Coup Review

CoupSPECS

Chaos. The government has fallen.  Some individuals see an opportunity to gain absolute power. But in every power struggle, there are victims. Don’t be a victim and rise to the top.

Overview:

What do you get for your money?

15 Character cards, 6 player aids, 50 coins and the rules.

How do you play the game?

There are 5 characters in the game, they all have a special ability. 3 Cards of each character. You get two character cards, you look at them and lay them face down on the table. Then you can do whatever you want in your turn, as long as everyone believes you are who you say you are. Steal coins, kill people, whatever. And when the characters of the other players are eliminated, you win Coup.
 
OK, I’ll explain the game a little better. At the beginning of the game you’ll take two random characters and two coins. In your turn you can always take one coin from the supply (Income), take two coins (Foreign Aid) or launch a Coup (to do that you’ll have to pay 7 coins). It doesn’t matter which character you are. You can also claim to be a character and use their special ability. You can say: “I’m the Duke”  and take 3 coins, “I’m the Assassin” (pay 3 coins) and choose a player to lose influence/ kill one of their characters (Assassinate: turn over one of their cards), “I’m the Ambassador” and Exchange cards with the Court deck (the draw deck), “I’m the Captain” and Steal 2 coins from another player.
 
Some characters also have a counteractive ability. The Duke can block Foreign Aid, the Ambassador and the Captain can block the Steal action. The Contessa has only a counteractive ability, she can block the Assassin from killing her (player).
 
You can always challenge a player’s action or counteraction, whether you are involved in an action or not. “I don’t believe you are the Duke.”
 
So, when someone takes 3 coins, you can challenge him. Then, there are two options. Firstly, he can show you his Duke card, take the coins and exchange the Duke card for a new one. The challenger looses and he has to flip over one of his cards (lose influence). But if the so-called Duke can’t or doesn’t want to show the Duke card, he loses one influence (flips over one of his cards) and the action fails.
 
Above, I’ve told you that you can also launch a Coup in your turn. Then you basically banish a character. You choose a player and he must flip over one of his cards. He cannot do anything about it. You may launch a Coup when you have 7 coins. You must launch a Coup when you have 10 or more coins.
 
One by one the player’s characters will be eliminated and the last player with one or two characters left wins the game.
 
The Indie Board and Cards version of the game provides you with an alternative for the Ambassador card: the Inquisitor.  He can exchange a card with the Court deck. Plus, he can examine another player card and (optionally) force them to exchange that cards with the Court Deck. He also can block a Steal.

Review

Gameplay

It’s a quick filler. The rules are easy, but the first couple of plays there are many situations when you have the look up stuff (“OK, what happens now”).
 
That’s one (and the most important) point of criticism I have: the game only plays well with ‘experienced’ Coup players. The different actions and counteraction and the three basic actions are well thought off, but every player has to learn them by heart, before the game comes into its own. When you play with new players, everyone is constantly looking at his player aid for the cards actions.
 
This game must be played quickly. “I’m the Captain, I steal 2 coins.” No, you cannot. I’m the Ambassador” “I don’t believe you”.  Not like “Uhm, I.. am.. the.. Captain. Yes, I’m the Captain and I take 2 coins from, uhm, you” “Let me see (looking at the aid). Can I do anything? Oh, yes. The Ambassador can block him, right??  So, uhm, then I’m the Ambassador.”
 
The whole bluffing aspect goes down the drain and the game will take too long the first couple of plays. So, yes it’s a quick filler, but you cannot jump right in. That’s a minus. You’ll have to play with the same group of people for a while. Once everyone knows what they are doing, Coup will shine. 
The different character abilities and counter abilities are neat, they work well together and provide a lot of interaction. 
Play the game with more than 3 people, it’s better that way. (A two player game makes no sense at all. Why would they put that on the box? Money probably..)

Theme

Although this game is set in the Resistance universe (at least the Indie Boards & Cards edition), it feels less thematic than that game (FYI the first edition of Coup feels thematically the same). The collaboration (or not), the talking, the aspects that made the Resistance very thematic in my opinion aren’t here. There is backstabbing and suspicion. But, in the end it is a just a quick bluffing game with some cards that have special actions.

Looks

It looks exactly like Indie Board and Cards: the Resistance. It gives you the same vibe. OK, nothing wrong with that, nothing special either.

Quality of the  components

Nice linen cards. Nice cardboard coins.  

Fun

This game can be fun, but only after a couple of plays with the same people, as I already described above. You’ll need to know what every character can do, you need to know the rules very well, otherwise you will be looking at the cards, the rules and the player aid all the time. Hard to bluff that way. That does the game no good.
 
Don’t get me wrong, this is a good game, it’s a very fun game, but you will have to give it some time.
 
When you play this with the right group of people, the game can be fun and tense. Suspicion, bluffing and backstabbing, it’s all really exciting.
 
It’s in the same vein as Love Letter. A fun game with just a couple of cards. Coup has a bit more interesting gameplay (when you now every action and counteraction) and if you get into it, just as fun as that game (eventually even more), but it is a little less accessible in my opinion than Love Letter.
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