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Subject: HC's Extensive Review Series: The Resistance rss

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NOTE: Many similarities exist between this and Avalon, so this can give you an idea of Avalon's gameplay and such as well. This will be a review of the second edition of Resistance, but the third edition is similar.

1) Intro to Game

Most of the history of this game is what I've heard from older gamers, before I got into this hobby (this was one of the gateway games that pulled me in). I believe it first started as a print and play you could play with a deck of cards, then the first edition came out as a small box, then the second edition came out as a bigger box with the expansion The Plot Thickens (kind of extra ability cards you got through the game's rounds to mainly help the good guys get more info). After this, Resistance Avalon came out, which was a rethemed Resistance with roles that had certain abilities. During this process, expansions/promos were also released for Resistance. Lastly, third edition came out recently which removed The Plot Thickens and threw in Lady of the Lake from the sequel Avalon, to simplify the game for beginners.

Resistance owes some of its roots to Werewolf/Mafia both games which contained traitors in a group, and the game focused on figuring out the traitors and defeating them (or if you were a traitor, for you to sabotage the group). But Resistance also improved some things of those older classics by streamlining the process and most importantly of all in my opinion, removing player elimination.

2) Gameplay/Brief Rules Overview

Resistance is played with 5-10p (some unofficial variants on the BGG forums extend this number) over a series of potentially 5 rounds. A majority of the players will be good "Resistance" fighters trying to take down an evil corporation. But in addition, there be a minority of players in the total group who are "spies" sent by the organization to sabotage the good players' plans.

Across the 5 missions, if there is ever 3 successes, the Resistance fighters win, but if there is ever 3 failures the spies win, and the game ends.

At the start of the game, everyone is dealt a role of Spy or Resistance, then everyone closes their eyes, spies open their eyes and identify each other secretly, and then everyone closes and opens their eyes.

Every mission is considered a round essentially. Every mission has a variable number of people necessary depending on the round. At the start of a round, the leader (initially chosen at random) chooses a group of players to go on the mission. Then all players simultaneously vote approve or reject. If it is rejected, the leader token passes to the next clockwise player, the mission vote track moves up once (if there is ever 5 failed votes in a row, the Spies win). If it is approved, each player on the mission is given a Success and Fail card.

All players play one of the two cards to the center, face down. Resistance must put success and Spies may put Success or Failure. It is shuffled and then revealed - if any are Fail, the mission is a total failure, but if all are Success, the mission goes through successfully for the Resistance.

The turn leader is then passed and the remaining rounds are played. First side to 3 victories is the winner, after which players reveal their roles.

There are also some plot cards in the second edition and Lady of Lake in third edition that add special abilities if players want that variant. There are also variants in the rulebook for variable mission order and blind spies (spies dont know who each other are).

2b) Rulebook

I learned this game from the 2nd ed. rulebook when I got it, and I was able to get a game up and running the same day. This was also my first rulebook I read I think, so I think the rulebook sufficed. I did play a rule a bit wrong initially, but that was more my own mistake than the rulebooks.

I appreciated that it came with some variants for additional spice too.

3) Components/Box

The box, cards and chits are all fine. I have played my copy over 50 times now, so they do show wear and markings, but I was able to sleeve the cards, and the chits still suffice well enough. The insert isn't good if you want expansion material, so I threw that out though.

4) Artwork

No one looks at the artwork of the dystopian future, but I think the art was fine. No one really pays attention to it in game, honestly.

5) Price

The Resistance can regularly be found for $10-15 depending on the retailer, and it is very cheap for the amount of replay you can get out of the box. This may be my best playsollar ratio.

6) Availability

The second edition is no longer available, but the third edition is readily available. The expansions are available too, and I heard there is the Plot Thickens expansion coming out too.

7) Positive Points

- the intrigue and tension of the game is very high in a good session, and it really does create a good atmosphere of distrust

- as far as hidden role games go, this is perhaps one of the more streamlined and cleanest experiences. There is no player elimination, it scales well 5-10p, and the ruleset is simple and easy to get into, while maintaining the social depth that games of this ilk tend to have.

- the second edition came with plot cards and variants to freshen up the game experience. The third edition removed the plot cards but threw in another ability card to change the dynamic too. And if you want even more replay, you can always use Avalon's ruleset to add the roles of Merlin and the Assassin via proxy.

- the game usually has a very good climax where the good or bad could both win, and you really feel the suspense/tension/confusion. The wins between good and bad are also split relatively well, though it varies a bit at player count and player reading will be the deciding factor usually.

- the game can be played for fun laughs or more seriously, depending on the group. Of course, mixing players who expect different things won't be a good experience - ex, bringing a player who usually plays Resistance lightheartedly into a hardcore group can make the session unpleasant for both sides.

- there is actually a slight bit of planning/strategy that one can employ in watching the votes and using things like the plot cards.

