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We have played many games as a family since January. I wasn't quite sure how many, but after looking over the games in our house, we have played at least forty-six different board games in 2020. This is quite a difference from previous years, which probably looked more like five.
A large percentage of those games have only been played once, but there are a handful of games that have been played many times over. Games like Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra has found its way to our table half-a-dozen times or more. My wife and I have battled fourteen times in arboreal combat in, well, Arboretum. We've slaughtered scores of zombies and struggled to stay alive nearly twenty times in Run, Fight, or Die: Reloaded. As a family we've launched our projectile penguins over twelve games of Ice Cool. We've rolled the dice and deliberated over which cards to try and claim in Roll For It.
But of all the games we've played as a family, the clear winner of the household is Coup.
In Coup, each player has two influence cards. These cards are kept secret and contain one of five possible roles: Duke, Contessa, Assassin, Captain, and Ambassador. Each card has unique abilities that will aid you in your quest of taking out your opponents.
Players can choose to take one coin from the coiffers or take Foreign Aid and collect two coins. However, the Duke can use his power to override the Foreign Aid, leaving the player that attempted to take it with nothing that turn. On his own turn, the Duke can take three coins. Come to think of it, ol' Dookie is pretty powerful.
Other roles can steal coins from others and/or prevent stealing, pay three coins to assassinate one card from another player, prevent an assassination, and even replace cards in a player's hand.
While many games in this vein are purely luck-based, Coup is quite different. A player may be excited if he gets a solid hand, such as a Duke and Captain or a Duke and an Assassin, but the roles you are dealt don't mean everything because of one tiny little thing- lying.
Lying is encouraged- perhaps even integral to success. However, if you are caught in a lie at any time, you lose an influence, one of your two precious cards. The timing of your lie is crucial. Building up trust with other players and employing subtlety with your deception is key to pulling one (or two or more) over on your opponents.
Games last only a few minutes, especially once each player is comfortable with how the roles work. This is also in part because it only takes seven coins to commit a coup that is completely unavoidable. And remember that the good sir Duke can collect three coins each turn. Each hand doesn't last long, but this game is one that requires repeat plays.
Is it perfect? No. My wife ALWAYS seems to have a Duke, and I can count on one hand how many times I've tried to use my assassin to eliminate one of my daughter's cards and she HASN'T had a Contessa to block the attempt. I've mentioned, more than once, how overpowered the Duke is. An expansion, Coup Reformation, has aimed to fix this, but I can't tell you if it has or not. It's on my shelf, but it hasn't been played yet. My fourteen year old loves this game! Why tempt fate and introduce new concepts that interrupt the normal game play? It's difficult enough to get her to try new games or even play those she kind of likes. Perhaps one day we'll throw it in there.
Perhaps our favorite thing is collecting the required coins, pointing at an opponent with a wicked, deviously cruel smile on our face, and say in a loud voice, "I coup you!" It's a lot of fun. Trust me.
Actually don't. This game is easily accessible- available at Amazon and even Target for $15 or less, so go out and buy it. And when you do, don't forget to say with devilish conviction, "Coup you!"