Welcome to Board Games With OB, a somewhat profane, possibly semi-regular feature where OregonBeast gets a board game he likes and briefly explains how to play it and hopes you would be interested in playing it, too. Because board games are fucking awesome.

Tabletop gaming is a shared experience. You and few of your friends/frienemies gather round a board/bits/deck of cards and engage in a bit of friendly competition.

Or, in the case of The Resistance, to pull some straight-up mindfucking on people.

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The Resistance, a more diabolical version of Mafia, is a game of secret identities and sabotage, of emotional and mental gymnastics, where everything you think you know about a person can wind up being one massive, gigantic lie. And trust me, lying will happen. After a few rounds of this game, you’re fully capable of running for the Senate.

So, let’s fuck some minds up and talk about The Resistance.

Game: The Resistance
Players: 5 to 10
Gametime: Around 30 minutes
Designer: Don Eskridge (USA)
Key Mechanics: Secret identities, bluffing, simultaneous voting

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Story: Sometime in the future, there is a resistance group looking to overthrow a corrupt government. However, some spies, loyal to the government, have infiltrated The Resistance’s ranks. The spies know who they are, but those loyal to The Resistance are in the dark. As The Resistance goes on a series of missions, the spies must attempt to infiltrate the mission teams and sabotage the missions while avoiding blowing their cover.

What do you do? The first step is determining which players will be spies and which will be Resistance loyalists. This is done by a deal of cards. How many spies there are is determined by the number of players (The central scorekeeping card will provide this necessary information). After the roles are assigned, all the players close their eyes, and then the spies can open their eyes so they can find out who their partners in sabotage are. Once they know the lay of the land, everybody opens their eyes again.

Now, it’s TIME TO GO TRY AND FUCK SOME GOVERNMENT SHIT UP.

A game of The Resistance is a series of up to five missions. The scorekeeping card tells you how many players will be going on a mission. On each turn, there is a mission “leader” who nominates a team of players to go on the mission. All of the players then vote of whether the approve or reject a team make-up. If a majority of players approve a team, that team goes on a mission. If a majority of player reject a team or the vote is a tie, the team doesn’t go, the next player in line becomes the mission leader, and they must nominated a new team. But, this can’t keep going on forever: If five consecutive teams are rejected, the spies win the game.

Once a team is approved, the players going on that team are given Mission cards, two cards, one, that when played, votes for mission success, the other signifying the mission’s failure. Loyal Resistance members must play the mission success card. Spies on a mission can choose for the mission to either succeed or fail.

So the team members make their choice, the cards are shuffled so nobody knows who chose what and the cards are revealed. If all the players voted for success, the mission obviously succeeds and The Resistance wins that round. (fuck yeah!) If a fail card was played (generally, it takes just one), the mission fails and the spies win the round. (bastards!)

During all this, talking is encouraged. If you’re a loyal Resistance member, you want to make sure you’re on as many missions as possible so they will succeed, and you want to ensure those you suspect of being spies aren’t. If you’re a spy, you’re either trying to lay low and being unassuming or, if there’s some heat on you, trying to pull some awesome mindfuckery to convince other players you are, in fact, not a spy but you’re pretty sure that asshole accusing you of being a spy is obviously really the spy. Once the accusations start flying, The Resistance can become truly diabolical.

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How to taste sweet, sweet victory: Three successful missions, The Resistance wins, Three failed missions, the spies win. Generally, the game weighs in favor of the spies, so if it gets to the fifth mission, the nomination process can become absolutely nuts.

Variety is the spice of life: The second printing includes an expansion called The Plot Thickens. This adds extra plot cards to the game that gives players special actions such as being able to see what another player’s role is, or immediately become the new mission leader, or force a player to cast their vote on a mission face-up so all the other players can see how they vote and so on.

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A new version of the game was made and funded on Kickstarter called The Resistance: Avalon, which takes the theme from futuristic to medieval and adds two extra elements: One of the loyal players (Merlin) gets to know who the "spies" are from the beginning. However, one of the spies is an assassin and if the loyal players happen to win, the spies can steal the win if the assassin correctly guesses who Merlin is.

An off-shoot game called Coup was made that is set in the world of The Resistance, but it is a much different game.

So, what’s awesome about this game?

  • The mental anguish it causes. Seriously. Before you play The Resistance for the first time, you don’t think that a few cards and some pieces of cardboard could cause you to question your gut instincts as deeply as what happens during this game. It becomes oddly addicting. I’ve never been able to have a game play just one round of The Resistance. It usually becomes at least three.
  • After a game is over, you find out who the spies were. This is usually good for at least one “Holy shit, no way!” to be uttered.
  • The size of a group it can accomodate. The Resistance can play up to 10 people, which definitely puts it into the party game demographic. But Apples to Apples this is not.

Watch it being played: The Resistance was featured in Season 2 of Tabletop. A good example of the banter that can happen when there’s two main suspects (Felicia Day and Amy Okuda) and it’s only possible one of them is the spy (since Allison Scagliotti was pegged pretty early on).

Previous Editions of Board Games With OB: [Takenoko] [Snake Oil] [Tsuro] [Dixit]

Images via BoardGameGeek