Each character represents a faction or household in a corrupt city state. Using your influence in the form of hidden rolls, your goal is to wipe out everyone else who is contending for control of the city, leaving you as the only one in power.
The original game consisted of 15 cards and a bunch of money chips. Since then, there have been enough expansions that I almost have to question if we can still consider who to be a micro game :D The deck breaks down to five different role cards that are repeated three times.
Everyone starts out the game with two hidden role cards, representing your influence. If you ever lose both of those cards, you are out and your opponents are one step closer to taking control of the city state. Each role has a different power, allowing you to do things like gather up money or assassinate other people's role cards or do some hand management with the unused cards.
Here is the twist that makes the game. Your role cards always remain hidden. You can claim to have any of the five roles and as long as no one challenges you, you get to use that power. Of course, when there is a challenge, someone is going to lose a card.
So, on your turn you have five different actions that you can take, plus three neutral actions as well. The game is about constantly bluffing, sometimes bluffing by telling the truth. And while I'm not a huge fan of player elimination, Coup does a good job of making it interesting.
Personally, I really like Coup. I like how it has such a complex set of decisions while playing in 15 minutes or less. The game is full of player interaction and definitely rewards good play.
Honestly, I like Coup more than Love Letter with one caveat. Coup is strongest with five to six players while Love Letter plays better with three to four players (and doesn't play any higher than that) So Love Letter is better for just pulling out and playing, particularly when the fifth player hasn't arrived yet.
Coup is a fun game that had a lot of meat in its short playing time.