← Should you play social deception games poorly?

I’m a big fan of social deception games. Part of it might be the space given to frustrate the living hell out of my friends, but I think a larger part of it is the grand-scale social calculus involved.

Unlike most games, the goal of social deception games isn’t to win any particular joust; it’s to remain ‘unreadable’. The moment your opponents are able to understand your mannerisms and patterns, it’s over. Even if you are able to win, it’ll be on their terms.

Now, I normally play these games as an agent of chaos. I’ll go all in on garbage poker hands, lie about my roles in deduction games, and play like an absolute moron. In the name of long-term success, I’m willing to throw away any and all short-term prospects. But I’ve noticed that the more I play these games with friends, the more they’re able to understand me. Maybe I pretend to try and lose until I want to win then push too much. Maybe I’m not as unpredictable as I want to believe. Either way, my actions aren’t noisy enough to hide my intentions.

Now what if I added RNG to my actions? Heads, I lie. Tails, I tell the truth. No matter how advantageous or to my detriment that action ended up being. But of course this has issues too. The goal here isn’t to have a little coin dictate my life, it’s to beat out random performance with random noise.

Rather than a coin deciding my exact action, I could have a weighted die that decides how optimally I play. Instead of an always going for the most exact move, I could try and achieve suboptimal objectives around 20-30% of the time. Without knowing how highly I value each play, this doggedness might force my friends into stopping me from pursuing a poor plan in fear of something smarter looming.

Social deception games aren’t like chess; it doesn’t always pay to play the best move. (Although sometimes it’s also better to play worse moves in chess for psychological reasons) DO I know if this will work out? Not really. But hey, if finding out means playing more games of Catan and Mafia, then sign me up.