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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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up vote 8 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
    
I like to call this strategy "The Three Wise Men" ploy. Basically, as the first leader, you should always assume that the first three leaders (yourself and the two people clockwise from you) are innocent until proven otherwise. If you're right, congratulations - you're the Three Wise Men and just get a random, free victory! – Southpaw Hare Aug 23 '15 at 9:36
    
This strategy will lead to a lot of failures once everyone knows what is going on. If the first team includes a spy or the person sitting to the left of the starting player is a spy they have a lot of power in gaining a spy victory. Assuming 7 players as that would be a 2, 3, 3 player mission progression. If one of the 3 players in the first two missions is a spy when they fail the second mission they cast a lot of concern on 3 of the players. Assuming there is only 1 spy in that group means there is two spies in the other group giving you a 50/50 chance of getting a spy from the rest. – Joe W Jan 18 at 22:49

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

Also, keep in mind that in the early part of the game only the Spies have a good reason to vote against a team.

...actually, its the opposite. In the early part of the game, only the Spies have good reason to vote FOR a team....

Think of it this way: If a team vote UNANIMOUSLY passes, that means the spies have also voted for the team to pass...

Only the spies have perfect information. They know themselves and the other spies. So if themself or one of their dirty scumbag traitorous buddies are on a team, you can bet they WILL vote for it! (unless of course they are being sneaky).

The resistance don't know who's who. Since you don't know, why would you arbitrarily accept a team?

I'm not sure if the opposite is true, but right now (my logical deductive brain isn't the best) I can't see why not. If a team UNANIMOUSLY FAILS a team vote, that means all the Spies have voted it down also.... its possible that it was a team made up entirely of good guys (rebels / resistance)... so the next leader should attempt the same team to a split vote: Rebels approving and the Spies (possibly) outing themselves! In either case, if the mission succeeds, stay with those members for the next mission.

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I have played as a Spy and been put on the first mission. I chose to fail it. The only person who knows for sure that I am the spy is the other person on the mission. Then you start a slow smear campaign against the other person. If you can get one other player to side with you (another spy usually) then others will come to your aide. Its risky but you can make it work...

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In a situation like this you can let yourself get outed as the spy and then use your mission voting to make it look like one of the resistance members is a spy by rejecting missions they are not on. – Joe W Jan 18 at 22:58

It all depends who you're playing with. If you're largely playing with people you don't really know, then you should stick to an odds-based strategy from one of the previous answers. However, when you're playing with close friends, the game becomes more interesting because you can identify the "tells" of the other players. When you know the people you're playing with well, the game actually becomes less about strategy and more about psychology.

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The only thing you need to be concerned about in an optimal strategy is information about the other players. In The Resistance you will gain information in three main ways.

First is how a player picks a team, this is not only from who they pick to go on a team but any explanation of how they picked it.

Second is how people vote on a team after the members have been picked. This is can be a powerful tool in determining not only spies but if the mission will fail before the mission votes are shown. What I mean by this is if you have a mission where everyone votes for it to go (other than the first mission where no information is known) then you know the spies approved of it which should be a bad sign.

Third is how the mission went. If the mission fails you know for certain that there is at least one spy on the team. If the mission passes there might be a spy on the team or it could be a spy pretending they are not a spy so they get picked again.

What should be avoided as it can cause lots of problems for the resistance and help the spies is strategies that spell out how to play the game (that and it takes a lot of fun out of it). Any strategy and rules that resistance members know the spies will also know and be able to use to their advantage. Here is an example of a problem strategy.

  • 7 player game players A, B, C, D, E, F, G sitting in a circle in that order.
  • Players A, G, F are spies, B, C, D, E are resistance
  • Player A picks the first mission and chooses players A and E to go on the mission which is voted to succeed. In the end no real information is gathered other than thinking that no spy was on the mission.
  • Player B picks A and E to go on the mission because it succeeded and include themselves and the mission succeeds again. In the end no real information is gathered other than thinking that no spy was on the mission.
  • Now Player C is forced into the position of choosing the exact same team because everyone knows there is no spies on the team. This time when the votes are counted the mission fails because player A is ready to make their move. Other than knowing a spy was on the mission no real information was gained.
  • At this point the players on the resistance know two things. In the group that was on the mission there is likely one spy (more spies would risk having more fail votes). In the group that wasn't on the mission they know that there are two spies.
  • At this point Player D has a very hard choice to make. 4 players need to be chosen for the next mission with the upside that 2 votes are needed to fail. At this point they know only one person can be picked from the group that hasn't played and there is only a 33% chance that they will not get a spy. From the second group they will have a 66% chance of not getting a spy on the first pick and a 50% of not getting one on the second pick. This mission comes down to luck on the picks and if the leader is a spy then chances are you just lost the mission and the game as there will be even more confusion for the last round.

A loss like this is possible because of the rules on how people are supposed to act and that lets the spies be able to pass themselves off as resistance members. As a spy there is no reason to worry about two resistance wins in a row the spies are able to have a good shot at controlling who goes on the later missions in order to ensure they fail and the best way to do that is to not look like a spy.

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