A great activity for everyone

The Resistance

Unleash Your Inner Spy: The Resistance - The Ultimate Team-Building Adventure!

The Resistance
By Jon Zajac

What is The Resistance?

The Resistance icebreaker is an engaging and insightful activity that I use to foster team building, communication, and critical thinking among participants. Designed for 5-10 players, this game involves dividing the group into two secret teams: the Resistance (the ‘good’ team) and the Spies (the ‘bad’ team). The Resistance aims to successfully complete a series of missions, while the Spies aim to sabotage them without revealing their identities.

Through discussion, negotiation, and voting, participants plan missions, select teams, and cast secret ballots to approve or reject team compositions. The outcome of each mission depends on the success or failure of the selected team, providing insights into the group’s ability to work together and adapt to challenges.

Debriefing sessions after each mission are essential for reflection, sharing strategies, and understanding human behavior in decision-making scenarios. These discussions help participants draw connections between gameplay and real-life situations, emphasizing the importance of communication, trust, leadership dynamics, and dissent within groups.

In educational settings, The Resistance icebreaker can be adapted to incorporate specific learning objectives by assigning character roles with unique characteristics or decision-making powers. This engaging and interactive game not only entertains but also encourages team cohesion, reflective thinking, and the development of valuable interpersonal skills.

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Rules for The Resistance

  1. Participants are discreetly assigned roles as either members of the Resistance or Spies.
  2. The group engages in discussions to select a subset of their number to undertake the first mission, involving negotiation, persuasion, and assertion.
  3. Participants vote on whether to approve the team composition using secret ballots.
  4. If approved, the selected members submit a mission card indicating ‘success’ or ‘fail.’ A single ‘fail’ card means the mission is sabotaged.
  5. After each mission scenario, players discuss the outcomes, strategies, and suspicions regarding each other’s roles.
  6. The Resistance wins if they successfully complete a certain number of missions (about three out of five), while the Spies claim victory if they sabotage enough missions.
  7. A discussion session after the game concludes links the activity to learning outcomes like communication, trust-building, leadership dynamics, and decision-making.

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Materials needed for The Resistance

  • Identity cards: Each participant is discreetly given a card that indicates whether they are a member of the Resistance or a Spy. This determines their true allegiance.

  • Mission cards: These cards indicate pass or fail for missions. They are used to determine the success or failure of each mission based on the team composition chosen by the group.

  • Envelopes or jars: These are used for secretly casting votes during the mission planning phase. Participants place their vote (either approve or reject) in an envelope or jar without revealing it to others. This simulates confidentiality and adds a layer of intrigue to the game.

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Setting up for The Resistance

To set up “The Resistance” icebreaker activity, follow these steps:

  1. Select a Suitable Space: Find a comfortable area that can accommodate your group size while allowing participants to sit or stand in a circle for face-to-face interactions. Make sure the space is free from distractions and noise to maintain focus on the game.

  2. Determine Participant Roles: Decide how many players will be part of the Resistance and how many will be Spies, ensuring that Spies make up approximately one-third of the total number of participants. Write down each participant’s role secretly without revealing it to anyone.

  3. Plan the Mission Scenarios: Outline the mission scenarios for your activity, including the criteria for success or failure. Ensure you have enough mission cards to cover all possible outcomes based on the size and dynamics of your group.

  4. Prepare a Debriefing Session Agenda: Plan questions, topics, or activities that will encourage reflection and discussion after the game concludes. This may include prompt cards or handouts with key takeaways related to communication, trust, leadership, and decision-making.

  5. Allocate Time: Allocate sufficient time for each mission scenario, voting, debriefing, and final discussions. A typical session might last between 60 to 90 minutes depending on the group size and complexity of your objectives.

  6. Appoint a Facilitator: Select an individual who will manage game flow, maintain order during discussions, encourage participation from all members, and ensure adherence to rules throughout the activity. This person should be well-versed in the game mechanics and comfortable managing group dynamics.

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How to play The Resistance

  1. Prepare the Game Materials - Prepare identity cards indicating whether each participant is a member of the Resistance or a Spy. - Prepare mission cards labeled as ‘success’ or ‘fail.’

