Coup – Gameplay & Discussion

Hey everyone, I’m Matt Evans and welcome to Board Game Replay. In this series, you’re going to be joining me, along with some of my friends, just after we finished playing one of our favorite board games. We’re going to sit down for a sort of post-game discussion. We’re gonna talk about maybe strategies or mechanics, but mostly we’re going to talk about our experience with the game and… and highlight some of our favorite moments.

And as some of these moments come up during our discussion, we’re going to cut away to replay clips. We’re going to go back and actually see how it happened during the game. So what we’re hoping to do with this is hopefully to give you an experience- -of what it is like to sit down and play this game with a group of family or friends, and all the great things that come along with it.

That being said, for our first show, we wanted to pick a game that had a fairly straightforward rule set, but also had a lot of great player interactions – -so you could see things kind of going back and forth between players. So for that game, we’ve chosen the 2 to 6 plater game of “Coup” by Rikki Tahta and La Mame Games, recently republished by Indie Boards & Cards with this cool new Resistance theme. There’s already been a lot of media coverage about this game, so I won’t go into too much detail. And I’ll spare you all the rules, but just in case you’re not familiar I’ll give you a quick overview of it. Hopefully just a minute or so. So in this game you’re going to be playing as these powerful government officials – manipulating, bluffing, and bribing your way to the top.

The game’s all about bluffing and deception. At the beginning of the game, you’re going to be dealt two character cards and they’re going to be place facedown in front of you. They’re just going to sit here.

Players are going to look at them and then they’re going to go facedown in front of them. And during a player’s turn, they’re going to take one action that they can do. Either from this general list of three characters cards, you have these handy reference sheets in front of you. So the players will be able to take on of three very general actions- -or they can use the special abilities granted by the cards that are lying down in front of them. That being said, what’s cool about this game is that you don’t actually have to take the abilities of the character cards you have in front of you.

You can actually say you have any of these five different character cards and take that power. And as long as nobody challenges you having that card, then you get away with it And it goes right-on to the next turn. However, somebody’s allowed to challenge any action or counter-action you take that’s granted to you by your character card.

And if you don’t actually have the card you say, you actually have to prove – you have to flip the card face-up – to prove that you have it. If you don’t actually have it, you’re going to lose one of your influence – which, in this game, your influence is how many cards you have down in front of you. So if I was to lose an influence, I would take a card and flip it face-up. Now everybody knows this card is no longer in the pool of cards remaining in the game and I only have one, essentially, one life left.

So I can only either get caught lying one more time or if somebody assassinates me, I’ll lose this card as well. The way this game’s going to work is you’re just going to go around the table like that. Each player taking actions, maybe telling the truth, maybe totally lying about it. Until players are either calling each other out or being assassinated by player powers or money’s being stolen.

Until all players have been eliminated and there’s only one person standing. So, hopefully that’s a pretty basic overview of the game. You’ll kind of see how some of the different player powers interact but ah, the game is just really great. And it’s really fun to just sit down with a group of friends and just play and shout back and forth. And it’s a great game because it plays very quickly. So this game only plays in about 10 – 15 minutes.

so for today’s first episode we’re actually going to sit down and play three games of “Coup.” So it’ll give you a good idea, and we’ll have maybe some good clips to cut back too and that. So, on that note, I think I just heard my friends arriving upstairs. We’re going to get to some “Coup” and be back in just a bit.

[Techno Music] MATT: So why don’t we go around the table and we’re..we’re gonna start with Brian over here. MATT: and uh, let’s actually start with winners. I think that’s probably a good idea.

MATT: So the first game was won by Brian. MATT: And, Brian what was you strategy in going to win this game of “Coup?” MATT: Or “Coop” as we called it about eleven times during the game. BRIAN: Well having the Duke in the beginning is one of the best. BRIAN: ‘Cause you can keep getting three coins and if anyone challenges you, BRIAN: you can always say you have it and they lose a card.

BRIAN: And no one usually challenges the Duke in the beginning. MATT: Yeah BRIAN: By the end, there’s almost nobody left. Actually having the Duke and being able to take three coins, BRIAN: you can just coup and take out everybody. MATT: That’s a good point. Yeah… MATT: It’s true having it at the beginning, but at.. towards the end of the game it can kind of get bad – MATT: – if you only have the Duke because everyone knows like.. you’re safe you’ve had that the whole game… BRIAN: If someone assassinates you, that’s it.

ISAAC: I got caught all three games with the Duke at the end of the game. MATT: You had the Duke? ISAAC: Yeah.

