Monopoly, Pictionary, and Connect Four were the only tabletop games my family would play during my childhood and were commonly reserved for a blackout or a trip down the coast. Over the last three weeks, my ‘Experience Game Design’ course has been playtesting various analog and tabletop games whilst studying the format and medium.
The game that I experienced playing in class was The Resistance, A social deduction party game involving 5 – 10 players. The game was designed by Don Eskridge, published and distributed by Indie Boards and Cards and first published in 2010.
Image from EB Games
My group was playing The Resistance and had experienced some difficulty understanding the game mechanics. This is because our group were accustomed to playing videogames and mass-market games with a significantly larger physical presence and more defined boundaries. After some guidance, it became clear how the mechanics of the game worked and that it was focussed on social deduction, as opposed to achieving a goal through chance or a physical skill.
All players of the game are given a character card to remain secret, indicating if they were a spy or resistance fighter, with the resistance outweighing the spies. The team leader is a rotating role, whose job is to select players to go on a ‘mission’. Resistance fighters can only provide success to a mission, whereas a spy can choose for either success or failure. It is the group’s goal to detect and catch spies through social deduction to ensure their mission succeeds.
This game style was initially foreign to myself and the group, and our first two rounds were quite slow and awkward. As we began to understand the game mechanics the pace of the game sped up significantly and truly helped us get into our roles as the resistance and spies.
Initially, during the first two rounds, I had rapidly lost interest in the game as it seemed too vague and did not involve many physical aspects, although by the fourth round of this game I was hooked. The mechanics of a social deduction game quite interest me, and its lack of physical pieces means it is easy to reproduce as a print and play game. I found the story to be a little too generically sci-fi, although I would have loved to see a further in-depth introduction, such as a comic or QR code link to a video.
Overall I think the game is a great introduction of niche board games to the average consumer, being relatively cheap and easy to understand. The theme, art, and mechanics all work well together to great a cohesive and immersive experience once all members of the group have a good understanding of the game.