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Benefits of The Resistance

  • Fosters Communication Skills: By encouraging active discussion and negotiation among participants to form mission teams, “The Resistance” icebreaker enhances communication skills in a dynamic, problem-solving environment.

  • Promotes Trust Building: Since the true allegiance of participants is hidden, this game necessitates relationship-building and trust development as crucial elements for successful collaboration, fostering interpersonal growth and cohesion within teams.

  • Develops Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Participants need to analyze group dynamics, assess potential threats, and formulate strategies to achieve mission goals. This process strengthens their critical thinking abilities and problem-solving skills.

  • Fosters Leadership Skills: The game provides opportunities for participants to step up as leaders by persuading others, advocating for themselves, or taking charge of discussions – all essential components of effective leadership.

  • Encourages Empathy and Perspective Taking: By assuming secret roles, players gain insights into different perspectives, enhancing their ability to understand and empathize with others’ viewpoints, which is crucial in building positive relationships and productive team dynamics.

  • Promotes Active Listening and Attention to Detail: To identify possible Spies and make informed decisions during voting, participants must practice active listening, paying close attention to the contributions of others, and observing non-verbal cues – skills that are highly valuable in both personal and professional settings.

  • Enhances Decision Making Under Uncertainty: Since players lack complete information about their peers’ roles, they must make decisions based on imperfect knowledge, simulating real-world scenarios requiring adaptability and resilience under uncertainty.

  • Facilitates Reflective Thinking: Through debriefing sessions after each mission, participants are prompted to reflect on their strategies, performance, and interactions with others, fostering self-awareness and continuous improvement.

  • Encourages Teamwork and Collaboration: As players work together towards common objectives despite hidden agendas, they learn the importance of collaboration, cooperation, and unity in overcoming challenges – essential skills for successful team building.

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Skills built with The Resistance

  • Communication Skills: The Resistance requires clear, concise, and persuasive communication among participants to select mission teams and convince others of their trustworthiness. This activity enhances the ability to articulate thoughts and ideas effectively, fostering a collaborative environment.

  • Teamwork and Collaboration: By working together towards common goals, players learn the importance of unity, cooperation, and collective problem-solving. The Resistance encourages participants to rely on each other’s strengths and compensate for weaknesses, promoting a strong team dynamic.

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: As Spies attempt to sabotage missions while remaining undetected, Resistance members must strategize and analyze group dynamics to minimize risk. This process stimulates critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and effective decision-making skills as participants navigate the challenges of the game.

  • Trust Building: Since roles are hidden, players must establish trust with one another to successfully complete missions. The Resistance highlights the significance of building and maintaining trust within teams, demonstrating how betrayals can hinder progress and success.

  • Leadership Development: Through negotiation, persuasion, and decision-making, participants have the opportunity to emerge as leaders, guiding their team towards victory. This activity helps individuals understand different leadership styles and identify areas for personal growth in assuming leadership roles.

  • Conflict Resolution: In navigating interpersonal dynamics and strategic discussions, players encounter potential conflicts. The Resistance offers a safe space to practice conflict resolution strategies and learn the value of dissenting opinions in strengthening group decision-making processes.

  • Emotional Intelligence: By observing non-verbal cues, detecting deception, and understanding social dynamics, participants can enhance their emotional intelligence. The Resistance encourages empathy, active listening, and self-awareness, fostering stronger interpersonal relationships.

  • Adaptability and Flexibility: As the game progresses, teams must adapt to changing circumstances and adjust strategies accordingly. This aspect of the game mirrors real-world challenges and helps players become more resilient and responsive to unforeseen obstacles.

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Why I like The Resistance

I appreciate “The Resistance” icebreaker for its multifaceted approach to fostering teamwork and communication skills. By incorporating elements of strategy and intrigue, the game manages to engage participants in a dynamic and interactive way that goes beyond traditional icebreaker activities.

One aspect I particularly enjoy is how the game encourages critical thinking and problem-solving. With the pressure of keeping their identity secret while trying to detect spies among them, Resistance members must carefully navigate conversations and negotiations, weighing each word and action for potential hidden meanings or motives. On the other hand, Spies must cleverly manipulate situations without arousing suspicion, which requires strategic planning and adaptability.

