Rapid Reviews: Illiterati, Motor City, and Resist! | Casual Game Revolution

Rapid Reviews: Illiterati, Motor City, and Resist!

Illiterati, Motor City, Resist!

For the next article in our Rapid Reviews series, we highlight three new games with a wide variety of themes and mechanics. Illiterati challenges players to fight the spread of illiteracy through crafting words while navigating complex objectives. Motor City offers a thrilling roll-and-write experience, combining strategic planning with thematic car design. Finally, Resist! immerses solo players in 1930s Spain, where they must thwart oppressive forces through careful planning and strategic card play.

Illiterati components

Image provided by the publisher.


1-5 players | Ages 7+ | 30 Minutes
Designed by Gary Alaka, Rob Chew, and Jon Kang
Published by Gap Closer Games

Grab letters and craft words to battle the infamous Illiterati, a cabal of villains who are spreading a plague of illiteracy across the world. As a librarian, you and your teammates will race against a 3-minute timer to shuffle and share letters to form words. This begins by drawing 7 letter tiles for the shared bag and using the time to help each other meet the goals of your books. Book cards are drawn at the start of the first round, and give conditions based not only on the category it presents, but also specific letter tiles based on symbols and total used. Players can move letters between each other and must avoid leaving too many tiles in the communal library area (depending on the difficulty level chosen at the start of the game) all before the timer runs out. Doing so causes players to have to burn any tiles exceeding the limit, which works as a game timer. Players are safe if they haven’t met the goals of their Book cards right away but have begun working toward meeting the objectives and haven’t exceeded the unused tile limits. If a player meets the conditions of the Book card, they will be able to move to the Book Binding phase. Check to make sure words fit the Book category and are spelled correctly. After a book has been bound, the player will gain another book as players will need to finish a select number of books (depending on difficulty level) to get to the end game. The final phase is the Illiterati phase, in which an Illiterati card is drawn and the effect is resolved. If the same card has been drawn as one from a previous round, the effects chain together.

Play continues until players either burn (lose) too many letters or all Illiterati cards have run out and they lose. But if players can complete the number of necessary books, they go into a final round where they must draw the Final Chapter and collectively meet the objectives. If this happens, they win! If not, more rounds and an increasing number of Illiterati villains enter the game until the Final Chapter is completed or one of the losing conditions occurs.

Illiterati is a challenging word game and may be too steep of a challenge based on the 3-minute timer. Though there are solo and junior variants, there are other hurdles that can be hard for casual players to clear such as some of the categories on book cards. When playing with young players, they are going to have trouble meeting a book that has more adult categories (for example, “Tech companies”) while also keeping in mind the other limitations and objectives going on. For a game that is recommended for players as young as 7, even with simplified rules, Illiterati is a miss.

However, as a game for (young) adults to play there is a lot to like. There’s real tension, even if you ditch the timer, because everyone must maximize the use of letter tiles and avoid wasting them, meet the objectives on book cards, and complete multiple books to even get to the Final Chapter. The inclusion of the Illiterati villains is a nice touch, and they can cause chaos the longer a game draws out, so it’s imperative to work together and succeed as quickly as possible. However, the stress of the game may be too much for gamers who want a more leisurely gaming experience.

Motor City components

Image provided by the publisher.

Motor City

1-5 players | Ages 14+ | 45 Minutes
Designed by Adam Hill, Ben Pinchback, and Matt Riddle
Published by 25th Century Games and Motor City Gameworks

Rev up your engines and chuck some dice in this wonderfully themed roll and write from the minds behind Three Sisters and Fleet: The Dice Game. Players will roll the dice and place them on the board according to their symbol and color. The color is significant because it will determine what bonus players will receive when claiming that die from the board, and the symbol will allow players to work in one of the areas of their two sheets. Players can either perform the action of their chosen dice (such as crossing off a box on the Engineering track or taking a spin on the Test track) or use that die to increase the number of actions they can take of the same type in future rounds (up to 3 spaces of movement for each – these can be unlocked by progressing far enough on specific tracks as well). Players will get to draft two dice during a round, with one leftover die being used by everyone.

In a race to accumulate the most points, players will be trying to race up the multiple tracks to unlock parts, increase their speed, and unlock new tracks all in pursuit of being the best car designers. After eight rounds of this fast-paced rolling and writing action, players will add up points accumulated across their various tracks and the player with the highest total will be declared the winner.

Motor City has a lot of the combo-tastic appeal that has made the roll and write genre so exciting for many. It also has a level of difficulty that ratchets up the experience, because it takes some strategic planning to figure out how to maximize each selected die and how best to combo along the tracks. What to cross off, gain, and use on another track is key. And don’t ignore the speedometer because its potential to gain you cumulative points over the course of eight rounds can be make or break for many a close game.

With a fun and engaging solo mode, it’s clear Pinchback & Riddle are becoming quite masterful at hitting the sweet spot between accessible and challenging in the genre. Fans of games such as Hadrian’s Wall and the duo’s own Three Sisters will enjoy this luxury vehicle of a small box game.

Resist! components

Image provided by the publisher.


1 player | Ages 10+ | 20-40 Minutes
Designed by Trevor Benjamin, Roger Tankersley, and David Thompson
Published by 25th Century Games

We live in the Renaissance of solo gaming, and Resist! stands as one of the most challenging but fun experiences for solitary players. Players will be standing against Franco’s fascist forces in 1930s Spain to sabotage various locations, while also using collaborators across four changing venues to accomplish these tasks. There are multiple Era cards that serve as the locations, with a few face-down enemy cards drawn for each location (as identified on the Era cards). Meeting the conditions of defeating one of the Era cards will net rewards and victory points and will be replaced by the next Era card in the face-down stack. There will be 10 missions total: four from Era 1, and three each from Eras 2 and 3. Each Era is layered, with Era 3 on the bottom of the stack, then Era 2, and the four Era 1 cards chosen starting face up to begin.

Players will shuffle the 24 Maquis cards. These are the co-conspirators players will use to foil the plans of Franco’s forces. Half of them will be set aside in a face-down stack, and the other 12 will go into the player’s hand with the inclusion of 3 Spy cards. Players will draw 5 cards into their hand. Spy cards gum up hands and limit the number of Maquis accessible during the round. Maquis cards have abilities depending on which phase they are played: the Plan phase or the Attack phase. The cards will show a strength value, which will be useful in defeating guards, soldiers, and more in one of the four locations. Some may also have abilities, such as revealing, removing, or transferring cards from a location. However, some of these abilities may be better suited during the Attack phase. But choosing to use a Maquis during the Attack phase exposes them, and they cannot be used again in subsequent rounds, thus your Maquis deck functions as a de facto timer toward the game’s conclusion.

Players must be careful how they engage each chosen location as well, because some revealed cards may have reinforcements arrive if that location isn’t sabotaged by round’s end. It’s rare that multiple locations on the Era cards are resolved in a round, so strategic planning based on Maquis is required. As players advance through locations and accumulate points, bonuses, or hindrances, they must decide at the end of each round whether to continue. While the ultimate goal is to navigate through all 10 Era cards, there are ending conditions based on cumulative points scored that are outlined in the rule book.

Though seeming difficult and limiting, Resist! is easy to pick up, learn, and play. Its decision space is more aligned to abstract strategy games. It’s a Chess-like battle to determine which Maquis to use, when and how to use them, and how to set up Era card locations for future rounds. There is also a Scenario book, which includes 8 scenarios and set-ups for players looking to ramp up the challenge.

Disclosure: We received review copies of each game for review