Entry updated 15 April 2016. Tagged: Game.
Card Game (2009). Designed by Don Eskridge. Indie Boards and Cards.
The Resistance is a Werewolf / Mafia style card game of deceit and bluff for 5-10 players. The game takes about 30 minutes to play. It is one of several games released between 2010 and 2015 which reinvigorated and reworked a traditional mode of gaming that incorporates both cooperation and fiendish lies as essential elements of play. The Resistance is regarded as a popular Gateway Game – easy to teach and understand, and appealing to players who may not have wide experience of Card Games or Board Games.
The Resistance is intended to provide a solution to the elimination of players in games like Werewolf (see Werewolves) and Mafia, a card game that takes place in a day/night turn cycle. Players are given a card which they must keep secret from other players, which has a role on it. Each night, everyone closes their eyes apart from the werewolves, who may open their eyes and collectively choose a player to be "killed" in the night. During the daytime phase, the whole group must try to find the werewolves, or avoid detection, and can chose to collectively "kill" a player who must then reveal their card/role, and take no further part in the game. Other roles can be added to the game to allow more complex gameplay. However, the deduction/bluff nature of the game, plus the time that players take in the daytime round to discuss their actions, can lead to very long games, in which those eliminated early have nothing to do but spectate. In The Resistance, all players take part until the end of the game, which takes place over a significantly shorter time than Werewolf or Mafia. Roles are only revealed after the game has ended.
At the start of The Resistance, all players are randomly given a card that determines their role. They are not allowed to show this card to anyone else. Two-thirds of the players are working for the Resistance; the rest are spies sent by the Empire to disrupt the Resistance's plans. After seeing their role, all players must close their eyes. A short script, read by one player (or in the case of One Night: Resistance , performed by a mobile phone app), determines further actions – spies are allowed to open their eyes and look at their allies, other characters are able to see different roles or identify individuals. Most of the Resistance characters are not allowed to open their eyes at any point. After this phase has been completed, the game begins.
Each round begins with a group discussion, in which players argue for their right to take part in a Mission. The Leader of that specific round then chooses a team to take part in the Mission, and a vote is held to approve it. If a mission team is not approved, the discussion continues until a group is chosen. Once on the Mission, the chosen players decide whether to Support or Sabotage it. The Empire spies must prevent the Resistance successfully completing missions by remaining undetected amongst the group and sabotaging two or three of the Missions (depending on how many players are taking part). If enough Missions fail, the Resistance lose, but if they successfully identify the spies and keep them from disrupting each Mission, the Resistance win.
Bluff games are interesting since although they rely on lies and deception as a core mechanic, they also rely heavily on trust and obeying the rules. As the roles in each game become more complex (usually through the addition of more complex characters or artefacts), players need to think creatively and often tell extremely tall tales in order to avoid detection, or to convince the rest of the group they are on the "right" side. Cooperating with allies, or forming groups of trust is therefore a key component, and although The Resistance allows for greater deduction tools than some of its predecessors, which rely more on people being good or bad at bluffing, trust is an important mechanic that drives the game.
Various game expansions and spinoffs have been released via crowdfunding campaigns through the website Kickstarter, which either change the theme or are set elsewhere in the same universe. The Resistance: Coup (Eskridge 2013) is a smaller card game for 2-6 players which involves controlling various dignitary cards in order to gain money and ultimately carry out "coups" against other players. Each turn, players may take various actions with the aim of eliminating the other players. The two cards that they are dealt at the start of the game depict dignitaries over whom the player has influence. These cards are not shown to the other players, and allow them to perform various actions, including blocking others from taking actions during the rest of the game. Players may wish to play the cards straight, or lie about which dignitaries they possess in order to remain in the game. If they are challenged about this and cannot support their claims by revealing the correct card, they lose influence with a dignitary. More so than the original Resistance game, where the artwork represents fairly stereotypical sf characters (perhaps with an emphasis on Cyberpunk tropes, but this is fairly tenuous), the dignitaries evoke a world akin to that of Frank Herbert's Dune series. All the Resistance cards throughout all the games are notable for their ethnic and gender diversity. An expansion for Coup with extra character cards, artwork and artefact cards was successfully crowdfunded via Kickstarter in 2014.
Of the other expansions, The Resistance: Hidden Agenda and The Resistance: Hostile Intent (2014) add new characters and game dynamics to the original game. The Resistance: Avalon (Eskridge 2012) transposes the game to an Arthurian medieval society. The Resistance: One Night (2015) changes the dynamic to echo that of Bezier Games' Ultimate Werewolf: One Night (2014), where all of the decisions for who to send on a Mission must be made in a single timed round. All these versions of the game were also initially made available through Kickstarter.
The Resistance is one of several bluff and cooperation games that have helped popularize board and card games which expand the deceit/trust mechanic within gameplay. Other comparable titles include Battlestar Galactica: The Boardgame (2008) and Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game (2014). [EMS]
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