's wolfing, but suddenly you're introducing invincible humans, and that completely changes the game!  Luck is a tricky thing, and it's not all bad.  Powers that have a certain chance of working, such as unreliable Seers or Item Forgers, can work well in certain circumstances.  Changing it so that the Seering works every other Night or that each Item comes with a "cooldown" may seem like it fixes the luck issue, but all it really does is just make the powers more predictable.

9. Counter-Play

Counter-play is an interesting concept, and one that I don't really see discussed in terms of TWG very often.  In essence, counter-play is how powers given to one team affects the other.  In my two examples from this section, the first game doesn't have very interesting counter-play.  The Wolves have very few powers to directly influence the human team, while the only power that really influences the wolves is the Seer.  The Wolves will play more cautiously, because if they stand out they'll be seered.

On the other hand, the second game has much more interesting counter-play.  By allowing the Wolves to choose the Master Wolf and Miller, the humans can start analyzing these choices.  If a player is Seer, discussion would likely occur as to whether that player is likely to be picked by the wolves to have their color changed.  By including this mechanic, there's a much stronger and more existing argument than "Well, he might be the Master Wolf."  The Wolves have some interesting new counter-play opportunities as well!  By switiching the Vigi to the Poisoner, the Wolves have the ability to weasel their way out of a would-be fatal situation.  By including these counter-play options, the game becomes interesting for both sides, as both have more things to take into consideration, and more strategies to try out.

10. Final Thoughts

Really, the same advice from the other two guides applies here as well!  Look at other games!  What games did you or other people enjoy more?  Why?  What parts of those games do you think it would be better without?  Apply these questions to your own games as well!  What parts can you improve?  Where do you think most of the excitement will lie?  Who will feel like they have the most influence?  By asking these questions, you're forcing yourself to consider how all the mechanics of your game work as a whole, and how each of those mechanics work for or against the elements I've discussed.

Finally, if this stuff interests you, I'd like to recommend a show called Extra Credits.  It deals primarily with video game design, but I tend to find some of the ideas they bring about are applicable to other games as well, TWG included, and some of the ideas I've brought up in this guide are modified from some of theirs.  It certainly has a large backlog, but if you care about either video games in general or game design in general, it's worth checking out.  They also did a mini-series on a Roman History, which is cool too!  But I digress.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2013, 11:16:53 PM by Bird »
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vermilionvermin

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Re: Hosting Guide
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2013, 01:43:28 AM »

This guide was actually written by Bird.

Game Creation and Balancing Guide

--------------------------------

PART I: PREFACE
1. A Few Caveats
 
PART II: BRAINSTORMING
2. An Idea
3. Construction
4. Tailoring
5. Fine-Tuning
6. Final Thoughts on Game Building
 
PART III: BALANCING
7. The First Check - Claims
8. The Second Check - Lynch Mistakes
9. Win Feasibility
10. Other Balancing Tools
11. Third Parties, Mystery Games and other Wacky Mechanics
12. Final Advice

--------------------------------

PART I: PREFACE

1. A Few Caveats about Balancing

Making a balanced game is incredibly difficult. You have to take an enormous number of variables into consideration, and even then, nobody can be sure whether or not a game is balanced. On top of that, many games feature some form of randomness; the seer might die on night 1, or the vigi could hit three wolves in a row due to dumb luck. Since it's impossible to ensure that the teams in a game have an equal chance of winning, I think the best way to define a balanced game is one for which every team has a feasible chance of winning. That's the requirement I'll be going with for the rest of this guide.

PART II: CONSTRUCTION

2. An Idea

What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient... highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed - fully understood - that sticks; right in there somewhere.

Every good TWG should start with a good idea. In art, they say you should never touch your pencil/brush to paper/canvas until you know what you're trying to accomplish. This is what separates boys from men, and doodlers from Michaelangelos. The same applies to TWG where you shouldn't write down a single role until you have an idea of what you want your game to be like. Oftentimes this idea is a new gimmick you've come up with: maybe lynches should be done privately, where everyone PMs they're lynch vote to the host? maybe players should have health, where lynches and kills cause different amounts of damage? or maybe you've invented a new role that allows dead players to vote on certain power usages?

It can be anything you want, or a combination of a bunch of different ideas. Just make sure it improves the TWG experience. If you want more help on how to ensure your idea will improve TWG rather than make it boring, check out Liggy's design guide! And if you've already read his guide, feel free to skip 3 (construction and synergy) and 4 (luck avoidance) of this guide!

