30 Jun

How to Play Coup Card Game Rules

How to Play Coup Card Game RulesCoup is a fascinating card game, shrouded in secrecy, demanding nerves of steel, and players with a thirst for power. Each player is dealt secret identities, utilizing deception to hide their own, and deduction to unveil those of their opponents.

Invented by Rikki Tahta, Coup is a game for 2-6 players, recommended ages 10 and up. It is played with a special card deck, manufactured by Indie Boards and Cards (IBC). It also goes by the names Coup: The Resistance Universe, and Coup: The Dystopian Universe. Once you learn how to play, you may also wish to seek out some of the creator’s special editions and expansion packs.

How to Play Coup Card Game Rules

The first thing you’ll need to do is go buy a pack of Coup cards. You can find them at many department stores like Walmart, and at online merchants sites like Amazon, for about $10. If you don’t have the real deck, there’s a way to play with traditional card, but you’ll need to make sure everyone knows and remembers the power of each rank, since it won’t be written on the card. You’ll also need to gather some coins, or use pen and paper to record them.

See our other page, How to Play Coup with Standard Cards, for more info.

Game Description

The following is the official game description, and should give you some insight as to the object of the game:

You are head of a family in an Italian city-state, a city run by a weak and corrupt court. 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…”

The Cards

There are 15 cards in a deck, including 3 of each character. Each of the 5 characters have special influence in the game. The characters, and their respective influences, are:

Character Influence
Duke Take 3 coins from the Treasury. Block someone from taking foreign aide.
Assassin Pay 3 coins and try to assassinate another player’s character.
Contessa Block an assassination attempt against yourself.
Captain Take 2 coins from another player, or block someone from stealing coins from you.
Ambassador Draw 2 character cards from the Court (deck), choose which (if any) to exchange with your face-down characters, then return 2 to the Court.

Game Setup and Deal

To start, the cards are shuffled, and each player is given two character/influence cards and two coins. All remaining cards are left face-down in the deck in the middle of the table. All remaining coins become the Treasury.

Each player will look at their two cards, then place them face down in front of them. No one should see any cards but their own, and partnerships are not allowed!

Playing Coup

The first player to act is the one seated left of the dealer. This player must take one of the follow actions:

  • Influence: Use the influence of any character (see influence powers above).

  • Income: Take 1 coin from the Treasury.

  • Foreign Aid: Take 2 coins from the Treasury.

  • Coup: Pay 7 coins to launch a Coup against an opponent. The opponent is forced to turn one of their influence cards (of their choice) face up, thereby eliminating it from the game. Note that if a player has 10+ coins on their turn, they must initiate a Coup.

Bluffing & Deception

When using influence, as an offensive or defensive measure against another player’s action, you are not required to have the character whose influence you use. You are welcome to bluff, using any influence you want. The action is automatically successful. However, if another player challenges that you do not have the influence you’re attempting to use, you must do one of the following:

  • Prove that you have the influence by showing the card. You must then return the card to the Court (deck), shuffle, and draw a new influence. The player who incorrectly challenged loses one of their character cards, turning it face up and eliminating it from the game.

  • Refuse to prove that you have the card, whether it’s true or not. You must turn one card, of your choice, face up, thereby eliminating it from play. This action is rarely taken, unless the player truly wants to hide the fact that they really do have the card.

  • Admit that you don’t have the influence, and turn up one card of your choice, eliminating it from play.

How to Win Coup

Once a player turns up both of their character cards, they are out of the game. The last player to have influence (any face-down cards) wins.

Want to learn more about this fantastic game of deception, deduction and supremacy? See out other pages:

How to Play Coup with Standard Cards
History of Coup Card Game
Coup Strategy
List of Coup Character Roles & Influence
Coup Game for Android
Coup Game for iOS
Alternate Coup Rules (to Encourage Treachery!)
Coup Resistance to Betting Money


  • Adalene Lucas

    is our jack of all trades here at DBC. She is a skilled coder, gambler, writer and webmaster. She lives in Manitoba where she enjoys the lush landscapes and camping near Tulabi Falls. Nature gives her inspiration to write. When she's not immersed in nature, her favorite words are "game theory". She lives with her husband and their two Labradors, Kophy and Whisper.


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