Coup was Kickstarted by Indie Boards & Cards back in 2013 and was an immediate hit among fans of group, bluffing, and deduction games. Coup is a thematic expansion of the Resistance universe (another of Indie Board & Games top productions) which accounted for a lot of the initial hype, but its solid gameplay and interesting role dynamics made it a great addition to any board game collection. After just one year we find ourselves with a full expansion to Coup, Coup: Reformation. Taking after the thematic story progression that the resistance was successful and all the lower politicians are now vying for positions in government, Coup: Reformation further expands that allowing the politicians to take the side of either the Loyalists or the Reformists.
Coup: Reformation has so many small little changes that it adds up to quite a significant gameplay change. Just a disclaimer before I get into it; The copy I obtained is the Kickstarter version of the expansion there for contents may vary.
First off in the box you notice that you get two more copies of every card in the game. These copies allow you to play the original Coup with up to 10 players (from the original max of 6). Hopefully you have enough seating around your coffee table for all of your friends.
Next you may notice some gold 5isk coins. These coins are supposed allow you to show off your wealth to other players… or at least as far as I can tell, since you tend to spend or lose money so quickly in Coup that these coins rarely make an appearance for very long.
One of the major changes is the addition of a new role; The Inquisitor. The Inquisitor replaces the Ambassador in basic function and adds a new element of knowledge power to the game. Just as the Ambassador, the Inquisitor blocks stealing and can be used to change roles, though now you can only exchange one card. The real fun begins with the Inquisitors main power, you can choose to look at one of another players influence cards and either force them to exchange it or let them keep it and have perfect knowledge of at least one of their roles.
The biggest change to the game in the expansion and what gives the expansion it’s name is the Allegiance cards. Now during set up the first player chooses one side either loyalist or reformist then going around the table each player takes the opposite side of the card from the player before them. This splits the table into two factions either loyalists or reformists. As long as at least one member of the opposite faction is still in the game, players of the same allegiance cannot coup, assassinate, steal from or block foreign aid. The catch is a new option, on your turn; You can pay 1 isk to flip your own allegiance to the opposite side or you can pay 2 isk to flip another players allegiance. This provides the opportunity to escape from a forced or obvious coup or at least give them additional targets besides yourself. Every isk spent this way gets put into the federal reserve bank (I suppose as part of your campaign fees to rebrand yourself to the public, thematically speaking). What happens to all this money? Well as most any frequent player of Coup can tell you, everyone’s favorite role to be is the Duke for his ability to take 3isk a turn, to combat this preference a new action has been added; Embezzlement: any player may take all the coins from the federal bank, that is of course as long as they are not the Duke (that would be a political scandal). These new options allow for a lot of interesting maneuvers during your turn.
Finally you will also find included in the box alternate art for the original game of Coup. You simply remove two of the copies of each card from the original and replace them with their alternate art version. The art on these new cards is just as brilliant as the originals. Now many I have heard many players say that they prefer the different art for aesthetic reasons, but I actually find that it has an impact on the game itself. Each role now has a unique identity so when someone reveals or peeks at another player’s influence card you know exactly which card you have looked at and this can lead to more information when it comes to deducing whether they have switched a card or not, especially when one player has two of the same roles. Whether this is a good or bad outcome is really up to the individual group, but it should not be left unconsidered.
This expansion really brings a new dimension to Coup. You can play with each of the additions separately with the base, at the same time, or mix and match with the things you like best. Going with a large group game of 10 players can be quite exciting, but I would not recommend it if a few or all are new to the game as this will lead to significant slowdown as each player decides what to do on their turn. Whether you choose to play with the inquisitor or the ambassador is up to personal preference. The ambassador provides a lot more ambiguous information causing players to succumb more to guessing, manipulation, and paranoia. The 5isk gold coins seem just a little superfluous as you almost never have that much money, especially when you are constantly paying to change roles around. The allegiance cards add such a new level of play that it will almost certainly change every player’s strategy when it comes to their money. This expansion is recommended to anyone who loved the original or if you want to play with more players. If you don’t own a copy of Coup yet, don’t fret! There is a version of the expansion that comes with a full copy of the original game, making it the ultimate purchase if you plan to dive into the rich paranoid world of Coup.