This week I decided to try out The Resistance, a semi-cooperative game similar to party games like Mafia or Werewolf. According to the games creators: The Resistance pits a small group of resistance fighters against a powerful and corrupt government. Im intrigued, tell me more The resistance has launched a series of bold and daring missions to bring the government to its knees. Unfortunately spies have infiltrated the resistance ranks, ready to sabotage the carefully crafted plans. Spies, resistance fighters, and missions!?! On first impression this has everything Im looking for in a game night! We cracked open the box and dove into the rules. Some questions we had right off the bat: Whats a mission?, Why would I ever vote no to a mission?, and How on earth could the spies ever win? Needless to say, we were confident that we would have this game mastered in ten minutes.
In The Resistance, players are either members of a Resistance trying to overthrow an imaginary government, or Spies trying to defeat the Resistance. The game is won if the Resistance finish three missions, or if the Spies sabotage three missions. As a Resistance player, the goal is to prevent spies from going on missions. As a spy, the objective is to manipulate other players and be selected for a mission. The game encourages discussion, and players can say anything that they want at any point in the game. The discussion component is really what makes game what it is. Players lie throughout the game and nobody can be trusted. During the middle of our game, my friend leaned over and said I feel like Ill never trust anyone again. That sentiment was echoed by the entire table.
The game is designed for 5 10 players, and is most fun when played with a large group. We had five players in our game, and, while workable, was not nearly as fun as the game would have been at 6 or 7 players. Our game times were all right around 30 minutes, and our group took about 30 minutes to read and decipher the rules. Despite our initial confidence, the game took a little longer to master than ten minutes. None of the components of the game are overly complex, but some of the mechanics are not very intuitive on the first reading. After playing a couple of times, the game was easy to teach to newcomers in a few minutes.
In a game of five, three players are Resistance and two players are Spies. The players randomly draw a role at the beginning of the game, and the spies secretly identify themselves to one another. After the roles are assigned, a leader is randomly chosen and the game begins.
The game consists of up to five rounds, and each round is made up of a Team Building Phase and Mission Phase. During the team building phase, the leader picks players that he wants on his team, and the players publicly vote on whether they want the mission to go forward. This was a point of serious confusion during our first game, so Im going to break it down in a little more detail. During the first round, three players are selected to go on a mission. If the leader is Resistance, he or she will try to select other resistance players to go on the mission. If the leader is a Spy, he or she will try to sabotage the mission by placing a spy on the mission. This means that every leader has different priorities for who should go on the mission. Players evaluate those priorities and decide whether the mission should be accepted, or whether the mission should be rejected. If the mission is rejected, the leader moves clockwise to the next player and the Team Building Phase restarts with the new leader. If the mission is accepted, then game moves on to the Mission Phase. It should also be noted that if a mission is rejected five times in a row the Spies win. This didnt happen in any of our games, but we got pretty close a couple of times.
During the Mission Phase, each player that was selected for the mission secretly votes on whether they want the mission to be a success, or wether they want the mission to be a failure. If any of the players vote for the mission to fail, then the mission fails and spies win the round. If a single spy is selected for the mission, the mission will fail, and because the mission votes are secret, you never know who the spy is. For this reason, the team building phase is where most of the strategy of the game comes into play. During our game, we all agreed that playing as a Spy was more fun than playing as Resistance. Playing as a Spy allows a player to go on the offensive and bluff their way to a win. Playing as Resistance is much more defensive and reactive. That being said, the deductive aspects of playing as Resistance make either side fun to play.
The game continues until either: (a) three missions succeed and Resistance wins, or (b) three missions fail and Spies win.
The Resistance is an entertaining game that plays well in a large group. The mechanics are a little tricky to master at first, but the game is easy to pick up and teach to new players. The different roles allow for some variation in the play style while keeping things fresh game to game. The game is fundamentally about reading the other players and determining whether those players are lying. For this reason, the strategy of the game is easy for most players to learn and makes it a good option for non-gamers Thanksgiving at the parents maybe? The basic games replay value might be somewhat limited, but the game also allows for expansion via The Plot Thickens cards, which create variation and freshness in the gameplay. Overall, I would recommend The Resistance to anyone looking for a game they can play with a big group. The gameplay is strait forward enough for novice gamers, while being strategic enough for expert gamers. You can find the game on Amazon.