A little background
Seventeen years ago, on October 24, 2002, Carrie and I got married on Gibney Beach with 37 family members and friends attending. My parents and sister, Lezlie, made it. Carrie’s mother and brother and brother’s fiancée made the trip. Carrie’s brother Wally and his wife Toni couldn’t make the trip.
We returned for most of our anniversaries and always talked about how much Wally & Toni would probably love St. John. Then in 2011, while out to dinner in Vermont for our 9th anniversary, it came to me: plan a surprise 10th anniversary trip to St. John with 10 other couples who did or didn’t make the wedding, but who we wanted to share our love of the island with. Fast forward to October of 2012 and, after a year of secrecy (which I’m terrible at), Carrie thinks we are going to celebrate our 10th alone on St. John. Walking through the Miami airport terminal she sees her brother, his wife, her sister, sister’s husband…Surprise!?!
Carrie was stunned. She doesn’t like surprises. This one was a year and 21 people in the making. She got over it. We filled Great Expectations and our neighbor villa, Calypso del Sol, and had a really great week on St. John. As usual, we spent multiple days lazing around our favorite beach: Maho Bay. I think it was the second day there that Wally & I started throwing a frisbee to each other in waist-deep water sipping on 2 Presidente’s. I nonchalantly placed my 2nd beer on an upside frisbee, tossed the ball to Wally, and said “try knocking my little dictator off his throne.”
We threw the ball and frisbee back and forth taking turns for 10-15 minutes before he dented my can, tipping it over and letting in a swig of salt water. I yelled “Coup d’etat!!!” and, voila, a new hilarious pastime was invented.
A coup d’etat with salty consequences.
A perfectly non-political beach game designed that basically lets you pass the time in the sun, having friendly conversation while standing in calm, warm water — like that off the beaches of St. John in the US Virgin Islands. “Deposed!” was invented on Maho Bay on St. John’s north shore in 2012 by Steve Butcher & Wally Eubanks.
The necessary equipment is fairly simple and will all fit in a small to medium-sized cooler.
As for the playing field, you really only need the following: some calm water, some sun, and something to talk about.
Apply reef-safe sunscreen 30 minutes before entering water. Grab 1 Dictator (can of beer) per player, the Throne (frisbee), and the Cannonball (ball). Enter the water. Stand a minimum 20ft (6m) apart in groin-to-rib-deep water. Any deeper and you will have difficulty aiming the throw. Any shallower and you will be forced to exit the water and pause the game to relieve yourself.
The components of the game are:
The Dictator (Beer)
The Throne (Frisbee)
The Cannonball (Ball)
The Guard (Player)
The Oppressed (Player)
The first person to open their beer is the first Guard and has officially created the first Dictator (the can).
Whoever has the Throne (Frisbee) immediately throws to the player holding the Dictator.
The Cannonball is then thrown to the other player. This play is called the Oppressed.
The Guard places the Dictator upright on the Throne in front of themself.
The Oppressed then throws, skips, or tosses the ball in an attempt to Depose the Dictator.
The Oppressed gets one shot to Depose the Dictator
The Guard cannot interfere with the Cannonball until it passes by the Throne or comes to rest
First Play: The Oppressed throws the Cannonball at the Dictator on his Throne
Did it Miss?
If the Oppressed does not overthrow the Dictator, the Guard tosses the Throne to the Oppressed — immediately making them the Guard and becoming the Oppressed (with Cannonball in hand).
[Hint: pick up your beer, take a tasty sip, pick up the ball, and toss the frisbee to the other player]
Did it Hit?
If the Dictator tips over or is knocked from the Throne entirely, the Oppressed must immediately throw their hand in the air and yell “Coup d’etat!” to make it official.
After a throw, toss the Throne and play is reversed.
Second Play: The Guard waits with the Dictator on the Throne as the Cannonball is thrown by the newly Oppressed
Scoring & Game Play
Any displacement, from vertical, of the dictator including tip over on the throne or water entry is considered a de-throning. When the Dictator is removed from his Throne, the Oppressed who launched the Cannonball must immediately yell “Coup d’etat!” while throwing their hands in the air. The current Oppressed scores 1 point.
While close calls, dents and/or spins of the Dictator are exciting, they do not constitute and official Coup d’etat and therefore do not earn a point.
Game play continues until the chosen number of coups are reached by a player or you simply decide to leave this third world mayhem and get a sandwich, read a book, or go snorkeling.
In the midst of an actual Coup d’etat, the Guard’s Dictator inevitably gets spilled and mixed with water. This is called Collateral Damage and is part of the pain from not guarding your Dictator well enough.
At any time, the player leading in points can call for a fresh Dictator. One of the other players must exit the water and retrieve Dictators for anyone requesting.
There is no set number of points to win. Play typically ends randomly when lunch is called or someone decides to take a break from the sun. Whoever has the most points has won for that match.
The game can be played with 3 or more people as well. The Frisbee and Ball simply shift through the group. To make it more fair, after each coup d’etat, skip the losing Guard and reverse the direction of play.
Alcoholic beverages are not required to play Deposed! but do seem to make it more fun. Any alternate dictators should be a 10-20 ounce can of drinkable liquid. Keep in mind that having varying can sizes can skew the fairness of the game.