MATT: So that’s a quick – Chris, you won the second game. MATT: What was your, what were you trying – MICHELLE: This was you’re second time playing. [Laugh] [MATT and CHRIS talking at same time] MATT: Yeah this is your, this is your second game ever played.

CHRIS: Umm… [whispering] what’s the technical term for it? MICHELLE: Being awesome? CHRIS: Dumb [beep] luck. [All laughing] CHRIS: So uh, if you stick with whatever you have, just don’t lie ever, and just use that on random people. [ISAAC laughing] CHRIS: I went with that, lying, the third game [in high-pitched voice] and it didn’t work out too good. [All laughing] CHRIS: They just called me on it and I lost it.

MATT: Yeah yeah yeah. That’s fair JEREMY: I think with six players it’s harder because almost all of the roles are on the – MICHELLE: Yeah JEREMY: It’s guaranteed at least all of the roles are on the table. MATT: True JEREMY: The chances of having like three assassins- MICHELLE: Right -on the table is, that’s zero.

JEREMY: So, uh, playing with six players, someone out there is gonna have the card. MATT: Yeah that’s true. That’s definitely a good point. MATT: But there’s other roles you can get away with – ISAAC: What’s the max players? MATT: -every time. It’s six is the max players.

ISAAC: Oh, and you can have… add the Inquisitor in. MATT: Yeah so, the Inquisitor is actually a full variant. [Matt, Michelle, and Isaac talking over each other] MATT: We didn’t actually play with, with the Inquisitor at all. ISAAC: Right we only played with the – MATT: Yeah and that’s actually very similar to the Ambassador, MATT: The only difference is that it allows you to exchange or force another player to exchange. MICHELLE [talking over MATT]: Oh that’s a cool mechanic.

MATT: So that might be fun for I guess if you want a bit more control over the game. MICHELLE: That’s what I was talking about that I think would be useful in this game like there is in “Masquerade.” MICHELLE: That sort of mechanic, where you can force somebody out of city council.

MATT: Where you can control other players… yeah. MATT: Especially if you know, like Brian was saying, he has the Duke from the beginning of the game MATT: and he’s just rolling and getting money. No one wants to question him, they think he probably has it.

MICHELLE: Right. MATT: You know, who won the third game? [to MICHELLE] You one the last game right? MICHELLE: Yeah.

MATT: And how was, did you have any specific strategy that sort of that you were going for in that game? MICHELLE: G- it was other people’s dumb luck, or lack there of. [All laughing] MICHELLE: Sorry Brian.

[Inaudible whispering] BRIAN: I’m assassinating Michelle. MICHELLE: Uh, I challenge whether or not you have an assassin. [MATT laughs] ISAAC [loudly, sarcastically]: Ooohhhh, what! [Laughing] MATT: Oh nice.

Nice. Well played, well played. BRIAN: Wasn’t sure if she knew where it was. I was like maybe she really doesn’t know.

[Laughing] MATT: That was an interesting challenge too because I don’t really think about that. MATT: When somebody assassinates me, I usually go “Oh I have to lie now about having the Contessa.” But as where you got caught.. BRIAN: There was two assassins already out. There was three people left, well four including myself. BRIAN: I just- I figured the assassin was maybe one of the other people or on the table. MICHELLE [talking over BRIAN]: Right, it was a gamble.

BRIAN: And there was no Contessas to block it, so I thought “go for it.” MATT: And I didn’t even expect that. MICHELLE: Why not?

If- if you’re like gonna throw yourself into the fire man. JEREMY: The only concern- Personally my thought of, if you have one card left and they have one card left, JEREMY: and you go to assassinate… there’s no reason just to die. JEREMY: You would at least challenge one way or the other. JEREMY: So that’s the only…It’s kind of retrospective, thinking back might not have been. MATT: To challenge her to have? [Brain, Matt, and Jeremy talking all at once] MATT: She’s making you question – JEREMY: To lie about having the assassin, and that’s their last card, there’s no reason to go “Oh you killed me.”

JEREMY: Like you at least challenge ’cause you challenge and you’re wrong you die. You don’t challenge you die. MATT: That’s another level of it actually.

That’s a good point. MICHELLE: I’m gonna…I’m gonna kill Matt. MATT: Really? MICHELLE: Yeah! MATT: Really?

You’re gonna kill me? MICHELLE: Yeah! MATT: Well I have the Constessa so… JEREMY: Assassinate you mean? MATT: Oh you couped? You’re doing a coup?

MICHELLE: Oh no sorry, you’re correct I’m assassinating you. Matt: I have the Contessa. You will not be able to do that. Michelle: I’m gonna take that risk. Matt: Are you?