3. Construction and Synergy

Suppose you go with the idea that lynches should be done through private voting rather than public voting in the thread. These are actually known as ballot box games, but we'll pretend that you came up with the idea all by yourself for this example. The idea leads to a few obvious powers. One that jumps to my mind is a player with the ability to examine another player's day phase vote. Or you could make it more of a researcher, and have him look at another player's vote history. Other ideas might be charismatics (players who have votes which count for more than 1), the wolves knowing all the votes, the wolves being able to manipulate player votes, a role that makes voting public again for one phase, etc.

Pick roles which will enhance your original idea. I would not recommend throwing a seer or guardian in at this point "just because" unless they would somehow help your idea reach its full potential/make the game more fun. If you want to add a seer/guardian those since you think the human team is too weak: just wait. There are other ways of maintaining balance. Let's say you chose these roles for your game:

Ballot Box Game
1. Wolf Boss
- Finds out who voted for whom at the end of each day phase.
2. Wolf Shaman - A wolf with seer powers.
3. Wolf Manipulator - A wolf who can change one player's day vote to the player of his choice.

4. Mayor - Vote counts for 3. Can kill himself at any time if the pressures of holding office become to great.
5. Peeker - Can look at a player and find out who they voted for last day phase.
6. Revolutionary - Can make one day phase have public voting. Manipulator and Mayor powers still in effect.

The roles were chosen because a lot of them have synergy with each other--the combined effect of the roles together in one game is greater than the roles individually. If the wolf manipulator targets the Mayor, the wolves could control the lynches for the rest of the game (unless the Mayor wises up and kills himself). And the Peeker can't be certain whether a player is voting against the human consensus in the thread, or if they were manipulated. The Wolf Boss finding out who voted for what can allow them to make intelligent wolfings and form day phase plans, and the wolf shaman can help the manipulator find the mayor. The revolutionary is just a fun guy who will mix the game up for activity. The combination of effects will give the humans a lot to discuss, and the revolutionary will make the game interesting again if it slows down in a later phase.

4. Luck Avoidance

Luck avoidance is a very important part of creating a balanced game when deciding on roles. Take a look at the following game:

1. Master Wolf
2. Wolf

3. Seer-Vigilante - Can seer a player and kill a player every night phase.
4. Human
5. Human
6. Human
7. Human
8. Human


There are some big problems here. Firstly, the humans are extremely dependent on one role to do most of the work, since he has so much more power than every other player. So if the player with that role dies on night 1, the humans will be put at a disadvantage for the rest of the game. At the same time, if a frequently-seered player gets the Wolf role, he won't be able to do anything to stop himself from being lynched. The wolves could also be crippled by an incredibly lucky night 1 kill by the Seer-Vigilante.

This game is very volatile, meaning a few small actions at the beginning of the game can decide its outcome, way before it's close to being over. As a host, you generally want the game to be competitive, and if one team takes a huge blow early on, the players may give up or not try as hard for the rest of the game. Here's a modified version of the above game that is much more stable:

1. Wolf Painter 1 - Single use power. On any night phase, may make the player of his choice appear a different color.
2. Wolf Painter 2 - Single use power. On any night phase, may make the player of his choice appear a different color.

3. Seer - Can seer a player every night phase.
4. Vigilante - Can kill a player every night phase.
5. Back-up - Becomes a seer if the Seer dies first, becomes a vigilante if the Vigilante dies first. Does not know he's the back-up.
6. Human
7. Human
8. Human


By making the wolves ability to appear green a decision rather than innate attribute of one of them, it makes it so that with proper skill, they can avoid being incriminated due to seering. It also makes a red seering less certain, since the wolves could make one of the humans a miller for one night. The separation of the single human power into two different roles also makes the game more stable. If one of them dies, instead of the humans losing all their powers, they would only lose half... except the Back-Up makes it so they wouldn't lose any! Whether or not this particular game is balanced, it provides an illustration of how to prevent luck from ruining your game.

5. Fine-Tuning

Your game is basically done at this point, but you can still make a few small changes. Is it too small for the forum you're planning on hosting it on? Add some humans or traitors. Do you think the humans will have too difficult of time finding the wolves, but don't want to add a special? Try adding cardflipping. Worried that a human alliance could make the game less fun for other human players? Design a third-party role specifically designed to infiltrate an alliance. There's plenty of small tweaks you can make to ensure your game lives up to the concept you envisioned.

PART III: BALANCING

7. The First Check - Claims

Now we move on to determine if the game is balanced. There are two easy checks you can perform to get an idea of whether you're roughly on-target with your game. These are just to fix common mistakes that beginning hosts make until you get a feel for designing games. The first check is simple: what happens if ever special role publicly claims their role in the thread?

