Town of Salem

Town of Salem

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How to win at Coven VIP (V2)
By A Tree
A detailed guide on the do's and don'ts of Coven VIP, but updated for 2021. The old guide was so dated at this point that it needed a complete tear-down and rework, thus I'm starting fresh with a new guide.
   
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1. What Makes VIP Mode Special?
VIP Mode is one of a kind for one simple reason: It is the only mode in which you do not need to dominate the other faction to win. While Town still needs to dominate Coven, Coven simply needs to kill one specific member of Town -- and this is where most Coven All Any or Coven Ranked Practice players get it wrong at first.

In other modes, Coven needs to play the long game: Lay low, investigate, try to blend into town. In VIP mode, you can't do this. The role list is stacked heavily in Town's favor, you WILL probably lose someone to a TI or TP almost immediately, and therefore you need to play hard and fast. Coven must play like there is no tomorrow to win, because they often only get three nights before Town wipes the floor with them.

This guide goes into extensive detail about each role's importance in this mode, as well as general strategies for all the factions.
2. Town Priorities
Town holds a shared secret in this mode, one which must be held at all costs. The obvious first step is to NEVER NAME THE VIP, but besides that fundamental, they must behave differently so that Coven gets as few clues to the VIP's identity as possible. How the VIP themselves can do this is mentioned in role-specific sections, but in general, TI's need to be careful not to provide so much information that coven can cross names off the list. Simply being too open as town can make the roles of non-claiming townies obvious. Overclaiming protectives are a threat to both the VIP and the Vigilante. As you will read often in this guide, misdirection as to the VIP's identity is difficult, subtle, and most of all situational, and I won't give specific recommendations about how to do this.

In descending order, Town's priorities are:
  • Keep the VIP alive, lest the game end in defeat.
  • Keep enough Town alive to have a voting majority. The Pirate is unreliable as they won't vote without their plunders, and the GA won't necessarily play ball if their Town target dies, so keep these factors in mind as well.
  • Identify proven town and form a united front. Don't allow false narratives to breach this bulwark.
  • Appease neutrals as needed. Scumvivors probably can't be motivated, but giving the Pirate a free plunder if you're useless (Vigilante dying of guilt or a Sheriff with one coven remaining) will protect the TP chain and the VIP.
2a. Town Protective
Crusader

This is one of the most difficult roles to play, and there are no easy answers. There are serious trust issues due to fakes being common in D1 claims, but you also have one of the greatest burdens. Going out to any random player is liable to kill a roaming TI, TS, or even the VIP. Being too trusting can get you stoned. Being too silent can result in "crus love", the death of two Crusaders at each others' hands. Being too vocal can get you controlled. Overclaiming will give Coven a blueprint for how to dismantle the TP structure entirely.

Being an effective Crusader isn't simply following the meta, it's profiling other players over hundreds of games and gauging risk. Sometimes you even might skip the TP chain entirely due to a high risk that one or more players are the Medusa. The VIP's life is in your hands, and there are just as many ways that you can perform a miracle as there are in which you can cost Town the game.

VIP Crusader is simply miserable. The odds are much greater than even for a Doctor that fellow Crusader claims are fake, but abandoning them may also prevent a nigh unbreakable combo that almost guarantees that Town wins. Doing nothing might keep you alive for a couple days, but then a smart coven will realize that you're a hidden TP and kill you simply for that. Protecting TI roles may give Coven an unexpected punch in the jaw, or it may kill trappers who don't know where else to go. A lot of misery is likely to happen as a VIP Crusader and it is completely unavoidable.

Doctor

Personally, I prefer Doctor over Crusader in this mode, as they have a lot more freedom. Don't trust the D1 claims? Go somewhere else. You need to survive in a Poisoner game anyway, and you can use these facts in your defense. You're an easier target for gaslighting than Crusader, unfortunately, at least until the Potion Master is killed.

VIP Doctor is a lot less risky than VIP Crusader, and a single Crusader claim is far more likely to be legit than if you were Crusader. You should definitely save your self-heal until later in the game, once the CL is dead. Healing poisoned players is extremely risky with the CL alive, as they can send the Crusader to assassinate you. Otherwise, use the same kind of discretion as VIP Crusader would when choosing who to heal. The risk/reward leans far further in your favor, so even though you'll probably get chewed out for it, visiting a crus claim who isn't infamous for faking the role is generally the smart play.

