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How To Play Coyote

How to play Coyote

Coyote is a bluffing game where everyone has to lie, because nobody knows the truth. Based on the native North American stories of the Trickster Coyote: He lost all his possessions and challenged all the other animals to a game in order to win theirs, and the rumours say it played out a little bit like this. So let's figure out how to play!

Setting Up

Each player takes 3 Peek cards and lays them out in front of them, 2 of them face up with the open eye and the third face down with a closed eye. These cards are representative of a player's lives, lose all 3 and you're out of the game, and the last player remaining wins.

Take the deck of playing cards, shuffle it and deal one to each player face down, and an extra face down card in the middle of the table. Every player gets a card stand and places their card into the stand facing away from them, without looking at it, but making sure all the other players can see the card. Now the round is set up and you're ready to start playing Coyote

Bluffing The Game

First up before going through the rules let's have a look at the three types of card in the playing card deck. There's the basic green cards which add their value to the round total, there's red negative cards that subtract from the round value, and then two special blue cards. The first is the ? card, which will be replaced by a random card from the top of the deck at the end of the round, adding the card revealed to the total. The second is Max 0, not only does this card not add any value to the round total but it will also set the highest card value in the round to 0.

So each round begins with the start player placing a bid on what they guess the total card value on the table is. The very first round of the game this will be the youngest player, and then in future rounds the player who lost the previous round will go first, or the player to their left if they have been eliminated. The goal of a round is to guess the total value of cards present, although being under is also fine, but going over is not. Following the first player in clockwise order each player has three options, you can raise the bid, you can peek or you can challenge the bid.

If a player raises the bid then they must choose a number that is higher than the previous bid.
In order to peek a player must have at least one face up peek card which they flip face-down, they are then allowed to secretly look at the face-down card in the middle of the table, but after this they must increase the bid.
Finally a challenge will stop the round and all cards on the table are revealed. If the previous bid was equal to or lower than the total then the challenger loses, but if the bid is over the total value then the challenged previous player loses.
The winner of a challenge may flip one of their peek cards face-up if able. The loser of a challenge must discard one of their peek cards to the box, regardless of facing. They will then deal out a new round of cards and begin the next round as the start player.

No More Lives

Once a player has lost all three of their peek cards they are eliminated from the game and the rounds continue with the remaining players, when there is only one player left in the game they are declared the winner.


Coyote already comes with some strategic options to master, like knowing when to challenge a bid that you think is lower than the total, or bluffing a high bid against the next player when you know they cannot see their card, but once you are familiar and practiced with the basic rules then it is suggested to play the Trickster variant. This comes with 3 main changes.1) All players begin with only one face-up Peek card, and two face-down.2) Before the cards are revealed when there is a challenge, there will be a count of 3, at which point all players not participating in the challenge must simultaneously point to who they think will be the winner. If you point to the correct winner then you may flip a Peek card faceup, if you point at the loser though then you must flip a Peek card facedown, if able. Players in the challenge resolve their Peek cards as normal.3) The Coyote card is included in the middle of the table and will be given to the loser of a challenge. You may use the card at the start of your turn before doing anything else, draw another card from the deck, secretly look at it, then place it face down next to the card in the middle and lay the Coyote card ontop of it. No one else may look at this card and at the end of the round this card will also add it's value to the round total. After using the Coyote card you must raise the bid. The Coyote card will always move to the loser at the end of the round, whether it has been played by it's previous owner or not.