Avalon is a traitor game very similar to the arguably more popular game “The Resistance.” While it’s mostly a re-skin, the change in theme and the addition of a few key roles helps The Resistance Avalon stand out in my mind.
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Finding games for large groups is quite difficult sometimes. You don’t want to be boxed into party games, which are very hit or miss in terms of quality. They also get old really quickly.
Enter the new breed of hidden identity game, led by The Resistance. I found this game to be interesting enough. You have good guys and bad guys both trying to succeed in missions, and the goal for the good guys is to bring down an evil futuristic corporation.
But the version that caught my eye was The Resistance Avalon. This game works almost in the exact same way as The Resistance: good guys and bad guys try to win missions. However, this game has the Arthurian theme, with famous characters like Merlin, Mordred, and others from mythology. This made The Resistance Avalon an instantly more interesting pickup for me than the faceless Resistance.
The Resistance Avalon
How much space does the game take on the shelf?
The game comes in a pretty small box. Its small profile makes it easy to find a place on your shelf. Chelsey has been known to stick it in her purse for traveling.
What kinds of materials are in the box?
Avalon comes with a small deck of cards that show the players’ identities, and another small deck of voting cards for the missions. It also has several small boards and cardboard chits. Overall, there is not a lot to worry about here.
Are the components arranged in a well-thought-out fashion?
Yes, generally. The box comes with a small insert that stores the cards pretty well, and the rest of the box is used for the chits. Setup and tear-down are very simple for Avalon.
What do you think of the quality of the components and artwork?
The artwork on the cards and other pieces is really great. You have clear color coding of the good guy/bad guy stuff, and everything evokes a medieval feel. The quality of the components is nice, too, but after quite a few plays I have started to run into issues with cards getting marked due to wear. This is a problem because it makes it easy to figure out who the bad guys are. You’ll definitely want to sleeve the voting cards and the character cards.
What is the core mechanic?
Everything about that is actually identical to The Resistance, minus the theme. Where Avalon changes it up is with the addition of Merlin.
At the beginning of the game, each player will receive a character card. These cards are not to be shared and your identity must remain secret. You will either be a regular Minion of Mordred, the assassin (there is only one), a loyal servant to Arthur, or Merlin.
There are other cards, as well, like Morgana, Mordred, Percival, and Oberon. They add a whole new level of complication, though, and we’ve never felt the need to add them. But you can if you want.
At the beginning of the game, while everyone has their eyes closed, Merlin gets to see who the Minions of Mordred are. So whoever plays Merlin has this information throughout the entire game.
But Merlin has to watch out, because one of the bad guys is an assassin, and if good prevails, the assassin gets to guess who Merlin was. If the guess is correct, then evil snatches victory away!
The game is played in 5 rounds in which players take turns being the leader. This leader selects players to go on the mission. Any players they want.
Once selected, all players vote to approve the team or reject it. They do this by selecting a tile with either a white marble (approve) or a black marble (reject).
If it succeeds, the players who were selected are given 2 voting cards, one “success” and one “fail.”
Anyone who is a loyal servant of Arthur (as indicated by the card given to you at the beginning of the game) must play a “success” card. It is not optional. But the Minions of Mordred can choose to “succeed” or “fail” the mission.
If there is one failure card played, the entire mission is a failure, and evil takes the round. (Except in the case of larger groups. Then certain missions need two fails.)
The first team to win 3 rounds is the victor. To keep track of this, there is a sheet that you put markers on (red for “failed” and blue for “succeeded”).
You can also see in the bottom right-hand corner that the board you choose will depend on the number of players. It will also tell you how many Minions of Mordred to include in the game.
Is the game fiddly (is there a lot of manipulating pieces/math that slows the game down)?
The only pieces that get manipulated much are the tokens that signify a player is going on a mission and the cards that get passed out to those who do.
That said, I don’t find this game fiddly at all. It moves really quickly, or at least there is a lot of discussion going on as to who should (or should NOT) be on the team.
Are the mechanics fun?
Avalon is a very fun game, especially with new groups of people you can’t read well yet. This allows the surprise of the game to come through. I’ve also found that the game can be very intense, like when it’s round 5, and both teams have 2 victories. Oftentimes, this means the loyal servants must determine who all the bad guys are so they can’t go on the last mission.