Furthermore, I find “The Resistance” to be an effective tool for building trust within teams. As participants engage in discussions, they are forced to confront their own biases and assumptions about others’ intentions. This process can lead to deeper understanding and empathy among team members, ultimately contributing to a more cohesive and productive working environment.

Moreover, the game’s emphasis on leadership dynamics and dissent offers valuable insights into group decision-making processes. By observing how different individuals navigate power structures and assert their ideas, participants can learn about effective communication strategies, conflict resolution techniques, and the importance of diverse perspectives in problem-solving.

Lastly, I appreciate that “The Resistance” icebreaker can be easily adapted to various settings and learning objectives. Whether used in a corporate team-building session or an educational workshop, the game’s core mechanics provide ample opportunities for tailoring the experience to meet specific goals and needs.

In conclusion, I value “The Resistance” icebreaker for its ability to engage participants in a stimulating and reflective group activity while fostering essential skills such as communication, trust-building, strategic thinking, and leadership development.

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Tips for making The Resistance more inclusive

  • Tip: Use Gender-Neutral Language Ensure that the game materials, such as role cards and instructions, use gender-neutral language to create an inclusive environment for all participants. This can help prevent any participant from feeling alienated due to non-inclusive language.

  • Tip: Consider Accessibility Needs Make sure the game area is accessible to people with physical disabilities. For example, if some participants use wheelchairs, ensure there is enough space for them to move around and interact with others easily. Additionally, provide large print materials or digital alternatives for visually impaired individuals.

  • Tip: Encourage Open Communication Foster a safe space where everyone feels comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions. As a facilitator, be proactive in addressing any insensitive comments or behavior to maintain an inclusive atmosphere during discussions.

  • Tip: Vary Role Assignment Methods When assigning roles, consider using methods that minimize potential biases. For instance, instead of manually assigning roles based on observations of participants, use randomization techniques like drawing cards from a shuffled deck to ensure fairness.

  • Tip: Incorporate Cultural Diversity If applicable, integrate elements of various cultural backgrounds into the game’s characters or scenarios. This can help make all participants feel represented and appreciated, leading to a more inclusive experience.

  • Tip: Adapt Language for Non-Native Speakers For international groups or non-native English speakers, adapt the language used in instructions and discussions to be simpler and clearer. Consider using visual aids or simplified vocabulary to help everyone understand the game rules and actively participate in conversations.

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Reflection questions for The Resistance

  1. How did you feel about the level of trust within your group? This question encourages participants to reflect on the dynamic of trust in their team and how it affected the overall performance. It can also help identify individuals who may struggle with trust issues, providing an opportunity for growth.
  2. What strategies did you use to determine who might be a spy in your group? By asking this question, facilitators can explore how participants approached problem-solving and decision-making during the game, as well as their ability to think critically and strategically.
  3. Did you experience any challenges while working with your teammates? If so, how did you handle them? This question provides insight into participants’ conflict resolution skills and resilience in overcoming obstacles. It also offers an opportunity for facilitators to discuss constructive ways of dealing with challenges in a team setting.
  4. How did you balance asserting your opinion with listening to others during mission planning? Encouraging reflection on communication styles and active listening can help participants understand the importance of collaboration and consensus-building within a group.
  5. What leadership qualities emerged from your experience playing The Resistance? By focusing on leadership, facilitators can highlight key takeaways related to responsibility, influence, and motivation – all essential elements of successful team dynamics.
  6. Did you find it challenging to maintain your role’s objectives while working towards the group’s success? Why or why not? This question prompts participants to consider their individual goals in relation to the group’s objectives, fostering self-awareness and empathy for others’ perspectives.
  7. How can you apply what you learned from The Resistance to real-world situations or future team projects? Asking this question helps solidify learning outcomes by encouraging participants to make connections between the game and their daily lives, ensuring long-term retention of key insights.

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About the author

Jon Zajac

Jon Zajac

Founder & Chief Icebreaker

I started Icebreaker Spot because I truly believe that strong connections are the foundation of successful teams. I wanted to create a platform that would make it easy for people to find and share icebreakers and team building activities, empowering them to build trust, foster collaboration, and ultimately, achieve greatness together.

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