Avalon Big Box Edition review — A classic game in its greatest version yet

In the ancient history of board gaming a tiny little game called The Resistance released in 2009. This small box card game is an entry into the social deduction genre. The Resistance scaled the social deduction experience into something much faster and friendlier. While it wasn’t the first to do so, this was where the social deduction genre really began to take off. I played The Resistance many moons ago and it didn’t quite stick for me. Its follow up, The Resistance: Avalon did stick. Originally released in 2012, The Resistance: Avalon, added a new layer to the gameplay its predecessor helped popularize. Why is any of this relevant? Now we have a new edition of The Resistance: Avalon in the Avalon Big Box Edition. How does this classic fare all these years later? The social deduction genre has had a lot of entries since 2012. Let’s take a look at this new edition and see if it’s worthy of its own legacy.


The core gameplay of Avalon is pretty simple. There are two teams: The Loyal Servants of Arthur vs. The Minions of Mordred. The loyal servants will not know who their teammates are at the start of the game while the Mordred minions will. This is balanced out as there are more loyal servants than Mordred minions and the loyal servants will have to determine who they can trust as the game progresses. Each round a rotating team leader will choose a set number of players to go on “The Quest” for the round. The exact number required depending on the player count and specific round. Once the team members have been chosen, all of the players will vote on whether or not that team should actually go. If a majority of players vote yes, then the team continues on to the next phase. Each team member is given one success and failure card. Then each team member secretly passes one of those cards to the current team lead. Loyal servants can only play success cards, while Mordred minions can play either. The team leader shuffles these cards and then reveals them. If every card is a success card the quest is a success. If any cards are a failure card then the quest fails. The loyal servants want to succeed three quests while the Mordred minions want to fail three quests. The first to do so wins the game. There’s a bit more rules, but this is the general flow of the game.

What I’ve explained is how The Resistance plays and The Resistance didn’t quite land for me. It felt too simple? I wasn’t sure how to build trust or find allies. Avalon adds a new core role called Merlin and the Assassin. Merlin is a loyal servant who will learn who all the Mordred minions are at the beginning of the game. However, they are trying to keep their knowledge a secret because if the loyal servants succeed in three missions, if the Assassin can correctly guess who Merlin is, the Mordred minions will win instead. This is the extra layer that made me fall in love with Avalon when it was released. Each team wants to figure out who Merlin is. If you’re a loyal servant you’re trying to figure out who you can trust. If you’re a Mordred minion there’s the tension that someone knows your terrible secret and you have to find them so you can win. If you’re Merlin you’re now sweating buckets trying to not give away that you know who’s naughty and nice. The dynamic of searching for someone at the table really enthralled me.

The myriad of content that Avalon Big Box Edition includes

On top of the original content, his new edition contains new additions along with the expansion contents. Basically, if it was ever made for The Resistance or The Resistance: Avalon, it has been included in this new edition. According to Board Game Geek publisher description, “Included are 23 distinct characters and numerous optional modules, including Lancelots, Excalibur, Plot Cards, Sorcerers, and Rogues, released as Avalon and The Resistance expansions. Also included are new roles and modules such as the Messengers, Lunatic, Brute, Revealer, Cleric, Trickster, and Deceiver.” It’s a lot of content and we’ll examine both sides of that sword shortly.


Hands down, this is the best version of this game. Games of Avalon are easy to learn, quick to play, and a ton of fun. This is the sweet spot of social deduction games as you can play several games where you get to play different roles. Avalon plays up to ten which is a lot of people to get around a table. If you’re able to though, the higher player counts is where the game shines. Avalon prompts discussions on who to trust and “suspicious” behavior right from the start. The tension only rises as teams win/lose each quest. Games of Avalon usually end with excitement and accusations flying even though they may no longer matter. If a game comes down to the evil team trying to find Merlin, suddenly no one is making eye contact. Those last few moments before a final decision is made is truly unique. The core of any social deduction game are the interactions between the players and Avalon facilitates those discussions without getting in its own way. This game is a classic for a reason and is still a ton of fun to play today.

This version also has all of that extra content I mentioned earlier. There’s just too much to cover individually as there’s just a ton of roles and modules to explore within. If you’re worried about the game getting stale, Avalon Big Box Edition has far more content than other similar games. The extra roles help tailor the game to each group as you can make Avalon easier/harder for each team. If your friends are terrible at lying you can make the game easier for the Mordred minions and vice versa if your friends are all great liars. I’m personally a fan of the Trapper Module and the Lady of the Lake variant. This box has some of the most value in it compared to similar games.

An example eight player game


The other side of all that extra content is that not all of it might be for your group. As I’ve explored Avalon I’ve found the modules/variants that my group likes, but I have also found modules we actively dislike. The Lancelot module that introduces a role where your team can change just never clicked for us. I’ve found that adding/subtracting modules from game to game leads to more confusion than it was worth. Halfway through games, people would have to stop and ask what roles were in this game. This version does have a player  We were able to find the best version of the game for us, but it did mean that there was content left on the cutting room floor.

Because Avalon is from 2012, it does suffer a bit from being an older design. One of the problems with the game is that it’s easy for the game to just leave people out. Specifically, our group developed a strategy where if a team was succeeding quests, we wouldn’t change the members unless a fail card showed up. It’s hard to argue against something that’s working for the loyal servants no matter which team you’re on. This meant it was possible to just be left out of some games. Did this happen every time? No, but it is a design flaw that other games later iterated on. Secret Hitler and Feed the Kraken use similar designs, but address this issue by better balancing player participation.

Lastly is something that varies from person to person. Not everyone likes being Merlin. Some players find the role too high pressure while others love having the hidden knowledge. Since Merlin is randomly dealt out, it’s something out of the player’s hands.

Tabletop Editor | [email protected]

Chris began tabletop gaming in college and quickly fell into the addictive world of cardboard. Beginning with D&D and Catan he became an enthusiast of all things gaming; analog or digital. Chris, now a relapsed MtG player, loves connecting with people via gaming through RPGs, board games, and video games. A particular favorite is testing friendships through social deduction games.



Avalon Big Box Edition

Review Guidelines

Avalon Big Box Edition is the premiere version of a classic social deduction game. While the design does feel its age compared to more recent entries, Avalon is a beloved game for a reason. Avalon is one of the best social deduction games ever made and it facilitates the greatest lying you and your friends can conjure. This version of Avalon has a ton of content to explore which allows you to find the perfect version for your group. If you’ve never played Avalon or you’re wanting to get the best version out there, I highly recommend Avalon Big Box Edition.

Chris Wyman

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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