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I played Resistance for the first time last night, and it was great fun, but the consensus at the table was that the resistance can only beat the spies given a healthy dose of luck. I played a resistance member both times, and won one and lose one game. But even after two games I have no idea how to act in an effective manner liable to uncover the spies and result in probable resistance victory.

Take the first round of the first game: as resistance leader for the round I had no idea who was loyal, so I chose two players at random to go on the mission. The prevailing opinion was that the first mission always succeeds, because no spy will ever tip their hand that early. As such, I can't see any way of getting any useful information out of mission one. Am I missing something?

To keep this question from being overly general: let's take the situation I found myself in last night. A seven player game, with four resistance members and three spies. Assuming that all the players are acting rationally and the spies are not being too devious about presenting themselves as loyal resistance men, what strategies can the resistance adopt or what signs can they look out for from the spies to give them a solid chance of victory?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If you're a Resistance member and the first leader, this tactic gives a 1-in-5 chance of directly winning the game:

On the first round, send yourself and someone who isn't to your left. If both the player you send and the player to your left are Resistance members, you win!

The flow is as follows:

  1. You and the selected Resistance member succeed at the first mission.

  2. When the player to your left becomes the leader, she adds herself to your successful team, and you succeed at the second mission.

  3. The third leader has to send the three of you on the third mission lest he out himself as a spy. You three keep down-voting missions until you get sent and succeed at the third mission.

To see that this gives a 1 in 5 chance of outright winning, multiply the probability that the player to your left is in the resistance by the probability that you successfully pick a resistance member for the first mission:

3/6 * 2/5 = 1/5

If the first mission fails, at least you know for certain the identity of one of the spies (and hopefully can convince your allies of this).

If the first mission succeeds and the second fails, well, now you're playing a normal game of the Resistance.

If the first two succeed and the third fails, you've almost won, and the Imperial spy gained almost nothing from waiting.

In each case, attempting the auto-win didn't cost you anything.

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A minor modification here is to intentionally choose the person on your left. Let them choose a random third player for the team. This way, if the first mission fails, you know to downvote mission #2 (as you know the person to your left is a spy). Otherwise the odds are the same (this way it just recovers quicker) –  Neal Tibrewala Sep 22 '13 at 17:16
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I have really been enjoying this game; we play it a lot at work over lunch. I haven't kept track, but I'm pretty sure the victories are roughly evenly split. You are correct that in a game with fewer than 8 players, the first mission almost always goes to the Resistance because the Spies aren't willing to risk being found out. This isn't an issue with 8+ players, because the first mission is three people and it's not so dangerous for the spies to sabotage then.

A 7-player game isn't really that hard for the Resistance to win. As we've said, they can generally count on winning the 1st mission. They can also usually count on winning the 4th mission, since the Spies need two votes to fail that mission. So they only need to win one of the remaining three missions. The 5th mission is difficult to win, because the Resistance must correctly pick every Resistance member. However, the 2nd and 3rd missions are doable. Generally if it gets to the 5th mission, the Spies will win, unless the Resistance players have figured everyone out.

An important thing to remember is that you often gain more information from the team votes than from the mission votes. It's generally very telling when someone votes against a mission team. A simple strategy that often works well is to simply repeat successful (for the Resistance) teams. For example, if the Resistance wins the 2nd mission, simply repeat the same three people for the 3rd mission. It's possible there was a Spy in the group, but it's unlikely they would have let the Resistance get a 2nd victory so early (assuming they won the 1st). Anyone that votes against this repeat team is likely a Spy. If the leader refuses to repeat the same team, they are likely a Spy. You can use the same strategy with the 4th mission. If the Resistance won the 3rd mission, simply repeat the same three people plus one more. Since the Spies will need two fail votes, if the previous three were all Resistance they will win again. Obviously, the Spies will vote against this (unless there was a Spy in the previous group). So if the Resistance wins either the 2nd or 3rd mission, just make sure the same three people are on the next team. If the Resistance doesn't win either the 2nd or 3rd they are in trouble, because even if they win the 4th, the 5th will be tough.

Also, keep in mind that in the early part of the game only the Spies have a good reason to vote against a team. A Resistance player would only vote against the 1st team if they were playing a hunch or trying to get the leadership to move closer to them. Likewise, assuming the 1st mission goes to the Resistance and the same two people are proposed for the 2nd mission, only a Spy would generally have cause to vote against the team as the Resistance players don't have much to go on.

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I think the group I was at may have been playing it wrong. Can you confirm, if people vote for a mission to go ahead, does the leader stay the same for the next mission? The way they taught it to me, the leader rotates clockwise every turn, vote of confidence or no. I can imagine it makes a big difference if the leader role can stay put, almost certainly in the Resistance's favour! –  thesunneversets Sep 15 '11 at 9:30
    
Hmm, online consensus is that the leader role does constantly rotate. I'd ask a question about how the game would change if this were not the case, except I know such questions are generally frowned upon by the Stack format (not based on practical experience)... –  thesunneversets Sep 15 '11 at 10:45
    
@sun Sorry for the confusion. The leadership does change after each mission team vote. What I was trying to say is if the 2nd mission is won by the resistance, the next leader should choose the exact same team. What reason would they have for not doing so? They could argue 1 of those people is a spy, but it's unlikely. That'd mean the spy chose not to fail the mission and handed the resistance a 2nd victory (assuming they won the 1st, as usual). The same logic also applies to the 4th mission. It doesn't matter who the leader is. They should either follow this logic or out themselves as a spy. –  Todd Sep 16 '11 at 2:30
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