So I've been asked by a few people to pitch into the big discussion about reading meta. As most of you know, many people think that meta reading is a terrible strategy in FMs and the way they have explained what meta reading is, I would agree... but you also know that I use meta reads every game. However, it's NOT in the way people have described so I'm going to clear a few things up about the uses of meta.
The improper way and worst way of using meta
To start off, instead of repeating what someone has already stated, I'm just going to reference that post. Helz did a good job at explaining what most people think of when we talk about meta reading in his guide about Macro Meta Crunching.
This is by far, one of the worst ways to read meta, but I still use it..... because other people are using this type of meta reading, I use it against them and exploit the vulnerabilities of it. This of course requires a basic understanding of what people are looking for to be able to flip it onto someone. I only recommend using this against newbies who are easily manipulated into falling in such traps.
So if that is not I how to use meta to scumhunt then what kind of meta do the high end players refer to when scumhunting?
The way Skilled players use meta
I literally use meta to judge a skill level of a player - and this goes much further than saying: this player is good or bad. In recent times, the amount of scumtells in games have sky rocketed and it's no longer a matter of finding scumtells or scum hunting but filtering out the false positives to identify the real scum in the games. I have always said, it is 100x harder to get onto my town reads list without a PR check than it is to get on my scum reads. So how do I use the meta to help me filter? Referring back to Helz's guide on Communication he mentions a big part of it.
1- In the part about "tone", understanding a players meta, you'll have a better understanding in what tone to read his posts giving you insight into what he is trying to convey.
2- Probably the most useful thing about meta reading is in his 3rd part: Application of Communication. I use meta to judge if a player is capable of pulling off most of these strategies - or if I can plainly read him face value. Understanding what level of wifom players usually play on can yield incredible translation powers of what they are trying to do while saying the exact opposite.
Lets delve deeper into what I mean by examining the examples Helz's lists and how I apply meta to it.
Wifom lvl 0: This is a perfect example of pro-town wifom manipulation, however, unskilled players will take it at face value and question why are you scum reading this "obvious town" person? Thus they will scum read you and sadly may expose what you were trying to do in the first place.Insulating a town read from a scum night kill- If you are able to pick up that Player X is probably a Doctor there are 2 ways to play it out. You can try to pull attention off the slot or you can scum read the slot. From the scum perspective (See perspectives in part two) it makes sense for scum to target players they think they cannot lynch. By scum reading the slot you can provide incisive for scum to leave the slot alive.
Wifom lvl 1: Which is where meta comes in. You need to be able to judge if a certain player is "actually scum reading player X" or "is wifom protecting player X by making it appear that he is scum reading him". That is the question in is purest and basic form.
Now if I know that a player has used this kind of strategy in a previous game, then I can then assume that he knows how to use it effectively, it doesn't mean that he is automatically town for doing this but I can right off the "scum tell" in the list as a potential pro-town gambit. Does this mean I ignore it for the rest of the game? No - but I will put it on hold in case that is what he is doing and if it is not what he intended to do, then by not pushing the issue the wifom manipulation takes place anyways.
Wifom lvl 2: The tricky part is understanding all the consequences of the wifom manipulation and then judge if it is better to stay quiet or speak up. What do I mean by that? Well, if the person that is "scum reading" player X is scum, then he might be trying to pull the healing/lookout roles off from that person making them think that scum will not target someone who might be lynched. Thus giving scum a less risky high value target. Again, knowing if the person you are trying to analyze has done this in the past will influence your judgement if this is something he might be doing now.
Wifom lvl 3: or what I like to call the counter wifom lvl. If you know that a player has enough skill to pull off wifom lvls 0, 1 and 2. Then you are back to square 1 when it comes to reading a player for his alignment because he could be doing any one of those. Sometimes the best move is to ignore any wifom manipulation and perform what needs to be done with a PR move. For example, in this case, a lookout can watch player X.
Being able to use meta will give you a better idea how to treat a player. Sometimes it's best to let him do what he wants, sometimes, it's best to expose him and destroy the wifom, other times, it's best to stay quiet, let the wifom take place and double check by ignoring said wifom.
One thing of note about wifom lvl 0 plays, if someone does this and has the knowledge and perfect capability of understanding lvl 1 or higher, then this is highly scummy whereas if a newer or unskilled player does this then there is a much higher chance that this is a false positive.
The same can be said about Helz's 3 other situations. You need to use meta to know if a player is
1- capable of such plays,
2- frequency of such plays
3- and has the ability to counter-wifom such plays
If someone can read you all the time, then maybe you should start looking into changing what wifom lvl you use. Being unpredictable and unreadable is not a scum trait but the result of people not knowing what level of wifom you are intending to use as almost every action/reaction can have both pro-town and pro-scum results if you analyze it deep enough.
Even after all this time, I still find my guide from long ago relevant and helpful for newer people.
Some specific player metas that people should be aware of.
Most people know that I keep almost everything I really think hidden regardless of my alignment. Everything I openly say usually has some sort of wifom manipulation until I'm ready to unleash hell on someone. Even when I identify a scum, I sometimes let that person live if it's early in the game while thinking that I don't suspect him - this is to give me time to analyze his interactions with other people. Once I catch one scum, I can usually tie them to their teammates. In the early days, if you are town-reading me, then you are being fooled. Always neutral or scum read me until I start to unleash what I've been hiding. Be warned, I use myself as bait very often too, as a lynch train just as much as a PR magnet. As for reads, people overestimate my scumhunting abilities day 1. I excel in night actions predictions and what "should" happen if such and such is x alignment making me a much bigger threat in day 3+. Day 1, I'm too busy trying to evaluate new peoples skill level to be able to read them.
He very often starts a bad train on someone and tries to get info based on how people respond to such trains. He also will flip that same train later and say it was to gain info. He does this both as town and scum so it does not mean anything alignment wise. You can choose to use him for your own reads if you wish, by helping his train... but beware, you need to make sure Slaol is correctly meta reading you so that you don't end up being the brunt of his attack later on.
(had more info for much older players, not so informed about the new generation - may update this later if I think it's needed)
Eventually I might make a thread on what is scummy and reasons why... but too lazy right now to think of everything I want to bring up.