Name of Game, Creator, Platform
“The Resistance: Avalon” by Don Eskridge. We played in person as one of my friends owns a physical version of the game.
My best guess for the target audience would be 10+. There are some interesting mechanics that make the game probably not suitable for people under 10. Additionally, the strategy can get quite interesting/deceitful, which seems most suitable for kids at least entering middle school. However, I can see how younger kids might also be interested. Aside from the boundary condition, this game is likely targeting young people (ages 16-30) who have probably played Mafia or another similar deception game and are looking for a fun twist.
Notable Elements of The Game
For some general context, the game can be played with anywhere from 5 to 10 people and the player roles (and consequently game play) change quite a bit as you change the number of players. Each player is either “good” or “evil.” Good players want the “Quests” to succeed, and evil players want them to fail. Within each camp there are different roles each player holds which come with special abilities.
One of the most notable elements of the game for me was the chance of redemption given to the evil team. If the good team happens to successfully pass all the quests, then the evil team has one last chance to guess which one of the good players holds the card of Merlin. If they guess correctly, the evil team wins automatically. This not only gives the evil team a last chance to win the game, but it also forces the good team to hide their knowledge as much as possible.
This game lives in the genera of deception games, like Mafia and Werewolf. Unlike other games in the genera, there is no concept of a “night” which allows all players to be engaged all the time in the game. One big difference about Avalon compared to the other games in the genera is that peripheral players (usually the townspeople) have a larger role to play in this game than in the others. Personally, when I’ve played Mafia, if I don’t have a character, I have little to do other than wait to be killed or try to oust someone during the day. In Avalon, every player has an equal chance to form a team and, if you are believed to be good, you will likely be put on more teams.
I also liked that no players are eliminated from the game. There are few things more annoying than playing a 10-12 person Mafia game and dying on the first night, it is just as good as not playing at all. In Avalon, no player permanently dies.
I found the game to be quite entertaining and fun. Having many different characters lends itself quite well to small changes that keep the game play interesting. When we played with 6 people, depending on who we chose as the evil characters, the evil team would win every time or sometimes or never; it was just about fine tuning it to keep the game interesting.
We had a few tense moments debating teams with my friends, which is to be expected with a group of overachieving Stanford students. There was no epic fail moment in the game, we had one time where a player forgot what card they had put in for voting and that caused some confusion because we couldn’t ask people to take back what they had voted as it was meant to be private. I imagine this can be solved with online voting but there is less fun in that.
Something I always loved about these types of games is when there is a rogue player that does not want to neither win nor lose, rather they have an alternative agenda altogether. Sometimes it will be trying to get killed during the day, sometimes it is confusing the good guys or the bad guys. I think adding a rogue player might be a good addition to the game.