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Weekend Card Game Recommendation: Coyote

Everyone has to lie

Feature image for the card game Coyote

“I’m not gonna add board games/card games to my gaming library,” I say, knowing damn well that I’m an awful liar.

That’s probably why I suck at Coyote, a card game by HeidelBÄR Games. Fortunately, I was playing with fellow anxiety bunnies who also have terrible poker faces, so it was an evening full of nervous laughter, hesitation, and an unexpected amount of fun.

Right off the bat, I was drawn to Coyote because of the way it looked. Designed by Spartaco Albertarelli with art by Zona Evon Shroyer (Yupik Alaskan Native), the cards are beautiful, from the way the Coyote is illustrated, to the designs of the number cards. To add to the vivid art style, the game has its own story.

Coyote is a trickster, and we’re all taking part in his game because he’s a touch bit salty about losing all his belongings.

Once Coyote crossed the river with his friends. But he was carrying too many things and almost drowned before Bear pulled him out of the water. Poor Coyote had lost everything.

They sat down by a fire to dry off and rest. Coyote became jealous of the other animals, because they still had all their things. So he challenged them for a bluffing game to win their belongings.

The other animals agreed to the challenge as they thought Coyote would never win. After all he is known to never tell the truth. But in this game everybody has to lie, because no one knows the truth…

So instead of being grateful for Bear saving his life, this Coyote a-double s-hole decided to play a game so he could jack everyone else’s stuff? Wow. Coyote’s kinda a shitty friend, huh?

Box art for Coyote

On the surface, the game looks fairly simple, and honestly, it is. 3 – 6 people each have a number card, and one more number card is placed face down on the table. The players will continue to increase their bids in an attempt to guess the total of all the cards (their card, their opponent’s card, and the face-down card). If you feel that someone has overbid, you challenge them. If they did overbid, they lose, but if they didn’t, you lose.

The tricky part comes with how the game is played. For one, the bids are always increasing, you can never decrease the number. However, you do get to see everyone else’s number cards … you just can’t see your own. This means that you’re constantly second-guessing yourself, after all, maybe your opponent bid a high number because your card is high … or maybe they’re lying to throw you off.

Oh, and there are negative numbers in the deck, so the math gets real messy real fast.

Each player also gets 3 peek cards, 2 with their eye open, and 1 with the eye closed. If you win the challenge, you get to flip the card with the closed eye so that the eye is open. The loser discards one of their peek cards, and the person who runs out of peek cards first loses the game. You might be wondering if the sole purpose of these peek cards is to dictate who wins and loses. You’ll be happy to know that you can use these cards during the game. At the beginning of your turn (except if you’re the player who starts the round), you can use a peek to secretly see what the face-down card is. The catch? You HAVE to raise the bid when you do this, so you better hope it’s not a negative card.

Did I mention that there are special cards? With special abilities? There’s one card, for example, that changes the highest card value to 0. This means if you challenge a bid because your friend said 40 and the total of all the cards is 50, if the highest card in the pile is 20, it’s now 0.

Which means the total is 30.

Which means you lose.

See why this game put my friends and me on edge?

There’s even a trickster variant to the game to make it even more stressful. This adds new rules to the game, like players have 2 closed-eyed peek cards instead of 2 open-eyed peek cards. It also adds the trickster himself: the Coyote, who comes with his own set of rules. Needless to say, my friends and I didn’t try this version, too wrapped up in the standard mode for the game, laughing at each other when someone pulled a Price is Right and raised the bid by 1. Sometimes, someone would choose violence and pick a high number, but with the variety of cards in the deck, it was impossible to know if they were being strategic, or chaotic.

Coyote is available now over at the Asmodee website! I highly recommend it if you wanna side-eye your friends, as they side-eye you, and you side-eye yourself because you can’t see your own frickin’ card.

(Image: HeidelBÄR Games)

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Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)