Wild Card Thursday – The Resistance

resistanceThere are times that my friends accredit me with the term “Board Game Hipster” I would argue the title is undeserved though it is not uncommon to hear me say I enjoyed a game “before it was cool”. The Resistance is one such game.

Released: 2009
Designer: Don Eskridge
Plays: 5-10
EPT: 30 minutes

I picked up The Resistance while on a family vacation after hearing it described as “Mafia without player elimination or a need for a narrator.” Having lived in a dorm environment the year before that enjoyed almost weekly mafia games where I was always eliminated round 1 or made the narrator I was very excited at the prospect.

In The Resistance players find themselves living in a world in which the government has become too powerful and run the nation with an iron fist; players are thus members of an underground resistance attempting to destroy key facilities of the oppressors so as to once again live freely in their homes. The government has caught onto their plans, however, and embedded spies into their midst.

Using hidden roles, simultaneous action selection, voting (both public and private), all blended with social deduction; The Resistance is a party game that is not quite a party game. Players begin the game receiving a role, they are either a member of the resistance or they are a government spy. The game will last 3 to 5 rounds ending when The Resistance has either destroyed 3 facilities or when the spies have prevented said destruction.

At the start of the game all players must close their eyes with the spies then opening them so they may know who each other are; after which all actions become public… almost. Every round the players are taking on a new mission; the mission begins with the leader (who the leader is rotates every round) the active leader will nominate X players to go on the mission. Each mission requires a different number of members based upon the round. Once the mission’s members have been nominated all the members of the resistance have a time to discuss the assembled team before simultaneously voting confidence or no-confidence in the team’s ability to complete the mission successfully. If the majority votes confidence the assembled team departs to disable the facility. If half or a majority votes no-confidence then the team is disassembled, leadership passes to the next player and the new leader assembles a new team. This continues until a team successfully receives a vote of confidence.

Upon selection each team member is given a success and fail card (optionally a mission briefing if you like theme and have creative players that enjoy some improve). The team members then select their fail or success card (non-spies must select success). Once all cards are turned in they are shuffled by the leader then flipped over; a single fail card ruins the mission granting a victory to the spies, if there are no fail cards the mission is successful and the resistance claims a small victory on their road to total victory. This continues until one side claims 3 victories.

Often after a failed mission the room will fall into chaos when the blame is spread about on who caused the failure. All unused mission cards are then returned to the pile as well, still face down, and again shuffled before being separated back into fail/success piles for the next mission (this is done so players can’t deduce rolls based upon the unused cards being handed back in.

A Plot variant introduces an additional hand of plot cards that add another layer of strategy as cards are introduced that allow players to alter the passing of the leader, view hidden information, and the like. In 2012 a variant was released; The Resistance: Avalon, taking place in the time and land of King Arthur.

The game’s use of hidden information is fantastic; many games use this mechanic yet often adding a degree of complexity that when entrusted to a new player can ruin an otherwise great game. For example play Battlestar when a first time player is a Cylon while playing with all experienced players, or even mafia/werewolf’s need of a narrator and constant, “close your eyes/open your eyes”. The simplicity of the rolls partnered with their importance is fantastic..

The mechanics in The Resistance are simple enough that they can be taught in minutes, host no need of house rules, and won’t lead to rule debates half way through the game. The addition of disallowing open communication between spies adds a lot as well; spies may text each other but such actions will likely be looked at suspicious (which can backfire when non-spies are on their phones).

The card art is equally well done in a manner that it adds to the game, highlighting the theme without increasing mechanical comprehension. Aside from the luck of roll selection and plot draws (if using the plot variant) the game is almost entirely luck dependent which I love, though to some players it falls poorly on the luck/skill balance beam as they prefer more luck and less analyzing. The near total dependence on strategy can also lead to analysis paralysis when a team leader attempts to min/max their party.

My first play sadly was not over the vacation on which I bought the game but rather a few weeks later while back at school. I bought the game out when the traditional mafia group was too small for another game of mafia. The game quickly fell into our rotation. The lack of player elimination and the game’s usual fast pace appealed to many especially as it removed the awkward early stage of, “‘who do we lynch not enough people have died” phase mafia and werewolf face.

Classified by many as a party game due to the high player count this is a game that can be enjoyed by hard core players just as much as it can be enjoyed by individuals that are not traditional gamers.

All these aspects of the game lead to it falling in as a 8.5 out of 10; a game I wouldn’t play at every game night but I definitely wish I played more often than I do.
Visuals – 2 // 2
Skill/Luck – .75 // 1
Pacing – 1.75 // 2
Theme/Immersion – 1.75 // 2
Mechanics – .75 // 1
Fun Factor 1.5 // 2

In tomorrow’s Favorite Friday we will look at a game that was built with 2 purposes; make a truck load of money for Fantasy Flight and drench the players in the Lovecraft mythos; Eldritch Horror.
Until then you can find us on social media;
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