Review: Coup…How good is your poker face?

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IMG_0319[1]‘The Resistance’ is pretty much an institution in board gaming by now. Thats just a fact of life. If you turned over a rock in the desert, you would find a table of neurotic board gamers shrieking in a high register “I’m not a SPY!!” So when Indie Boards & Cards announced back in April on Kickstarter they were reskinning the original Coup with a Resistance theme, we came running like a crack addicted bullet train. Well the time has come, and its finally arrived.

As the government starts to collapse around you, up to six players seek to take control by influencing key figures in a political poker game. Each person is dealt 2 cards, the Duke, Ambassador, Captain, Assassin or the Contessa. These cards represent officials that you have leverage with. You’ll take turns claiming you have favour with one of the aforementioned characters, using their powers to get money, kill your political opponents or gain more influence, all in the aid of funding your coup d’ etat. However, any of your opponents can contest your supporter, and if you are caught trying to take advantage of the situation without the favour of your claimed political figure, you lose influence. On the other hand though, if you DO have the support you claimed to have, your challenger looks like a fool and he/she loses their influence. Once you’ve lost both of your supporters, you are out of the game and need to take a seat on the losers couch with Sarah Palin. Ultimately though, just like a sword fight between immortals, there can be only one. The last back-stabbing politician standing wins.

One of the cool side effects of ‘Coup’ is it fleshes out the narrative that ‘The Resistance’ started. In the latter you witnessed events from the perspective of freedom fighters in a corrupt dystopian future, whereas in ‘Coup’ you get to see how high rollers do business. The next time you finish 5 or 6 games of ‘The Resistance’ you won’t have that hollow feeling of a bad come down anymore. Now you get to see the other side the story. While the grunts are fighting the good fight destabilizing the status quo, others are ready to step in and seize control in these opportunistic times.

IMG_0320[1]Even if you’ve been living in a cave for the last 4 years and you’ve never heard of ‘The Resistance’, ‘Coup’ is a sublime game by itself. Its wickedly fast, super tense and just oh so exciting. When you’re holding on to your last card and the turn is going round, you’ll be frantically scheming trying to ready yourself for your next move. You’ve decided to bluff holding the Duke, which will gain you the 3 credits to pay for the Assassin that you are actually holding. Its finally your turn, you try to sneak those precious credits in unnoticed. As your fingertips just touch the prize, you think “YES! I’ve done it. No one will suspect a thing”. You start to slink the money towards you when you hear the challenge from across the table, “Like Hell you’re the Duke! I’ve got the Duke”. You can’t show weakness but your backs up against the wall, inside your screaming, “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO???” You play it cool, time to show them what you’re made of. “Are you sure you want to make that call?”, a cold look of steel about your face, but really your legs are like jelly jumping castles. Your challenger hesitates, not wanting to lose their last card in a rash decision. He begins a retort but you cut it short, “Fine, just means one less of you I need to eliminate”. You reach for you card confidently, ready to flip it over, it’s do or die anyway, then you hear the withdrawal, “Alright. Take the money…this time”. You think to yourself, “Yes! A life-line. Now all I have to do is…”, the person next to you chucks 7 credits your way, “I’m couping you. You’re dead”. Your head drops between your chest and the table erupts into laughter. This is the sort of entertainment you just can’t put a price on. ‘Coup’ is an absolutely awesome game. Get it or you’ll get left behind.

10 new games to look out for

I have scoured every corner of the world wide interweb in search of games so you don’t have to. Its a dark, scary place…..what is seen can never be unseen…..so many grown men….over weight….beards….with elf ears….and plastic swords….oh God!….what have I done to myself……*sob sob*……check these out.

Ogre

ogreHere’ s a real retro classic. If you like your games of the old school variety, then this should be your next stop. Made by Steve Jackson (of Munchkin fame) way back in 1977, this new Kickstarted “Designer’s Edition” reached its funding goal in May 2012 but currently sits at 4618% more than was originally asked. If ever the people have spoken, it is now and they want Ogre. It’s a very simple game of attrition. You amass an army to defend against a MASSIVE F**KING TECHNO TANK!!! You play on a hex grid map, choose your defensive positions and wait in utter paralyzing fear as the ever looming Ogre attempts to get through. It reminds me of the 1981 PC game ‘Sabotage‘, only in reverse. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. It’s due for release in the UK soon and you can pre-order it from Leisure Games games here.

