- 15 cards—five characters (Duke, Assassin, Captain, Ambassador, Contessa) repeated three times.
- Summary cards
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.
- Place the pile of money in the center of the table.
- Give each person two dollars.
- Have each person draw two cards, look at them, and place them facedown in front of them.
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.
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.
The first time we played this, we played it five times in a row. And that was 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.
So where can you get your own copy? Well, Indie Boards and Cards has a Resistance-themed Coup up on Kickstarter right now! It ends in two weeks, and it's way overfunded. And the best part? It's only $15 shipped. Check it out.