Base Game Review
Play Time (Box): 15mins
Play Time (Goof): 5-30mins
Producer/s: Indie Boards & Cards
Designer/s: Rikki Tahta
There are plenty of games out there that have really been superseded by others. Later versions of games, like Twilight Imperium 3 or Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition. Or just basic games with some interesting additions that make the previous games simply not worth it for hardcore gamers- Forbidden Desert over Forbidden Island or King of New York over King of Tokyo. But does that mean the previous versions have no place in gamer society? Why would I want to play a more basic version of something that is a clear improvement?
There’s a really simple reason that this is not the case: not everyone is a gamer. In order for our community to expand we have to introduce people to what we like in a way that it was similarly introduced to us (tailored to the individual). We all benefit from a larger community. Board games require people to play, make and promote them. The more people, the more money is introduced into the hobby which means more games, more accessories and more opportunities to game. The renaissance that tabletop gaming is undergoing in the last few years is very exciting, and refreshing for those of us who have had a long time interest in the hobby – But let me get back to this review before this turns into a Goof’s Guide.
Coup is a game that could arguably be the basic version of Coup: Rebellion G54. There are a few differences, but we’ll get into that in a later review. The reason I want to cover Coup is that I play it a lot with my family, particularly the younger children.
I love a good social deduction game. There’s something about reading people and trying to determine their motives that really interests me. When I’m playing as the one with evil intentions, I like to delve deeper and determine what the key components are of how I act when I’m the good guy, and what the other players will expect of me if I was the good guy. What behaviour is just suspicious enough that there is a justifiable reason for me behaving that way, and who I can pin my evil deeds on. Thinking about games like The Resistance, I don’t even mind outing myself as the bad guy once I’m suspected enough that I’ve outlived my usefulness – not overtly. Just making it appear that I was allied with someone that I wasn’t (sending glances or pretend signals at someone to make it look like someone is catching me in the act) or simply sitting back and letting the smoke settle while my ally continues from the shadows.
I bring up The Resistance because Coup is set in the same universe, and uses social deduction in a very different way. Instead of trying to blend into the crowd to prove you’re an ally, you’re trying to blend into the crowd so no one sees you as a threat. As the resident gamer in my family, this is usually a problem for me. But that just makes this game more interesting – how can I throw people off from targeting me? How can I make it look like someone else has the upper hand?
I’d be careful about revealing my goals here because my family often read what I write and essentially writing a strategy guide on how to beat me would be silly, except during my first game of Coup with the children I was annihilated. My little brother lied every single turn, pretending that he had a card called the ambassador which lets him switch out cards so none of us were ever really aware of what cards he had.
The rules in this game are so simple that I’m going to break my rule and explain it to you here. You have two cards, you can take one of those actions or you can lie and take an action of a card you don’t have. And people can try to call you out on it. If they’re right, you lose a card. If they’re wrong they lose a card. Last person with cards wins. That’s the rules. But those actions and the ways you can approach this is brilliant. There’s so much social strategy and deduction, my mind races a million miles an hour while playing this game. I look for the lies and attempt to time my challenges so that I’m not drawing unwanted attention too early.
When I say early, I’m really only talking a few turns. This game can last anywhere between five and thirty minutes depending on how aggressive the players are at your table. This is both a positive and a negative, it means you can satisfyingly tear into multiple games and gives you more opportunities to play. However, the downside is that the game feels as though you’re on the edge of something vastly more interesting.
I will add the caveat that if you’re looking to strategize through game pieces, it’s not really the point of this game. The social part of that social deduction label wasn’t just to increase my word count; this game is all about playing the players. And I love it.
Pros: +Play the people, ++Simple non-intrusive rules, +Satisfyingly quick
Cons: -Not as deep as it could be
The world this game is set in is a dark dystopian science fiction. There’s a resistance fighting against an oppressive government (which takes place in another game, wonder if you can guess which one). In Coup, you play from the shadows of this society, using your influence to effect the downfall of your opponents while desperately clinging to your own power.
The way this game plays into the theme is exceptionally well done. You feel like your opponents are making moves against you at every turn. Lying and maneuvering your way to seize the victory. Every action you do counts in different ways: gaining finances, hiring assassins, lying and if you make the lie too big – saying you can block an assassination attempt with a Contessa when you can’t and get called on it… then that’s it. Dead and dusted.
The fact this is a social deduction game means that if you wanted to roleplay through it, it actually wouldn’t be that difficult. But the game itself doesn’t give you a lot of additional flavour. A book explaining the overarching storyline or social structure may have gone far, or even some information on each of the characters that you’re influencing to vie for control.
Pros: ++Symbiotic mechanics and theme, ++Theme tied into options
Cons: -Lack of additional flavour
The components of this game amount to three copies of each of five different cards, some credit tokens and a reference sheet per player. That reference sheet is less of an aid in this game and more a central component. That’s not a bad thing. It means that each player effectively has the rules to the game in front of them. It makes it incredibly easy to teach and to quickly get into a game.
The artwork in this game adds to the feeling of using people of different positions to effect what you want. Each character is uniquely different, with a different colour scheme that can easily distinguish them at a glance. Having said all that, the artwork is consistent, which honestly seems like it would have been difficult.
A running frustration here at TGR is that so many games neglect the back of their cards. They slap on the logo and figure that’ll be fine. It’s not as important as the front. Here the artwork is just bland. And you spend majority of the time looking at the backs of cards… it’s really inexcusable.
The tokens are made of cheap cardboard, but that’s actually kind of fine. The game provides you with plenty and it keeps the price of this game down which makes it easier to find to build your collection, and more accessible if you wanted to give it a go.
Pros: ++Functional components, +Great artwork, +Reasonable price
Cons: –Art backs are bland
Coup is a family favorite in my household. But it’s worth noting that you really need to take into consideration who you play any social deduction game with. Being lied to is inherently unpleasant, and it takes an open mind to remember that this is just a game. A fun game. A game I really enjoy. But I’ve played more than a few social deduction games that have ended with cranky people and a premature ending to the games night. But in a game about betrayal and outplaying each other, what more can you expect?
I give Coup:
So how good are you at lying? Got what it takes to outplay your friends and family? Get Coup and give it a go.
If you enjoyed this article then share the joy on social media so others can enjoy it too. And check out our other reviews. They’re always good for a laugh.
And please comment, lets get the conversations flowing.