The resistance: Avalon review
Score : 9
Loud, engaging gameplay
Quick to explain and plays in around fifteen mins
Good variety of characters and powers
Some people don't enjoy hidden roles or deception
Rare game just plays out as a formality if all good guys start
We were five knights of the round table, riding out on our second of five quests assigned to us by King Arthur. It should have been simple, all we had to do was work together to pass this quest. Unfortunately for the real knights, two of us were traitors to the cause and could easily sabotage it but then we may reveal ourselves in the process. I looked across quickly at Morgana the other traitor and tried to work out what they might do.. I decided I would help out the knights and hope Morgana would ruin the quest, meaning I could "help" the knights again next time. The quest results were revealed, one by one. As the final card was turned over I groaned inwardly, we had all helped and passed the quest. Still, although they only needed to complete one more quest to win, both Morgana and I were viewed as good guys now and would shortly have further opportunities.
Avalon is a hidden role card game, based on the Knights of the Round Table, set in the days of King Arthur. At the start of the game, each player will be handed a secret role card. The majority will be good characters from the lore such as Merlin. A minority of people will play villains. The game comprises of five quests, with the knights winning if at least three of those quests are passed. The villains will win if they can foil the quests at least three times, or if they successfully identify Merlin (more on that once we explain the characters!).
Each of the quests will require a different number of knights to ride out, depending on the player count. The first player will choose which of those players will go on the quest, possibly but not necessarily including themselves. Players can discuss openly their opinions of the choices as well as offering reasons as why they should be included before everyone votes. The majority vote determines if the quest goes ahead. Should it be rejected, the next player gets to suggest who joins the quest. This continues until either a quest is approved, or five rejections occur in a row at which point the bad guys win.
Once a quest is approved, each player on the quest will secretly play a "pass" or "fail" card face-down. These are shuffled and then revealed. A single fail card will fail the quest (though occasionally a quest may require two fails), resulting in a lot of noise, accusations and denials as players try to work out which of them was the traitor.
The game is made more interesting by the introduction of the advanced characters. On the good side, Merlin will know who the bad guys are. However, Merlin has to be subtle and can't just declare this due to the the rule that the villains win if they deduce who Merlin is. Percival will know who Merlin is, meaning they can pay special attention to the choices Merlin makes, as well as their accusations.
To balance things up, naturally the other side also has some special characters. Mordred is a villain who keeps their identity hidden even from Merlin, whilst Percival will also have Morgana appear to him as Merlin and he won't be sure which is which. Oberon mixes things up by being a villain who knows none of the other villains, and no-one knows, so very much plays as a wildcard.
The identification process works through a brief introduction to each game where everyone closes their eyes, and then character by character will look around to identify other bad guys with their eyes also open, or Merlin will see the bad guys with their thumbs up and so forth so that everyone will know who they are and who certain other characters are.
Finally, the lady of the lake card allows the owner to see the loyalty of anyone they choose, but can only be used at the end of each of the final three quests. The person subjected then owns this in the next round. Of course, whether the user then tells the truth or not on what they saw is up to them, and for others to work out.
Each game will typically last around twenty minutes and is so accessible, anyone can join and grasp the concept quickly. The variety of characters adds depth and replayability to the game and it is one of those rare games that seems to never get old no matter how much you play it.
All of this leads to a game with huge amounts of discussion, questions, bluffing and accusations. Does the fact that the first quest passed mean that everyone on it was a knight, or was someone bluffing? Is that person speaking so much because they're Merlin, or they are trying too hard to protest their innocence?
A small problem is that very occasionally, if the first couple of players are both good, the first player may just pick all good guys by luck, and often the game then plays out to a successful formality with others repeating the same teams with nothing the other team can do. As that is rare though, and games are so quick, it not a big deal.
This is highly recommended as a light, quick and fun game which is guaranteed to get everyone involved, talking and have a great time.
Publisher: Indie Board and Cards
By: Don Eskridge
Number of players: 5-10
Play Time: 30 mins