MICHELLE: I am. Matt: Oh yeah? Alright no you’re not – no. [All laugh] MATT: I’m gonna take the Duke. The Duke…The tax, sorry. MICHELLE: Uhhhh.

I’m going to- ISAAC: Call it. MICHELLE: I’m going to assassinate – ISAAC: No, no. Hold on, I am… calling BS on his tax action. MATT [Confused]: Really? Why? ISAAC: Yeah.

MICHELLE: You’re challenging Matt’s possession of the Duke? ISAAC: Yes. MATT: He’s challenging me?

Psh, yeah okay. [ISAAC laughing] MATT: Alright Michelle you’re up. MICHELLE: I’m still gonna assassinate you. Sorry bro.

MATT: Alright, I have the Contessa though. MICHELLE: I challenge that. MATT: No you don’t. MICHELLE: I do though. MATT: God damn it. [All laughing] MATT: That was an easy way for me to just lose the game.

MATT: Alright, I’m out. MATT: It has definite layers that you sort of pick up on as you go. JEREMY: I didn’t think of that, to try and weed out the Contessa lie. JEREMY: If you have the last Contessa, you try to bait them out to say they have it. MATT: That’s a good point.

MICHELLE: But the problem that can come from that, which came in the first game with Brian, was having the last Contessa was great. MICHELLE: Brian still had the Duke and could earn enough money to coup you. And then you were just screwed. MATT: Really when it comes down to really only having one card, and everyone knows what you have, it’s almost game over for you. MATT: As soon as everyone figures out what role you have, as soon as they’re sure of what you have, you need to switch your cards. MATT: Because if anyone’s positive, especially when you get down to one card, you have to do it quickly when hopefully people aren’t paying attention.

MATT: If you have one card left, you can’t let anyone ever know what you have. MATT: You can’t – it’s almost like you can’t take the same role multiple turns. MATT: Like if you take the Duke three turns in a row, and you only have one card left- MATT: – you’re confident but that’s also going to be your downfall. MATT: Now everyone’s going to know he doesn’t really have an assassin. He doesn’t have an Ambassador.

ISAAC: That’s a really good thing about this game. ISAAC: It’s that there’s a way no matter what the other person has, there’s a way to counter it. ISAAC: But..it..to do that correctly, you need to know what they have. MATT: I have an interesting thing that I read on the forums the other day about this game.

It was… MATT: and it might cause some interesting discussion, um. MATT: People were saying that they were playing with their friends where one friend took sort of a stance MATT: and said “I’m not going to look at my cards at all because when you don’t look at your cards, that gives you the best advantage to this game.” MATT: Technically in the rules, it doesn’t say you have to look at your cards. MATT: It says players can look at their cards immediately. MATT: Which I thought that was an interesting thing.

MATT: Personally I think that almost breaks the game a little bit. Matt: I mean I guess, you know what it is? MATT: It doesn’t break the game, a person can sit there MICHELLE: If everybody does it it’s hard.

MATT: If everybody does it, you’re not even playing the game. CHRIS: I agree with that because I…I was in MICHELLE: It seems like a way you would play it. CHRIS: I was invited to a group that played “Texas Hold ‘Em.” CHRIS: Like on a regular basis. MATT: Yeah, never look at their cards. CHRIS: And I don’t play poker. MATT: Yeah.

CHRIS: And I was like, “I’m not gonna look at my cards.” CHRIS: And they had no idea how to deal with that. JEREMY: If you’re gonna do that, I’m just gonna challenge you first turn. MATT: Yeah! I mean potentially you get knocked right out on the first turn. Yeah, then MICHELLE: Then you have to look at your cards!

[Laughing] JEREMY: Yeah, you have to look. JEREMY: Either you’re dead or now you know what you have. MATT: It’s totally against the spirit of the game. MATT: I like the lying. JEREMY: If you’re playing the game and trying to see if someone’s lying, JEREMY: …it gets rid of that entire thing. ISAAC: Is that how- is that how they say it in the instructions though?

MATT: The rules actually say “You may look at your cards anytime.” MATT: But you can’t – ISAAC: So I don’t think it’s any – MICHELLE: That’s interesting. MATT: I feel like I have to look up the clarification of it though. BRIAN: You wouldn’t be able to bait people. MATT: I- I read the rules, and it’s very clear that it never says players have to. JEREMY: [inaudible] You need to lie perfectly, I guess.

