When I was introduced to the legend of King Arthur, I found it fascinating. The legend is such a well crafted story that has stood the test of time. It has all the major elements a young boy needs. Knights fighting, evil uprisings, magic, and a women who throws a freaking sword at you. Pure awesome. Naturally, when I find a game that has a theme that matches this legend, I’m instantly interested.
The Resistance: Avalon is a hidden role game where players are either loyal servants of Arthur or minions of Mordred. The game pits the two sides against each other to see who will rule Camelot. This game is a retheming of his original game, The Resistance, but also adds new roles that allow this game to be different than the original. Will this game take the crown or will the kingdom fall into the wrong hands? Read on to find out.
The Resistance: Avalon is a 5-10 player game designed by Don Eskridge. The game plays in about 30 minutes and plays best with 7 players.
At the start of every game, players will be randomly assigned to a team. All players will go through a dialog that allows for the minions of Mordred to know who each other are. These players will attempt to thwart the servants of Arthur in their attempts to complete quests without giving it away that they are playing for the evil side. If a minion of Mordred manages to get themselves on a quest mission, they can cause it fail. Servants of Arthur must use a healthy amount of discussion, accusation, and deduction to determine who is loyal to whom. There are a total of five quest that will need to be attempted during the game. If Servants of Arthur complete 3 of the 5 quest they win. If the Minions of Mordred can cause 3 of the 5 quests to fail, they win.
When you get a game that doesn’t have a typical board you don’t expect a ton in the box. Maybe some simple cards to represent players and voting, but this game doesn’t do that. They have a card or tile for each different voting phase, character cards, and score markers. All components are done with high quality materials. The cards are made of a slightly firmer material then a typical card you find in board games. I’m sure this was more expensive to produce, but will survive many more games. The tiles are a little heavier and thicker than you would find in a typical game. Both the tiles and cards quality are a nice touch. The artwork on the bits isn’t super extravagant, but looks good and fits the theme. Very high marks in the component department.
How to Play:
Each game starts with one character card for each player shuffled into a deck and dealt. There is a set number of good and evil cards in the deck depending on the number of players in the game. After players have looked at their cards, someone will read a script that allows for the minions of Mordred to all know who each other are. This allows them to know who to secretly work with to win the game. What makes Avalon different than the first game in this series is the different roles that are in the game. There are six character cards that give players specific information about other players that is only known to them. Four of these character cards are best suited for larger groups when you want to add more elements to the game. For this segment of the review I will only be talking about a game with two other cards, Merlin and the Assassin. This is the recommended by the publisher as the first character cards to add to the game. During the same script above, Merlin will learn the identity of the minion of Mordred players. The Merlin player must not be overt that he knows these players, because the Assassin can win the game for evil if he is able to pick Merlin at the end of the game. But enough about the start of the game. We should talk about process of completing a round.
A round of play will consist of a team building phase and a quest phase. A player will be assigned the leader for this round. That player will use what he knows to propose a team to go on this quest. Each quest has a different number of players to be sent and the players will then vote if they approve of the team. If it is rejected, the next player will suggest a team. If five consecutive teams are rejected, evil team wins.
If the team is approved they they will go on the quest. These players will get a pass or fail mission card. Each player cast their vote and if a single fail card is played, the quest fails. Pass or fail, a token is added to the quest track to mark the progress. Then a new player is selected to choose a team for the next quest.
This will continue until one side has completed three quest successfully or three quests have failed. If the Arthur team has won, the Assassin has one last chance to win for the evil side if they can correctly pick the Merlin player. Rounds move very quick, with discussion and accusations flying on who was on what side.
I’m not going to keep you in suspense that long, I enjoy the game. There is something about hidden loyalty games that is just a ton of fun for me. I enjoy trying to scheme my way into hiding my true loyalty just as much as trying to deduct who is on the evil team. What I especially like about Avalon over similar-themed games, like Mafia or Werewolf, is that the game runs itself. Let me explain. With games like Mafia or Werewolf, you need to have a moderator to manage the game and allow it to flow smoothly. If you happen to have a bad moderator, the game experience is ruined. With using the script at the start of the game, there is no need for a moderator. The game rules allow for a very easy play independent of an overseer of the game. Also, there is no player elimination, which keeps everyone engaged and try to affect the game.
While playing this game I had two different experiences with two different groups of players.
The first group decided to play with only deduction. Players would decide who to send out on quest based on what happened in the team building votes and quest results in the game so far. They were not making any accusations of players loyalty and thus very little bluffing. It felt like the players were going through the process of the game, and allowing, rather than trying, to manipulate other players. If that makes any sense. The second group I played with got into it where, after every vote, there were accusations being made at other players and forcing a ton of bluffing by the evil players. At one point during the game, every player voiced their allegiance to Arthur allowing for a good laugh around the table.
This is where the major flaw of the game is exposed. I think this game can be hit or miss depending on the gaming group that you are playing with. The game truly shines when people are acting on the little information they know and trying to influence the votes and mess with other people. If you get a group of people who decide to sit back, the game can drag and takes some of the fun out of the game.
A nice feature of this second edition/retheming of the first Resistance game is that, within Avalon, you have all the necessary pieces to play the original game by not using any of the new character cards. This adds some nice value to the game if you want to try out the original game with the new character cards. (Note: the publisher has released the Merlin and Assassin cards for the original Resistance game).
Looking at the new character additions, the game does a nice job balancing the special powers on the character cards. They each add a level of complexity with the games and are a worthy addition to the game. Most of my games were played with just the Merlin and Assassin, but the other special cards worked well in the games we played. I do feel that some trial and error with these special cards is necessary. Some tip the scales in one team’s favor more than others and must be used sparingly as you introduce new players to the game. I think this game is a great game to bring out if you want to show players how much fun this type of game can be.
Deception and hidden role games can be a hit or miss genre in the gaming world. If played in the right group they can foster experiences that you will laugh about for years. The Resistance: Avalon is a game with accusations and bluffing that will make you want to play more. This is a very solid game that allow players to quickly get into the game and allows for the fun of figuring out who is on what team to shine through. With a low price tage and easy to learn roles, The Resistance: Avalon is a great game for anyone looking for a more social gaming experience I believe that every gamers’ collection should have a game in this genre and The Resistance: Avalon is a great candidate to fill that void.
If you are interested in getting a copy for yourself, it’s about $15
Final Score: 4 Stars – A well designed hidden role game that will keep your engaged as the game unfolds.
• Not a game for everyone
• Game could be boring due to lack of bluffing by players