Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Indie Boards and Cards, 5 to 10 players, ages 13 and up, 30 minutes; $19.99)


In a future world, life, as we know it today, has radically changed. It seems that the government in this future is both powerful and corrupt and the people have decided to fight against it by launching a series of missions designed to bring the government to its knees. But there are traitors in their  midst, spies,working for the government, who seek to sabotage and destroy this movement. This is the setting of Don Eskridge’s The Resistance.

Within its small box, The Resistance comes with a deck of cards (Team, Vote, Mission and Character), an additional 15 card expansion, 6 score markers and 1 round marker, a small mounted board and rules.

One player is randomly selected to be “The Leader”. Depending on the number of players, a number of Resistance and Spy Character cards are dealt out. (There are always more Resistance players in the game than Spies.) Once done, the Leader directs everyone to close their eyes and then, have the players who are Spies open their eyes so they can see who are their allies in the game. Then all eyes are closed and then everyone opens their eyes to start the game.

Each round of play is a mission and the Leader now chooses which players will go on a mission. The number of players chosen to go varies (depending on both the number of players and the number of the mission). After discussing the feasibility of the Team chosen, players, including the Leader. vote. All players have two Vote cards: a yes and a no. If the majority of players agree to the Team, the mission proceeds. Otherwise, the Leader must chose a new configuration of players for the mission. (If a successful team cannot be put together after five tries, the Spies win!)

With a Team selected, the next step is to determine if the mission has succeeded. This is done by a second vote done by the Mission members themselves. Each member of the team plays, face down, a Mission card. Mission cards are either “success” or “fail”. These cards are then collected by the Leader, shuffled and then revealed.
If all of these cards are “success”, then the Mission has been carried out successfully and a blue counter is placed on the game board. But
if one (or more) of these Mission cards turns out to be a “fail”, the Mission fails and a red counter goes on the board instead. Now the role of Leader moves clockwise to the next player and the entire process is repeated for the next mission.resistance2

The game ends immediately if either side has managed to place three counters on the board; blue and the Resistance wins, red and the Spies are victorious. (And, as mentioned, if players cannot put together a Mission team in five tries in a single round, the Spies win the game!)

To add to the challenge, the game comes with a 15 card expansion: “The Plot Thickens”. If using the expansion, The Leader, at the beginning of each round, randomly draws 1 or more of these cards (depending on the number of players in the game) and distributes the card(s) to another player (or players). Some of these cards are used immediately, others are revealed at a chosen time and one stays in place throughout the game. These cards “stir things up” by letting a player see another player’s Character card, reveal Vote cards before others vote, cancel an approved Mission team, become the Leader for the round and more.

Far too often, good games (even great games) have to overcome graphic deficiencies. This is the case here. Yes, the game has a noir quality to it in its theme but the artwork used to capture that ambiance is remarkably dark (much too dark) and much too similar. Despite the icons used, it is hard to tell (and it should NEVER be hard to tell) who is on what side. In point of fact, in one of our playtesting sessions, one of our players played the WRONG side because he couldn’t tell the difference! (Whether the blame goes to him or to the artwork remains debatable but the artwork should NEVER be a contributing factor to an error like this. We all got a good laugh out of it but that’s not the kind of enjoyment you expect to find here.) But the positives far outweigh any negatives.

The Resistance shares similarities to games like Werewolf and Murder in that you are trying to discover the hidden identities of other players. Players need to be convincing – and good liars (in the best sense of the word) – to be successful here. They have to know when to hold back and when to pounce in order to obfuscate and mislead others. With the right group, this is a lot of fun. Another strength of The Resistance (and this is true for Werewolf and other games of this type) is that it can handle a large number of people (and in fact, works better with more rather than less) but, unlike other games of this genre, The Resistance ends in a reasonable amount of time and there is no elimination. (Being out of the game early is not much fun, particularly if the game can last for hours more!) The box is small so it can easily fit into a pocket for travelling to your next gaming locale. And the storyline gives all players a “rooting” interest in the outcome, above the merely “win” or “lose” of gaming. The Resistance belongs in the category of games where some diplomacy, underhandedness and outright lying is considered good form. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But for gamers devoted to this genre of play (and they are legion), The Resistance will be hard to resist. – – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy


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