Relaxing into Cardboard: Rikki Tahta and the Magic of Coup

Games are serious business. The best of them demand careful analytical attention, acute psycho-social skills, and an ability to strategize on the fly; the worst turn what should be 20 minutes of fun into hours of monotony. In other words, games are not just for kids. Rikki Tahta, venture capitalist and designer, is an enthusiast who wants to bring excellent, deep play to the broader world. If the runaway success of his bluffing puzzler Coup is any indication, he’s well on his way.

“If chess came out today,” says Rikki Tahta, “no-one would play it.” He argues that it suffers from many and varied flaws — overly complicated mechanics, long play times, a rudimentary theme. In his telling, the true source of its enduring popularity …

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