In the ballot box game introduced earlier, nothing happens. They'll just be picked off one-by-one in each night phase. But take the following game:

1. Wolf
2. Wolf


3. Angel - Knows he's the Angel. No special powers.
4. Devil - Knows he's the Devil. No special powers.
5. Saint - Knows he's the Saint. No special powers.
6. Priest - Knows he's the Priest. No special powers.
7. Bishop - Knows he's the Bishop. No special powers.
8. Pope - Knows he's the Pope. No special powers.

If all of the special roles claim in this game, the wolves will end up getting screwed over! They'll have to counterclaim a specific role (let's say the first wolf counterclaims angel, and the second counterclaims devil), and suddenly the number of potential wolves has shrunk from 8 to 4. Not only that, but it's usually pretty easy to spot which one is the real angel/devil anyway. This is why new players are dissuaded from creating games packed with special roles, as tempting as it is: not only do special roles usually have incredible powers to use against the wolves, but if the number of claimable roles on the human side becomes too high, the wolves will have almost no chance of winning. Beware of this mistake!

8. The Second Check - Lynch Mistakes

The second check a host should make is how many times the humans can lynch another human and get away with it. Just look at how your game would play out. In a 12 player game with 3 wolves, you know that at the end of Night 1 it will be 3 wolves and 8 humans. At the end of Day 1 it will be 3 wolves and 7 humans. You can continue doing this until the end of Day 3 where it will be 3 wolves and 4 humans. The wolves will kill again in the night, winning the game, meaning that the humans can only mislynch twice if they want to win!

You generally want the number of mislynches to be 2-3 depending on how much help the humans have with lynches.

Although this is generally a good way of determining balance, it can become messy in games with more than 2 factions or in games with multiple sources of death such as brutals and vigilantes. For these cases, you'll just have to give things your best estimate. (I generally just subtract a human from the game if there's a brutal, and subtract two from the game if there's a vigilante.)

9. Win Feasibility

By far the least abstract and most difficult is just to ask yourself is it feasible for each team to win. If the answer is no, you should obviously rework the game, but arriving at that no is difficult.

Try running through the game a few times on paper. It will be tedious, but it's the surefire way of making your game fair. Consider the humans missing their day 1 lynch then hitting the day 2 one, and seeing where both teams stand. Or if you have a vigilante, will him killing an important wolf on n1 doom the wolf team? You don't want a team's chance of winning to sit on a single role, and your game should be flexible enough to pull itself out of a huge lead on one side.

10. Other Balancing Tools

So you found your game to be tilted in favor of the wolves. What can you do? There's quite a few options, and since they're all really intuitive, I'm just going to list them rather than explain them.
  • Get rid of a wolf power. (Master -> Regular, Brutal -> Regular)
  • Make the wolf powers harder to use (If there's a wolf shaman, add blue humans)
  • Add a seer/guardian/other cheap special
  • Add cardflipping
  • Increase the number of humans
  • Swap a wolf for a traitor
And if the humans are the ones who are overpowered...
  • Get rid of some humans
  • Make the human powers weaker (if there's a seer, add master wolves and millers)
  • Increase the power of the wolves (make them all brutal, give them seer powers, whatever)
  • Increase the knowledge of the wolves (such as who the millers are, and who some of the humans are)
  • Destroy the human alliance (A wolf sniper usually does the trick, but a wolf that goes through a guardian would work fine as well. Or make the guardian fail on blue roles.)
  • Add a wolf

11. Third Parties, Mystery Games and other Wacky Mechanics

As the game becomes more complex, so does balancing the game. A game can only be balanced perfectly if you can perfectly predict what's going to happen, and that's usually not the case with mystery games or games with a third party. You have to consider the feasibility of each team beating both of the other teams, and you have to make sure they have the tools to accomplish that. Or if it's a mystery game, you have to consider if any roles will claim, and if an important one does, will it ruin the game? Or a talented player could just lie about his role entirely in a mystery game, dominating in a way nobody could have predicted. 

It's difficult. And it's messy.  Not only do you have to make it possible for the humans and wolves to win, you have to make it reasonable for that third party to win as well, and that’s an area where a lot of hosts stumble.  A quick way to do this is to compare the third parties with the wolves.  Third-party roles are often treated like wolves by humans, so you should balance the game as such. 

If the wolves have a Master Wolf, Revoker Wolf, and Shaman and the third party is charismatic and a vigi, that isn’t really fair.  The third party is about as strong as one wolf, and there’s no way he can take on three!
Some easy ways to make this third party pack more of a punch include:

-Making him immune to wolfing
-Giving him a color that lets him blend in (this should be standard unless you expect this third-party to dominate the game)
-Giving him additional powers (but keep in mind how useful these may be.  Don’t allow him to seer players if he can’t vigi/kill people!)
-Giving him a teammate
-Giving him an easier win condition (perhaps one that makes it so his victory doesn’t prevent the wolves or humans from winning?)
-Combine any of the above

When you think you’ve got a balanced third-party role, double-check that you haven’t thrown the humans’ or wolves’ chances to win out of balance.  If he can joint-win with either of them, that gives them a significantly higher chance of winning—and should be accounted for when balancing.  If he has an incentive to kill wolves instead of humans, then maybe the wolves should have an extra power?  Rinse and repeat until balanced.

