- The game requires between five and ten players.
- Approximately one third of the players are randomly chosen as spies; the rest are members of the Resistance.
- The spies know who the other spies are, but Resistance members do not.
- The game consists of up to five missions.
- Each mission has a leader. The leader proposes a mission team of a certain size, which the group approves by public vote.
- If the group does not approve the mission by a simple majority, leadership passes to the next player.
- If the group cannot approve a mission team after five attempts, the spies win.
- Once a mission team is chosen, it votes by secret ballot whether the mission succeeds or fails.
- Resistance members will always vote for success, but spies have the option of voting for success or failure.
- It usually only takes one spy on the mission team to sabotage a mission, but sometimes the fourth mission requires two.
- If three missions succeed, the Resistance wins. If three fail, the spies win.
And finally, the last, but most important rule of all:
- You are allowed to say anything, to any one, at any time -- as long as it is said publicly.
Additionally, there are two rule variants:
- Original Resistance: At the beginning of the first round of every mission, the leader distributes a number of plot cards from a shuffled deck to other players. These plot cards can be used to reveal additional pieces of information to certain players or to the entire group.
- Resistance: Avalon: One of the Resistance players (designated "Merlin") is told who the spies are. He can use this knowledge to help his teammates, but beware -- the spies musn't figure out who Merlin is! At the end of the game, one of the spies (designated "the Assassin") is allowed to kill off one Resistance player; if he picks Merlin, the spies win!