By: Kyle Grubb
Odds are pretty decent that you haven’t heard of this game before. Trust me when I say that you’re missing out.
I’ve always enjoyed Board Games, or Tabletop Games, or whatever you want to call them. That being said, for a while I was never really the biggest fan of the less mainstream ones. By that, I mean that I only really the played the flagship games, the Monopoly’s and the Clue’s and the Life’s of the world. You know, the simple, boring stuff. Then I started watching a certain Youtube series, Tabletop, hosted by Wil Wheaton. Everything changed in an instant.
I had been aware of games like Settlers of Catan and Munchkin, but I had never played any of them. I couldn’t even really tell you why. It wasn’t as if I thought they were too nerdy or something; I was a nerd through and through. They just had never caught my interest. Tabletop, though, made me aware of all of the fun games that I had been neglecting. As I watched the series, I found myself wanting to buy each and every game that they played. Finally, one episode made me take the leap. That episode was about The Resistance.
Ever since buying The Resistance and getting together a group of people to play it, a tradition has formed at my house. Every other Sunday, I host a Game Day. Tons of people are invited over and are encouraged to bring whatever Tabletop Games they enjoy, and we all play them. Since I’ve encouraged my friends to invite people along, I’ve also been able to meet people through Game Day. It’s opened up my gaming repertoire and made me some new friends. All of that I owe straight to The Resistance and Wil Wheaton.
The Resistance is a game of deception. Players are members of a Resistance movement that is trying to overthrow an oppressive government. To do this, they sent members on a series of missions. If three of the five missions are successful, the Resistance is victorious. Sadly, to complicate matters, some of the players are actually secret government spies embedded into the group to sow distrust and take the organization down from the inside. While the spies know who each other are, the loyal resistance members are left doubting everyone around them. Without teamwork, though, they are unable to complete any missions. As such, the poor loyal members of the resistance are left to try and work out who their true friends are if they have any chance of victory.
In my group of friends, this involves quite a lot of yelling.
The Resistance is a heated game. Being unable to trust anyone around you, or sowing distrust in other members if you’re one of the spies, means you’ll be constantly observing and noting the actions of every other person playing. Tensions will likely be high. Arguments are almost certain to break out amongst a group of players enjoying themselves. While there are verbal fights between players, I’ve never actually seen anyone truly mad at someone else, though. The game just inspires deliberate thinking and action, and careful observation of your friends. If you’re loyal, you know that if you’re not on a three player mission in a five player game, there’s a spy on that mission. Thus, you fight the only way you can: an impassioned plea. See, you know you’re loyal. The problem comes in figuring out who isn’t.
The start of every game in The Resistance begins with players being dealt their role card to determine if they are loyal or a spy. This cards cannot be shown to anyone else, as it would completely ruin the entire point of them. Then, everyone puts their heads down. The spies are then asked to lift their heads and make eye contact with each other so as to know who their fellow traitors are. Then everyone lifts their heads and the game begins proper. The main game of The Resistance is split into 5 missions. Each mission is designated a certain number of players that must be sent, as noted on the game board. The current leader, randomly decided at the beginning and then passed clockwise every turn afterwards, must decide the players to take on the mission by handing them a gun tile. After a team is formed, all players vote on whether or not to send the current team on the mission. It is simple majority, with ties going to those denying the team. If a team is denied, than leadership passes clockwise and the process begins again. If a team is approved, they progress on to the mission. Each member of the mission team is given a Success card and a Fail card. If you’re loyal, you can only play the Success card, but spies are allowed to play either. Cards are played face-down and shuffled together so as to hide the identities of each card’s original owner. Except for special missions as denoted by the game board, it only takes a single Fail card for a mission to be deemed a failure. Across the five missions is a best-of-three competition: three successful missions, and The Resistance wins, but three failed missions, and The Spies are victorious.
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when playing The Resistance is the fact that it is a 5 to 10 player game. Four people or less can’t play it. This is one of those big party games saved for times when you have a decently sized group over. Each number of players has its own little game board, and plays ever so slightly different. Each game board has a different set of required players per mission, and also a different number of spies. While loyal members will always outnumber spies, the number of spies will grow as the player count increases. In addition, in the games with more players, there are special missions where at least two Fail cards are required for a mission to be failed. These can dramatically change the way spies have to play, and can really make things a lot more exciting.
While the game can seem complicated, it’s actually very simple when playing. After one or two games, you’ll have the rules down completely. Each game usually only takes around twenty minutes, though games can be faster or slower depending on how much the players are arguing. With a group of players that really want to win, I’ve seen games clock upwards towards an hour. The competitive spirit, though, makes the game so much more fun. As long as you don’t allow yourself to get too worked up, there shouldn’t be any lasting annoyance when the game is done. Usually I find myself impressed by the spies after they win, or amazed by the other players if I’m a spy and they manage to figure out my team’s identities.
Honestly, this game is some of the most fun I’ve had playing games. With a good group of people, usually a fun mix of different types of thinkers, you may find yourself surprised by the kinds of interesting theories and deductions people come up with. Each game is like a small investigation if you’re loyal, and it’s always fun to see how well you can deceive your friends as a spy. In both situations, though, you’re fighting an uphill battle and desperately maneuvering your way through every glance, every word, every vote so as to lead your team to victory. Even if you have no idea who the rest of your team is.
This game is a blast. Seriously. Now, I must admit that if you really are apposed to argument or confrontation of any kind, you may not enjoy this game that much. One of my friends is like that. Still, it’s pretty hard not to get wrapped up in the emotion and start battling for victory using only your quick wits and sharp tongue. There’s a lot to love in The Resistance. In particular, if you’ve ever played games like Mafia with your friends, or play Town of Salem on the computer, you’re pretty much right at home. The advantage to The Resistance over those games is that everybody plays throughout the whole game, and, unlike Mafia, there doesn’t need to be a narrator. As such, everyone is included until the final moments. That’s really what gives this game the edge over some other games like it. If you like those games, but miss out on the special abilities that some characters are provided, there’s a version of this game, The Resistance: Avalon, that provides special character cards that change up the flow of the game. It’s a lot of fun, though not different enough to warrant its own review.