Coup (The Dystopian Universe)
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- Ages 10 and up
- For 2 to 6 players
- Playable in 15 minutes
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In the not too distant future, the government is run for profit by a new "royal class" of multi-national CEOs. Their greed and absolute control of the economy has reduced all but a privileged few to lives of poverty and desperation.Out of the oppressed masses rose The Resistance, an underground organization focused on overthrowing these powerful rulers. The valiant efforts of The Resistance have created discord, intrigue and weakness in the political courts of the noveau royal, bringing the government to brink of collapse. But for you, a powerful government official, this is your opportunity to manipulate, bribe and bluff your way into absolute power. To be successful, you must destroy the influence of your rivals and drive them into exile. In these turbulent times there is only room for one to survive.
From the Manufacturer
In the not too distant future, the government is run for profit by a new "royal class" of multi-national CEOs. Their greed and absolute control of the economy has reduced all but a privileged few to lives of poverty and desperation. Out of the oppressed masses rose The Resistance, an underground organization focused on overthrowing these powerful rulers. The valiant efforts of The Resistance have created discord, intrigue and weakness in the political courts of the novena royal, bringing the government to brink of collapse. But for you, a powerful government official, this is your opportunity to manipulate, bribe and bluff your way into absolute power.
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The product/manufacturer descriptions do not describe this game very well. There are 5 different cards (and 3 copies of each). Each one gives you a special ability within the game. You are dealt 2 cards for your hand. The goal is to force your opponents to turn over (discard) both of their cards. Each turn you can choose to draw money from the bank or take a special action. Actions include spending money to force an opponent to discard, stealing money from an opponent and taking extra money from the bank. Cards can also be used even when it's not your turn to block others from taking certain actions. However, since all cards are dealt face down, you are free to pretend you have *any* card and can take any action you want. If someone challenges you, you have to either show that you have the card you claimed or you are forced to turn over a card (discarding it). If someone challenges you and you were telling the truth, they are the one who has to discard.
If you were to exclusively play this game for a long time with the same group of people, it might start to get old. However, as part of a set of games you play on game night/lunch with coworkers/whatever, you could play this for years. Beginners can pick it up quickly and it slots nicely into small amounts of free time.
The game uses a non-standard card size (65x100mm). If you want to protect the cards from wear, you can use Ultra Pro Special Size Card Sleeves or the more expensive Mayday Games 7 Wonders Sleeves. The cards are fairly sturdy and durable though, and the game comes in a stiff box. I would consider sleeving the cards anyway, since any card that gets scratched or bent will essentially ruin the whole deck. The box includes a set of reference cards and cardboard coins to use for money. To make the game more portable, you could summarize the actions on a piece of paper and use pennies.
Bluffing is a huge part of the game and this is where the game didn't quite strike gold with my gaming group. Without bluffing everyone is merely biding their time, select from the safe, default actions, not wanting to draw attention to themselves or stir trouble with another player. In real life, this is probably how must of us operate. However, in this make-believe world, you have to be playing with a group that is willing to make risky choices and in order for the game to be entertaining.
It's a cheap and quick game but just make sure you're buying the game to play with the right type of crowd.
"I'm the Captain. I steal two coins from you."
"No you're not."
"Is that a formal challenge?"
"No, I just know you're not the Captain."
"Anyone else going to challenge? Ok, I take your coins."
"I'm also the Captain."
Coup is a bluffing game for 2 to 6 players. At its core, it's a simple matter of acquiring coins and killing all opponents with them. The rules fit on a small card: a few ways to gain coins, a couple of ways to kill, one way to steal coins, and one way to change your hand. You have at most two out of five different roles available face down in your hand, and you spend your game trying to keep your hand hidden and alive.
The beauty of Coup is that even though you only have two cards with their attendant powers, you can claim to have any power you want. The only way to stop you from exercising your power is to initiate a high stakes life-and-death challenge. Either the bluffer or the challenger will lose a card in a challenge, so the heart of the game is to deduce the hidden holding of the other players, and not let them get away with the brazen bluffs that will turn the tide in their favor.
As in poker, but without complicated considerations of hand strength, the quest to go to the level below your opponent gives this game bottomless depth and replayability. The powers are a carefully balanced Rock Paper Scissors, and allow any initial holding, played well, to win the game. Coup also has built-in escalation mechanisms that avoid cyclical positions and virtually guarantee all games drive to a winner.
Fast games can take five to ten minutes. A particularly epic game with many players might take an hour.
If there is one possible complaint, it's that multiplayer endgame scenarios can get a little complicated. If the last players' holdings are obvious, it's tempting to try to mentally play out the rest of the game before figuring out which power you need to claim to have a shot at winning. This can slow down the game tremendously. You might want to put paralyzed analyzers on the clock.
Even though you can probably make your own Coup out of a deck of cards and some ordinary household items, this is a well-made game. The rule sheets for each player are clear and well organized, the octagonal cardboard coins wear well, and the cards are large and easy to read.
This is well worth your gaming dollars in the $15 or even $20 range. Obsessed friends paid $50 for Kickstarter editions. I wouldn't go so far, but it comes out in virtually every boardgaming session these days.