Introducing One Night Revolution
Social deduction games have been making quite a splash in recent years, and few are better than The Resistance (2009) (see my review) and One Night Ultimate Werewolf (2014) (see my review). Making no secret about these roots comes a new social deduction game from Indie Boards & Cards by Ted Alspach called One Night Revolution (2015), as the front cover advertises: "From the makers of The Resistance & One Night Ultimate Werewolf." For fans of both games, this is going to make this relatively new title of immediate interest. The highly social fun of The Resistance, condensed into a single night like One Night Ultimate Werewolf (ONUW) - can it be done?
Although this game was initially billed as a "one night" version of The Resistance, the originally planned name "One Night Resistance" was abandoned before the game went to print, in favour of the name eventually used in the published game, "One Night Revolution" (see announcement and discussion). The name change happened after the Kickstarter was concluded, and the reason publicly announced for the change was that it was avoid any potential confusion from consumers who might mistakenly think this was an expansion for The Resistance (source), since apparently there was some "feedback from a small number of people that might have thought ONR was an expansion to The Resistance" (source). Since the designer of The Resistance, Don Eskridge, wasn't involved in this new game, I can't help but wonder if copyright concerns played a factor, especially since you'd think that the name Resistance in the title would have given it a stronger marketing power. Certainly many people were unhappy about the name change (discussion), which also affected some of the terminology used in the game. But regardless of the name, you can always do what Clyde W advises (here): "I am going to teach the game as "One Night Resistance" still and use spy/rebel terminology because clearly that's what it is." (c.f. this thread). It's good advice, and I've been doing the same.
The reality is that in his Designer Diary, the designer Ted Alspach has clearly indicated that his intent was to marry The Resistance with One Night Ultimate Werewolf: "What did interest me is somehow combining the "Resistanceness" of The Resistance with the "One Nightedness" of One Night Ultimate Werewolf. " Under the heading "One Night + Resistance = AMAZING" he states "Combining the essences of these two games would result in a social deduction game that had both a solid narrative structure and the possibility of role switching. And maybe, while I'm at it, I could make it so an app wasn't required, and there would be a way to get the initial conversation of what happened at night moving along. That was my frame of mind as I sat down and started putting concepts together for the game, which in many ways designed itself based on the framework above. Fortunately for me, the resulting game was as compelling as the two originals, and even more so in some ways ... I'm really proud of the resulting game, and I think Travis and I have managed to create a game that will appeal to both One Night Ultimate Werewolf fans as well as The Resistance fans, and hopefully pick up a few more fans on the way."
So let's introduce the game and ask ourselves: is this marriage a success?
The artwork style on the box cover should look immediately recognizable to anyone familiar with the dystopian world of The Resistance and Coup, another social deduction game published by Indie Boards & Cards.
The back of the box introduces the theme, indicating that "One Night Revolution is a stand-alone game set in the dystopian universe", and that it "uses the mechanics of One Night Ultimate Werewolf."
Note that throughout this review I'll use the acronym ONUW to refer to One Night Ultimate Werewolf.
Here's what you get inside the box:
● 13 ID tokens
● 16 Specialist cards
● 16 Specialist tokens
● 1 Controller token
● 1 HQ tableau
● 10 Reference cards
● 1 Rulebook
While the two teams in The Resistance are Resistance operatives or Imperial Spies, in this game they are Rebels (= resistance) or Informants (= spies). There are 13 tokens that are used to determine which of the two teams you're on: Rebel (blue) or Informant (red). Only three tokens are Informants while the remaining ten are Rebels.
In each game you'll use three more of these than the number of players. They are essentially tiles made of thick card, and are of good quality. During the game they'll be assigned randomly, with three extras going face-down in the center of the table like One Night Ultimate Werewolf.
In addition to being assigned to one of the two teams, players will also be assigned a specialist role, which is also done secretly. There are 16 cards for this purpose, with two cards for each of the eight different specialist roles: Observer, Investigator, Signaller, Thief, Reassignor, Analyst, Confirmer, and Revealer.