Bodyguard

The Bodyguard in Coven is a tragic tale of a mighty role falling far, as the slayer of the mighty Godfather, Serial Killer, and Werewolf is downright weak in Coven, and utter garbage in VIP mode. You don't really shine until N3, so here are my recommendations:
  • Vest N1. It sucks, it looks selfish, the odds of PM/Poisoner hitting you are low, and it makes you a prime target for gaslighting. The problem is that being on a Crusader who gets controlled looks so much worse. If you get called out by the Psychic, say plainly that you can't protect the Crusader N1 and that visiting them N1 would be dumb.
  • If there is no Poisoner, lie about your role and claim Doctor. If the Crusader is dead, claim to be "doc on VIP". This form of peacocking will make you look like a bigger threat to Coven than you actually are, and get them to waste a night killing you in situations where you aren't a real threat.
  • Otherwise, your N2 is best spent on a role that can't be stoned, such as Psychic or TS roles. Odds are pretty high that the Trapper will target the same person, thus confirming you exist.

Trapper

Trappers are in the same boat as Bodyguard, only you're the #1 target for gaslighting in this mode. Coven faking Trapper is basically a cliche at this point, and you'll probably be CC'd and lynched if the Psychic names you. To help avoid this, try to get Town to focus on other TI finds so you can put your claim in as late as possible. If none exist, be quick to claim, open, and friendly. You'll probably still get lynched, though.

As for how and when to place, N2 placement is controversial. If a Poisoner is alive, go for it. If the PM hasn't killed, then again, go for it. Otherwise, you have a dilemma: Place immediately and risk it being triggered by a non-attack, or wait until N3. The risk of N3 placement is having a spotlight shone on you and getting pirated/rb'd/controlled, while the reward is you can get a very likely kill on the CL, Poisoner, PM, or even Medusa if Coven is getting steamrolled. You may also end up trapping the VIP at a pivotal moment. As with many of these controversial choices, neither choice is the superior one. If you're forced to claim D2, however, you must place N2 as theater for the Tracker.

Oh, and don't be one of those Trappers who goes on the VIP N2 or even pushes to get the Crusader off the VIP N2. It's not going to happen, as your trap is extremely weak N2, and you will die to the Crusader's blade. The only valid reasons to go on the VIP N2 are either the VIP is dead, or you strongly suspect the lead Crusader is fake and want to prove it while laying future protection for the VIP.
2b. Town Investigative
Sheriff

Visit people, report findings, and try not to get stoned. Due to sheriff visits being obviously not the VIP, one should not be as open in VIP about innos as one would in TT. If it's relevant to an investigation, however, your D1 and D2 inno finds can save town members from being lynched. Your D3 and beyond innocent finds are not conclusive, due to the Necronomicon making its holder immune to Sheriff detection. You have zero reason to go out once only a single coven member remains.

As VIP Sheriff, you have three options in front of you:
  • Do nothing and pray that no one notices. Smart coven will notice, however.
  • Make a fake will incorporating the recently deceased or other safe targets. (i.e. the GA or Pirate)
  • Go out for realsies! The threat of doing this is a bit overblown if you use basic discretion. Without protection, your *realistic* chances of getting yourself killed N1 if you avoid any D1 claims is around 5-7%, as a Medusa is frequently among the D1 claims. Unadjusted, it's still a pretty low 10-12%. Your death will always be met with ridicule, but if you can handle it, and think you can get away with it, the risk comes with some serious benefits. If you find coven, not only will you be helping town as is #1 authoritative voice, but Coven will assume you're not the VIP, unless some idiot tells you to stay home. You might score a two-fer if the Crusader is still alive and the CL tries to stone you in revenge.

Tracker

Tracker is the Medusa's other archnemesis, but you have a serious dilemma that Sheriff lacks. Any one of the D1 claims can be a Medusa, and Town's majority is always balancing on a razor's edge. Going on a D1 TP claim can bag a Medusa or confirm a legit TP, but it can also get you stoned along with hidden TP's and whoever the CL controls. Personally, I prefer to go hunting for the CL/PM/Poisoner, but I find that guaranteeing my own safety is necessary for important votes to go through. Either strategy is fine, but going on TP claims comes with a number of risks.

As VIP Tracker, whether or not go out is more or less the same as with Sheriff. You're different, however, as you can't simply use 1 coven remaining as an excuse to stay home if you commit to going out, and it's harder to fake a will as the days roll by. Remember that Medusa is a major threat before N4, and CL can control a Crusader to themselves. Use discretion.