12. Final Advice

As with the other guide I wrote, try and compare your game to previous games. Look at a game the wolves won: was it due to a weak performance by the humans, or a design flaw? And consider its impact on your game. Once you have enough experience in TWG, you'll be able to take a look at a game and see if it favors the human team or wolf team.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2013, 12:34:13 AM by Bird »
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Bird

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Re: Hosting and Balancing Guide
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2013, 02:14:09 AM »

This guide was composed by an extremely talented player known as Hufsa on FFR, Fiver on LLF and Thiannon on NSM. It was edited for NSM by Bird.

Hosting Guide

------------------------------------

PART I: BEFORE YOU START
1. Getting Hosting Approval
2. Is Hosting Right For You?
 
PART III: SUBMITTING YOUR GAME FOR CONSIDERATION
3. Hosting Sign-ups Requirements
4. Getting Your Game Hosted
5. If Your Game Isn't Picked
 
PART IV: RUNNING YOUR GAME
6. Random.org and Role PMs
7. Host-Player Dialogue
8. Writing the Story
9. Phase Length
10. Awarding Phantoms
11. INSTAs and Phantoms
 
PART V: AFTERWARD
12. The Post-Game Topic
13. Awarding MVPs
 
------------------------------------
 
PART I: BEFORE YOU START
 
1. Getting Hosting Approval
 
Designing TWGs is fun, but a lot of work: it would be a shame if you were unable to host your game after putting in all of that time and effort. Before you even start thinking about hosting, consult the members of the TWC on whether you are ready or not.
 
2. Is Hosting Right For You?
 
So you've been approved by the TWC. Great! But before you rush off to start building your game, remember that while hosting a TWG can be a very rewarding experience, it's not for everyone. First and foremost, hosting is a time-consuming process. Most games take anywhere from a week and a half to three weeks to complete, and some particularly large or complex games, such as those that offer multiple opportunities for guarding, lynchblocking, or reviving, may extend into a fourth week and beyond. If a Hosting Topic goes up at a time at which you expect you'll be busy over the ensuing few weeks, you may be better off not applying to host that particular TWG.
 
Prospective hosts should also be advised that hosting can be challenging at times; you may have to clarify rules or impose discipline on players on the fly, with little time to consider the exigencies of the circumstances. You have to remain unbiased at all times, and you have to be particularly diligent in guarding your knowledge of your game; even the most prudent host slips up sometimes. You have a responsibility to be online to post the end-of-phase results at or around the time you've specified as often as possible, and if you elect to write a story to accompany your game, you have an obligation to see it finished. If you don't think you can meet these criteria, you may want to reconsider applying to host a TWG.
 
PART II: SUBMITTING YOUR GAME FOR CONSIDERATION
 
3. Hosting Sign-ups Requirements
 
Please consult the above post for the requirements on hosting a game at NSM.
 
4. Getting Your Game Hosted
 
All right, you had a great idea, and you've put it to text. You read vermilionvermin's post below this one, and are certain that it's balanced as well. Now, all you need to do is get the go-ahead to host it! Here are a few tips to help make your dream a reality:
 
1) Give your game a memorable name.
 
The name of your TWG should convey something about either your story, the game structure, or both. If you're using Zelda series characters for your roles, give your game a Zelda theme. If you're running a mystery game, call it "Mystery at X" or something of the sort. If your game puts a new twist on TWG mechanics (say, role theft or private voting), emphasize that. You want players to remember exactly what your game entailed when they see it listed in the Hosting Poll. There's nothing wrong with a cheesy play on words if that's what people will remember.
 
2) Colour-co-ordinate and number your roles.
 
Sex sells; just ask iDOWN. When a prospective player (and voter) looks at your game, he should see immediately how many wolves there are (red text), how many special humans there are (blue text), how many ambiguous roles exist (orange text), and the like. People are lazy, and they may not want to bother to read any structure synopsis you include at the bottom of your post. To make things as easy, stick to the traditional colour setup:
 
1. Wolf Role
2. Wolf Role
3. Wolf Role
 
4. Ambiguous Wolf Role
5. Ambiguous (Special) Human Role
 
6. Special Human Role
7. Special Human Role
8. Special Human Role
 
9. Human Role with Passive Ability/Fixed Item
10. Human Role with Passive Ability/Fixed Item
11. Human Role
12. Human Role
13. Human Role
14. Human Role
 
15. Unaffiliated Role
16. Unaffiliated Role
 
All wolf roles should be coloured red, including the Master Wolf, with the exception of any ambiguous wolf roles, such as the Wolf Spy or the Wolf Thief, which should be coloured orange. If your game includes a Wolf Spy, Wolf Thief, or other ambiguous wolf role, you must have at least one ambiguous human (the Millwright) or special human role. If you choose to include special humans among your oranges, be sure these are roles that could conceivably be faked by the Wolf Spy or Wolf Thief. The Coroner, for example, is almost impossible for a wolf to fake; it should never be coded orange.
 