The Merlin mechanic seems like a small addition, but it can change the game up a lot! This player cannot let the bad guys know that s/he is Merlin, so you’ll see things like one loyal servant (who is NOT Merlin) talking very confidently and loudly trying to draw attention from the real Merlin. This takes the pressure off of Merlin and gives that player a chance to speak up without the risk of being “killed” at the end. (Though if you play with the Percival character, that person knows who Merlin is from the beginning. As does Morgana.)
At the same time, you have this whole interplay between good guys and bad guys that relies on your ability to bluff and lie. As a good guy, you’re looking for any signs that someone might be evil. As a bad guy, you have to do everything you can to throw people off your trail.
It’s in this way that the strategy can get pretty deep. Since the bad guys can fail OR succeed a mission they’re on, they might try to trick everyone into thinking they’re good, and then argue strongly that one of the loyal servants MUST be a bad guy. Since all the bad guys are revealed to each other before the game starts, the good guys can never really be sure who is on their side.
It all makes for some awesome sessions.
How many players does it support?
Avalon works with 5-10 players.
How many players are best for the game?
For me, the sweet spot on these kinds of games is in the 7 to 8 player range. It works at any player count, but when you get too high, you start to run into too much information, too much noise in the discussion.
With the lower end of the player range, you can have luck become too much of a factor. If a bad guy is not a good bluff or makes some mistake, that can tank the whole thing. The bad guy team is just too small there.
I’d say Avalon is fun with any player count that it supports, but 7 to 8 players allows for enough mystery and strategy. It’s too hard to just point and guess that someone is a minion of Mordred, but it’s not so easy for the bad guys to take over the game, either.
How difficult is it to learn?
It really isn’t difficult, especially if you’re familiar with bluffing/betrayal games. But we’ve found that some people have had issues because they don’t like to lie (or just aren’t good at it). Because of that, they either have trouble playing the game or they will simply sit out.
Would you want to play this game week after week?
Yes, I would play this game, for sure. It takes around 30-40 minutes, typically, and I don’t ever get bored while playing it. There’s so much yelling, accusing, and laughing to be had here that it’s almost always a good time.
It’s also one of a few games that’s really simple to teach. You can grab anybody off the streets, throw them down, and get to work playing the game. I love that about this game.
How many times would you like to play it in a given gaming session?
This varies from week to week. Sometimes, I’m willing to play it a few times in a session. It’s certainly not a time sink. However, once you’ve played a lot with the same group, you start to get too much of a feel for the strategies involved, and it can start to feel like you’re going through the motions.
It’s more interesting if you play and then give it a rest so that no one can get too used to the strategies used by any given side. That said, you very rarely have the same team of bad guys, so it can be really difficult for them to adapt and get a major edge on the good guys.
Though we did have one gaming session where the same people somehow wound up being bad guys each time we played. That got old quickly, for everyone involved.
How expensive is the game?
I got this game for around $20. Amazon is currently selling it in the $15-$20 range. For that price, it’s awesome. I’ve been able to play this game with almost everyone I’ve run into. Since my groups tend to be on the large side, I love having an option I can bust out to get everyone involved.
How much room does the game take up?
What do you want people to know about this game?
If you like Arthurian legend, there are not many great games that can fill that niche for you. Shadows over Camelot is great, but Avalon is cheap, fast, and furious. I love the accusations and the deduction that come with this game. It’s like a puzzle that builds itself very dynamically.
That said, I have run into some people who just don’t like acting the bad guy. For these people, Avalon can be a drag if they happen to be given a minion card. Since, if you get outed as a bad guy, you’re done for the game. Nobody will ever add you to their team and no one will listen to your opinion on the matter. So there are people we play with who need a little convincing and probably wouldn’t play more than once in a while.
The majority of people I’ve played with, though, have loved this game.
Who do you think would most enjoy this game?
I’ve found most people enjoy this game, but players who like to get really logical and hash things out have a great time with this game. I know I personally love to sit back and say, “Well, Chelsey went on this success and this fail and this fail, but I think she’s a good guy because….”
There’s a lot of legs in this game for $20 or less. I highly recommend picking it up.
Have you played The Resistance Avalon? What were your thoughts?
If you like The Resistance Avalon, you should try: