Dice on Fire Review: The Resistance

In my holy trifecta of gateway boardgames (that's games for new boardgamers, not the best boardgames), I'd probably have something like this:
  • Ticket to Ride - for a really fun and board based game
  • Smash Up - for an accessible card based game with engaging thematic elements
  • The Resistance - to show just how much fun can come out of a few cards and tokens.
In a phrase, The Resistance is one of those few games that is so profoundly good, you should find it in every collection. Let me explain…

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The Resistance takes large groups of players (5-10per game) and secretly divides them into two camps by giving each player a role card. That player is either a member of the Resistance - a group trying to take down a evil government - or they are a traitor - working from the inside, in order to weaken the Resistance. The traitors don't want to be found out and must pretend they are loyal, and the already loyal members of the Resistance will be continually trying to prove their loyalty to said group.

The group are presented with five missions and must decide who to send on those missions. After much discussion, votes, vetoes and accusations, a small group will be formed, and each member of that mission group will cast in a card that states if they sabotaged the mission or not. If all the thrown-in cards say the mission was a success, then the Resistance group win a point. If there is a single sabotage card played by a traitor, the traitors win a point and everybody around the table scowls, trying to figure out who the evil traitor was! This is a delicious social game of deduction and betrayal.

One thing going for The Resistance is that all players are engaged all the time. Even if they are not on a particular mission, they are invested in it because, either loyal or a traitor, they are part of a team. Every decision suddenly matters a whole lot.

Secondly, The Resistance is a wholly social game. Players need to talk and debate and muse over things together. Body language and other non-verbal cues can be used to help win the game. And the wider lives of a social game are drawn into the game: "John is a terrible liar! He couldn't lie about anything without blushing!"

In one game, my friend told his partner, "Would I ever lie to you, darling?" He was lying.

In another game, two players constantly accused one another of being traitors. We deduced that either one was a terrible traitor, drawing so much suspicion, or that the other was an amazing traitor, defusing the other player with such clear logic. Turns out, the latter player was the backstabbing swine!

I really have to dig hard to complain about this game. The box even includes an expansion set of cards that grant one-off abilities - awesome! My only possible complaint is that it looks intimidating to new players. There's a bunch to explain and players often look dubious for a few minutes, but really it all comes together after the first round.

If you don't like future dystopias, there is also The Resistance: Avalon, which is the same game but set in the time of Arthurian legend and also involves a variety of other special players who have access to game defining information. It's very cool.

And then there are two more expansions for The Resistance that throw in gameplay variations and new twists and turns. Hidden Agendas turns The Resistance into the more advanced The Resistance: Avalon, while keeping the cool future dystopia theme. The expansions are particularly nice, because this cheap and cheerful game is doubt going to hit your table tons and tons of times.

Colourblind Info:

No problems with this game. Information is conveyed through text and symbol.