Psychic

Get names, then report names in open chat. I recommend using both numbers and names. Numbers will often be missed by the accused, and names are harder to spot for everyone else, so use both and save yourself a headache. Otherwise, it's a pretty boring role. If you get pirated, you may want to make up names, especially if you are VIP and the Pirate didn't leave a will, but be very careful when doing this. Making up names without using freshly killed evils is incredibly risky, and should only be done with the utmost discretion. I may write a guide (which is more TT focused) on how to fake Psychic with minimal risk, but that is for another time.

The trickiest part with a non-VIP Psychic is how to handle the VIP. The worst thing you can do is write (VIP) in place of a name, as that will confirm that adjacent players aren't the VIP. Adding a freshly killed Townie/GA in their place is a good middle ground, as it won't arouse as much coven suspicion and will streamline the day's proceedings.

One other important note: Do not be overzealous! When it comes to investigatives, you need to know your place: Sheriff finds get top priority, then Tracker, and only then is the Psychic acknowledged. Unless you find two freshly killed Town members and a third player in your will, your information hunt can get protectives or the Vigilante killed, making you more of a liability than an asset.
2c. Town Support
Medium

Despite Town Support being a unique claimspace, Mediums are a somewhat squishy target when it comes to coven gaslighters. Your best bet to avoid this is to be as open and active as possible. Claim immediately once the game starts and remind people not to leave when they die. Maybe even remind them again D2. Support the pushes of TI and overall present a friendly, proactive, and social image to town. With that aside, you are the Medusa's mortal enemy. You will reveal the Medusa and undo all the confusion their stoning causes. Beyond the early game, you'll probably just serve as an inert town vote that entertains dead town at night.

Retributionist

Due to the Retrimancer patch of 2020, Retributionist is not held in as high regard as it once was. It is prime fodder for coven gaslighters due to its mechanical similarities with Necromancer. All of this is tragic, because Retributionist is also one of the most overpowered roles in its current incarnation. Even if every BG, Doctor, or Crusader is killed, the Retributionist provides a second layer of protection to the VIP. Layering OP on OP, a Retributionist VIP is almost unkillable. Like the Medium, you must provide an open, honest, and friendly atmosphere to not get yourself lynched, but once trusted, you are the most threatening role to coven after Transporter.

Mayor

The best mayors can scumread, see through gaslighting, and lead town toward lynching coven. You also push through stalled votes, exposing the scum who refused to vote up the accused. Write down roles, be smart, and come out at a proper time to gain the maximum effect from your reveal.

Mayors have one advantage over all other town, even the VIP: They can mess with Coven's minds without fear of repercussion. They can fake a neutral role, fake a Town role, accuse the VIP and overall do whatever they want, because once they hit Reveal, their sins are erased. This is far too situational for such a guide, but counter-gaslighting is absolutely viable for the Mayor.

Escort

When not VIP, this role is great. It can block Medusa, PM, HM, and Poisoner. It's basically auto-confirmed once mentioned in open chat. TP baiting can trick the Coven Leader into role blocking the Medusa, and if the Medusa is open about it, they'll get lynched. A simple but strong role if played well.

As VIP, this ranks up there with Crusader as far as worst roles go. Role blocking the Medusa will likely get you killed by a controlled Crusader, so that's out. A smart N3 Coven Leader can kill you through any protection other than Trapper. Even D1 TP baiting is risky as you might be sent to a Medusa with a Crusader waiting to kill you. Just revealing your existence is a massive liability. Until the CL is dead, you must remain home and simply claim to be Town Support. After CL is dead, however, you're just as powerful as a non-VIP Escort.