To assist players in trying to figure out which specialist other players are during the game-play, there are 16 round cardboard tokens corresponding to the specialist cards. The specialist tokens are double sided, so the blue side can be used to indicate a Rebel player, and the red side to indicate an Informant player.
Which specialists are in play in a particular game is open information, but you just don't know which player is which specialist. So at the start of a game you place on the table the corresponding cardboard tokens for the specialists that are in the game, and players will use these to try to deduce what roles the players are, and also whether they are Rebels or Informants.
The Controller token will simply indicate the starting player who will take his specialist action first when the game starts. Unlike One Night Ultimate Werewolf, there isn't a set sequence for the specialist actions to take place, but players take their specialist action in clockwise order starting with the Controller.
This tableau is similar size to the one used for The Resistance, and is simply placed in the centre of the table for the three extra ID cards that aren't assigned to players. It's more about aesthetics than function, but it helps add to the visual appeal of the game.
These double sided rectangular cards are made out of thin cardstock, and give players a visual reminder of what the eight specialist roles in the game do.
The rulebook consists of a small eight page booklet, with fairly large print, with the actual rules for game-play only taking up five pages. You can download a version of the rules here.
I'll assume some familiarity with One Night Ultimate Werewolf (if you're entirely new to ONUW, read my review here first), because if you're familiar with that game, the flow of play in One Night Revolution is quite similar.
Teams: Start by assigning ID tokens. You always include all three Informant tokens, which you shuffle together with Rebel tokens equal to the number of players. Deal them out randomly and secretly to all the players (who may look at their own), and place the three remaining ID tokens face down on the HQ tableau.
Specialists: Now assign Specialists. Use a number of Specialist cards that equals the number of players (the rulebook gives suggested sets of Specialists for new players to use, dependent on player numbers), distributing them randomly and secretly to all the players (who may look at their own). The matching Specialist tokens are placed around the tableau so that all players know which Specialists are in play that game.
Controller: One player is randomly assigned the starting player, and is given the Controller token.
Flow of Play
Informants reveal: Everyone closes their eyes, and the Controller asks the Informants to open their eyes and reveal themselves to each other.
Specialist actions: In clockwise order, starting with the Controller, players complete their Specialist action, saying "Task Complete" when done, so that the next player in turn can take their Specialist action. So unlike ONUW, no script or app is needed to run the game.
Here's an overview of all the special actions, noting in brackets what role in ONUW they are somewhat similar to:
● Observer - No specialist action (similar to: Villager)
● Investigator - Look at another player's ID (similar to: Seer)
● Signaller - as Informant/Spy: tap an Informant/Spy on your immediate left or right; as Rebel/Resistance: tap a player to your immediate left or right
● Thief - as Informant/Spy: view your ID; as Rebel/Resistance: switch your ID with another player's and view your new ID (similar to: Thief)
● Reassignor - as Informant/Spy: switch a Rebel/Resistance's ID with a HQ Informant/Spy ID; as Rebel/Resistance: switch two other player's IDs (similar to: Troublemaker)
● Analyst: View another player's Specialist card
● Confirmer: View your ID (similar to: Insomniac)
● Revealer: Flip a player's ID face-up, if it is Informant/Spy turn back face-down
At the conclusion of the Night phase, everyone opens their eyes and discussion can begin, starting with an initial declaration of specialists:
Specialist declaration: Starting with the Controller, each player must take a Specialist token to indicate which Specialist action was theirs (you may bluff, and may take a token from another player).
Discussion and deduction: Now in the usual ONUW manner, players discuss and debate amongst each other, trying to identify which players are Rebels and which are Informants, using and assigning the Specialist tokens where appropriate (flipping to the red/blue side as needed).
The rules recommend using a fixed time limit of about 5-10 minutes for the discussion phase (one minute a player is a good guide), after which the Controller calls a vote by saying "3...2...1...vote". The vote involves all players simultaneously pointing to another player to accuse them of being an Informant. The player with most votes is "terminated" (tied players are both terminated). The Rebels win if at least one Informant is terminated, otherwise the Informants win. For future games, you can rotate the Controller clockwise, and can also adjust which Specialists are in the game.