All special humans should be coloured blue, or orange as outlined above. Humans with special attributes but no special powers can be coded green or blue, at the host's discretion. Loners and other roles with no wolf or human affiliation should be coloured purple. Roles with fixed human or wolf affiliation should not be coloured purple unless absolutely necessary for balance purposes.
 
Items are coloured pink for ease of reading.

This is simply a set of guidelines for coloring your roles. As long as the teams, roles and abilities are clear, you've formatted your game well.
 
3) Write every role out.
 
Easy as pie. Prospective player want to know how many roles are in your game, and they don't want to have to count to obtain that information. Avoid constructs like the following:
 
Mason x 3
Human x 6
 
Instead, list them out:
 
Mason
Mason
Mason
Human
Human
Human
Human
Human
Human
 
It's nitpicky, yes, but it will help your chances of getting your game picked.
 
4) Provide Role Descriptions.
 
Commonly used, familiar roles probably don't require them, but they can hardly hurt. Players do not want to have to cross-reference between the wiki and the Host Signups topic just to remember what the Clavin does. If you've invented an entirely new role, or you've modified an existing role in some way, be sure to include a brief description of the new role when you post your game idea. That said, don't go overboard: you want to give people the general idea of how your game will play out, not every last detail. Those sorts of things can be address if and when your game is selected.
 
5) Take recommendations into consideration.
 
If someone suggests something to you and you like it, don't hesitate to make that change to your game. Be mindful, however, that the delicate wolf-human balance may be swayed as a consequence. Be sure to post again to inform everyone if you've changed your game so that they can re-evaluate it, and be mindful that too many changes, especially in short succession, may turn people off of your game.
 
6) Sell yourself.
 
Sound enthusiastic. Don't say you don't think your game will get picked; expect to be picked, and do everything you can to make it happen! Bold your title, provide a story teaser, respond to posts from players who have questions.
 
5. If Your Game Isn't Picked
 
If you don't win, don't complain, and remember that there's a good chance that you'll be picked the next poll you qualify for, be it with the same game idea or another. Chances are, every game idea has something worth taking from it; don't be afraid to recycle your ideas. Consider approaching a member of the TWC and asking for advice on how you can improve your game. If you're really stuck, aproach one of your friends about co-hosting. A second party may be just what you need to access fresh ideas and drum up more support for your game.
 
Remember, contributing positively as a player and in the TWG community is the best way to get noticed as a potential host. Moping about how you lost or boycotting TWG until you get to host is not going to help your case.
 
PART III: RUNNING YOUR GAME
 
6. Random.org and Role PMs
 
So your game won the host ballot.  Now all you have to do is just post the game thread and your game is started, right?  Well you aren't getting off that easily.  First, you have to assign the players roles, and send them their role PMs.  Don't worry though, it isn't that hard.  Just go here, put in the names of the players, click randomize, and match up the players with the roles.  Next comes the harder part: sending the PMs.  Here you can be as creative as you like: make a picture, write a short little message, or simply just write the role.  However, I would suggest sending every player a seperate PM, instead of putting them in BCC, as players like to do all sorts of tricks to prove humanity.  It also might be a good idea to post the PMs in the game thread, provided it isn't a mystery game, to prevent humans from determining who is or isn't a human by referencing the role PMs.
 
7. Host-Player Dialogue
 
So, the game has begun! Don't think everything is easy from here on, however: You've still got story segments to write, PMs to process, and votes to tabulate. Additionally, players will almost certainly have questions about their roles and the game in general; do your best to monitor both the topic and your PM inbox for these questions, and to answer them as promptly and as thoroughly as possible. Beware, however, that it can be tempting to give away information to players that they shouldn't have. For example, a player may come out in the game topic as the Wolfsbane; a full 24 hours might pass without counterclaims, leading the players to assume that, yes, the player in question is, in fact, the Wolfsbane, as he claims. Then, another player might ask you a question about the Wolfsbane role, say, "Can player X be lynched?". An imprudent host might respond "Yes, the Wolfsbane can be lynched", thereby implicitly confirming Player X as the Wolfsbane.
 