Transporter

This is both a powerful role and one that's also easy to completely ruin town with. It is arguably the most technical role in the Coven expansion, as your actions can make the difference between a swift Town defeat and Coven getting massacred. The wiki has in-depth information on this role, but I will provide some tips relevant to VIP mode:
  • If you are the VIP, DO NOT transport yourself unless you're 100% sure that all Crusaders are dead! If you transport yourself and a Crusader is on you, you will pass their protection onto that other person and the Crusader will attack and kill you.
  • If you are not the VIP, you can do a medusa test by transporting yourself and the lead Crusader. If you are attacked and healed, you probably visited a medusa and saved a Doctor's life. If you are attacked and protected once, and there are no Crusader kills, you were attacked and protected by a second Crusader. If you were attacked and protected twice, or you were attacked and protected by a Crusader who killed someone else, you probably visited a medusa. You need to call out the medusa the next day, and give Town the cliff's notes version of how you figured this out. Many won't understand the mechanics of what you've done, but be convincing enough and the medusa will hang.
  • VIP or not, if a Crusader is confirmed, transport them. They may even protest this, but transport them anyway with neutrals or suspected coven who aren't likely to get shot. A smart Transporter VIP with a trusted Crusader can be just as overpowered as a crus+crus combo, if not moreso.
  • If all TP's are dead and the VIP is exposed, or if the only remaining TP alive can't save the VIP from the current threat, only then do you transport the VIP. This is a last, desperate resort.
  • If a Vigilante is forced to claim, transport them...maybe. It's complicated. If a transporter is known to exist, coven might not even try. Your mileage may vary.
  • If none of the above conditions are met, or if you think coven will go for you next, swap yourself with coven. Transporter is a powerful role, and there's no shame in self-preservation so long as the VIP is safe.
2d. The Vigilante
Town's sole enforcer can honestly end up being the most frustrating role. You can't claim openly if the Coven Leader is alive, unless a non-VIP Escort or Transporter exists. You can only use Coven's cliche Trapper or TP fakeclaims, which is likely to get you lynched. The Psychic is a major threat, and an overzealous Psychic will screw town over because of you. You need to direct attention away from you claiming at all costs. If you can deflect toward more definitive TI info such as Sheriff and Tracker, do it.

You have to lie at times, but your lies must be well focused lies that result in positive outcomes. CCing a TP role unprompted may trick the CL into misusing you for defensive purposes, but it can also throw off Town's counts and draw attention to you. Many Vigilantes claim to be on the TP chain to bait coven. Others say they're "checking so and so" in hopes to bait a stoning. Unfortunately, if you're bypassed or ignored, you'll have to fall back to claiming to be a Trapper trying to bait coven. Nothing else is viable.

With the problems surrounding being a lying townie out of the way, let's talk about who to shoot. If you shoot without enough info, you’ll kill town. If you shoot the obviously guilty, you'll probably die to a controlled protective. The best Vigilantes are also the best scumreaders, able to identify coven who are supporting their most vocal gaslighters while keeping track of claims and weighing risks. Vigilantes have to shoot: A complacent vigilante will be figured out and used against town. For some help with figuring out who to shoot, read the sections about gaslighting and identifying gaslighting to get an idea. If Town's doing well and you don't know who to shoot, shoot the Pirate to avoid a freak Coven win late into the game. Shoot the GA if their target is coven, as your heartless act in a video game will ensure that Town maintains voting majority.
3. Coven Priorities
In speedrunning, there are two categories that nearly every game shares: 100% and Any%. Almost every mode in Town of Salem requires 100% completion to win. Yes, it's possible to ignore the neutrals, but you must kill 100% of opposing factions to win.

VIP is like an Any% speedrun: You can win at any time if you take the right steps to kill an individual player. Any% speedrunners must often do ludicrous things to achieve their goals, and so must Coven if they want to win.

Your first priority is to eliminate the strongest protectives -- which can be pretty easy since they love to declare openly. It's possible that there are hidden crusaders, or even vigilantes trying to bait the CL into shooting the Medusa, but if you don't kill the Doctors and Crusaders as soon as possible, you will never win in VIP mode. Leaving them alive is attempting to play the long game, a game you will lose due to Investigatives and even the Pirate overwhelming you.

Your next priority is to identify the VIP. This is easier said than done, but here are some things to look out for:
  • Anyone that is tracked or investigated by the sheriff is not the VIP.
  • Psychics who censor the VIP’s identity have also told you who isn’t the VIP.
  • Anyone who is voted up is not the VIP.
  • Those who are ignored in a general inquiry, such as a Psychic’s or a VFR, might be the VIP.
  • Sheriffs and Trackers who don’t go out are far less likely to be the VIP. Those who provide no info are almost definitely the VIP.

Keep track of who is and isn’t the VIP, and maybe even misdirect in your will by listing Coven fakeclaims and their faux-likelihood of being the VIP. You can usually figure it out by N3 or N4.

