For my critical play, I played The Resistance: Avalon created by Don Eskridge on my laptop through https://avalon.fun/.
The target audience of the game would be people 13+. The mechanics of the game involve a lot of social aspects including deceit, trust, and debate which may be unsuitable for younger children due to the complexity of having to keep track of players’ actions and words alongside trying to analyze their motives. The theme is not particularly dark, there is a hint at death with the Assassin, but there is no overt violence or gore so I believe it would be suitable for families.
Avalon is played with 5-10 players. At the start of the game, each player is assigned a role through a character card. Roles are divided into Good and Evil teams, with Merlin being a special role on the Good team. The players on the Evil team will know who the other Evil players are, and Merlin will know who all the Evil players are. The gameplay then proceeds through rounds. Each round is then divided into a team building phase and a quest phase. During the team building phase, the players will discuss who they believe should embark on the quest and then the leader of the round will assign players to go on the quest. All of the players will then vote on the team assignment; if they want this team to be formed or not. If the vote does not pass, the quest phase is skipped and a new round is started with the leader moving on to the next person. If the vote passes, then the round enters the quest phase. During the quest phase, the chosen players will vote for the quest to either succeed or fail. Good players must vote for success, while Evil players can vote for either success or failure. Once the vote is determined, the result is recorded and then a new round is started.
The Good team wins the game if they have succeeded in 3 missions and Merlin’s identity is kept a secret. The Evil team wins if they have succeeded in 3 missions or if they are able to identify Merlin after the Good team succeeds thrice. The Evil team also wins if the team assignment has been rejected 5 times in a row.
Besides Merlin, there are other special roles that can be used to further mod the game and add additional mechanics.
Alongside Avalon, there are several other popular games in the genre of bluffing and deduction such as Town of Salem, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Mafia, and Among Us. Compared to these other games, Avalon doesn’t have a death mechanic which means all of the players will be able to play through the entire duration of the game. In Mafia for example, if you die on the first night then you’re forced to become a spectator for the rest of the game. This design is much more favorable in my opinion since there is no downtime for “dead” players. Another game in the genre that does this is Secret Hitler, which has almost identical core mechanics under a different theme.
The game was very fun to play! It’s envigorating trying to build rapport with other players while under their scrutiny and vice versa. Fellowship is the core of this game, which makes it a great party game for you to get to know the personalities of other players. Avalon also incorporates fantasy through the theme of medieval magic. The other special roles are also very fun; my personal favorite to play was Oberon, who is on the side of Evil but has the special mechanic of not knowing who the other Evil members are. The restriction of having absolutely zero information to start with makes the game much more difficult. Everybody is trying to convince the others they’re on the side of Good, so it is particularly difficult to differentiate the other Evil members without revealing your identity as an Evil member.
Something that I think might make the game more interesting, is adding a special neutral or third-party role. An example would be the Tanner in One Night Werewolf, who is trying to get himself killed. By having three different motives in the game, gameplay would become a lot more chaotic and unpredictable – which I think is great fun.