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Coup D'Etat - Designed by Scott DeMers

A free board game from the 2005 Deduction Game Design Competition


For 2 players

The Story

DespotLand has forever been a rival to your country. As the leader of EnlightenedRealm, the time has come to replace DespotLand's ruler with someone more agreeable to you. Of course, your rival may be attempting the same thing against you.

The goal of Coup D'Etat is to overthrow your enemy. You must deduce where he is hiding and assassinate him or turn the populace against him by locating important supporters of a coup among the citizens of his country.


A deck of cards and 10 coins of 2 denominations (5 nickels, and 5 dimes, for example). Separate the following cards from the deck:

  • Ace through 7 in all suits.
  • A black 8, Jack, Queen, and King and a red 8, Jack, Queen and King.
  • The remaining cards are not used.

Card explanations:

  • King: your alter ego; the leader of your country.
  • Queen: your wife. A potential ally to the coup plotters.
  • Jack: your son. Another potential ally to the coup plotters.
  • Ace: an assassin who can remove people who oppose you.
  • Cards 2-8: the population of the country who can influence the success of a coup.

Explanation of the coins:

  • Each player uses one coin type.
  • Heads represent spies that travel into the other player's country to identify supporters for a coup and move around your own country to block the other player's spies.
  • Tails represent supporters of a coup and may not move.


One player takes the black cards and the other player takes the red cards. Each player then secretly places the cards face-down in a grid 6 wide and 3 deep in front of himself. Card placement is subject to these limitations:

  • The Queen must be directly adjacent or diagonal to the King.
  • The Jack must be directly adjacent or diagonal to the Queen.
  • The top "wide" edge of the player's grid should match up with the top wide edge of the other player's grid. See the example setup.

The resulting grid represents the population of each player's country and the border they share. The players should consider the rest of these game rules when they are placing the cards.

When the map is built, each player then places 5 heads-up coins, representing spies, on any of the 6 cards on the bottom edge of their country. Each card may only contain one spy. When done, one card in their bottom row should be open; the other 5 should contain coins. See the example setup.


The red player moves first. A player MUST move one, and only one, of her spies each turn:

  • A spy moves from a card to an adjacent or diagonal card.
  • Only spies may move. Supporters may never move.
  • Moves may be made in any direction horizontally, vertically or diagonally.
  • A spy may not enter a card containing another spy or supporter, regardless of who owns the spy or supporter.
  • A player may look at any card on which he has a spy or supporter at any time (usually upon entering a card for the first time). A player may not look at a card if she does not have a spy or supporter on the card, regardless of which country contains the card.

After a player has moved, he MAY do one, and only one, of the following two options:

1. Create a Supporter

  • If a spy is on a number card or the Jack or Queen in the other player's country, the player may make that card a "supporter".
  • The spy coin is flipped over (face-down) to represent a supporter. The person represented by the card is now supporting a coup.
  • A supporter may not move or change back to a spy.
  • The supporter card remains face-down.

2. Assassination Attempt

  • If a spy is on an "Ace" card in the other player's country the player may declare an assassination attempt by flipping the card face-up (to prove it is an ace).
  • The moving player selects any card on the board (in either country) for assassination. That card is flipped over.
  • If the selected card is a king, the game ends immediately.
  • If the selected card is not a king, than the selected card and any spy or supporter of either player on the card is permanently removed from the game. No spy may enter the space again.
  • The spy remains on the Ace card and may be moved normally next turn. The Ace card remains face up for the remainder of the game and may be entered normally, but it may not be used for an assassination attempt again.


The game ends immediately if:

  • A player's "king" is assassinated. The player who was not assassinated wins the game; or
  • A player can prove that she has 25 influence points in the other player's country during her turn. The first player to declare and prove the necessary influence wins.

A player's influence is calculated by adding the value of all cards on which he has supporters, but not spies, in the other player's country. The values are as follows:

  • Queen: 9 points
  • Jack: 9 points
  • Ace: 0 points
  • 8: 8 points
  • 7: 7 points
  • etc.

If a player cannot prove that they have the necessary influence, then the cards are flipped back face-down and play continues.

If neither player can complete either of the above tasks, the game is a draw.

Coup D'Etat © 2005 by Scott DeMers

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