There is one other thing that Coven must avoid: a crime that many regulars still do. This action is true for any mode but it is so much more important in VIP mode: DO NOT LEAVE THE GAME IF YOU'RE CAUGHT. You need to die with dignity. If you can't fight a charge, own up to it, instruct coven to vote you up, and take your death like a mature adult. You are helping your fellow coven because it will not allow Town to get rid of two of you in a single day. You will also give up the Necronomicon if you're holding it, allowing your fellow coven to attack. I cannot stress this enough: Countless games have been lost due to leavers on the stand. It is so prevalent that leaving has likely skewed Coven's win percentage by up to 10 percentage points, which is massive. I've seen too many games where the VIP was exposed, Town's goose was cooked, and a coven leaver caused coven to lose. In VIP mode, Coven can win at any time, so if you leave early for any reason, you are throwing!
3a. Coven Leader
Coven Leader is the second most technically complex role behind Transporter, and you will need an advanced technical understanding of every role to be a killer CL. Because it is such a versatile role, it is also tied with Hex Master for the best endgame Coven role. The Coven Leaders who win manage to come up with enough of a story to not arouse suspicion, while keeping their own gaslighting efforts to a minimum. Less important roles for the endgame such as Medusa, PM, and Poisoner will be the gaslighters, while you need to appear above it all. If a coven member's goose is cooked, you need to bus that coven member along with everyone else. If there is room for doubt, your influence must be subtle -- reinforce the false narrative while adding uncertainty to your tone. Try to pass yourself off as a townie who got duped if you end up innoing coven or guiltying town.

The above section goes into details about how you should prioritize who to kill first. Rather than repeat that section, here are some tricks that Coven Leaders can use to be effective killers:
  • Bodyguards and Trappers are no threat to the Coven Leader N1 and N2, and can be outright ignored. If a TP is suspected of being a BG or even outright states it, you may wish to risk skipping them entirely and go for the Crusader they are on. There is significant risk as a second Crusader can kill you and a Doctor can confirm a Crusader's legitimacy, but the payoff of getting a Bodyguard lynched is enormous.
  • If the VIP is known with two Crusaders alive, and the VIP isn't one of those crusaders, sending the first Crusader to the VIP will kill them both. If this is done on N2, the VIP is almost guaranteed to be exposed the next day. Make sure to communicate this with your coven in case you get lynched.
  • Controlled crusaders can also serve as an assassin, though this comes at the risk of delaying the breakdown of the TP chain, which is a top priority. Sending Crusaders to pirated coven members may be needed for your own self-preservation, brcause as of 2021-06-05 the Pirate can still RB immune roles, a bug that BMG seems unwilling to fix. Crusaders, Bodyguards, and Trappers are all effective against likely Vigilante targets. Crusaders may kill TI roles sent to town members who incriminated themselves in some way, such as innoing coven.
  • Only the Coven leader can break up a Doc + Crus or Crus + Crus combo, if one of the two are VIP. By sending the Crusader to themselves (i.e. Bob the Crus to Bob the Crus), there is a 1/3 chance that the crus you control will kill their protector. The other possibilities are that crus attacks you, or the crus attacks themselves. The effectiveness of this trick is tied to client order, and if it fails once, it will always fail.
  • A Crusader or Doctor with a Bodyguard or trap on them can be dealt with by sending the crus/doc to yourself. You will kill the BG or trigger the trap and be saved by the crus/doc you controlled.
  • The Escort is among the worst roles for VIP if the CL survives until N3, as the CL can simply send the Escort to the lead protector to bypass said protection. This does not work if the Escort is trapped, however. This only happens in roughly 1 out of every 37 games.
  • Some Coven Leaders will control a random player N1 in the hopes of aping their claim. If the Medusa is the lead “Crusader”, this is great! Otherwise, the odds of getting a viable claim out of a random D1 non-claimer are pretty low, as on average two TP will claim D1. That leaves only the third TP, Sheriff, and Tracker as potential wins, with the VIP and Vigilante guaranteeing a coven member is killed, and the GA, Pirate, Psychic, all Trappers and Town Support guaranteeing that you waste a night. In my opinion, the risk of failure is too great for the payoff, but if you like to take a ~25% gamble, then go for it.
3b. Medusa
The Medusa serves a pivotal role in coven. It is the suicide lead who casts doubt on the stability of the TP chain leading to the VIP. (though, this doubt is always held by seasoned players) It is the audacious, attention grabbing gaslighter who will either lead town into destroying itself, or be lynched by the third day.

