- Ryan Havdala
Coup: A Game of Chicken
If you want to add a quick, chaotic bluffing game to your collection, Coup, designed by Rikki Tahta, might be the game for you. It gives you the opportunity to lie as much as you please and gives you the chance to call your friends liars if you don’t already!
Why I love it
Generally, I love bluffing games, and I love that Coup allows players to employ any strategy they please: I’ve seen people win without lying and others win while lying on almost every turn.
Coup is a very quick game, so I love that I can almost always pitch Coup to start a game night while I’m waiting for the rest of the party or after a longer game has wrapped up, but we still want to hang out and play something.
While simple, Coup can be a very strategic game, and decisions are frequent and important. With fewer players, the game tends to be even more strategic.
Coup is a highly interactive game and players’ decisions can lead to a lot of chaos and laughing. Games tend not to be repetitive, and I’ve played with the same people loads of times without tiring of the game because of how different each game feels.
Because the game is generally very easy to teach and play, it is easy to introduce new players without them feeling as though they’re behind everyone else
Who would love it
Gamers or Non-Gamers? Both: Coup is what you make of it. If you’re playing with a group of experienced gamers, they will probably have fun with the strategic components and enjoy the competitiveness, whereas non-gamers might just enjoy shouting at their friends or trying to slip under the radar.
Competitive people who like bluffing or lying games will enjoy the game the most, as this will give them every opportunity to lie their way to victory!
Anyone who has ever had the inexplicable urge to chant “As the Duke, I’m taking 3 coins” with their loved ones.
Who might not love it
I would not recommend Coup to people who find it morally compromising to lie under any circumstance
As an example, if your mother tends to accidentally tell three truths during two truths and a lie because of guilt, she probably won’t enjoy Coup
Coup may be frustrating for some with a larger group (starting around the 6-player maximum) if they lose quickly and do not want to wait for the rest of the game to finish. Despite this, games usually resolve in under 15 minutes, so the wait is not too long
If you or your playgroup have issues where some players are known to gang up on individual players, the game may not be as fun, since making an alliance in the game can be very oppressive, though it is a legitimate tactic in-game.
What it is (briefly)
Coup is a hidden identity bluffing game for 2-6 players. In the game, each player starts with two “Influence Cards”, giving them the ability to take certain actions. The goal of the game is to eliminate all other players by eliminating both of their Influence Cards. In a turn, one player takes an “action.” There are only 8 possible actions, 5 of which are restricted to specific roles. Any player can take any action they would like, but if they take an action corresponding to a card that is not one of their active (not already eliminated) influence cards, any other player may challenge them at the risk of losing one of their own cards. For a full video on how to play from Geek & Sundry, click the link!
When to play it
As I mentioned above, Coup is a very quick game and is great to play in casual settings when you’re not sure how much time you have but want to get a game in as a warm-up or cool-down
Coup is a game for 2-6 players, but I find that the game is best with 3-4 players
With 5 or 6 players, the game may feel a bit long for the first player or two eliminated if they lose early
With fewer players, the game gets more strategic and controllable, which is something that I tend to enjoy, but may not be as fun for non-gamers
If you need an excuse to talk about complex, unstable domestic political situations, Coup is right on theme!
You might like it if you also like…
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
Don’t let other players steal from you early on in the game; if you do not have an Ambassador or Captain, you will likely become a bank for the other players. If you have neither, it is easier to bluff the Ambassador role, in my opinion, because if the player stealing from you has the Captain that they claim to have, there would be fewer possible captains remaining in the deck and they may be more likely to call you out!
It is possible to lose both of your influence cards if assassinated; if you block assassination without a Contessa and are challenged or challenge an assassin and lose, then you would lose one card for being assassinated and one for losing a challenge, so be mindful of this possibility and lie/challenge carefully. On the other hand, if you’ve been assassinated with one card remaining, you might as well block it or issue a challenge!
In a 6-player game, using the Ambassador’s exchange action gives you a view of two of the three remaining cards, so it can give you a lot of information. If you see all three copies of a card, then you know anyone who takes that action will have lied, unless they use exchange after you.
There is no strongest combination of Influence Cards, but my advice is to mentally assign a placeholder for the contessa or a double of a card when you’re dealt one at the start of the game, as being restricted to only one action can be very limiting to your gameplay.
The most common first turn action in my games is Tax, the Duke’s specific action, because it provides an early flow of coins and players are less likely to call this action out as it generally does not affect them. Since you can say anything you want during the game, our usual joke is that we all have two Dukes at the start, so if anyone else were to have a duke, the active player would have to be lying, in order to push other people to risk their Influence in a challenge.
Coup is a great game to pick up if you want something light and quick yet still engaging. If you’re like me and enjoy chaotic, combative fun, then it’ll be a great pick.
For more about the game, click here to see the game’s profile on BoardGameGeek.