8) Neutral Points

- I personally didn't feel the theme as much or enjoy the art, but few people will pay attention to that since the art isn't a draw of the game. I didn't feel like a Resistance member fighting an evil organization. I felt like a part of a group that had an internal squabble. IMO, other hidden roles (mainly werewolf but also Avalon) elicit the theme better.

- gameplay sessions typically take me about 30 minutes which is good...but occasionally, youll get groups that like to pontificate over and over, reaching 1 hour or even more of the game. IMO, the swing of time can be a bit annoying.

9) Negative Points

- some games can fall very flat with certain crowds. Some also do not take well to social deduction or traitor games of this ilk simply because of personality/difficulty trying to lie. Other more logical thinkers may dislike that it sometimes comes down to a 50/50 between two people for a mission, and there's nothing concrete to establish or pick one with - thus, to those people, the game can feel a bit more arbitrary/random.

- while plot cards add replay, they do also seem not that balanced. Some can be especially powerful and extremely difficult for spies to counter. It also more becomes a game of optimizing the plot cards and getting them into the hands of a good person than about the social aspect/player reading. IMO, Avalon's roles do this better and more elegantly.

- more cons can exist depending on the players' meta. For example, I've played with groups who would just accept the first team no matter what, then keep just adding 1 person at a time clockwise. This could be an issue because seating may put spies as the last to pick a team, which would make victory extremely difficult. Its also not difficult for a single person to mess it up for everyone (ex: a good player accidentally throws a "fail" or mixes up the pile for mission cards)

- its extremely player dependent. So if you have a shy person/a person who has "tells" of when they're lying (like a twitch or something), it can sour the experience. The same goes for when everyone's eyes are closed, and you may inadvertently hear movement or a minor reaction. This is a smaller issue that doesn't often come up though (for example, once when calling out the order of opening eyes, I was the spy and my voice shook a smidge, which was a tell to some players).

10) Atmosphere/How it Feels

The atmosphere does usually feel very suspenseful, which is great. As a good player, when you open your eyes, you look at the table, and you wonder who is on your side and who is not. Then you go on a mission with 2 others, and it fails, and you don't know which of the two to distrust...and while you're at it, the others don't trust you either! Its very exciting and engaging, and it can really make your heart beat, in a good way.

As a spy, its similar but in reverse. There's a certain, small giddiness I feel when I'm the spy, and I successfully get someone to believe me. There's also a small joy in throwing the blame on another (innocent or evil) in order to save oneself and ensure victory.

Does it feel like we're a rebel group against the evil government? Not really. It feels a bit abstracted in that regard since the missions aren't ever specified, and there's no narrative to the game. This is a good thing though, as it doesn't bog down the game.

11) Replayability/Variety

Social deduction games typically have very high replay, and this is no exception. Depending on the player group, it can become a very different experience as players get better and approach the game differently. Some cautious players will always reject teams until the very last second, in order to gleam more from voting patterns. Others accept in order to progress the game faster and get information. Some spies fail early to get more fails sooner and put more pressure up, while other spies fail late, so good players have less information.

Each of the player counts has some small quirks like different mission numbers and some requiring two Fails from spies. The plot cards/Lady of the Lake in third edition also add some replay with the way players get information. In addition, there's some variants like Blind Spies (spies don't know who each other are) and doing missions out of order (so you could start on the last mission first, etc) which add some replay options.

Lastly, there are expansions that add new roles and character abilities for players to look into, but IMO, the base game is plenty already. I have probably played my base game near 50 times without expansions.

12) Player Count(s)/My Number of Plays

I have played this game from 5-10p, and I have played close to 70-100 times or so.

5p-6p: IMO, this is much easier to track. In higher player counts, you may sometimes forget who went on what mission and who voted for what, but in this one, you can remember pretty easily. In addition, if you forget, there's a good chance other members can remember. I'd say this is slightly in the Resistance members' favor, as the count is lower, so its easier to socially read players, and there's more pressure on spies directly. This is probably my favorite player count because its easier to manage and talk things through with.

7-8p: this is considered the best player count, and it does indeed balance things perhaps best here. Its still fairly trackable/easy enough to remember things, and there's a more interesting dynamic of who is good and who is bad, amongst the many options.

9-10p: IMO, this is a bit more chaotic usually and harder to manage. I more often forget which teams went and who voted, but I still enjoyed this player count. This was perhaps the most interesting count at times, but it was beyond my own ability to sufficiently analyze and watch everyone. This is also usually a fair bit longer than the other counts because there's more discussion. But it still works well.

13) Expansions/Upgrades/Inserts/Reimplementations/etc

The biggest and most popular one is The Resistance: Avalon, which is base Resistance with roles added in, essentially. The theme IMO shines more clearly, the art is better and more attractive IMO, and the roles are an elegant way of adding more replay/theme/player dynamics. It is harder to track in higher player count games though because you may forget which roles are in the game (sometimes I think Resistance should have a small side board with a Mission Card Pile and an area where you could tick of whether you're using certain characters/plot cards/etc), but its not an egregious issue. Also, a small personal nitpick of mine is that I prefer the success and fail cards looks in Resistance but that's a minor quibble. Overall, Avalon is generally considered a better version of Resistance by most gamers (its also easier to play base Resistance with Avalon, while its harder to play Avalon using a base game of Resistance).