Your job as Medusa is to grab attention, and there are many ways to do this, which include:
  • The Medusader strategy is by far the most common, and is often paired up with something else. Claiming to be Crusader on VIP is effective, but claiming to be TP on the Crusader can be devastating. If you're willing to take the hit of a D2 lynch, you can decimate all of TP and sometimes even the Tracker in a single night by having the Coven Leader send the Crusader to you.
  • Faking Psychic is also another good suicide strat. Optimally, it can be used to take out the real Psychic, 1-2 TPs, and possibly even a foolish Vigilante before you get lynched. It can also backfire, however, especially if the real Psychic is the VIP.
  • Gaslighting in general is another way to attract attention, and there is a section that goes into detail about this near the end of the guide. Even if your attempts at gaslighting fail to save coven from the noose or get a townie hung, your audacity is likely to attract less seasoned Vigilantes who can be dealt with by the CL sending a Trapper or other protective your way.

Needless to say, if you're the last coven member alive as Medusa, you probably haven't done your job. Medusa is one of the worst suited roles for the late game.
3c. Potion Master
In my old guide, I was slightly more open minded about what Potion Master can do. In this guide, I'm spouting out gospel and nothing more.
  • N1, you attack, period. Although the likelihood of being named by the Psychic is in the 20s of percent and the likelihood of the Sheriff finding you is around 1 in 10 (assuming they eliminate D1 claims), the odds are much greater that either you or the CL are found out. Further, as a weak endgame role, you should be supporting the Medusa's gaslighting effort and using your attack potion early will reduce the impact of the Pirate or an Escort taking a shining to you. On top of all that, there are no traps set N1, but a ton of traps set N2...and a lot of trappers think they can trap the VIP N2 for whatever reason. It's generally a bad practice on their part, but it's just another reason playing the lottery N1 is best. Besides, every role except Guardian Angel is a threat to coven.
  • N2, you heal, usually. If Coven has done a good job in eliminating all the Crusaders, you will instead try to find the VIP and remove any trap on them with an investigation potion. If Crusaders are still present or if a coven member (excluding Medusa) is likely to be shot, you heal the CL first or anyone threatened by the Vigilante or Pirate after.
  • N3, just use whatever potion you have left. Clearing traps with your investigation potion is usually the play.
And just to make this crystal clear, the investigation potion is worthless as an investigative tool. Most town members and even the pirate will openly claim before that information becomes exploitable by coven. I can't stress how often new VIP players screw this up, but VIP mode is a speedrun and there is no long game strategy. IF YOU INVESTIGATE N1, YOU ARE PLAYING WRONG. END OF STORY.
3d. And The Rest
Hex Master

The humble Hex Master may seem as weak as the Framer to the untrained eye, with a special ability (hex bomb) that isn't viable in a speedrun mode. However, its Astral attack makes it tied with Coven Leader as the best endgame Coven role. Where the Coven Leader has versatility, the Hex Master has the downright overpowered ability to ignore Trappers and Bodyguards when equipped with the Necronomicon. For this reason, you too must stay above suspicion, and you are the only coven role that is justified in bussing a CL to save your own skin. If your team has done a good job in eliminating the Crusaders and Doctors, so long as the Pirate and Escort leaves you alone, you can win it for Coven at any time with ease.

Poisoner

As a Poisoner, you should be supporting the Medusa's gaslighting efforts. You need to be audacious and draw a near equal amount of attention to yourself as the Medusa would. You are most effective at reducing Town numbers early in the game, but should you be unlucky enough to end up with the Necronomicon, Town is almost guaranteed a win. Your inability to break down TP chains effectively due to taking two nights to kill is a massive liability. The Coven Leader should be supporting you by removing the VIP's protection, but if you fail to score an early victory, you shouldn't fight so hard that you get the CL lynched before you. If you're named in a Psychic's vision with the Coven Leader, you need to be the CL's guardian angel and get yourself lynched. Audaciously claiming Lookout or Investigator is a great way to make people think you're a noob CL, but people won't buy it if you use the same name and are established in the community.

One other thing for Poisoner: Majority is important. If you don't know who to go for N2, go for any Pirate that openly professes to helping town. The Pirate is unlikely to be trapped, and they are a massive threat to coven. Too many Coven games are shut down by Pirates: Do not underestimate this threat.

Necromancer

Unfortunately, Necromancer is a very luck-dependent role. If PM snipes the Vigilante N1, you get a free kill N2. If Crusaders die naturally, you'll have those to protect your fellow coven and kill TI roles with. Typically, though, most useful roles end up stoned and unusable. You are, however, the third best endgame role, as you cannot die to traps or Bodyguards. You're also immune to all forms of role blocking, even the currently glitched Pirate can't stop your basic ghoul attack. Hex Master is still overall better, however, as Necromancers will still lose a night to traps or killing Bodyguards who can't be the VIP. You should probably stay out of gaslighting efforts much like CL and HM, but you should fall on your sword for the sake of the CL under most conditions.

