Coup – learn how to play with

By: Dennis B. B. Taylor


Hey there! Have you ever played Coup? It’s a super fun game where we get to pretend to be different characters and try to figure out who everyone else is. The goal is to eliminate our opponents while keeping our own characters a secret – it’s all about bluffing!


Before we start, we need to set everything up. We only use 5 characters in each game, so you have two options: the Ambassador or the Inquisitor. If you’re new to the game, it’s recommended to start with the Ambassador.

Let’s deal out the cards. There are 15 in total, with 3 copies of each character. Each player gets two cards face down in front of them. You can look at your own cards anytime, but keep them hidden from everyone else.

The rest of the cards go in the center and form the Court. These cards stay face down.

Finally, let’s give everyone 2 coins. Make sure that everyone’s money is visible to everyone else throughout the game.



Actions (one per turn)

When it’s my turn, I have to choose ONE of these 4 actions:

A) Income: I can take 1 treasure coin. Nobody can stop me from doing this.

B) Foreign aid: I can take 2 coins. However, someone might counter this action by using the Duchess.

C) Coup: If I have 7 coins, I can choose to pay them and eliminate another player’s character. No one can stop this action. Oh, and if I start my turn with 10 coins, I have no choice but to use Coup as my action.

D) Using a character power: Each character has a special power they can use. Here are the powers associated with each character:

  • Duchess: She can take 3 coins. No one can stop her except by challenging her.

Here are some characters you can play as in the game of Coup:

1. Assassin: This character costs 3 coins and lets you eliminate another player’s character. However, be careful as someone may have the Countess, which can block your assassination attempt.

2. Captain: The Captain allows you to take 2 coins from another player. Keep in mind that your action can be stopped if someone has a Captain, Ambassador, or Inquisitor.

3. Ambassador: When you use the Ambassador, you get to draw 2 cards from the deck and select 2 cards to return. The Court deck is then shuffled.

4. Inquisitor: The Inquisitor has two different abilities. Firstly, you can draw a card from the Court and then secretly discard another card from the Court. The cards in the Court are then shuffled. Secondly, you can use the Inquisitor to look at an opponent’s character card. The opponent chooses which card to reveal, and you can decide whether to return it or have it discarded. If the card is discarded, it goes back into the Court, and the opponent draws a new card.

That’s a quick overview of the characters in Coup. Each character has its own unique abilities and can help you gain an advantage in the game. Have fun strategizing and outsmarting your opponents!

Inquire About a Character

When I use a character’s power, another player can question it, meaning they doubt that I actually have the character’s card. If multiple players want to question it, the fastest player to speak gets to ask the question.

Now, let’s resolve the challenge:

a) If I was bluffing, I must select one of my characters and flip them over, effectively eliminating them from the game. The power of the character I was using is also canceled.

b) If I wasn’t bluffing and I do own the character, I reveal the card to prove it. Then, I shuffle the character back into the Court deck and draw a new one. The power of the character is activated, and the player who doubted me loses the challenge. They must choose one of their characters to reveal, and that character is eliminated from the game.

Coup - learn how to play with

Countering a Character (with Another Character)

When you want to counter a character in the game, all you need to do is confidently declare that you have the appropriate character to counter their move. It doesn’t matter if you’re telling the truth or not, and anyone can question your claim, not just the person whose character is being countered. If your counter is successful, their action automatically fails.

Here are the characters who can counter:

  • Duchess: She can counter the “Foreign Aid” action.
  • Countess: She can counter the Assassin. Even if the counter is successful, the coins are still lost.
  • Captain, Ambassador, and Inquisitor: They can all counter the Captain’s move, effectively stopping them from stealing 2 coins.

The End of the Game

If you find yourself as the last one with characters you haven’t revealed yet, congratulations! You are the winner of the game.

Coup - learn how to play with


Rules for 7 or 8 players

When playing with 7 or 8 players, the rules are the same except that instead of having 3 copies of each of the 5 chosen characters, you use 4 copies of each character. This helps ensure that there are enough cards for everyone to play with.

Rules for 2 players

If you’re playing with just 2 players, there are a few changes to the setup after selecting the 5 characters:

  • Separate the cards into 3 piles, with each pile containing one copy of each character.
  • Take one of these piles and shuffle it. Deal a character card from that pile to each player, face down. The other three cards from that pile go in the middle to create the Court.
  • Once both players have looked at their cards, they each take one of the remaining piles and choose another character from it. The remaining 4 cards from each pile are not used.
  • Now, each player has two starting characters and the game can begin!

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