The Resistance and Avalon are essentially the same game with a different flavor and a few other tweaks. Any actual differences I’ll note in the review but discussing them separately is pointless.For ease of writing I’ll be referring to the game primarily as the Resistance if for than no other reason than it came out first.
What is it?: The Resistance is one of, if not the, modern archetype of a social game wherein the group seeks to root out hte traitors among their midst while the traitors see to sabotage the group.
Great what does that mean: At the beginning of the game, everyone is dealt a loyalty card which assigns them to one of two teams, rebels or spies. The spies get to know who the other spies are while the rebels get no such information. The crux of the game plays out over five missions. Only a subsection of the group goes on each mission, their composition must be approved by the group. Spies are trying to get onto missions in order to sabotage them, rebels have to keep spies off of the missions, best of 3 wins.
Scaling: 5-10. I tend to dislike games that go above 7 since too many people results in some people being incidental to the game.
Differences between the games: The main difference is that the Resistance is vaguely cyberpunkish in theme while Avalon is Arthurian legend. Aside from that is the variants that both of them offer. The Resistance uses a deck of cards that confer special abilities while Avalon assigns special roles that have special effects throughout the game. The latest Kickstarter has added a roles expansion for the Resistance as well as some other stuff. Unless you only plan on using roles or want to mock up your own variants, Avalon is fairly redundant now. I personally prefer the roles since they don’t seem to have the same
What’s Great: The rules are fairly simple, the emergent gameplay is easy to grasp and get into. The interplay between people can be fun and the logic puzzles that emerge are fun. The time investment isn’t huge either.
What’s not so great: Since there’s not much of a game here, it’s all about the people, which means the quality of the group is of the utmost importance. This is important because the game itself is less than elegant. It’s unbalanced, with each variant either warping the game or just moving around the win percentages. Also, the rule of 2 failures needed in larger games for mission 4 is incredibly inelegant, but I’m probably just miffed that it caused me to lose my first game cause it wasn’t explained well. It’s not a game you play cause it’s well balanced, you play it for the experience though.
Production Quality: Fine, the components don’t get used that often so wear and tear isn’t really an issue anyway
Overall: 2/5. Like I said, this game is really context sensitive and is rather unbalanced. But if I can get the right group together, I will play this game in a heartbeat.