Back in April, Wil Wheaton played a game called The Resistance on Tabletop during season 2 episode 2. The game is very reminiscent of mafia and werewolf but is far more structured which is a much needed improvement to the genre. The players are either loyal members of a resistance or undercover government spies. The spies are aware of one another and work towards destroying the resistance cell. Five to ten players can participate and the goal is to take a majority of the rounds. Pretty simple.
The game begins with the spies acknowledging each other.1 Afterwards, leadership is bestowed upon one (un)lucky individual.2 Each mission has a set of number of participants. The leader assigns people to the mission team (and may choose him or herself). Once the team is selected, every person in the game votes to approve or reject the mission team. Majority wins but ties go to the rejectors. If the mission team is rejected, the mantle of leadership passes to the left and the mission round begins anew. Five consecutive rejections and the spies win the game.
If the team is approved, each team member is given a success and a fail card. Loyal resistance members must submit the success card and discard the fail card. Government spies may submit either card. Once all the mission cards have been submitted, the leader shuffles the cards and reveals them. If there is a single failure, the mission fails and the spies are one step closer to victory.3 Sans fail cards, the loyal resistance members are one step closer to bringing down their oppressors. Either way, the mantle of leadership passes to the left and the mission marker is moved to the next mission.
Rules-wise, this is a fairly simple game that can be hours of fun. We’ll often play several rounds over the course of a couple hours. But there’s a lot of strategy and depth to this game. How well can you deceive your friends? How well can you read your friends? What’s the best strategy for getting yourself onto a team? Can you make reasonably sounding arguments that will lead other players to the wrong conclusion? Can you sacrifice yourself to ensure your fellow spies are not found out?
After everyone’s got a feel for how to play the base game, you can introduce plot cards. There are three types of plot cards, Leadership (Star), Always On (Square), One Time Use (1). Plot cards are only drawn once per mission. So if the mantle of leadership moves for some reason (a plot card, a failed team vote), the new leader does not draw more card. At the beginning of each mission, the leader draws two plot cards from the deck and must distribute them to other players. The exception is Leadership cards which must be used by the leader. These cards are drawn and distributed before any mission team selection. Some cards reveal how mission cards were submitted, some force players to reveal their character cards to other players, some force players to vote first and some move the mantle of leadership or nullify a vote. These cards stir up the game quite a bit but are lots of fun.
Fair warning, there will be lots of raised voices and heated discussions. Also be mindful of your tells. And try to play in similar ways as a loyalist or a spy. Given enough time, patterns will develop and observant players will be able to pick you out as a spy quickly. For example, my best friend, who’s known me for over two decades, can tell within a mission or two whether I’m a spy or not. Another friend of mine is incredibly easy for me to read and I can often pick out when she’s a loyalist.
So, if you’re able to get a decent sized group together for game nights, Resistance can fill the hole when most of your games are 2-4 players. I highly recommend it and I’ll have a post on it’s cousin, Resistance: Avalon, soon.
- Everyone close your eyes. Spies open your eyes. Spies close your eyes. Everyone open your eyes. ↩
- I hate being the first leader. There’s almost no information to play on unless you’re a spy. ↩
- The fourth mission can be an exception to this rule. In larger games, a single fail does not fail the mission. ↩