Coup: Alternative Game Play Variations

Coup Alternative Game Play Rules

Game Overview

Coup is a fast paced game set in the future by Indie Games. It is a game that can involves lying to, stealing from, taxing, assassinating, oh and of course Coup-ing your fellow gamers among other things. These short 15 min games will have you guessing what your friends are up to and getting you to try a new strategy all the time.

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Our Full Review of Coup

Alternative Rules For Coup

Us HexaGamers are pretty big fans of Coup. We went through a phase of playing this game at every get together and then introducing it to many friends, who also bought it and played it a bunch.

After playing it a lot, there is a chance you can start to see patterns or it might lose a bit of its luster. This happens with everything, but don’t fear we are here to save the day. Instead of putting the board game back on the shelf, we have some alternative game play rules for you to try out.

Some of these we have played and tested a lot, others we only played a few times to make sure it still worked as a fun game, and there is one in here that we just found while searching online, and thought it would be a good idea to throw it on the list. That’s why you’re here and all.

We won’t go into too much detail with the rules, but more a simple explanation and with some of them we will tell you what we noticed about game play.

Note: If you are looking for the Simplified Rules of Coup, we have those for you as well.

Give these variations to coup’s game play a go and be sure to let us know in the comments what worked for you and what didn’t.

1. Playing with 3 cards/influences each.

Rule: Add another card to every players hand to start the game.

What we noticed: This makes every game take a little longer. It makes it a lot easier to bluff, but at the same time it makes it a lot easier to do the ‘counter-actions’. In one sense it slows the game down, but in another sense it seemed like people were interacting a lot more every single turn. This works well for the 1 v 1 games.

2. Each player gets an additional influence, but can’t use it until they lose 1.

Rule: The extra card sits beside your normal hand and comes into play after you lose one.

What we noticed: This added an interesting dynamic in that you would call a lot more bluffs. Partially because you had extra knowledge with having 3 cards, but also because you could afford to gamble and call them more. It resulted in a behaviour that could be described as ‘I got addicted to calling bluffs’.

The other thing that happens here is that your hand dynamic of what actions/counter-actions you take switched part way through the game, but still feels like a normal version of Coup.

3. Playing with 1 card each.

Rule: Each player only gets 1 influence per round. With this one you can narrow the deck down to 2 of each character, or you can leave all 3.

What we noticed: Games go a lot quicker for the obvious reason that you lose a character and you are out. We also noticed that the assassin becomes impossible to bluff with. You either get blocked or called out every single time. The other player won’t take the option of accepting the assassination since that will knock them out of the game.

4. Drafting.

Rule: You are dealt 3 cards, but get to choose the 2 you want to play with.

What we noticed: This eliminated a bit of the luck of the draw of the game. Though, that is part of the fun of this game as it makes you play different strategies, but sometimes your hand can be really bad to start (eg. 2 Contessas). This didn’t change the game play a whole lot, other than having a more consistent strategies and a little more knowledge of the cards in play, but did help with people complaining.

5. Removing influences from the deck.

Rule: Remove 1,2, or 3 randomly chosen influences from the deck.

What we noticed: This works well with 2 or 3 player games as well as 6 player games, and increased the lying going on. We don’t fully understand why this occurred, since it should have worked the same (maybe it was just our group?!). We also noticed that some rounds felt totally different. We played one where 2 dukes we gone and there was a lot more attempted stealing going on. With less cards in the deck, the ambassador gains a bit of power if used correctly.

6. Add influences to the deck.

Rule: This one involves having access to two copies of the board game. You simply randomly add 1,2, or 3 influences to the deck.

What we noticed: Added a lot of confusion and bluffing, but minimized calling bluffs. You never knew what cards were added and just assumed they must be telling the truth. There was a lot of ‘taxing’ going on in this round, and lot more Coup-ing.

7. Buying another influence.

Rule: If you pay 7 coins, you can buy another card from the deck (up to 2 max).

What was noticed: It prolonged the game slightly. Usually after the 2nd card was bought, you would lose it fairly quickly to someone else who had a Coup ready. It is a good way for you to stay in the game and possibly upgrade your card to something else. This allows you to change strategies late in the game.

8. Don’t turn your influence over when you lose it.

Rule: If you lose an influence, you simply shuffle it back into the deck.

What we noticed: This is our favourite rule change, and has become our house rules. It allows for a lot more bluffing and guessing by everyone. Whether you got called out on a lie or were Coup-ed, no one will know which influence you chose to put back into the deck. It makes it harder to decipher which cards each player is holding. Yes, it takes a bit of the advantage away from the player who has been paying the most attention to everyone’s moves, but it makes the final few turns much more exciting.

9. Alliances.

Rule: Equally split into teams and play against each other. Here you cannot kill off your teammate. All other rules stay the same. Can be 2 v 2 or 3 v 3 or 2 v 2 v 2.

What we noticed: This slows the game a bit since you can counter-act most moves as a team. It almost eliminates stealing from the game since 6/15 cards can block stealing, there is a high probability that someone will have a captain or an ambassador. It was fun to be one someone’s team though, changed the way the game felt, in that you could rely on someone else if you didn’t get the best hand.

Other variations to the rules: Your team can play as one and/or you can look and see what your teammate holds as influences.

10. Calling your Coup.

Rule: When you Coup a player, you must pick an influence that you want to Coup. If you get it right, they are Coup-ed, get it wrong and you wasted your precious 7 coins! Note: Players must be honest here.

What we noticed: This changes the dynamic of the game, in that you are more enticed to lie during your move. For those players that always tell the truth, it becomes very easy to Coup them. If you are bluffing, you have a chance to survive later. Also, if you survive a Coup, you might now have to change your strategy… and bluff some more. We really enjoyed this version as well.

11. Army Exchange.

Rule: As a ‘move’ on your turn, you choose two players to blindly switch one of their influence with each other. Note: One of those two people can be yourself.

What we noticed: A shout out to Board Game Geek on this one, as that’s where we found the idea. This adds a crazy twist to the game. It can help you get rid of a card you don’t want (if they pull that card that is) or can totally screw up someone’s game play and make them adapt on the fly. We enjoyed this one in that it made you try to keep track of what was going on, yet not fully knowing if what you are keeping track of is even correct. Adds a lot more confusion, yet at the same time two player’s gain a bit of knowledge about their opponents. We liked this one as it felt like it added another level to the board game.

Wrap Up

These are some of the game play variations that we have tried for the game, Coup. Hopefully you can find something you want to try in there. If there is something that you have tried that isn’t on our list (like reverse bluffing, where you are only allowed to lie, and lose an influence if you get caught telling the truth), let us know in the comments and we will likely give it a go. We continue to go back to this game from time to time, so appreciate any alternative game play rules we can find to keep it fresh!

About the author


We are the HexaGamers. Six good friends that love all things game related that gets us together to enjoy each other's company.

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