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Subject: A Review. Of Coup. For You. rss

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This review first appeared on the gaming blog Theology Of Games.


Lately I’ve found myself getting completely hooked by small games with big gameplay. The Resistance. Hanabi. And now Coup.

Components

15 cards—five characters (Duke, Assassin, Captain, Ambassador, Contessa) repeated three times.
Summary cards
Money


Now, there are a few different printings of this. The components might be slightly different—and the art is certainly different—but that’s what you’ll be playing with.

Setup

Place the pile of money in the center of the table.
Each person takes two dollars.
Have each person draw two cards, look at them, and place them facedown in front of them.

Gameplay

Coup is a game where you’re influencing important people to help you do your bidding, and decrease your opponents’ influence, until you’re the last person standing. It’s a little tricky to explain (those summary cards that come with the game are really necessary), so stick with me. On your turn you can do one of four things—the last thing has some sub-things…

Collect Income—which means taking one coin from the bank. Nothing can stop you from doing this or affect this in any way.
Collect Foreign Aid—which means taking two coins from the bank. Why would someone Collect Income when they can Collect Foreign Aid? I’ll tell you in a minute.
Coup—Pay seven coins and launch a coup against an opponent. That opponent chooses one of their facedown character cards and discards it faceup. Nothing can stop you from doing this or affect this in any way.
Use the Special Power of a Character—Each character has a special power, and you just do it.

The Duke allows you to take three coins from the bank.

The Assassin allows you to pay three coins to kill another player’s character card.

The Captain allows you to steal two coins from another player.

The Ambassador allows you to draw two character cards from the deck, exchange one, both, or neither of the drawn cards with the character cards you already have, and then put two cards onto the deck.

The Contessa doesn’t get an action. (But she gets other stuff. Hang on.)

What’s interesting is that you don’t have to actually have that character card to do the Action… You can bluff your way into any action. So maybe I have the Assassin and the Contessa in front of me. When it gets to my turn I can say, “I’m going to take three coins, because I have the Duke.” And that’s just what I do. Unless…someone calls my bluff. Anyone at the table can say that I’m lying. If that’s the case, one of us is losing a card. If I’m bluffing, I have to admit it, turn one of my character cards faceup, and I’m down to one “life.” (You’re out of the game when you have to ditch both characters. You’ve essentially lost your ability to influence people anymore, so you’re thrown out to the dogs. Or something.) If I was telling the truth, I show that do actually have that character, the person who wrongly accused me has to ditch a character card, and then I get a new one: You place the card on the pile of remaining cards, shuffle them up, and draw one. It might be the one you just got rid of, and your opponents have no idea. That’s one of the great things about this game.

In addition to Actions, some of the characters have a Blocking ability.

The Duke blocks someone from collecting Foreign Aid. (Which is why you might want to just Collect Income rather than Foreign Aid.)

The Captain blocks someone from stealing coins from you.

The Ambassador also blocks someone from stealing coins from you.

And the Contessa blocks someone from Assassinating you.

Again, someone can claim they have a blocking character even if they don’t. And again, unless someone calls the bluff, the block happens. The last person with influence (a character) wins. The game is layered and tense and…poker-like, in a way. It’s also very simple and elegant.

Recommendations

Family Game? Maybe! Certainly not until they’re older. Even then, I’m not sure this is something my wife would want to play.

Youth Group Game? Possibly! It would depend greatly on the group.

Gamers’ Game?
Definitely! Coup is a terrific gamers’ game—especially if your group likes games such as The Resistance.

Final Verdict

The first time we played this, we played it five times in a row--in less than an hour. I will say that this wasn't good with six players, IMO. There was too much information on the table toward the end--because so many characters were discarded--so it slowed down as people tried to figure out who their opponents might still have. Four players felt good, and some people said they thought it might be best with five.

We also had a situation where three people were left, and all three had one character left. On one person's turn he was going to Coup someone, but whichever opponent he didn't kill would just kill him. So he was essentially in the position of deciding who won. Blech. That was my only complaint.

I like Coup a lot, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. It’s not going to replace The Resistance, but for a change-of-pace filler it’s just completely awesome.