What do I think?
It is ONUW in a Resistance skin: For people already familiar with the two parents of this game, the easiest way to describe how this game works is to say that it's like ONIW but in a Resistance skin. Designer Ted Alspach says: "The gameplay is its own thing - it's neither One Night nor The Resistance. It's fast like One Night, but has the structure of The Resistance. It's an entirely different game with a different feel than One Night or The Resistance. On the surface it might seem to resemble One Night, but once you play it you'll realize how different it is ... As a fan of both games, I'm certain you'll be happy with ONR!" I'm more inclined to agree with those who say that the mechanics are mostly borrowed ONUW, while the theme is borrowed from The Resistance. There's not really a lot here that's taken from The Resistance beyond the theme, so aside from superficial similarities, it feels more like an advanced variant of ONUW.
It is true to the ONUW formula: The basic concept and structure of the game will be very familiar to anyone who has played ONUW. Even many of the specialist abilities parallel the abilities of ONUW characters precisely (e.g. Troublemaker=Reassignor, Robber=Thief, and Seer=Investigator). There are no "missions" like The Resistance, so the information you have to work with for your deduction is limited to a single round of actions taken in one night phase, just like ONUW. As a result it's a much quicker game with an overall structure and game design clearly inherited from ONUW. While Daybreak added different roles to ONUW but otherwise didn't change the game, this feels like a whole new version of ONUW with different mechanics, and a whole new theme.
It departs from the ONUW formula: While the game definitely has a strong ONUW feel, there's also quite a bit that feels different:
● 1. No moderator: You don't need an app or moderator to run the game, because the script is much simpler, with roles being carried out in clockwise player order rather than a prescribed order.
● 2. Clockwise order of executing abilities: Instead of having a fixed script, players get to execute their specialist abilities in clockwise order. Not only does this ensure that the order in which the specialists take their actions varies from game to game, but it also adds new information you can work with to deduce what has happened.
● 3. Separation of abilities from loyalties: Perhaps the biggest change is that the special player abilities aren't linked to a particular team (e.g. In ONUW the Seer is on the Villager team, but in One Night Revolution the similar specialist role of Inquisitor could be either Rebel or Informant. To put it differently, the roles/abilities have been separated from team loyalties. This means that players have the job of figuring out separately both the teams (IDs) their opponents are on, and their abilities (specialists).
● 4. Claiming specialist tokens: Getting players to take specialist tokens before the discussion and deduction part of the game also adds a new twist, because it forces players to show some colours or to bluff right from the outset; this really helps get the discussion phase of the game going.
● 5. Number of specialists equals players: Unlike ONUW, there aren't three unclaimed specialist roles in the middle of the table, only three unclaimed ID (loyalty) tokens. This makes it much harder to bluff about which role you have, and easier to figure out which specialist role others have, because all of them are in play. If you claim a role other than what you actually have, another player will immediately know that you are bluffing, because there aren't three such roles in the middle like in ONUW. So it's never a matter of if a specialist is in play, but who it is, and this has quite an effect on the feel of the game. However figuring out what specialist people are is only part of One Night Revolution, because the more important question is to figure out which loyalty they are: good or bad!
● 6. Specialist abilities vary with loyalty: Some of the specialist roles will modify the ability, depending on your loyalty. The Reassignor, for example, involves switching two other player's IDs if you are on the Rebel team, but if you are on the Informant team you get to turn a Rebel player into an Informant by switching their ID with one in the middle. In our games, players often admit fairly early on which specialist role they had, but that doesn't at all mean you can easily figure out their loyalty, especially because you can't even be exactly sure what impact their specialist role had, depending on their loyalty.
Is it a successful ONUW variant? In the end I really don't think this game is the mix of The Resistance and ONUW that it was intended to be, but is more just a ONUW variant. In one sense Ted Alspach is right that "it has a different feel than One Night Ultimate Werewolf or The Resistance". But in reality while it doesn't really have the feel of The Resistance at all aside from the theme, it does have much of the feel of ONUW. I think Alspach says too much when he claims "it's an entirely different game", but the changes certainly are significant enough to make it feel like a brother with a different personality rather than a twin brother. There are different things going on, different information to work with, and whether or not this appeals to you will largely be matter of your personal taste - I've found that it can be quite polarizing. For what it's worth, many of the people I played it with who were already familiar with ONUW enjoyed this new game slightly more.