Agents of SMERSH

pic1501467_lgHere’s a new big game. And I mean BIG. AoS seems like the perfect compromise between board games and role-playing….you just don’t have to dress up like an elf and generally act like a tit in front of your friends. Set in an alternate 1970’s cold war era, AoS leads players along an immersive spy vs. spy experience with its massive scenario book (there is something like 1500 in there…..I said it was big.) Players work together flipping cards, rolling dice and drawing encounters in order to eventually defeat the evil Dr. Lobo. It comes with a shit ton of things and sounds just plain awesome. Also features artwork by George Patsouras (Flash Point & The Resistance) Dunno when it will be available in the UK but if you’re lucky you can find one on eBay. For fans of Arkham Horror and Mansions of Madness. Next up….

High Heavens

high_heavens_boardRemember when you were a kid and you played that game “who would win in a fight? Superman or Optimus Prime?” Well ‘High Heavens’ is precisely that, only I’m calling it a metal heads wet dream. Norse versus Greek deities. Oh hell but f**k yeah \m/ (>_<) \m/ It’s like chess, meets Mortal Kombat but with Gods. You stack coloured chips under your characters figure to represent your life bar and other special attributes as you move around a hex grid board and draw cards to pulverize your opponent. Simple, effective and unique. But what else would you expect from the guy who designed Guitar Hero. It still has a way to go on Kickstarter and only a little time left, so if you have a few spare quid, help a God out with some change bruv.

Kingdom Death: Monster

Kingdom-Death-Monster-394x262Not sure if this one is a board game or an excuse to have minis with wildly exaggerated curves. It looks beautiful but the jury is out for me. Either way if a story driven dungeon crawl type RPG is your thing then this looks like it won’t disappoint. It met its mark by miles on Kickstarter and it would seem the designers have already churned out a plethora of expansions. Just goes to show, you put boobs on some miniatures and you’ll have every anime fan from here to New Zealand lining up screaming “Shut up and take my money!”

Machine of Death: The game of creative assassinations

MachineOfDeath-game-660x333Now this is more my speed. A party game that allows you to conjure up the most ridiculous ways to murder. Exactly what I was looking for. Based on the book by David Malki and Co. it tells the story of a machine that knows how you will die, and it’s always right no matter what. In the game a player draws a card that lets them know how their demise will come, other players then have to draw cards and attempt to stitch together how this will occur. Hilarious, sinister fun.

Democracy: Majority Rules

Incoming controversial game in 3…2…1…. So here’s a strategy game where the only mechanic available to you is your powers of persuasion. I love games that rely on human power, but remember, with great power comes great responsibility. The more you win the more difficult if becomes thanks to deals made and legislations previously passed. So you’ll be switching allegiances quicker than the Lib-Dems at election time in order to be the ultimate democrat.

The Resistance: Coup

photo-littleAnd speaking of persuasion. If you didn’t get enough of lying through your teeth with The Resistance or Avalon, Coup will surely scratch that itch. It’s a straight bluffing game that sees you pretending (or not) to have a powerful government official in your hand in order to gather cash to fund a coup. Its short, high risk, very tense and is sure to get you arguing like a  politician caught in a sex scandal in no time. I. Can. Not. Wait. But if deduction is your thing then fear not…there’s more…

Salem

101a5d138dfa95951b6b1b4463000643_large“I am Matthew Hopkins. Witchfinder” So you think that some one may be a witch at your table? Send them to jail and try them in a court of law. “Throw them in the river. If they swim they are witches. If they drown, may God have mercy on their soul.” Salem captures the hysteria of the now legendary witch trials of 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, and has gone to painstaking lengths to make the game as historically correct as possible. So much so that the characters are the likeness of people who were genuinely effected by these trials. And that’s what sets this deduction game apart from its peers. It’s not so much a beer and pretzel, make you laugh like jolly old Saint Nic after hanging a witch event, as its more a humbling experience to realise how ridiculous religious fanaticism can be, and that real people’s lives were destroyed by childish here say. This ones going to be an eye opener. Respect.

Myth

ff5cef44951cef951b3c38305f5126fb_largeAnother one that smashed its Kickstarter goal by a landslide. By about 2000% actually. Myth is set to be the co-operative epic that everybody has been waiting for since Mage Knight came out. It promises to be a deeply involving experience for hard-core gamers and easily accessible for new comers to get stuck in straight away. You play the game over a series of acts, each of which lasts about 2 hours and culminating in a massive boss battle. But push to hard and the board will bite back making your journey a perilous one. So no “Leeroy Jenkins’s” please. Cool, calm and calculated strategy wins the game. Could this be the board game equivalent to The Elder Scrolls?….quite possibly. And finally…

Zogars Gaze

zogarBodacious old school game duuuuude!! Cowabunga!! If you ever played games like Ultima, Gauntlet or Lands of Lore, I think you will enjoy this one. Simple card mechanic that sees players luck out till they’ve reached their characters goal. It’s like Russian Roulette in a dungeon with a big ol’ dollop of nostalgia. I can see some tense moments in this one. It’s been funded already but you can follow their progress on Grey Gnomes Facebook page.