Thanks for reading, and please check out our gaming blog, Theology Of Games.
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Paul
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Great review, you'd probably enjoy Love Letter and The Boss.
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Christian K
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I liked it. I would call it more of an introduction to the game than a review, since you spend most of it explaining the rulees. I agree that the game is not necessarily a family game (I've had mixed success with it).

By the way, you forgot under setup that each player gets two coins.
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Muemmelmann wrote:


By the way, you forgot under setup that each player gets two coins.


So I did. Thanks!
 
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Rich Chamberlain
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Well written review.

But boy do I hate this game. Horrible!
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itchyrichy wrote:


But boy do I hate this game. Horrible!


Yeah, but you like Chaos in the Old World, so your opinions are suspect...
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Jeremy
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I agree with the review. I absolutely adore this game for something quick. I play it almost every time I'm at my board game group while waiting for other games to finish up. I like the start of the game with more players, but I understand how with a lot of information on the table the end can be an obvious conclusion. I don't have a problem with this though, typically we will end it at this point when the win is obvoius. One thing I love is how the strategy can change depending on how far along in the game you are. If a good amount of people have lost cards and you know what cards are out you play very differently than you do in the beginning (and everything in between).

I also absolutely love Chaos in the Old World.
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M M
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Nice review!

Now I just have to find a copy.
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David Low
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Mat628 wrote:
Nice review!

Now I just have to find a copy.


http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2012515236/coup-bluff-an...

As long as you don't mind the re-themed art whistle
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Ben MacFarlane
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I don't understand the re-theme at all. Its a good game with a perfectly good theme - no need to attach thematically it to a completely separate game (that I, for one, can't stand). Sure, the components weren't the best, but they could have just upgraded those without all the other nonsense.

Edit: Let me rephrase that. I understand the re-theme - you can see from the Kickstarter that it worked. I just don't like it.
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Atomic Robo
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Wil Wheaton made me give you gold.
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Anthony Ferrise
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Sounds kind of like Citadels. Thanks for the quick review!
 
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David Williams
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Quote:
We also had a situation where three people were left, and all three had one character left. On one person's turn he was going to Coup someone, but whichever opponent he didn't kill would just kill him. So he was essentially in the position of deciding who won. Blech. That was my only complaint


I have just ordered this game and not played it yet. However this doesn't seem right to me.

Surely the player 'to move' did not HAVE to coup anyone? Hard to say without knowing what character he had, but surely there were other options?

I assume both other players had enough gold to Coup so 7-8 coins each. So if P1 had (or claimed) the captain they could steal gold from P2 (to go next). Then P2 has to either steal from P3 or try to assassinate P1. Or if they don't have the Captain (or don't want to bluff) they could just claim 3 gold. Either way, they still have some chance this way. The trick is to stay in the game so they still have at least some chance to win.

Seems to me there must have been something they could try to either bluff their way out or bide their time and see if someone else would make the first move.

Or, if they are just all 3 going in circles taking money and nobody willing to take a risk, they could agree a 3-way draw?

Worst case scenario, you learn this scenario and think ahead enough to avoid it if possible?
 
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Robert Stewart
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Orion3T wrote:
Quote:
We also had a situation where three people were left, and all three had one character left. On one person's turn he was going to Coup someone, but whichever opponent he didn't kill would just kill him. So he was essentially in the position of deciding who won. Blech. That was my only complaint


I have just ordered this game and not played it yet. However this doesn't seem right to me.

Surely the player 'to move' did not HAVE to coup anyone? Hard to say without knowing what character he had, but surely there were other options?

I assume both other players had enough gold to Coup so 7-8 coins each. So if P1 had (or claimed) the captain they could steal gold from P2 (to go next). Then P2 has to either steal from P3 or try to assassinate P1. Or if they don't have the Captain (or don't want to bluff) they could just claim 3 gold. Either way, they still have some chance this way. The trick is to stay in the game so they still have at least some chance to win.

Seems to me there must have been something they could try to either bluff their way out or bide their time and see if someone else would make the first move.

Or, if they are just all 3 going in circles taking money and nobody willing to take a risk, they could agree a 3-way draw?