MICHELLE: That’s interesting – ISAAC: I think that put gives you a hand up at the beginning. MATT: Yeah, I – cause I was like [MATT talking inaudibly] ISAAC: At the end it doesn’t give you a – a hands up at all. ISAAC: because… ISAAC: Really, to win you need to have something specific. ISAAC: You need to be doing something specific. BRIAN: If anybody challenges you, you don’t like – you have a good chance of nailing them.

BRIAN: Like if you say “I have this-” ISAAC: You’re odds are better with two cards. BRIAN [talking at same time]: There’s a good chance you have what you say. BRIAN: You know, in the beginning… if you have no idea what you have, it’s a good chance you don’t have it.

MATT: Yeah like, yeah, you might be able to do something that sort of, it’s almost like in an exploit to the rules. MATT: Like it doesn’t really fit within the nature of the game. MATT: I mean it’s like all about bluffing- bluffing and lying… MICHELLE: It’s like, it’s like cheating because you don’t get caught doing it. MATT: Yeah, yeah. BRAIN: You should know what you have. BRIAN: It just – MATT: That’s kind of the whole game.

[BRIAN, MATT, and JEREMY all talking at once] MATT: As much as it’s a disadvantage to look – CHRIS [to BRIAN]: Yup, and I- I don’t agree. [All laughing] CHRIS: I would- I would love to, I mean, given anytime that you call me out on. CHRIS: I don’t know what I have. CHRIS: You- the math is on your side to call me out on it. JEREMY: Right. JEREMY: So I’m gonna, turn one, call you out on your play now.

CHRIS: But I can still beat you by dumb luck. CHRIS: But then you jus- you just have to take that chance. CHRIS: But the thing is, like, if… CHRIS: I don’t get emotional, and I don’t hav- I don’t have to do any lying- CHRIS: so I can play on just facts of what I’ve seen and what you’ve said. CHRIS: So I don’t get distracted- MATT [quietly]: True that’s a good.

CHRIS: -by what I’m ‘supposed’ to be doing. MICHELLE [quietly, sarcastically]: Yeah. Well you generally are a very emotional person, so. [MATT laughs] CHRIS: Ba-dum tsss.

[All quiet laugh] JEREMY: Yeah, you can do that but, I think that’s pretty – especially with six players, that’s pretty instant counters. JEREMY: “Alright, I call you out.” MATT: I think- I think it’s an interesting question. CHRIS [jokingly]: Why didn’t you bring this up before we played? MATT: Ah that’s, well, I specifically saved it for the end. MATT: I think overall, I think we, I think we sort of covered that- that like a lot of the different angles of it.

MATT: Sort of what’s – what, what I like about it, I mean, I think we sort of like the game to a certain extent. MICHELLE: It’s quick and enjoyable. MATT: Yeah!

It’s a quick game. It’s fast and of course I think there’s luck involved. Definitely. MATT: But I think the, the humor in it sort of the excitement in the game is just like that- that lying. MATT: Like the back and forth bluffing and- JEREMY: There’s luck and lots of confusion.

JEREMY: Especially the conclusion. MATT [talking over JEREMY]: There’s so much luck and confusion. JEREMY [quietly]: Game two, um, was kind of a buzz [beep].

[MATT laughing] MICHELLE: Game two was a bust. CHRIS [talking over MICHELLE]: I think that was the best of all the games. MATT: Game two was…. MICHELLE: Sorry Chris. JEREMY: It would be cool, except some of the rules were kind of annoying. MATT [over JEREMY and MICHELLE]: We have some quick, we have some [inaudible] to show you. MICHELLE [in deep-voice]: Why isn’t anyone stopping Brian from taking foreign aid?

ISAAC [in sing-songy voice]: AMBASSADOOOR!….AMBASSADOOOOR! JEREMY: You took all three. MICHELLE: ISAAC. ISAAC: What?

JEREMY: You took all three cards. MICHELLE: You did it wrong. ISAAC: Oops.

MICHELLE [in deep-voice]: Yeah, I’m just going to put back this one that I don’t want. JEREMY: So shuffle…Take two. MICHELLE: Doesn’t that sort of screw the whole mechanic though?

MICHELLE: Cause now Isaac absolutely knows the other cards. ISAAC and JEREMY: No BRIAN: I could see, I could see all of – [BRIAN, MATT, MICHELLE, and ISAAC talking at once] MATT: Isaac’s going to discredit that right now so. [JEREMY, MATT, and ISAAC talking at once] JEREMY: He’s showing his cards now to everybody anyway. MICHELLE: Right. JEREMY: It doesn’t matter.

JEREMY: Back up! MATT: I thought you were talking to me. I just went [leans back in chair]. MATT: I was like, whoa sorry. MICHELLE [sarcastically]: Sorry mom. MATT: Better move back.

