COUP is a game of cards and bluffs! This would certainly be a good way to summarize this game created in 2012, in COUP, each player will have influential characters in the court to eliminate their competitors and reach power.
The game can have from 2 to 10 players, and the number of cards in the deck increases with the number of players, and each of these players will receive at the beginning of each game 2 cards (Influences) and 2 coins. Each card will contain a character from the game (Assassin, Captain, Contessa, Duke, Ambassador or Inquisitor), don't reveal your cards unless someone else has eliminated an Influence from you! The objective is, through the characters and coins, to eliminate the other players and be the last at the table with cards in hand.
In case you want to acquire the game, there are two options: the "normal" version with a futuristic art, where you can find here; or the Brazilian version, with art remembering a medieval time, more expensive, but a really good option. Here we show the Brazilian art.
Actions in a turn
Each player can take an action per turn, either free (Income, External Aid or Coup d'etat) or a special action of a character (Assassin, Captain, Contessa, Duke, Ambassador and Inquisitor).
Income - Take a coin from the Treasury (This action cannot be blocked).
External Aid - Get three coins from the Treasury (This can be blocked by the Duke).
Coup D'etat - Pay seven coins to the Treasury to eliminate one of another player's Influences (This action is unblockable and is mandatory if the player in action has 10 or more coins).
Each character has special actions and/or action blocking abilities, and the characters' actions can be contested by other players on the spot. When being contested, the player of the action or block must show his card. If he has the character of the action or block, he discards his card and draws another one, otherwise the one who contested must eliminate one of his Influences.
Assassin: Pay three coins to the Treasury and try to eliminate another player's Influence (this action can be blocked by the Contessa).
Captain: Take two coins from another player. You can block another player who tries to use the Captain action to get coins from you.
Duke: Take three coins from the Treasury. It can block the request for external help from other players.
Contessa: Can block Assassin's action of attempted murder against you.
Ambassador: You can take two cards from the Court Deck, swap from zero to two of these cards with your cards face down, and return two cards to the Court Deck. It can block the Captain's action from taking coins from you.
Inquisitor: Choose whether to take a card from the Court Deck and exchange or not that card with one of your Influences, or to take an Influence card from another player and exchange it for one of the cards from the Court Deck. It can block the Captain's action from taking coins from you.
Reformation: Expansion 1
The Reformation is an expansion that brings some new elements to the game. When playing with this expansion, 2 religions are added (Protestant and Christian), each player at the start of the game will be assigned one of these religions, and from that players can only use actions against players of the opposite religion to theirs (unless in this case of all having the same religion).
Players will also be able to use a new device, the Asylum! With Asylum, players get 3 new free actions to perform during their turn:
- The player can pay a coin to the Asylum to change their religion.
- The player can pay two coins to the Asylum to change another player's religion.
- The player can take all the Asylum's Coins as long as he doesn't have the Duke's Influence (can be contested!).
Jester and Bureaucrat
There are some promotional cards that bring a different dynamic to the game.
Jester (can replace Ambassador) - You can take a card from the Court Deck and a card from another player and can exchange it with one of your cards, after that return a card to the Court Deck and another to the player who had his card taken. Can Block the action of another Jester and the Captain.
Bureaucrat (can replace Duke) - Can take 3 coins from the Treasury but must give one of these coins to another player.
The game is basically an exercise in bluff and diplomacy. After all, what's the point of lying crazy and having everyone at the table against you? So, a good way to behave is not to be the target of the table at the start of the game.
Abusing the Duke
Players who accumulate a large amount of coins quickly (for example, using the Duke in all their actions) can be targeted either to have their coins stolen or to lose an Influence. So, a moderation in your actions can help you avoid a spotlight and make it to the end of the game (perhaps even with your two Influences intact).
A widely used strategy is betting on the Assassin. Reaching up to 7 coins having people stealing from you or Dukes blocking external aids can be a very difficult task, that's why many players use the Assassin (whether it's in their hands or not) to eliminate other players more quickly. But it's a very risky strategy, the Assassin can be blocked by a Contessa, and then you lose your 3 coins for nothing, although the Contessa is a card often snubbed by players for having no actions beyond the Assassin's block. Remember that when someone contests the Assassin's action and loses his/her response, that player loses two influences (if he still has both), one for erroneously contesting an Assassin and the other for his action.
Shuffling everything with Ambassador and Inquisitor
Another strategy used at various stages of the game are to search inside the Court Deck using the Ambassador and Inquisitor. Regularly, your hand can come with duplicate cards or just cards that do not help you collect coins or eliminate your opponents more easily, so it is a good strategy for you to try to get new cards in the Court Deck. You might try looking for a Duke or Captain to speed up your coin gain or an Assassin to eliminate Influences faster, or maybe even look for that Contessa to protect yourself at a crucial moment. An advantage of this strategy is that even if you don't have the Ambassador or Inquisitor, these actions are hardly contested by other players for not hitting any of them and not changing your amount of coins, allowing a safer bluff.