The Resistance: Hidden Agenda & Hostile Intent are expansions to Resistance which add the Avalon roles and some new modules, like Chief Spy, etc. I have not played, but I heard that the added Avalon roles are fine while the other expansions bloat the game a bit much.

14) Setup/Cleanup, Playtime

Setup and cleanup is about 1 minute each. Prep for spies seeing each other and starting takes another minute or so. Playtime can vary from 30 minutes to 1 hour, potentially more. One of my most memorable games was playing Avalon with the "kitchen sink" thrown in (almost all the roles and with plot cards I believe), and it took 2 hours or so. I'd say most games should take 30 minutes to an hour though, maybe a bit more depending on how long players like to discuss.

15) Conclusion/Score

I'd say for players looking to get a larger player count game and are interested in the intrigue of a social deduction game, Resistance is a great place to start. The game can work as a gateway game, introducing players to the genre, and it is still enjoyable for hardcore and lighter gamers alike.

If players get sick of it, they can look into other hidden role games, but overall, Resistance does its job simply and well. Despite this, I highly recommend looking into Avalon as a possible alternative to this though.

16) Extra Thoughts/Possible Improvements/Useful Links/Tips and Tricks/Recommendations/misc.

As noted above in the Components section, some of the cards and chits may show some wear and tear after a while, so sleeves may be a good thing to look into, long-term.

For those who do not own Resistance and want to try it out, its not hard to make a fast, substitute version with a pack of cards (or even index cards). Just read up on the rules, then google which missions have which player count numbers and write "good"/"spy" on some cards, and you're ready to role. Voting can be down simultaneously with a thumbs up/down, and mission cards can be some index cards or playing cards of a suit too. But the game is also not expensive ($20 ish), so investing in it isn't a bad idea either.

In addition, this game isn't for everyone, so I wouldn't worry if you or some people you know aren't into it - a few of my friends disliked the game despite liking other board games. But if you do find a good group who likes the game, it can make for some very awesome and memorable game experiences.

If you liked this game and are interested in other hidden role games, I would definitely suggest the aforementioned The Resistance: Avalon. I also think One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a great, shortened hidden role game that's even more addictive. The game plays kind of like a single elongated but intense and fun round of Resistance. The app for it is phenomenal too, and it really streamlines the experience as well.

Anyway, I hope this review helped. I wanted to write a Resistance review since it was in the set of the first modern games I bought (this, Smash Up, and Fluxx), and it was one of my early favorites for a long time. Its still a great game in my opinion, and its been a hit with a lot of people I've tried it with.

Thanks for reading. If you'd like to see more of my reviews, feel free to check them out at:
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NowOrNever88 wrote:
Overall, Avalon is generally considered a better version of Resistance by most gamers (its also easier to play base Resistance with Avalon, while its harder to play Avalon using a base game of Resistance).

The Resistance: Hidden Agenda & Hostile Intent are expansions to Resistance which add the Avalon roles and some new modules, like Chief Spy, etc. I have no played, but I heard that the added Avalon roles are fine while the other expansions bloat the game a bit much.

Yes Avalon gameplay is better than The Resistance, though I prefer the theme & artwork of The Resistance. The current (3rd edition) of The Resistance is a subset of Avalon however expansions are only available for The Resistance.

I wouldn't say the expansions modules bloat the game unless you try to combine too many (I can't comment on the hunter module) and I don't regret buying them. The current expansions are:

The Resistance: Hidden Agenda - Assassin module (Avalon roles), Defector module (Lancelot), Trapper module (new, simple & good)
The Resistance: Hostile Intent - Hunter module (new), Reverser module (new & fun), Inquisitor module (Lady of the Lake)
The Resistance: The Plot Thickens (upcoming) - plot cards, Rogue module, Sargent Module (Excalibur)

I have all these from 2nd edition & the Kickstarter Hidden Agenda & Hostile Intent.

NowOrNever88 wrote:

For those who do not own Resistance and want to try it out, its not hard to make a fast, substitute version with a pack of cards (or even index cards). Just read up on the rules, then google which missions have which player count numbers and write "good"/"spy" on some cards, and you're ready to role. Voting can be down simultaneously with a thumbs up/down, and mission cards can be some index cards or playing cards of a suit too.

I've done this with unmodified playing cards in the pub a few times. The only thing to note is that you need to make sure is that when dealing out whatever cards you use for pass/fail that no one knows which card - otherwise when you see that the fail is the 8 of hearts then you'll know who failed the mission. I'd encourage anyone who likes the game to by it though & support the designer.
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