Depending on the structure of your game, you could receive any number of special player PMs each night phase. Be sure to respond to each of these with an acknowledgement that you received the PM and that the player's action will be carried out. This may seem perfunctory, but mistakes happen, PMs are occasionally overlooked, and you could inadvertently deny a player access to information he is entitled to. A response from you will set that player's mind at ease.
 
8. Writing the Story
 
Your story can be as simple or as detailed as you like. My only recommendation is that you remain consistent: don't post a one-sentence story segment one day and a twenty-paragraph one the next. If you're not planning on writing a story for your game, tell everyone that in the Host Signups topic; prospective players deserve to know what they're voting for.
 
If you're planning on writing lengthy story segments, consider either budgeting some time immediately before the end of each phase to prepare its story segment, or updating the game, then editing the story into your post afterward. This will allow your game to continue on a strict schedule and keep the players happy.
 
As far as story ideas are concerned, hosts are given significant latitude. Past TWGs have featured pirates, cubicle workers, and breakfast cereal mascots, among others--let your imagination run wild! Just because we're playing The Werewolf Game doesn't mean that every game's story need feature werewolves. Of course, if the werewolf element fits your game, by all means, use it; just don't feel pressured to do so.

It's been a long time since a story has appeared on NSM, and there is no real obligation for you to add one. However, don't start something you're unable to finish.
 
9. Phase Length
 
As a host, it can be difficult to balance the need to keep the game moving with the players' need for ample time to come to their decisions regarding whom to wolf, guard, seer, vigi, and the like during the night phase, and whom to vote for during the day; wolves in particular need time to exchange IMs or PMs before deciding on their nightly kill. You should allow a minimum of twenty-four hours for all night phase actions, and approximately forty-eight hours for the day phase. To avoid confusion, I would recommend maintaining the same phase-ending schedule. 9:00 or 10:00 PM EST/EDT seems to work best for most players; most of the players on LLF live in North America and are online around that time, and most game action occurs at the beginning and the end of a phase. If an INSTA occurs, end the day phase immediately, but extend the night as much as necessary to maintain a consistent phase end time.
 
10. Awarding Phantoms
 
Phantoms are every host's worst nightmare: TWG is most fun when everybody is participating, and while Real Life naturally steps in sometimes, it's unfair for a team of active, involved players to lose because other members of their team couldn't get on to vote consistently. There's not much a host can do to alleviate Phantom acquisition aside from extending the day phase, which is strictly discretionary. If the day phase is scheduled to end in a matter of hours and four or more players have yet to vote, and doing so would not significantly advantage one team relative to another, consider extending the day by 24 hours. This applies especially over family holidays and (obviously) periods during which some or all of the players are unable to access the forum, for whatever reason.
 
It is difficult to encourage activity once a game has begun, but consider reminding people in the Player Signups topic of the responsibilities inherent in signing up to play a game, namely, to be active. If someone says he is only signing up "because player X told me to", consider encouraging that player to remove himself from the player list. Chances are, he won't play much anyhow.
 
11. INSTAs and Phantoms
 
The term INSTA, or Insta-lynch, should be one every prospective host is familiar with, but it's such an integral part of the game that I think it bears reviewing here. The generally accepted definition of an INSTA is that it occurs when one player receives more than 50% of the possible lynch votes during the day phase. While this is true in the majority of cases, there are some exceptions to that general rule. A better definition would be as follows: An INSTA occurs when the number of votes cast for a single player is greater than the highest number of votes any other player could acquire were every player who has not voted for the first player to vote for the second. Take the following examples:
 
Example #1:
 
Players
 
Mario
Luigi
Peach
Toad
Yoshi
Wario
Donkey Kong
Bowser
 
Assume that no Phantom votes have been awarded yet this game. Let's say that Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, and Yoshi vote Bowser. If the all the remaining players (Wario, Donkey Kong, and Bowser) were to vote for Luigi, for example, Bowser would still have the most number of votes against him. This is an INSTA scenario.
 
Example #2:
 
Players
 
Mario
Luigi [PHANTOM x1]
Peach
Toad
Yoshi
Wario
Donkey Kong
Bowser [PHANTOM x1]
 
In this case, Luigi and Bowser each have one Phantom. Let's say that only Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad vote Bowser this time. Four votes plus a Phantom is greater than 50% of the total possible lynch votes. However, if Yoshi, Wario, Donkey Kong, and Bowser all were to vote Luigi, Bowser and Luigi would be tied at 4.000001 votes each, and a Knife in the Box would occur. This is not an INSTA scenario, and the day would not end early.
 