Player count has a big impact: The game feels very different depending on the number of players. A big part of the reason for this has to do with the fact that it is open information which specialist abilities are in the game, with no extras. This means that particularly with less players, it becomes very difficult to claim a role other than the one you actually have; although as mentioned earlier, this doesn't matter too much, particularly since the specialist roles can impact the game differently depending on your loyalty, so there's still scope for bluffing in that way.
Components: No complaints here, with a solid job all round. Perhaps a better job could have been done with the reference cards, but the quality of the components themselves is very good.
Who would this game appeal to?
The obvious appeal of One Night Revolution is for gamers who enjoy social deduction games. But you already knew that; and most people coming to this game will already be familiar with The Resistance, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, or both. So who would this appeal to? And if you're coming from either of these two games, what would you think of this one?
If you're coming in as a fan of The Resistance: The theme will be immediately recognizable and identifiable; in fact, like us you may even just want to play with terminology from The Resistance, referring to the factions as "resistance" and "spies". It's a good introduction to the ONUW style of game, while retaining a familiar theme, and personally I really wish they'd retained the resistance/spy terminology for that reason. So if you're looking for a social deduction game where the concept of having some under-cover spies is something you're already used to, this is a good place to dive in. Just be aware that the game itself feels quite different, with no missions and less information to work with, so the game-play feels very different. If you're expecting a mini-Resistance, then prepare for a bit of a shock, because the gameplay is quite different; you may even find the reduced level of information frustrating. But if you love The Resistance but would like to play something that is much quicker, this might just be your thing, because it's certainly a whole lot faster. This is certainly a great game for fans of The Resistance to see if the ONUW style of social deduction games is for them.
If you're coming in as a fan of One Night Ultimate Werewolf: Fans of ONUW will immediately recognize how the game-play functions, and quickly ease into the game. You've already seen this engine before - it's simply a different model. It's just a new skin and a shakeup of some things you're used to. Whether or not you think it is an improvement or the opposite, well that's just going to come down to personal preference for the most part. Distinguishing factions and specialists adds a little more complexity to the game system, and for that reason I'd still think that ONUW is a better entry point for completely new players. But fans of ONUW who love that game will probably be glad for the opportunity to try something that is similar and yet offers a fresh approach to the game, which is exactly what One Night Revolution does. I recently introduced this to a group of six ONUW players, and they loved it, although it took a bit to get used to the specialist roles being divided from the loyalties; they went on to play more than half a dozen times in a row and in the end said they preferred it to ONUW.
What do others think?
I don't think there's much point in comparing the game mechanics of One Night Revolution with The Resistance, because essentially that's already been done in reviews of ONUW. This is a whole different game than The Resistance, and in that respect eliminating the apparent connection with "The Resistance" by changing the name to "Revolution" was probably a good idea. Enough has been said elsewhere about ONUW that discusses how it differs from The Resistance. By and large, these games will appeal to the same kind of crowd, however. But with One Night Revolution the big question is: how does it compare with ONUW? I'm going to focus on that aspect in this section, because One Night Revolution tends to create quite diverse responses from those who are familiar with ONUW, some hating it and others loving it. So let's consider what they have to say.
Of the critics, some simply dislike social deduction games in general; and there are also those who love The Resistance but don't just enjoy the ONUW style of games (e.g. the speedier game-play and reduced information). Quite a quite a few of the lower ratings do come from this crowd, who are fans of The Resistance disappointed with what they found in One Night Revolution. To be fair, they'd make similar criticisms of ONUW as well. But what are some things about One Night Revolution that those who do like ONUW might not appreciate? Some feel that it is too dependent on how the luck-of-the-draw assigns specialist roles, and that you can get hosed by card-switching. Others find that the specialist roles aren't as intuitive, and needing to study the abilities and reference sheet takes away from the pacing of the game; this is somewhat of an issue, because you do need to be quite familiar with the specialist abilities for the game to flow smoothly. Perhaps the most frequently voiced criticism of One Night Revolution is the concern that there is too much information, and with the number of specialists being equal to the number of players, it can become too easy to figure things out. So separating loyalties from abilities definitely changes things up, but the question is whether it comes at the cost of making it too easy to deduce. Personally I don't think so, given how some specialist roles have a different effect based on your loyalty.
