Coup by Rikki Tahta
Indie Boards and Cards, 2012
Although 12 Days of Gaming’s the pet project of Entropy’s tabletop games editor Byron Campbell, he asked Quincy Rhoads, a budding gamer and curator of the Wednesday Entropy Roundup, to contribute his thoughts on some of his favorite stocking stuffer games.
I picked up my copy of Coup because I was looking for a game with a social aspect. I felt like the party games we owned offered great laughs with friends but were too silly, and I felt like our rounds of Ticket to Ride on the Kindle were getting too tense. My wife and I would sit on opposite sides of the room, plotting our routes, playing in silence, only speaking to each other enough to pass the tablet between turns.
Coup is a social deduction game for 2-6 players with hidden roles and a slew of bluffing. In the game, each player controls two hidden identities with variable player powers, but instead of only sticking to those two powers, players can claim to be whomever they want.
The fifteen-card deck includes three of each of the following roles:
Duke: Take three coins from the treasury. Block someone from taking foreign aid.
Assassin: Pay three coins and try to assassinate another player’s character.
Contessa: Block an assassination attempt against yourself.
Captain: Take two coins from another player, or block someone from stealing coins from you.
Ambassador: Draw two character cards from the Court (the deck), choose which (if any) to exchange with your face-down characters, then return two. Block someone from stealing coins from you.
Each turn, I can take money from the pot or I can use my player power, but I don’t have to stick to the powers of the cards in my hand. I can possess a Duke and an Ambassador, but then I can lie and say I’m an Assassin who can kill my opponent. I can do whatever I want…unless my opponent(s) call my bluff. If they’re right, I lose a card and come one step closer to elimination from the game, but if they’re wrong, they get a card eliminated. The object of the game is to eliminate every other player through assassinating them (as mentioned above), paying the pot to stage a coup (which is unblockable), or getting everyone else to call too many bluffs at the wrong moments. It’s quick to play and wickedly fun.
In fact, I thought the game was going to be fun when I bought it, but I didn’t realize how much fun it would be until I played it with both my wife and my parents. My wife is a shrewd and calculating player who knows all of my tells. (They’re not that hard to find. I can’t help grinning maniacally when she calls me on a bluff.). Meanwhile, my mother is too nice to eliminate her only son.
In one round, I claimed to be an Assassin without realizing that all three of the Assassin roles were already face up on the table. Dad and Wifey were yelling for Mom to call me on this blatant lie, and Mom wouldn’t do it–motherly love.
Coup is the first social game that grabbed my attention. Since then, I’ve been following into Two Rooms and a Boom, and Love Letter, and Werewolf, and Dixit, and Ca$h ‘n Guns, and Saboteur, and a score of other bluffing games…but when it comes down to it, Coup is hard to beat for its cost, size, play time, and accessibility.