If your game includes one or more of the Mason King, Charismatic Human, or the Mason King roles--or any role that can manipulate lynch voting trends--don't forget to add an extra vote to the appropriate player's target. This could cause an INSTA to take effect without the players' knowledge. It's your job as host to anticipate these situations and end the day in a timely fashion.
 
As an aside, Phantoms are awarded after all other outcomes of the day phase have been resolved. That is to say, if a player earns a Phantom during Day 5, it will not be counted against him until the Day 6 voting. If a player receives his third Phantom of the game, he is still eligible to be killed by the Brutal Wolf or an item effect (for example, Corroborating Evidence) that day; if he survives, he is then removed via Phantom in a process commonly referred to as "Phantoming out".
 
PART V: AFTERWARD

12. Post-game Thread
 
So your game is all said and done.  You announced the winning team, the game thread is locked, and everyone is preparing for the next game.  You may think you've done everything you needed, but you forgot one vital part of hosting.  The post-game thread.
 
Simply put, the post game is where players post their thoughts on the game, and the host reveals all the information initialing hidden from the players.  Generally, a good post game thread contains a role reveal, player comments, and other things the host would like to note about the game.
 
The role reveal is basically just saying who had what roles.  In fact, that's all it is.  If you were hosting a Mystery Game, and you introduced some new roles, it may be a good idea to explain what the roles did, as nobody will know what the role is.  If you weren't hosting a Mystery Game, then you should have explained the role elsewhere, so it shouldn't be much of a problem.
 
Player comments, while not necessary, are another thing most hosts like to include in the Post Game.  Most players appreciate it if you comment on how you think they did and how they might be able to approve either as a group or as an individual.  This will also be where you award MVPs and Honerable Mentions (See next section)
 
The other things you could include vary a great deal.  Any posts you burst out in laughter upon reading?  Make a memorable quote section and put them there.  Want to give everyone a phase-by-phase summary?  Go ahead.  Want to post every PM you received during hosting?  No one will stop you.  Just try to put the big sections in spoilers so people don't have to scroll for 10 hours just to reach the end of your post.
 
13. Awarding MVPs
 
Surely while you were hosting there was at least one player you thought did a superb job, and that their team would've done worse if that player wasn't playing.  Award him MVP (Most Valuable Player)!  Most games should have at least one MVP in them. Unless everyone did a terrible job, which is totally feasible.  Sometimes you may think two players did an excellent job.  Award them both MVP!  Although not required, some hosts like to give the losing team a separate MVP too.  If you feel that team didn't deserve a MVP, then just don't award it.  What if you think there's a player that did really good, but another player on his team was more deserving of MVP?  Just give that player Honorable Mention, and you're good to go.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2013, 11:17:26 PM by Bird »
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Waddle Bro

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Re: Hosting and Balancing Guide
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2013, 02:31:23 AM »

guys i need help balancing this one

TWG: A TWG That Has Nothing In Common With The Normal Kind Of TWG AKA Survivor Themed Battle Royale That Has A Frivolous And A Long Name

Forget everything you know about TWG; Night Phases, Wolves, wolfings and much more else! This TWG that isn't really a TWG will be a battle royale with 12 players, where you and only you compete for the victory. There will be no Night Phases or wolves. Instead every phase will be a Day Phase where all of you vote for a player. The player with the most votes, dies. Votes can be given publicly, or through PM(however, if you vote on the thread your PM vote won't be counted) But wait, it won't be that simple!!!
During random Day Phases you will be given challenges, where you can win prizes! Prizes can be Immunity Idols that protect you from a lynching, useless stuff that no one feels like putting effort into, but there might be a secret surprise behind that reward that nobody has any clue what it could be(like a hidden Immunity Idol! ...oops I just ruined the surprise...)! :O
Every time a player dies, that player will become a part of the jury that chooses the winner. When there are 3 players remaining a special Day Phase begins where all players come back to life where they can ask questions why would the players alive deserve to win and stuff. Players who aren't in the Final 3 will vote through PM who they think they should win*! *vote/0.99$, 1 vote/player
Remember that the key to victory is to make alliances and backstab players(especially the backstab part) >:D
This is the ultimate test, are you ready for it?

Players:
1. Human
2. Human
3. Human
4. Human
5. Human
6. Human
7. Human
8. Human
9. Human
10. Human
11. Human
12. Human
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Bird

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Re: Hosting and Balancing Guide
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2013, 02:32:58 AM »

its balanced in favor of human 11, plz change it
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Yugi

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Re: Hosting and Balancing Guide
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2013, 02:35:13 AM »

guys i need help balancing this one

Battle Royale
Can I please be Kirayama.