BRIAN: What did you draw? ISAAC [whispering]: Shut up. [MICHELLE laughs] JEREMY: He’s already confused enough, leave him alone. [MICHELLE continues laughing] CHRIS: I’m gonna take three. MICHELLE: No you’re not. Wait.

MATT: He’s Duking. CHRIS: What? MATT: He’s doing the Duke. MICHELLE: I understand what he’s attempting to do. ISAAC: She’s blocking foreign aid.

MICHELLE: I’m considering. MATT: That’s not foreign aid. CHRIS: I have it. MATT: That’s not foreign aid. MICHELLE: Wait! MICHELLE: Yeah, I didn’t- CHRIS: Noo, you said it.

I blocked you- ISAAC: Can I chall- challenge? No, no I can’t. MATT: You can cancel someone’s foreign aid if you’re a Duke. ISAAC: If I’m the other Duke, right.

MATT [quietly]: If you had both Dukes. ISAAC: Ahh, no I’m gonna assassinate Michelle. MATT [whispering]: Oh! That’s a surprise.

[ISAAC laughs, then all laugh] MICHELLE: No you’re not. [Laughter continues] MATT [over ISAAC’s laughter]: That’s the one target on the table you’re gonna hit. [ISAAC’s laughing stops] MATT: It’s gonna be Michelle. JEREMY [quietly]: You can challenge if- MATT: Oh!

[quietly] And she’s dead. CHRIS: I’m gonna steal two from ISAAC, by using the Captain to steal. MATT: Ooooo. CHRIS: See all the words there? ISAAC: That’s bull [beep].

MICHELLE: So are you challenging? ISAAC: I’m challenging whether you have the Captain. MICHELLE [to JEREMY, BRIAN, and MATT]: Babies.

CHRIS: Alright so if have the Captain you’re dead, right? ISAAC: Right. CHRIS: Correct, okay. [All laughing] JEREMY: Alright, so now you put this here. MATT: Shuffle the whole deck and then draw another one.

MICHELLE: You’re [beep] ISAAC: I can’t believe you didn’t draw the Contessa out of the deck, is what I’m- ISAAC: Because I was gonna assassinate you. CHRIS: Are you? ISAAC: Yeah I was.

MATT [talking over ISAAC]: Now you’re not gonna do much of anything. ISAAC: I wanted to say this at the beginning. Um, as for lying games go, this is the length of time that I only enjoyed. MICHELLE: That’s a good point. ISAAC: Because Battlestar, I..I can’t deal with it. JEREMY: Three hours to lie.

ISAAC: Because if I’m lying for three hours, it’s just tiring. And I don’t want to do it anymore. MICHELLE: Yeah, you get so vested in it to. ISAAC: Or I’m being lied to for three hours. ISAAC: And at the end of it I’m like, “That was my friend lying to me for three hours.” [MATT laughs] MICHELLE: No this, that’s a good point.

MATT [speaking over MICHELLE]: It’s like super personal, I understand. MATT: It’s just because you’re a nice person. [laughs] MICHELLE: Less intense then um. MATT: I was going to say “sweet” but I thought that would be weird. MICHELLE: Um, “Avalon” ISAAC: Yeah that would be weird.

MICHELLE: Like this, I love “Avalon.” MICHELLE: But this is kind of a nice balance where it’s- it’s still sort of that fun part of lying. MICHELLE: But it’s not so, you don’t get so intensely invested in it.

MATT: It’s almost more of a – a personal investment in that, whereas this is very quick. [All talking over each other] MICHELLE: It’s just fun! ISAAC: If you’re lying, you’re lying last for a maximum of two seconds. And then you know. JEREMY: And there’s teams in the other one.

Here it’s all just you, yourself. JEREMY: This is like- this is like an advanced poker almost. MICHELLE and MATT: Yeah. MATT: Yeah, where it’s more about playing the people.

ISAAC: Everybody starts kind of equal and it shifts. And it only shifts towards the end. CHRIS: I’m so good at shooting Merlins. [All laugh] MATT: We’ll get to that at our next game session. So if you made it this far, thanks for watching. MATT: And , uh, we’ll have to do this again soon.

Hey everyone. Just wanted to jump in real quick and- and say thank you so much for watching today. We really hope this was something entertaining for you.

And, uh, we’d love to get your feedback on the show. So if you could leave your- your feedback in the comments below, we’d really appreciate it. Things we can improve on in the future. Maybe do more of or less of. So, overall we’d just like to get what- what you guys would like to see, the viewers. So, let us know what you think and uh we’ll see you next time.

Take care.