Reviewed by: Dave
Dystopian future ahoy! Plucky rebels look to overthrow the corrupt corporate leadership of the world, but the corporate thugs have discovered the rebel plots and sent spies to disrupt their plans. Why a few spies and not a small mercenary army or a couple of missile-toting drones? Who cares! If they had taken more practical measures, we would not have the best team bluffing game in existence to bat around.
The game starts with one person holding the Resistance Leader token. The Leader chooses a team of people (how many depends on which number mission and how man players there are), and all players vote on whether or not they accept the team- Resistance members want to avoid teams that they think have spies, while spies generally want to make sure at least one of them is on the mission. If the team is turned down, leadership passes to the next person. If the team is accepted, team members secretly vote for the mission to succeed or fail; if all vote to succeed, the Resistance scores, but (with certain exceptions in bigger games) one failure vote scrubs the whole mission and scores it for the spies. Leadership then passes to the next person. There are up to five missions per game; the first to team to three wins.
Unlike the Mafia-inspired titles (most commonly Werewolf) that people generally connect with the idea of bluffing games, there is no elimination aspect to The Resistance. All players remain involved for the whole game, and even spies who have been successfully sniffed out by Resistance members can continue to work to throw the Resistance off the trail of their comrades. This mostly takes the form of mind games, but if the Leadership token passes to a known spy, it still works against the Resistance members; if five consecutive suggested teams are turned down, the spies automatically win, and of course any team put forth by a known spy will be shot down. Most importantly, though, it means all players remain capable of playing into the outcome all the way to the end of the game, the lack of which creates the biggest downside to an elimination game like Werewolf.
Newer versions of The Resistance come with plot cards that can be used to deepen the game and potentially throw some power back towards Resistance members (if the base game has a weakness, it's that given players of equal ability, over time the spies will win a majority of games). However, these cards lengthen the game, at times substantially, and most groups can stick with the base game for a long time before feeling the need to work in new twists. There is also a version of The Resistance called Avalon, which re-creates the game using characters from Arthurian legend (Merlin, Morgana, Percival, etc). This review can be considered to cover the base gameplay of Avalon, but Avalon introduces character roles which allow certain players to know who their enemies are. This makes Avalon a more complex version of The Resistance, but it may be the preferable option for players who enjoy the role cards in games such as Ultimate Werewolf as opposed to team versus team of people who are no more or less powerful than anyone else.
The Resistance, base game, may be the game most likely to be repeatedly enjoyed by a mid-sized group of players; take its expansion cards and the Avalon version into consideration, and you can find the playstyle that suits your group's tastes. And if you're a terrible liar, get this game anyway- you'll learn.