There aren’t very many social deduction games out there, where players are trying to work together to figure out who everyone else is. Werewolf is a big one. Shadow Hunters is another. Now, I’ve never played Werewolf, but Shadow Hunters is one of my favorite games. I love the deductive element combined with varied win conditions. I also love that it’s playable with a large group (up to 8). I’m always on the lookout for more games to fill this particular niche of the gaming hobby.
The Resistance came out in 2009 as a print-and-play game, and was recently rereleased by Indie Boards and Cards. It was designed by Don Eskridge, is for 5-10 players aged 13 and up, and takes about 30 minutes to play. Each player is either a Resistance Operative or an Imperial Spy, though you don’t know who anyone else is. Over the course of three to five rounds, you’ll be carrying out missions. Success scores a point for the Resistance, while failure scores a point for the Empire. Whoever gets three points wins. The game is drawing a lot of comparisons to Werewolf, which (as I said) I’ve never played. However, I’m familiar enough with the concept that I think I can get a good idea of how they might stack up.
It’s a pretty small box, which you can’t necessarily tell from the picture. All that’s in there are 11 character cards, 5 team cards, 20 vote cards, 10 mission cards, 15 plot cards, 6 wooden score markers, 1 wooden round marker, and a score board. At the start of the game, each player will get a random character. The character deck is made up a certain number of Resistance Operatives (3-6) and a certain number of Imperial Spies (2-4), depending on the number of players in the game. The spies will reveal themselves to each other Werewolf style – everyone closes their eyes, then the spies open their eyes to learn who’s on their side. Each player will also get two voting cards – one accept, and one reject.
The first Mission Leader (chosen randomly) assigns a team to tackle the first mission. He does this by handing out team cards to each player that he wants on the job. Depending on the round and number of playing, there could be anywhere from two to five people on a team. Now all players either vote for or against the chosen team going on the mission. Why would you vote against it? Well, if even one spy is on the team, the mission has a high probability of failing. Why would you vote for it? Well, if you’re convinced that no one on the team is a spy (or if you ARE a spy and know that there’s another spy on the team). If the majority votes against, the title of Mission Leader passes and the process is repeated.
If the majority votes for the mission to go ahead, each team member gets two mission cards, one success and one failure. Resistance Operatives must vote for success (why wouldn’t you?). Spies can vote for success or failure, depending on their strategy. These cards are collected and shuffled, then revealed. If even one failure card is in the deck, the mission was sabotaged and the spies get a point. If it’s all success cards, the mission succeeds and the Resistance gets the point.
The team that wins three mission points first is the champion. The Indie Boards and Cards version also comes with an expansion – The Plot Thickens. This set of nine cards provides special benefits to the players who have them, and are drawn each round. They are printed in three languages – English, German, and French (sorry rest of the world).
This game does seem to be more in line with Werewolf than with Shadow Hunters. For one thing, it’s a voting game, which means that there will be some debate going on. In Shadow Hunters, there’s not really a whole lot of discussion, just a lot of observation. Another thing that parallels Werewolf is the way everyone appears to be on the same team, but with some bad people behind the scenes. In Shadow Hunters, you have to assume that everyone is against you from the beginning.
One nice thing about The Resistance is the lack of player elimination. In Werewolf and Shadow Hunters, people are always getting killed off. In this game, everyone’s in it until the end. It seems like you’ll have to really be careful about what you’re doing. This game seems like it might not work if you have the wrong group. There are some people that I play with that would never get the first mission even started. However, it might be a case of just letting that first mission fail to find out who the spies might be, or even to let it succeed to throw people off the trail.
This seems like a fairly straightforward game. I’d be happy to try it out sometime. I think it’s rapidly going out of stock in some places, but if you can find it, it will probably run you $20. Read more about it at BGG, and expect to see it in print again in March.
Thanks for reading, and insert clever tagline here.