Coup is a fascinating game in many ways. It’s fast (average 15 minutes), accommodates 2 to 6 players, and often rewards the player with the strongest skills at deception. You can’t cheat, obviously, but you can lie and bluff your way to ultimate supremacy. You’ll need a good poker face and an absorbent memory to master the game of Coup.
How to Win Coup Strategy and Tips
Being such a short game, this Coup strategy guide can easily be divided into just two segments; Early Game Strategy, and Late Game Strategy. Afterwards, we’ll provide some additional tips for winning Coup.
Early Game Strategy
When a new game begins, no one has any hard facts yet. This is the perfect time to make use of whatever character influences you wish; especially the Duke, who’ll gain you 3 coins right off the bat. Odds are, a lot of players will assume this influence, so don’t bother challenging – who knows who really has it?
Aside from Duke, the Assassin and Contessa are good cards have early on. With the Assassin, you can downgrade your opponents’ influence early, and with Contessa, you can block assassination attempts against yourself. If you do not have the Duke, Assassin or Contessa cards, the Ambassador is your best choice. Draw a new hand and hope for better.
Don’t bother trying to collect foreign aid at this point, either. While everyone is utilizing the Duke uncontested, no doubt someone will block any attempt at foreign aid.
Using the Duke will get your coins high to start, but will also draw a big target on your forehead. No one wants a coup in their midst. Use those coins for assassinations instead.
Late Game Strategy
At this point, honesty can be the best policy. There’s too much information out there, and the odds of being challenged on a bluff are much higher. The best cards to have are the Captain, Contessa and Assassin.
With the Captain, you can steal coins from any player who’s gathering too much wealth. The Contessa is imperative for blocking assassination attempts. And the Assassin, of course, will grant you some cheap kills, costing just 3 coins instead of 7 for a coup. If you have none of these cards late game, use the Ambassador influence to draw new characters.
Foreign aid is more valuable when there’s just 2-3 players remaining. You can easily add to your coins, and even better, gather more information about your opponents.
When it comes down to the last two players, the Captain becomes extremely valuable. Stealing 2 coins drops them by 2, and adds 2 to your pile; a 4-coin swing that can greatly increase your odds of winning Coup and spearheading the assassination or coup you need to win.
If you and your opponent have just one influence left, the largest coin stack will decide the game. Steal with Captain or collect from Treasury with Duke. Lie if you have to. Get the coins you need for the assassination/coup fast,because if your opponent gets the coins first, it’s game over…
Other Coup Tips
Take Advantage of Pairs
Having two of the same card can be an awesome advantage, but you have to be a calculated risk taker to use it. If someone attempts to use that card, there’s an 84.62% chance they don’t really have it. This can present a great opportunity to challenge, especially if you know this opponent to be the bluffing type. Don’t be too hasty with challenges, but if the shoe fits, kick someone with it!
If you have two Captains, steal from your opponents and just wait for someone to block. Odds are it’s safe to challenge them, because no one wants to become the punching-bag everyone steals from.
A pair of Contessa’s works similarly, but is best in early game and requires deception. You can fake having the Assassin card on any player with two influences. If they block with the Contessa, they probably have it. Few are dumb enough to risk their entire game on that bluff. You’ll either knock out one of their influences, or get a great deal of information moving forward.
If you still have two character cards, do not bluff having the Contessa to block an assassination. Similarly, do not challenge the assassin unless you have 100% reliable information that they are bluffing. One false move here will result in the loss of both your influences. You’ll be the laughing stock of the table, forced to sit miserably in exile as the game continues without you.
On the positive side of that coin, you can falsely claim to be an Assassin yourself and go after any opponent with two influences. Unless they have 100% certainty you’re bluffing, they won’t challenge.
Challenging can be a tricky thing, but can also you get far ahead in the game. Pay very close attention to what influences a person is using. A good memory and the ability to calculate odds will get you very far in Coup. The further the game progresses, the easier it is to decipher the liars from the truth sayers. Make smart challenges, and don’t take necessary risks.
Other Coup Tips
The Ambassador card is the easiest to bluff. It’s rarely challenged because frankly, other players don’t care. You taking new cards from the Court doesn’t directly effect them, and may not help you anyway. Feel free to use this influence when your hand needs improvement.
Not having a Captain, and making it known, puts any player in a terrible position. Once coins are stolen uncontested, you can rest assured everyone else will steal from this player. Don’t feel bad for them, though—you should be stealing from them too. However, if you happen to be this player, use the Ambassador influence to immediately to draw new cards, and bluff if you must to block future steals. It will never stop otherwise.
Practice, practice, practice! The more you play, the better you’ll become at sustaining a poker face. And, if you play in the same crowd, you can pick up on their tells more easily. You’ll know who likes to bluff, and who doesn’t, and possibly when a player is lying. With that being said, don’t use the same tactics in every game, either, otherwise you’ll become an open book.
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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.