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How to Play Coup With Two Players

Coup is a great party game and you can see our full review of the game here. Most people would argue it’s only worth playing with three or more players but with the right rules, it can be enjoyed with only two.  

Continue reading below to find out the best way to play Coup with two players.  

How To Play Coup with Two Players

The Official Variant

The official way to play with two players described in the rulebook does attempt to address some of the issues that appear at lower player counts, but in our opinion, it doesn’t significantly improve two player games.  We’d recommend skipping playing the game this way and instead try any of the other two player variants below, but if you must try it the rules for the official two player variant are below.

  • First, divide the deck into three separate sets with each having one of each Coup character.
  • Each player takes a set and secretly chooses a card to keep and puts the remainder off to the side.
  • The third set of cards is placed in the middle to form the court and players are dealt another random card from this to be their second influence.
  • The starting player starts with one coin and the second player starts with two.

These rules attempt to reduce the variability of cards you can have and provide players with more information making it easier to guess what cards your opponent has.  Having the first player only start with one coin also attempts to reduce the advantage of having the first move.

While these changes seem like they would help, in our opinion they really don’t significantly make the game better at two.  Using these rules the rounds are too fast and there is not much freedom in what you can do.  The weaker player will lose consistently which can end up being quite frustrating and not fun.

The Best Way to Play Coup With Two Players

After playing the official variant we couldn’t believe people enjoyed playing this with two players.  So we went online and after searching through forums we realized a lot of people play the game with some minor tweaks that make the game much much better with only two players. 

Using the rules below will make Coup much better with only two players.  Experiment with each and figure out what works best for you and your opponent and creates the most fun experience for you.

  1. Play with the full deck of cards just as in the original version of the game.  
  2. Each player is dealt two random influence and starts with two coins just like usual.
  3. The game is played as normal, but players now have to lose a total of six influence before they lose the round.  Each time a player loses an influence they draw a new card from the deck.
  4. (Optional: Use the “Calling Your Coup” rule popularized online that makes players have to say exactly which card of their opponents they are targeting with a Coup action.) 

Giving players the ability to lose a total of six influence lengthens the game and allows players to have more strategic freedom in what they can do.  Players aren’t out of the game instantly after their first mistake and still have a chance to come back after losing some influence.  

Using the full deck of cards increases the luck at the beginning of the game which is okay now that each round lasts longer since players have six influence they can lose.  This increase in luck makes the game more fun and variable in our opinion.  Since rounds last a little longer with this variant both players start with two coins since the first-move advantage is reduced.  

All these changes greatly improve two player games of Coup in our opinion and make it a much more fun and enjoyable experience.  

If both players are fairly experienced with Coup and want the game to be more strategic and feel a bit gamier we recommend also playing with the “Calling Your Coup” rule.  This rule means you have to pay attention to what cards are left and be good at using the information at your disposal to successfully guess what cards your opponent has.  This lengthens rounds but gives players more of a fighting chance against each other and the game becomes much less of a race for money. 

All of these rule tweaks make the game much better for two players in our opinion, but feel free to experiment with any combination of them and find out what makes games for you and your opponents better and more fun.  Let us know your favorite way to play Coup with two players in the comments below.

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