The Board Game Breakdown: Coup, a Perfect Game for Returning Students

Make some friends and play to betray them



While this at first might seem intimidating, this is the easiest part of the game to learn.

CARSON HOLLAND, Evergreen columnist

Have you ever wanted to brutally betray two to six of your friends? Actually, don’t answer that.

If you silently nodded yes, (hopefully in the context of a board game),  then Coup is the perfect game for you.

In this card game, you take the role of various politicians trying to manipulate and bluff your way to success as your opponents are trying to do the same.

The basic loop of this game revolves around gaining two “roles,” Special characters that grant you powers.  On your turn, you are allowed to do various actions, from gaining coins, changing your role or even attempting to assassinate other characters.

While this at first might seem intimidating, this is the easiest part of the game to learn. Each card directly tells you what you can do and the game comes with a little chart that lists every action possible should you forget. It essentially comes down to a game of rock-paper-scissors.

You want to be the last one standing, either eliminating your opponents through actions or challenging their bluffs. That is where the real meat of this game exists, a relatively simple game that actually is incredibly complex beneath the surface.

While you get two cards at the beginning of the game that only you can see, you can use the ability of any other card. This action automatically goes through unless one of your opponents challenges you. The huge risk is that they lose one of their own cards if they are wrong.

All of this is backdropped by an unblockable move that will have everyone around the table nervous; trying to gain coins to eventually “coup” other opponents.

That is it. I am not joking, those are all of the game mechanics.

Even if you did not follow everything I just said, Coup comes with a great rulebook and reference guide for reminders.

Still, this game is incredibly accessible for absolutely anyone with thirty minutes to learn the rules and play a few games. After teaching some of my friends to play they were couping masters in no time.

Published in 2012 by Indie Boards & Cards and La Mame Games, Coup is a very cheap entry into the board game universe, usually floating around 15 dollars. It has few actual components beyond the small little chips that act as money, which you will want to keep securely in its little baggy.

Another point in this little box’s favor is the lack of expansions. This is not a position I usually take with board games as I am a fan of “the more content, the better,” but in Coup, *remove quotes -ke it really works. What you see is what you get and the base game of Coup can hold its fun for years.

Incredibly portable and easy to learn without breaking the bank.

One of the greatest strengths of the board game is its replayability. Each game feels different as the number of players and roles change, modified by the personalities and feuds from games past.

Before you know it you will be playing a handful of games, each going quickly and keeping you on the edge of your seat. In my mind, it really embodies a more exciting and interactive version of poker, mixed with games like werewolf and mafia from my childhood.

There are some negatives that surround this game though.

While you can play with as little as one other person, the game really shines when it hits its six-player mark. The differences between adding another player are noticeable and really switch up the game, which is a pro and a con at times.

I would recommend trying to switch up the people you play with at times. Like pro gamblers, you will soon be able to read the behaviors and tells of your friends. Adding new players can help keep the game light and fresh.

The last real negative of the game is somewhat niche as it only happens when you are the first one out. If people team up to eliminate you or you happen to guess poorly, you could be sitting there without anything to do for the rest of the game. Thankfully the games move quickly so your time on the sidelines is short, however, it can still be rather deflating.

So the question remains, should you be bringing “Coup” to your dorm neighbors’ room to play?

I do not think I could say yes fast enough. Coup is incredibly easy to learn but has enough complexity to make replaying it interesting. Though the games go quickly it is very difficult to stop at just one, you might soon find yourself demanding one more game.

And at such a low price point, it is a great pickup. Most board games these days will require you to take out a student loan but “Coup” is a tightly packed game with lots of fun stuffed in there too.

Overall I would give the game an 8.8/10, and wish you the best of luck in deceiving your friends!

While Coup is a great intro, if there is a board or card game that you are passionate about and think I should review email [email protected]. Next week we will go to the opposite of the board game spectrum and review a giant, Twilight Imperium.