Recently released from its Kickstarter, Coup is a bluffing game for 2 to 6 players. Retailing for about 15 bucks, it was designed by Rikki Tahta and published by Indie Boards and Cards who also publish The Resistance, in which Coup is nominally set.
The box includes more than enough coins to play with as well as a deck made up of 3 copies of each of the 5 roles and summary cards for 6 to remind you what all of the actions are/who can take them. At the start of the game each player is dealt two role cards face down, with the remainder forming the deck. Players take turns taking actions – some of which have counter actions that will prevent your action – by claiming a role or by taking one of the three role-less actions, including the titular Coup wherein you pay a large sum of money to force one of the players to flip one of their cards face up. Once both of your cards are face up you lose. Last one standing wins.
In addition to the Coup to flip cards (and the Assassin role which does it cheaper) there is challenging. Any time you claim a role any other player may call you on it, believing you do not actually have the role and are bluffing. When this happens you either flip one of your cards face up, or you reveal the role you claimed proving you have it and the challenger has to flip one of theirs face up. (Your revealed role gets shuffled back into the deck and you get a new one so people don’t know what roles you have) This bluffing/calling is the core of the game, since otherwise it’s a simple mathematical puzzle as to who reaches killing funds first. In addition, with larger groups, you also have the politics standard to large multiplayer: can you convince the person who just got Coup money to take out someone else instead of you?
That’s it. It’s a very straightforward and easy to explain game, while the bluffing aspect adds a very nice depth to it. While it often feels like an inevitable conclusion who will win once you get down to but a few players – since you roughly know what people’s roles are and you can do the math as to who gets to Coup strength first – that isn’t always the case since one good bluff or political argument can easily sway things in your favor or out.
My group has greatly enjoyed the game, especially since with its fast play time we can easily get in 4-5 games of Coup in the time we’d get in one game of anything else. Ranging from the guy who always bluffs to the guy who doesn’t understand bluffing, everyone seems to enjoy the game. I would recommend this to any group that likes to bluff and play politics around their games – those who do not bluff *cough Chris cough* may not enjoy the game as much, but with a large group they should at least enjoy the politics aspect.
Two good bluffs up.