One thing to not overlook: A resurrected Sheriff or Tracker can be used to remove traps. If one is available, don't squander it unless you think you'll be tracked.
4. How Neutrals Fit In
Neutrals are the chaos element of this chaos mode. These days, however, they're often just another hurdle for Coven to leap if they're not aligned with said coven. Sometimes, however, they may screw with town in surprising ways.

Guardian Angel

This role can be played in so many ways. The D1 revealers generally don't want trouble and are liable to dump their evil target if it's too much of a hassle. Those who hide, however, have two goals in mind:
  • End the game ASAP by faking being on the TP chain and exposing the VIP. They'll often protect N1 if they're dead set as winning as a GA. This can backfire in three ways: Their target IS the VIP and they waste valuable daytime, their target is coven and the PM kills them or CL controls them, or their target rage quits once the VIP is killed.
  • Play it straight, but try to discern if their target is coven or not. Upon their target being deemed coven, they will do evil things that usually involve CCing Sheriff, Tracker, or TS to help out their target. If named with their target by the Psychic, they will probably fall on their sword in hopes of getting lynched, often with a Lookout/Investigator claim that motivates Town to lynch a potential noob CL.
Once the GA becomes a Survivor, however, they do what they want. It's pretty safe for a Survivor to side with Town, as Vigilante retribution is far more likely than Coven retribution. Coven can win at any time, and killing a GA is a wasted night. Vigilante may simply off an evil Survivor to keep Coven from getting majority.

Pirate

In an alternate universe where BMG cared, this information will be obsolete in a short amount of time. However, since in this universe they don't, I'm going to center this section around the bugged Pirate which can RB the CL as well as other RB immune roles.

The Pirate has always been a threat to Coven, but now they are kind of an Omega level threat. Too many Pirates simply take the easy route and side with Town, and become the unofficial 10th town member who may occasionally kill the VIP by mistake. This changes the dynamic a bit, as it's generally in Town's best interest to leave the Pirate alone, while a Poisoner may decide that the Pirate is too much of a liability. Even a PM might, if they're fed up with pirates due to previous games.

With all that said, the Pirate is under no obligation to side with town. They may even let a coven member claiming Pirate slide, only to act especially evil at night due to someone else taking the blame. Pirates can often turn at a dime...but let's face it, most play safe due to their exalted status as a super roleblocker.
5. Advanced Strategies: A Tale of Two Metas
So, all Town has to do is openly claim their TP status D1 and go on the VIP, or the crus, or the person on the crus, or the person on the person on the crus, right?

WRONG!

If you didn't see why that first sentence was absurd, there's a massive flaw with the basic VIP meta, and it's that people lie. Obviously, 4 TP claims on the first day will contain a guaranteed fake, but even as few as one D1 claim can be a Medusa in a game with a shy Crusader. There is no perfect meta, most strategies, including the hidden meta, are built around the basic meta.

There will forever be debate on the best practice for Crusaders, Doctors...even the weak but still ambulatory Bodyguards, and no meta is ever perfect. The Hidden meta is the alternative, in which Crusaders simply hide and hope to not make sweet crus love on the VIP that night.

As both metas have a slew of advantages and disadvantages, here's a handy table listing those of both:

Advantages
Disadvantages
Basic Meta
Clarity for town, resulting in fewer TP dying to Crusader; gives certain Town roles the ability to bait CL (Mayor, Vigilante); trusting hidden crus on a real claiming crus can end up killing the CL
Usually a medusa among the claims who can easily wipe out a large percentage of town; gives Coven a blueprint for dismantling the strongest protectives; paranoid Crusaders will probably skip the chain and kill other TP anyway; VIP safety N1 is not guaranteed
Hidden Meta
Forces Coven to hunt every non-claimer in hopes of finding the Crusader; VIP is virtually guaranteed protection on the most dangerous night; VIP protection can be ensured for much longer
Risk of crus love, making the VIP extremely vulnerable; risk of killing a nervous TP who thinks VIP is Crusader; Coven may use the mystery surrounding you to gaslight; if CL finds you independently, they can steal your claim
5a. Advanced Strategies: Gaslighting
Before we even discuss the roles, we need to discuss gaslighting. Gaslighting is an extremely effective technique in Town of Salem, because although many players will see right through it, you often only need to trick one or two people to get an effective majority voting coalition. This technique is employed by some of the most successful (and frustrating to go up against) players.

