Don’t forget to check out my other tabletop roundups!
Knights, bluffing, political posturing, big money — this article has it all. Lets get to it.
Coup has utterly dominated my office as of late. Set in the Resistance universe, it pits players against each other as they start with two cards which can be any of the five available roles. Any player can take one coin (income), take two coins (foreign aid), or perform a coup (pay seven coins to take out a player’s card). The Contessa blocks assassinations, the Assassin can assassinate (no way!), the Captain can steal coins from others and prevents stealing, the Duke can take three coins on a turn and blocks foreign aid, and the Ambassador blocks stealing and allows you to swap cards with the remaining deck.
The draw of Coup is that your role cards are face down and you can perform any one action on your turn. If you have three coins, you can assassinate someone whether or not you have the Assassin. Feel free to steal from another player, regardless of whether or not you have the Captain. On the flip side, players under fire can bluff their roles as well, so you may steal from someone and they can say they are blocking because they have a Captain or Ambassador. If you believe them, then nothing happens. If you call them out on it, they have to either reveal their alleged role, forcing you to lose a card, or they have to lose a card themselves. Similarly, someone can call you out for not having a role card that you say you have. leading to the same showdown.
Flat out, Coup is great. There are tons of strategies to use and rounds are over in ~10 minutes. If you’re going to buy the game, I highly recommend the Reformation expansion, as the new Inquisitor role (look at a player’s card, blocks stealing) is more fun than the Ambassador.
I’m The Boss
Money, money, money. I’m The Boss is all about getting money and to do so you have to complete deals. Each deal has an amount of shares and the value of those shares goes up as the game continues. Deals require combinations of different roles and each player starts with a different role. Each turn starts on a deal which can be opened if the player chooses. If not, they can roll and choose to open the new deal they land on. If they don’t want to do that deal either, they can draw cards. Cards range from becoming extra roles for a turn, forcing other player’s roles out, and taking control of the deal altogether.
Deals tend to be contentious in a few ways. The controller of the deal typically wants more money than the other contributors, but that can always be negotiated. Players not involved in the deal may say that they want some money or they will kill a deal. Do you decide to throw them a bone or move forward without them, calling their bluff?
I’m The Boss involves some teamwork but, in the end, you have to look out for number one. It’s a fun one for sure.
Another game involving roles and bluffing, Love Letter tasks you with ending each round with the highest valued card. Players start with one card, draw a card on each turn, and must play or discard one card. You can see the roles above, like the Guard who lets you guess a players card, the Priest who lets you look at a player’s card, the Handmaid who protects you until it’s your turn again, and the Princess who cannot be discarded.
Deduction is important in Love Letter. For example, if someone discards the Countess, they most likely have a Prince or King. But, if the King has already been played, then you know it’s not that. Then again, maybe that player discarded the Countess to bait you in the first place. Some card combination plays are obvious, like playing a Priest followed by a Guard or forcing someone to discard the Princess with your Prince. There are a set number of each cards in the deck, but one card is removed from the game prior to each round. When it gets down to the last few cards, you have to really think about each play and try to figure out what the remaining player(s) may have and what the burned card could be.
Love Letter is right up there with Coup for me. It’s a blast, easy to pick up, and super quick to play.
Shadows Over Camelot
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table — Lancelot, Percival, Galahad, etc. The valiant knights must defeat evil in Shadows Over Camelot by completing quests such as finding the Holy Grail and retrieving Excalibur. Each completed quest earns white swords while failed quests and other evil actions will result in black swords. Having more white than black swords means victory, while more black swords means defeat.
Unless you are the traitor, that is. Each game may or may not have a traitor, whose obvious mission is to cause the knights to fail. After a certain point in the game, any player can accuse another of being the traitor. If found, the traitor has to reveal himself and white swords are added to the round table. If an accusation is wrong, a white sword is flipped to black.
I’m a big fan of co-op games and Shadows Over Camelot is no exception. I only played it once but I had a lot of fun with it. Hand management and teamwork are very important, as is keeping an eye out for the possible traitor (*cough* Jeff *cough*).