By Robert Florence on December 19th, 2012 at 7:00 pm.
For the fourth game of Boardgamemas, my true love gave to me FOUR COUPING BIRDS.
So that’s us up to Four Couping Birds, Three Roman Gladiators, Two Traity Dopes and an X-Wing in a Pear Tree. This is getting very UNWIELDY and CONFUSING.
So what exactly are these Couping Birds? Well, it’s a little pocket rocket of a game called COUP. It’s a smash hit with everyone I’ve played with.
WHAT IS IT?
Coup is a bluffing game for 3-6 players. Each player is the head of a family in an Italian city-state. Your aim is to destroy the influence of the other families at the table. You do this by leaning on the abilities of the characters who live in the city. Two characters cards will be dealt face down to each player at the start of the game. This counts as your influence – two cards, two points of influence. Each of these characters have special abilities.
DUKE: He can TAX the people, letting you take 3 coins. He can block FOREIGN AID.
ASSASSIN: Lets you pay 3 coins to assassinate another player’s card, losing them 1 influence.
AMBASSADOR: He lets you exchange your character cards with fresh ones from the deck, and blocks CAPTAINS.
CAPTAIN: This fellow can EXTORT two coins from another player, and block other CAPTAINS.
CONTESSA: She blocks assassination attempts.
Now, here’s where things get very cool. Each turn, a player can take one action. The player can take INCOME, which is 1 coin. He can receive FOREIGN AID, which is 2 coins. And he can start a COUP, which costs 7, and will strip an opponent of 1 influence. But the player can also take the action of any character he has in his possession. So he can take the Captain’s EXTORT action and steal 2 coins from someone else. But get this….
YOU CAN TAKE THE ACTION WHETHER YOU HAVE THE CARD OR NOT.
You get me? You can choose to assassinate even if you don’t have an ASSASSIN. You can block someone’s Foreign Aid attempt with a DUKE that you don’t even own. You can LIE. If an opponent challenges your action, you have to prove that you have the card. If you do, they lose an influence and you take a fresh card. If being challenged catches you out in a lie, then you lose an influence and must keep your card face up.
And that’s the game. A list of actions, and a lot of lies.
“I’m going to assassinate you, Emily.”
“I don’t think you have that assassin.”
“Are you challenging me?”
“No. It doesn’t matter anyway. I’m blocking your assassin with my Contessa.”
“No fucking WAY you have a Contessa!”
“It’s why I’m not risking challenging your assassin. Doesn’t matter. I’m protected anyway.”
They stare at each other for a minute. The other players laugh.
“I’m challenging your Contessa.”
“Are you sure?”
Emily show her Contessa.
David loses an influence. He turns one of his cards face-up and out of the game. Turns out he didn’t even have an ASSASSIN in the first place. But he thought he had caught Emily in a lie. Coup is all about psychology. David now realises he has no idea when his wife is lying and when she is telling the truth. This means that she could actually be cheating on him with Arthur from work after all.
Christmas is ruined.
WHO TO BUY IT FOR
A couple. I don’t know why, but Coup is a strangely sexy game. I think it’s because you spend a lot of time staring into each other’s eyes, trying to detect a lie.
Someone who likes FAST games. A game of Coup can end in minutes.
Poker players. Seriously.
WHERE TO BUY IT
You can also find it online, of course. But try to support your independents. This game is another cheap one, so try to spend your cash in the right places.
FOURTH UPDATE DOWN!
And the next update will contain a few different recommendations, because you’ve all requested I get the list out to you more quickly, to give you more time to buy them. See? Ain’t I a good guy? Condensing my beautiful work to make YOU happy. It is Christmas, after all!