There are a lot of mighty fine video games out there, and I've played one or two of them myself. Most of the best ones elicit an emotional response from me.
I remember agonizing over choices in Papers, Please, getting a crush on a character in Harvest Moon, and even getting sucked into the monster I had created in Knights of the Old Republic. I look back fondly on the empires I have painstaking guided to greatness in games like Civilization and the Total War series. I cringe when I recall the rage that a game like Starcraft, Hearthstone, or worst of all, Rust, has brought out of me.
I look back fondly on the camaraderie I enjoyed raiding with my on-campus World of Warcraft guild in college. It was an experience I've tried several times to replicate, but to no avail.
It still haunts me when I think about the first time my band of refugees died in This War of Mine, and I still feel guilty about that time my party member died in Dragon's Age.
So when I was deciding which game to choose to write about for this contest, there was no shortage of options. Ultimately though, I realized that some of my most enjoyable moments spent gaming were had while playing something that doesn't require a console or a PC at all. It was the times I spent playing The Resistance (and its sequel, Avalon).
The Resistance - Basics (skip if you already know the game)
The resistance is sold in a small box and contains little more than some cards, instructions, and tokens. The game revolves around secret identities. At the beginning of the game, every person is given a card which they alone can view. This card identifies whether or not they are on the blue team (good guys, resistance, etc.) or the red team (bad guys, spies, etc.). Then everyone closes their eyes, and only the spies are allowed to open them and quietly see who each other is. Then the game begins.
Each round, someone picks a "team" to go on a mission. Each person on the mission has one decision to make: do they sabotage the mission and fail it, or do they choose success? A good guy will always choose success. But a bad guy may choose to fail the mission. The selections are made by card, and they are kept secret and shuffled so no one knows who voted with which card. If a single person on the mission team picks fail, the whole mission is a bust - to be a success it has to be unanimous. There are five rounds - if the blue team gets three successes, they win the game. If the red team can get three missions sabotaged, they win.
There are more to the rules than that, but for the purposes of this post that's all you need to know. The bottom line is that when you're a good guy, you're flying blind - you have no idea who the bad guys are, and your only clues are other people's behaviors and the voting results of each mission. When you're a bad guy, you know who your friends are, but you have to act like you're a good guy. If you get outed as a spy, it really hurts your team's chances of winning, because no one will put you on a mission.
Why I like it
There is this amazing tension the entire game as a mixture of detective work and deception unfolds. This game is not for those who aren't comfortable lying through their teeth. If you are a good guy, you get to play detective, which I thoroughly enjoy. Figuring out who the bad guys are through logic and reading people is immensely satisfying. But being a bad guy... well that opens the door to some of the sweetest victories I've ever experienced in a game, electronic or otherwise.
Another reason why I love this game so much is because of how easy and accessible it is. This is game you can bring to an event full of non-gamers and have everyone off on their first mission within 15 minutes. I've found that the less someone is into gaming overall, the more they enjoy their time playing! It's one of the few games my wife will play with me and actually enjoy, so there's that too :)
Some Specific Examples
Most of the very best moments from the game happen when you're a spy and can manage to pull off a victory. But thanks to the special roles cards that are available, you can have really exciting games as a good guy, too.
I had an amazing game once, however, when I was just a plain vanilla good guy. I was able to figure out who the spies were, but I couldn't quite present an airtight case. The very next round, I had every detail I needed. I had some very skeptical fellow good guys who thought for sure I was one of the bad guys, but I was able to lay out a precise argument for why it was mathematically impossible for me to be a spy. I convinced them, they voted with me, and we ended up winning the game.
I've had several times as a spy when I was able to convince a good guy that I was also a good guy, and manipulating people like that (within the safety of a game, of course!) is just so rewarding.
When I started to really get into some of the deeper strategy about how to win trust, I started to have even more fun. I remember one game when I knew I had basically been outed as a spy where I still managed to heavily influence the game by sowing doubt in the minds of the good guys and making it seem like I was in league with one of their own. Another game, I realized that a fellow spy was about to be done for, so I outed him personally to garner trust and we went on to win the game. These kinds of strategies are just a blast to come up with on the fly, and when you can successfully pull them off... wow that's a rush.
I think the real reason why I love this game so much is because it does exactly what every good RPG tries to do: it let's you play as someone else for an hour or two. You could be the sweetest, most honest person in real life, but this game makes it OK to be a back-stabbing, lying, manipulative psychopath for awhile. That green light to cut loose, "dress up", and act like someone else for a night is just such a great experience.
Anyway, what about you? Have you tried this game, or bluffing games like it? Do you enjoy them as much as I do? Would love to hear about your experience with one of my all-time favorite games!
Are you sold? Buy with Steem!
So here's a crazy idea I just had. If you've never played this game but now you want to try it, I will send a brand new copy anywhere in the USA for 15 Steem! Drop a comment below or find me on Discord (DollarsAndSense#7718) if you're interested and we can discuss the details. Are you located outside the US? Let me know where and I'll see what we can work out!
Or, if you want to buy it for yourself with fiat, you can do that on Amazon
@DollarsAndSense is a father, veteran, participant in the rat race, freelance writer, and volunteer EMT.
Unless otherwise noted, all text and images in this post are my own and may not be reused without my permission.
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