Worst case scenario, you learn this scenario and think ahead enough to avoid it if possible?


It's possible that he'd carelessly got up to 10 coins on his previous turn.

Once you're down to 3 players, each with 1 influence and 7-9 coins, you can't afford to use a character other than the one the player to your let believes you have - even if you successfully trick them, their failed challenge lets the other player coup you to win; if they correctly challenge you any time other than their turn, then they win.
 
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Clyde W
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Orion3T wrote:
Quote:
We also had a situation where three people were left, and all three had one character left. On one person's turn he was going to Coup someone, but whichever opponent he didn't kill would just kill him. So he was essentially in the position of deciding who won. Blech. That was my only complaint


I have just ordered this game and not played it yet. However this doesn't seem right to me.

Surely the player 'to move' did not HAVE to coup anyone? Hard to say without knowing what character he had, but surely there were other options?

I assume both other players had enough gold to Coup so 7-8 coins each. So if P1 had (or claimed) the captain they could steal gold from P2 (to go next). Then P2 has to either steal from P3 or try to assassinate P1. Or if they don't have the Captain (or don't want to bluff) they could just claim 3 gold. Either way, they still have some chance this way. The trick is to stay in the game so they still have at least some chance to win.

Seems to me there must have been something they could try to either bluff their way out or bide their time and see if someone else would make the first move.

Or, if they are just all 3 going in circles taking money and nobody willing to take a risk, they could agree a 3-way draw?

Worst case scenario, you learn this scenario and think ahead enough to avoid it if possible?
It is, unfortunately right. After you obtain ten coins you MUST coup. That's why that rule exists, actually. Otherwise people would continue to take money over and over.
 
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David Williams
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rmsgrey wrote:
Once you're down to 3 players, each with 1 influence and 7-9 coins, you can't afford to use a character other than the one the player to your let believes you have - even if you successfully trick them, their failed challenge lets the other player coup you to win; if they correctly challenge you any time other than their turn, then they win.


clydeiii wrote:
It is, unfortunately right. After you obtain ten coins you MUST coup. That's why that rule exists, actually. Otherwise people would continue to take money over and over.


OK so in my example it depends whether you have 10 coins. If you do, you have no choice but to coup. The only thing you can do is learn from it and try to avoid this scenario in future.

If you don't have 10 coins then you might be able to hang on and hope the others don't go for you, depending what character you have in hand.

In purely logical terms for 1 isolated game, his does seem bad. I suppose it is where you might start taking into account that you play multiple games and see this as a chance to build a relationship which might help next game. Or you take out whoever screwed you over last game. Or if one of the other players has not won a game yet, and done nothing to annoy you, then you let them take the win. But either way this seems a situation where only politics can decide.

Is that how it tends to work in practise? Hopefully I will find out tonight as the game should arrive today!

Thanks all.
 
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Robert Stewart
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Orion3T wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:
Once you're down to 3 players, each with 1 influence and 7-9 coins, you can't afford to use a character other than the one the player to your let believes you have - even if you successfully trick them, their failed challenge lets the other player coup you to win; if they correctly challenge you any time other than their turn, then they win.


clydeiii wrote:
It is, unfortunately right. After you obtain ten coins you MUST coup. That's why that rule exists, actually. Otherwise people would continue to take money over and over.


OK so in my example it depends whether you have 10 coins. If you do, you have no choice but to coup. The only thing you can do is learn from it and try to avoid this scenario in future.

If you don't have 10 coins then you might be able to hang on and hope the others don't go for you, depending what character you have in hand.

In purely logical terms for 1 isolated game, his does seem bad. I suppose it is where you might start taking into account that you play multiple games and see this as a chance to build a relationship which might help next game. Or you take out whoever screwed you over last game. Or if one of the other players has not won a game yet, and done nothing to annoy you, then you let them take the win. But either way this seems a situation where only politics can decide.

Is that how it tends to work in practise? Hopefully I will find out tonight as the game should arrive today!

Thanks all.


Generally, the end of the game feels pretty scripted - you reach a point where the only way for one player to win is for another to make an obvious mistake - thankfully, once you reach that point, the rest of the game doesn't last long.
 
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