You know, that guy who kills almost half the players.
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Bird

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Re: Hosting and Balancing Guide
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2013, 02:35:40 AM »

im katniss
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Toby

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Re: Hosting and Balancing Guide
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2013, 02:38:27 AM »

I'm Peeta.
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Liggy

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Re: Hosting and Balancing Guide
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2013, 04:23:57 AM »

Help me balance this game!

Wolf
Seer
Seer
Seer
Seer
Seer
Seer
Seer
Seer
Seer

Manhunt, 10 players.  Completely balanced.  No way it can't be.
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Yugi

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Re: Hosting and Balancing Guide
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2013, 04:27:51 AM »

It's balanced in favour of the wolf, Please change that.
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BlackDragonSlayer

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Re: Hosting and Balancing Guide
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2013, 05:38:33 AM »

Help me balance this game!

Wolf
Seer
Seer
Seer
Seer
Seer
Seer
Seer
Seer
Seer

Manhunt, 10 players.  Completely balanced.  No way it can't be.
I'd need to know the colors. :P

Although, I don't know how good everybody-but-one-being-a-seer would work:
Everybody would just seer the person above/below them ASAP and find the wolf.
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Nornova Dex
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Waddle Bro

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Re: Hosting and Balancing Guide
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2013, 11:41:49 AM »

Okay now joking aside. Here's FSM's game:

TWG: 72 Hours Remaining

Universal effect: Masks(items)
There are three masks distributed in the beginning of the game to randomly chosen players(this doesn't include the Happy Mask Salesman):
-Deku Mask Holder will be seered brown. The holder cannot be sniped or vigi'd
-Goron Mask Holder will be seered navy. The holder can vigi someone during Night.
-Zora Mask Holder will be seered teal. The holder can seer someone during Night.
If a wolf is holding a mask, it will only have it's first effect(=the color).

Night Phases last 24 hours, Day Phases 48. Every time a Night Phase begins the masks that the Happy Mask Salesman isn't holding will be re-distributed.

1. Happy Mask Salesman
The objective of the Happy Mask Salesman is to get all the masks and have Majora's Mask dead. If he manages to do that, he wins. The game will end when Happy Mask Salesman wins.
If a player holding a mask dies, the mask automatically transfers to Happy Mask Salesman. Masks have no effect when Happy Mask Salesman has them. The masks Happy Mask Salesman is holding won't be re-distributed when the cycle begins again. Can only die through a lynching.

Wolves:
2. Majora's Mask - Master Wolf Seer
3. Skull Kid - Sniper Wolf Can snipe a player of his choice anytime in any point of the game. One-time use.
4. Tael - Tribute Brutal Wolf During a Day Phase, this player can tribute(this player dies) him/herself by sending a PM to the host, to revive somebody dead permanently. One time use. This power doesn't supersede an insta. If lynched, this player can take a player down with him.

Humans:
5. Link - Hero of Time When masks are distributed, Link always gets a mask.
6. Tatl - Tribute During a Day Phase, this player can tribute(this player dies) him/herself by sending a PM to the host, to revive somebody dead permanently. One time use. This power doesn't supersede an insta.
7. Kaepora Gaebora - Guardian
8. Human
9. Human
10. Human
11. Human
12. Human
13. Human
14. Human
15. Tingle - Brutal Human When lynched, a randomly chosen, green human will die. Knows that he's the Brutal Human.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2013, 01:27:09 PM by Waddle Bro »
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Waddle Bro

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Re: Hosting and Balancing Guide
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2013, 12:40:03 PM »

Aaaaaaaaaaand here's a BOB-OMB game!!!

TWG: Hot Bob-Omb: BOWSER's Return!!!

Rules: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psuAJu3DSFo

The objective is to bomb BOWSER with the BOB-OMBS!!!(or lynch him but that's the more classier way)

Each Day Phase one randomly chosen player gets a BOB-OMB. The BOB-OMB can explode on a random point of the phase(the BOB-OMB won't explode in at least 6 hours when the Day Phase begins). They players can toss the BOB-OMB at each other as many times as they want. The tosses will be public, if you got the BOB-OMB just post in the thread something like this: I'll toss the BOB-OMB at Player 1.
BOWSER will be told the time point when the BOB-OMB will explode, so watch out!!!
The player who exploded cannot be lynched.
Anyone who fails to capitalize BOWSER or BOB-OMB will get a phantom, this time 4 realz.

Roles:
1. BOWSER

2. Human
3. Human
4. Human
5. Human
6. Human
7. Human
8. Human
9. Human
10. Human
11. Human
12. Human
13. Human
14. Human
« Last Edit: January 05, 2013, 01:23:07 PM by Waddle Bro »
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Liggy

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Re: Hosting and Balancing Guide
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2013, 01:08:25 PM »

The game I posted was a joke.  I have several good ideas, but I'd rather play a game here before I host again.
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