The Fourth (Board)Game Of Christmas

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.


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 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.


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.


Click this.

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.


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!


  1. Alistair Hutton says:

    Do you know that we live in a world where “50 Shades of Gray The Party Game” exists. I demand review. Or possibly not.

  2. elfbarf says:

    You’re running out of time!

  3. Morph says:

    I second Coup. Excellent, quick, bluffing game.

    • President Weasel says:

      I played Coup several times at Essen.


      It’s good though.

  4. Qwentle says:

    Oh god, I saw 50 Shades the Board Game in Waterstone’s the other day (they also have a whole section labelled ’50 Shades of Gray’ sitting beside ‘Teen Fiction’ and ‘Crime’, horrifyingly). I did however also find X-Wing there, so it’s not all bad.

    (Sorry, this was meant to be a reply to Mr Hutton).

  5. Henneth says:

    How similar is this to Citadels; sufficiently different to warrant a purchase?

  6. Kefren says:

    I love the little story ending in ‘Christmas is ruined’. That’s what games do: tell stories, and create interaction. Fantastic. Or, as I put it on my blog: “On the train I taught my family to play hearts. It’s my favourite card game, something I used to play a lot at university with my two closest friends. Whole evenings just playing hearts, drinking raspberry leaf tea and listening to music. Don’t knock it, they were good times. Cheap, too. The thing with games is this: games aren’t really about the game. They’re about the social interaction. Doing things with people. Getting to know them. Having a laugh when unexpected things happen. One of those friends isn’t alive any more, so the memories of the games are all the more precious.”

  7. jonfitt says:

    Bah, this is not available anywhere in the US that could get it to me before Christmas.

    • jonfitt says:

      Seems like the publisher could do well selling a pdf for people to print. 15 cards is not a lot to make.

      In fact… since there are 3 of each of the 5 types you could make up custom reference cards and use a standard deck of cards…
      3 Jacks for Captains
      3 Queens for Contessas
      3 Kings for Dukes
      3 Aces for Assassins
      3 7’s for Ambassadors.

      Plus it’s much easier to get family members to play games when they think they’re playing normal cards.

    • tossrStu says:

      Have you seen this site?

      link to

      A few people over on BGGs seem to have had luck ordering from them, with the games turning up within 4-5 days. Could be worth a punt perhaps?

      Nice avatar, btw. Seems quite appropriate for this game, seeing as how Coup’s “challenge” mechanic reminds me an awful lot of Chaos’s illusion/disbelieve…

  8. jonfitt says:

    After a successful (unchallenged) attack or a successful (unchallenged) block, what happens to the card that was used to attack or block? Does the person keep it?
    Do they always spend the card (and take a new one) whatever it was, or only spend it when revealed?

    If they do have to discard it, do they have to reveal what it was?

    • Llewyn says:

      Bear in mind that the card for a successful unchallenged attack or block might not exist…

      • jonfitt says:

        Right. I hope my wording was clear. In the case where an attack/block is successful and either card is not revealed, what happens to the unrevealed card(s) which is claimed to be an X?
        Keep or replace?
        If replace, is it revealed as it is replaced? I.e. HAHA! Suckers! It wasn’t an assassin.

        • Morph says:

          It is not revealed. So you could assassinate someone and they wouldn’t know if you had been truthful or not.

          • Llewyn says:

            @jonfitt: Ah, my misunderstanding, and I guess my answer to the wrong question probably sounded snarkier than intended.

            @Morph: But does that mean that the card is ‘played’ face down and replaced with a new card?

          • jonfitt says:

            That makes sense. So if you want to find out who had what you have to call someone’s bluff. You could go round the table with 5 Dukes and nobody would know where the lying was.

            Is the blocking card discarded or retained?

  9. Tyranny says:

    Lovely box art, and on the contents.

  10. bbl says:

    Sounds to me like ‘Citadels’ with more bluffing and less economy ( link to ). If the author enjoys this type of games, I would definitely recommend, to give it a try.

  11. meepmeep says:

    A friend brought this back from Essen, and we ended up playing it all night.

    A perfect little game – takes at most 10 minutes to learn by playing a round, but so many emergent tactics as you then play another 20 times.

    Also very good for non-gamers due to (apparent) simplicity. It’s fun watching someone who doesn’t play games much go, “hang on, we can’t all have Dukes, there’s only 3 in the pack! Oh……”