October 29, 2016 /
Designer: Rikki Tahta
Publisher: La Mame Games, Indie Boards and Games
Category: Bluffing, Card Game, Deduction, Political
Back in 2012, publisher La Mame Games brought us a neat little card game from designer Rikki Tahta called Coup. Indie Boards and Games ran a Kickstarter campaign and came out with a newer version of Coup which is set in the world of The Resistance. Coup is a game of bluffing, bribery, and manipulation in which players are all vying for power using these methods.
This bluffing and deduction game is for 2-6 players; a full game can be played within 10-15 minutes. Coup typically works best with 4 or 5 players.
Coup is a generally clean game, but it’s not completely clean. In order to enjoy the game to its full potential, one must occasionally bluff or tell a lie in order to further their position in the game.
Coup is a simple game—easy to set up, easy to put away, and most importantly: easy to play. At the beginning of each game, players begin with 2 coins and 2 influences. Another way to put these are that the influence cards are character cards and each character has different abilities. The goal of the game is to be the last player standing.
Inside the box, you will find some high-quality game components. The art style is in the same style of Indie Board and Games’ The Resistance. Since this game is set in the same world, it makes sense it’s in the same style. There is a deck of 15 character cards (3 of each character), some very useful player aids, and 50 coins used to launch a coup or an assassination attempt against another player.
Characters along with their abilities are as follows:
Ambassador: Draw 2 cards from the court deck, choose which 2 characters to keep out of the 4 you now have, return 2 cards to the deck. The Ambassador can also block another player from stealing coins from you.
Assassin: Pay 3 coins to launch an assassination attempt against another player.
Captain: Steal 2 coins from another player, or block another player from stealing from you.
Contessa: Blocks assassination attempt against your character.
If you do not wish to take any action as a character, you may choose from a couple of additional options:
1. Income: Gain 1 coin. This action cannot be blocked.
2. Foreign aid: Gain 2 coins. This action may be blocked by the Duke.
3. Coup: Pay 7 coins to launch a coup against another player. This action cannot be blocked and the player immediately loses an influence.
When starting a new game, each player is dealt 2 influence cards face down and given 2 coins. Once the game begins, players make only one move per turn. The move made is dependent on which character you are, or which character you’re pretending to be. This is where the game gets interesting. You can choose to take 3 coins as the Duke even though you may not have a Duke card. The risk in doing this is that any player may accuse you of lying, in which case you then have to either prove you are the Duke or you lose an influence by turning one of your 2 cards face up. It remains that way until the game is over. Once both of your influence cards have been turned face up, you are out of the game. The last player to have at least one influence card face down is the winner.
Any action can be attempted, and therein lies the beauty of this game, but beware your rivals as they may call you out on any move you take. As stated above, the only moves that cannot be blocked are income and a coup. You don’t have to bluff to receive foreign aid, but your opponent may bluff and say they are the Duke in order to block you. You then have the option to call them out on it. If they are indeed the Duke, you lose an influence; if they are not, they lose an influence.
I will go ahead and warn you to be careful when calling out an assassin. I’m speaking from experience here, so track with me. If a player pays the 3 coins to launch an assassination attempt at you, you can either block as the contessa or call that player out if you think they are bluffing. Here’s the problem with that: If you call them out, and they are indeed the assassin, you lose both influences and are out of the game. You lose an influence from the successful assassination attempt, and a second influence is lost due to having falsely accused a player of bluffing. If you’re going to call out an assassin, be sure they are bluffing, or live life on the edge and take the chance because why not, right?
Once a player has 10 or more coins, they must launch a coup against another player. This player immediately loses an influence as coups cannot be blocked.
Coup is a lot of fun, especially as a new player starting out. I’ve played countless rounds of this game and spent many hours among the intrigue and manipulation that is the setting of Coup. I don’t know that I’ve ever played the same way twice, and I don’t remember the last time I made it all the way to the end of the game without bluffing. I’ll sometimes take 3 coins as the Duke when I don’t have a Duke card, or I’ll steal 2 coins from another player as the Captain for the fun of it even though I have no Captain card. It’s nerve racking to attempt these bluffs, but it’s an addicting thrill when you get away with them. I know of people that you know they are bluffing because their mouths are moving, and I’ve played with others who simply will not bluff. Like I said, those players don’t typically last very long.
Even though Coup is a lot of fun, it’s not without its faults. It’s a successful micro game, but after a while, it sort of loses its luster. I almost wish they would add some more characters with different abilities or other actions you can take in the game. Maybe change the rules up a little bit and allow a player to take two actions instead of just one per turn, or make the game a bit longer by dealing each player an extra card or two in addition to the two cards players receive at the beginning of the game.
Due to the small amount of time it takes to play the game if you have more than 6 people who want to play, you could just swap out based on who was out of the game first or simply come up with some sort of rotation. This would prolong the life of the game in that a different player brings a different play style, sometimes one you’re not used to. It would be a pretty cool game to have around for these types of parties.
All in all, Coup is a great game. I jump at the chance to play it because of the strategy that’s involved in making the different moves. If you haven’t already, I suggest you consider picking this game up. It’s quick and to the point. It’s easy to explain and even easier to play. If you’re looking for something that isn’t going to take all night like some other games, my opinion is that Coup is a solid choice.
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