Despite the criticisms, there are also many people who consider One Night Revolution to be a great addition to the ONUW line-up of games, and even prefer it above its sibling, citing reasons such as that it forces players to immediately give some information by claiming a specialist role at the outset, and that no script is needed due to the night phase occurring in clockwise order. Here's some of the more positive comments about the game, particularly those that compare it with ONUW:
"I like it better than ONUW. It takes out the whole issue of "I heard you moving, so I know you are the ****". One Night Revolution is a definite upgrade to me. In fact, I would get rid of ONUW before this one." - Tim B
"This one is my favorite. It adds an extra couple of layers of deduction based on the alternate powers (dependent on loyalty card) and that the abilities don't always happen in the same order." - Patrick Dettmar
"The best of the One Night games. Way less fiddly. More strategy than chaos." - Christopher Boat
"This completely replaces any of the "One Night..." games for me." - Jin Juku
"I prefer this to One Night Werewolf. Forcing everyone to claim a role before discussion leads to more quick and heated conversation." - Brent Grindstaff
"Utterly fantastic. I think with a few more plays, this will completely replace all the other One Night games." - Damien Mocata
"I have only had this game for a little over a month now and already has more plays than One Night Ultimate Werewolf." - Lance Friday
"This game is similar in premise to One Night Ultimate Werewolf, but is interesting in that the players' affiliation is decoupled from the players' role ... It also solves the ONUW problem of being possibly able to glean information from sounds and movement during the night phase." - Mike H
"And we finally have a fixed version of One Night Ultimate Werewolf! ... So far I'm really impressed with this game and it completely replaces ONUW." - Aaron Shanowitz
"I prefer this to ONUW and Resistance now." - Adam Bell
"Great! How IDs and abilities are two seperate things combine to make this play different from ONUW." - jtspecial
"This is the perfect blend between Resistance and One Night Werefolf." - Chad Swee
"A great take on ONUW. Easy night phase, suspicion and chaos." - J. M.
"I'm starting to prefer this over One Night Ultimate Werewolf, not needing the app and the theme are what sells it over Werewolf. " - Robert van Dorp
"For me this game has displaced One Night Werewolf and become my preferred one-round hidden-role game." - Roger BW
"Awesome variant of One Night Werewolf that feels a bit more like The Resistance!" - Clyde W
So is One Night Revolution for you? If you're new to social deduction games, this might make a good introduction, although perhaps you might want to try One Night Ultimate Werewolf (ONUW) or The Resistance first. It's a good entry point for fans of The Resistance who looking for something different and quicker, although personally I think that the similar theme isn't a huge deal, and you could equally dive right in with ONUW instead. Fans of ONUW will have mixed reactions, because they'll see definite family resemblance in this ONUW sibling, but which brother they prefer will come down to personal preference. And fans of Werewolf who haven't tried any of the modern social deduction games could well start by giving this one a shot.
Personally I love most social deduction games, this one included, so I'm only too happy to have another one to play! For now at least, it has proven good enough for us to put ONUW into a temporary retirement!
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- Last edited Mon Nov 7, 2016 1:24 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Mon Nov 7, 2016 9:09 am
Great overview and review! I think you point out all the good and bad about the game, making for a great purchasing decision for someone interested.
My biggest gripe with the game is its unintuitiveness compared to ONUW. I like the deduction in this game better, but it only works if the game runs smoothly and everyone knows the roles well. That's why people decline this game when I suggest it. (like all these games, I like smaller groups. Just because there's more of an overview within all the chaos) This is the first game I really have trouble rating, because I like it so much, but only when the stars align.