I recently tried Coup for the first time. It’s a simple but addicting card game that involves strategic bluffing. I’ve yet to play with 5-6 people (which I hear is fun) but I’ve played a number of 1v1 hands.
The default rules for 1v1 are not very good, so I did some research and found some better user-created rules. This is what seemed to work well:
Custom rules for 1v1 Coup
Disclaimer: These may be similar or identical to other rules found elsewhere!
The main differences from the default rules are that each player gets a total of 5 influence cards (2 at a time) and they must call which card they Coup in order for it to succeed.
1. Separate influence cards into 3 “decks” of five (one of each card in a deck). Two player decks, one court deck.
2. Each player takes 1 card for their hand, arranges 3 hands for their personal draw pile, and 1 to be discarded into the court deck.
3. Before putting each player’s discard into the court deck, the dealer issues 1 card to each player. Each player now has two cards in their hand.
4. The discards are shuffled in to the court deck.
5. Each player begins with two coins.
6. The non-dealer goes first. Play continues normally with two exceptions:
A) Players must “call” each Coup. If they call the wrong card, they lose 7 coin. (The player being attacked must be honest about the card being called). They must pay 7 coin if it is successful, as normal.
B) When a player loses an influence card, they must show it, and it is out of the game. The player then draws one card from their personal deck until they have lost all their cards.
Notes: This greatly improves the Ambassador, which is normally next to useless in a 1v1 game. Being able to refresh your hand makes Coups much more difficult for the opponent.
Assassins can be deadly during the endgame. But, so can a Captain versus a player without a card to block steals (Captain or Ambassador). One can slowly gain income with a Duke, but otherwise a lone Captain can beat a lot of other combinations in the endgame (like Contessa + Assassin).