Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review: The Resistance

Periodically I’ll be participating in the game night blog carnival, which gives me a chance to review some board games that might be a good break from your typical RPG session nights. Be sure to check out the other participants and their blogs.

From Indie Boards and Cards, I would consider the Resistance as a somewhat heavier party game and a more structured version of Werewolf. 5-10 Players are members of an underground rebel group in some distopian future. Among them are several spies that are informers for the very government they are trying to topple. The object of the resistance is to successfully complete a series of missions, while the spies within the group are trying to stop them. The side with the most successes (in the spies case, failed missions) after 5 turns wins the game.

Each turn is split into 2 segments. The first is an open vote to determine which members will form a team to attempt a mission selected by a group leader. As a straight up majority vote, all players decide if it is a good team or not. If not, the next player acts as group leader suggesting a different team composition. This process keeps going until a team is decided.

After the team is selected, each team member secretly selects a mission outcome card. Resistance members must select a mission success, while spies have the choice to select either a success or failure. If at least one card is a failure, then the entire mission fails. The following turns, this procedure continues five more times.

What comes about each round is a rather tense situation. Spies are determined randomly and in secret before the game starts. Like in Werewolf, the spies have an opportunity to see who else are spies for the game (a simple manner of all players closing their eyes and only the spies opening them). None the less, if multiple spies are chosen for a mission, they don't have an opportunity to coordinate how they will vote. If 2 spies for a 3 player mission team both vote for it to fail, they've tipped their hand.

The end result is constant accusations and negotiations to decide who will make up the team, and which members are likely spies. No one will know who the spies are until the end of the game. The spy players are constantly in the game and actively influencing decisions for mission team members. However, they are the minority. So if the resistance members are confident they have identified the spies, they can effectively shut them out for participating on future missions.

The spy players however can help sow dissent among members, voting down mission teams. As a nuanced rule to the game, if there is so much distrust that a consensus can never be reached to decide a mission team, the spy players immediately win. It's highly unlikely, but the spy players might be able to repeatedly swing other players into voting down proposed mission teams. This puts some pressure on the group to eventually give in and select a mission team, allowing the spies an opportunity to corrupt the team with a spy or two for that mission.

Aside from the basic game, there are also expansion cards. These cards allow players to do extra abilities and give the game a slight twist. Typically they either telegraph voting choices, or allow the player to secretly look at either voting or player cards (seeing if they are indeed spies or not).

The Good - It's an enjoyable party game. It moves and scales well for larger groups. There is a lot of open negotiation and deception, with players not knowing who to trust until the end of the game giving each round a lot of fun tension. The game scales well and can accommodate several people (up to 10). The box is compact, allowing you to easily throw it in a backpack making for a great convention downtime game. The components and artwork are very pleasing too.

The Bad - With larger groups, and repeated plays, it may be difficult to remember who was on past mission teams. The game can get somewhat repetitive also, however the expansion cards that come with the game really add enough variety to change up play some. Also the number of players needed is a little steep at 5.

The Verdict - This is one of my favorite party games. While the play is a bit structured, and there can be some confusion on what cards are for what votes, after a single turn everyone gets it. This has been very successful for me with groups of non-gamers, and they have all had a lot of fun. The expansion cards add a nice twist to the game play to give it a bit more life. It occupies a small section of the game shelf and is a very reasonably priced game for the fun you get out of it. Definitely pick this one up for your collection.