Despite the fancy term, gaslighting is a simple concept: Lie in a way that makes people question the facts. One person who persistently lies can do a massive amount of damage to town, and a full coven crafting a false narrative will probably win. Details, and related techniques include:
  • Divide and conquer: Tie your narrative with that of a town member or two and maybe toss in a little subtle flattery. (i.e. "proven tracker says X") By reinforcing a townie you can use them as a springboard for your lies, effectively sheeping them.
  • False confirmation: The word "confirmed" is powerful in ToS misdirection, as claiming a coven member is (some good role) CONFIRMED will often not be questioned.
  • Information overload: Without spamming, overwhelm people with your lies. Difficult if you can't type fast, but easier to do in a group, if the majority of chat is built upon lies and buries the truth, Town is easier to trick.
  • The easiest targets by far to single out for a false lynch are the unfortunate Trappers who may be named by the Psychic. Trappers are by far the most common, easiest, and laziest Coven claims available. Next up are any TP claims, especially if there are stoned individuals to create doubt. CCing a Trapper or TP can often be done safely without immediate retribution, but it depends on the situation. Weirdly enough, Medium and Retributionist claims are pretty easy to topple if they're not the VIP, but any counterclaimer is likely to meet retribution the same night or the next day. Neutrals are about as easy as Mediums and then other roles are much more difficult to get falsely lynched.
5b. Advanced Strategies: Recognizing and Combating Gaslighting
This is by far the hardest to accomplish, as one needs to not only recognize gaslighting, but also hold enough sway to prevent town from getting sheeped. Generally speaking, it can be a frustrating and losing battle, but if the Vigilante goes unnoticed, they can do a massive amount of damage to coven in spite of the onslaught of lies.

To recognize gaslighting requires considerable focus and will. You need to recognize patterns that emerge over a large number of plays, and for the sake of brevity I will not go into these. Ranked guides should give you a sense of general scumreading, but as far as VIP mode goes: Pay attention to claims of roles and incidents that happen before and shortly after the Psychic lists names, as these tend to be real. Gaslighters will then try to tear down this bulwark of near-fact and push their phony narrative in its place. They will make up all sorts of things (refer to the previous section) and repeat their lies until the more susceptible believe it.

Combating it is its own beast, and may seem insurmountable.

One way is next to impossible in VIP mode, due to the lack of claimspace, but it is to fight lies with lies. There are not many methods a non-VIP can use to do this, but a VIP could fake GA or Pirate to get a claimant whom they assume is lying lynched. Another VIP exclusive technique would be to either guess the stoned TI and make up fake results or do a false counterclaim of one who seems suspicious. Finally, a TI VIP can simply falsify a suspicious Sheriff result or a CL/PM/Poisoner visit. These are all risky as it may expose the VIP to coven if it contradicts what coven knows, and may even attract the Pirate's attention if their lie gets an innocent town member lynched.

Alternatively, the Mayor can implement similar techniques, but must reveal if there is a risk that they may be shot.

Of course, since most people can't (or may not want to) do that, the next most effective technique is the Vigilante's gun. When Coven builds a united front, the Vigilante has fairly easily scumreading ahead of them. The one rule of fighting a gaslighter is don't try to shoot the gaslighter. Odds are, they have sheeped some trapper or other TP into giving them protection, and if the gaslighter is a Medusa (which they most commonly are) you may end up discretely giving them a coveted claim. Your best bet is to write down roles, shoot non-claimers who support the gaslighter, and hope you don't shoot a sheeped townie.

As for the rest of town, all you can do is be loud, motivate TI's into your coalition, and drown out the gaslighter. Town members are naturally doubtful and hesitant, but you must show conviction if you're going to fight a gaslighter, even if you're not 100% certain yourself. The confidence emanating from gaslighters is what draws town to their side.
6. Conclusion
Do people read conclusions? What else is there to say? VIP is a challenging, one-of-a-kind mode that's been out for four years now and is dominated by diehard fans, especially at the later hours. In fact, the one last bit of advice I can give is if you're new, play before 9pm Eastern as that's about when the advanced players come out to play. Once you've read my guide and get a feel for the mode, you'll be better prepared for the madness that is VIP After Dark.

Thank you for reading my guide, and I hope to see you in the most misunderstood mode in Town of Salem!