Game Buzz: Coup

Well, there’s a whole bunch of Kickstarter games out there  right now that I have my eye on.  So, let’s get started.

image by BGG user T Worthington
image by BGG user T Worthington

Coup is one of the recent trend of minigames being released into the general public.  Originally released at Spiel 2012 by La Mame Games, a new edition is being published in the US by Indie Boards and Cards set in the world of The Resistance.  Coup is a 15 minute game designed by Rikki Tahta, for 2-6 players.  You are a government official trying to discredit all the other officials, and thus gain power yourself.

As far as I can tell, there’s no actual copy of the English rules on the internet.  However, the description at BGG is pretty thorough, and there are reviews that give you the basics.  IB&C says no changes have been made to the rules, so I’m going off secondhand information for this post.  I don’t know if any of the terminology has changed…we’ll see.

The game only comes with 15 cards and some money tokens.  There are three copies of each of five different roles: the Duke, the Assassin, the Contessa, the Captain, and the Ambassador.  At the start of the game, each player gets two coins and two face down character cards.  The characters are considered to be your influence, and you can look at them.

On your turn, you can do one of four things: take a coin from the bank (collect income), take two coins from the bank (collect foreign aid), pay seven coins to launch a coup (forcing one of your opponents to discard one of their influence), or use the special power of a character.  The special powers are as follows:

  • Duke: Take three coins from the bank.  Additionally, the Duke can be used to block someone from taking foreign aid.
  • Assassin: Pay three coins to assassinate one of another player’s influence cards.
  • Contessa: Can block an assassination attempt.
  • Captain: Steal two coins from another player.  Can also be used to block someone from stealing coins from you.
  • Ambassador: Draw two character cards, exchange one with one of your face down cards (if you want), and return two to the deck.  You can also use the Ambassador to block someone from stealing coins from you.

The twist here is that you don’t actually have to have the character to use its action.  You might have the Duke and Contessa, but say you have the Captain so you can steal coins from another player.  Of course, that player can then say they have the Ambassador to block you.  You can challenge someone on what they’ve claimed, and if you’re right, they have to discard one of their influence.  However, if you’re wrong, you have to discard one of yours.  They then discard the character in question and draw a new one.

Once you lose both influence, you’re out.  The game is over when there’s only one person standing.

This game is garnering some comparisons to Love Letter due to the relative sizes of their decks (16 cards for LL).  The games don’t really have much in common beyond that, other than the act of trying to outthink your opponents.  I’m also reminded of an old game called Hoax, which was brought to you by the same guys who designed Cosmic Encounter and Dune.  I played it once several years ago, and thought it was a little too long, at least for me.  It had the same bluffing elements with secret roles.

Coup, on the other hand, looks like a very fun quick game.  I don’t know how the theme will work with it, but I doubt it matters.  It seems like a very psychological game (clearly, I cannot choose the wine in front of me), and one I don’t think I’d be very good at.  Still, it plays fast and it’s very small and portable, so it fills that filler niche that’s getting so much press lately.  Hopefully, I’ll get to play sometime once it gets released – it’s raised over $100,000 so far with eight days remaining in the Kickstarter campaign, so it should be coming out in October.  If you’re interested, head over to the Kickstarter page to back it – more stretch goals keep getting announced.  Thanks for reading!

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