You need to manipulate, bluff and bribe your way to power. Your object is to destroy the influence of all the other families, forcing them into exile. Only one family will survive...
Coup is a game of bluffing, bribery and manipulation. That being said there is an element of luck when it comes to your accusations of the other players. You may be able to count the cards and think you know who has what, but you can't count out the unpredictability of your foes.
Going into Coup without a plan is foolish, but being able to adapt that plan when it stops working is what really seperates the good from the great. Coup really lends on both your bluffing and poker face, but also your quick thinking. Sure staying safe and saying your the duke is all good, but at some point you are going to need to sow some doubt in your foes. And then there is the teamwork, I like to think of it like a game of survivor, you make aliances with people that can help you, but that you know you can beat when the time comes.
This game is actually pretty simple, its pretty much the card game cheat, with a bit of money thrown in and alot of killing. However, in my experiences I have realised it is quite a hard game to explain (as are many hidden role games) as you really need to have then sitting inside your head as you play before they can really grasp the gist of the whole thing. That being said, one or two games in with any group and they really start to understand quite quickly.
As with any party-esque game, Coup has a lot of replay value. The game is simple enough to crack it out anywhere and the time it takes to get through a number of rounds really makes it a good go filler game while waiting for others to arrive. Would you invite your mates over for a game of Coup? Probably not, but if it just so happens to be with you between flights, meetings and the like, sure!
The cards have fantastic art, the quality of then is superb. The chips, while only cardboard really are quite good as the thinkness of the product really excuses this fact. My one major gripe? This is a hidden roles game, so having a mark on any card can really ruin your day, so why did they choose white? Black would of been such a better idea, especially concidering the distopian theme of the game itself!
As I have mentioned the intial teaching of this game can be quite difficult, especially with players that have not experienced similar games, but once that is through I have found most players start to fully understand what they are meant to be doing and begin to form there own tactics.
This game actually scales quite well, it does have a pretty limited scope (I think 3 players really might be stretching is and the 2 player variant really isn't worth it in my opinion.) This game is at its best with 5-6 players due to the elimination aspect that has to take place in the game.
You really do start to feel like a corrupt, evil, power hungry human being as you bluff and manipulate your opponents. Sure the styling and artwork help it but this is really just icing on an already delicious piece of dystopian cake!
Coup is delightful micro game that really needs to be in any series gamers collection. It doesn't so much replace The Resistance as some may worry, in fact I find it to be a tasty entree to get you ready for the main course. Would I choose this over Love Letter? Maybe not with a more general audience, however if I found myself in a room of like minded, werewolf loving aficionados, then yes, yes I would.