I’m the type of person that when I like something, I really like it. When I’m in a cooking mood, I’ll spend the entire day making delicious homemade protein bars and lunches for the week. When I wanted a Great Dane as a kid, I read every book about the breed and even made a PowerPoint presentation for my parents (true story).
As has been the case with other hobbies in the past, I developed a borderline obsession with playing Coup. I downloaded the app on my phone and duelled with strangers throughout the day, I coerced everyone around me into playing whenever possible, and even purchased a copy for myself—something I never really do as a non-gamer. In fact, my passion for this game became so intense that people’s faces would be struck with horror and fear whenever I pulled it out as they wondered how long I’d subject them to my surprising, newfound addiction.
In today’s post, I’ll share why I love this game so much and some things to keep in mind if you’re considering buying it for yourself.
How the Game Works (in the words of a non-gamer)
Everyone starts with two cards, with each card representing a different character. Your goal is to kill off everyone else’s characters so that they have no more cards in front of them. What’s neat is that each of the five characters in the game have different functions. For the most part, they’re able to perform one action and/or block another. The Captain, for example, is able to steal money from others but also stop others from stealing from you.
Money also plays a crucial role in this game because if you get 7 “dollars,” you’re able to kill off a character no questions asked (hence the name “coup” for the game), regardless of what their abilities are.
But… here’s the most fun part of the game: because only you know what two characters are in your hand, you’re able to lie about who those characters are. So, for example, I might act as if I’m the Duke—who’s able to take three “dollars” every turn and stop others from using foreign aid—but I might actually have a Captain and Contessa. The reason this gets so fun is because you, as a player, also don’t know what actions you should perform because who knows if players are being honest? And of course, every so often you’ll catch someone in their lie, which is enormously fun.
Likes and Dislikes
One of my favourite things about Coup is the bluffing component of it. You’re constantly on your toes because you have no idea who is being honest about their hand and who is lying through their teeth. For a rookie game-player like me, it also welcomes the perfect amount of strategic thinking; it’s not so complicated that you’re scratching your head the whole time, but it’s interesting enough that you won’t be bored.
Because most of the characters can block people from doing certain things, you also develop friendly rivalries with different players, which can be oh so fun. I also think the therapist in me finds it fascinating to see people’s patterns surrounding lying and honesty; some people naturally gravitate towards playing completely honestly while others showcase their amazing bluffing abilities, which is really fun to watch.
In terms of dislikes, I found learning this game to be somewhat complicated. Part of this could have been because the people I was playing with were all learning the rules for the first time (and alcohol may or may not have been involved), so I would highly recommend having an experienced player explain the rules before starting, otherwise it just sounds too complicated (though this is a recommendation for any game, I suppose).
I also feel as though Coup is geared towards a very particular audience when I think about it; partiers looking for a social game could find it too complicated, but more hardcore gamers might find it too simple and boring. I’ve found this game goes over best for people like me who have a (minor) interest in board games but also have zero desire to sit and play board games for five hours solid.
Another critique is that Coup is really best suited for about 4 people or more in my opinion; anything less and the game just goes by far too quickly.
As I write this review, however, my suppressed addiction for Coup has resurfaced and I find myself downloading the app to play all over again because it’s just that good.