How to Play
The object of the game is to be the first player to get rid of all of their cards.
Shuffle the cards and deal them out in an equal amount to all of the players. Players cannot look at the cards in their hand. The dealer starts by flipping over the top card from their pile and adding it to the play pile. When the dealer flips the card they also begin the count by saying “one” out loud. If the card flipped over was not a one, play moves to the next player. The next player flips over their card and compares it to two. This process continues until “ten” is reached and the count is reset to “one”.
If any player ends up playing a number card that matches the current count, that player needs to take all of the cards from the play pile and add them to the bottom of their pile. If the next player plays their card before the matching player takes the pile though, the player that played the extra card has to take the entire pile.
When a player flips over a “knockout card” they get to choose one player to give all of the cards in the play pile to. The player who has to take all of the cards gets to play the next card with the count being reset to zero. If the next player plays a card to the pile before the player chooses who to use the card on, the cards automatically go to the player who played the extra card.
If a player flips over a “go for it” card they can choose to continue playing cards (increasing the count as well) until they either play a matching card or they decide to quit. If another “go for it card” is flipped over while the player is flipping over cards, it is treated as a non matching card. If a player flips over a “knockout” card they can either end their turn and give all of the cards to the player of their choice or they can continue playing cards and treat the “knockout” card as a non matching card.
The first player to get rid of their last card wins the game.
In 2005 Winning Moves Games made the game Beat the Count. Beat the Count is a luck based card game where you hope that the card you flip over doesn’t match the current count or you will be forced to pick up all of the cards played. Beat the Count is kind of a mixture between the card game War and a basic counting game. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, Beat the Count is not a very good game.
The biggest problem with Beat the Count is that there is next to no strategy in the game. You essentially flip over cards hoping to get lucky and not flip over a numbered card that matches the count. Since you have no impact over the card that is flipped over, you can’t really do anything to improve your chances of winning the game.
There are only two times in the entire game that you even get to make a decision. If you flip over a “go for it” or a “knockout” card you get to make a small decision. With the “knockout” card the decision is usually pretty obvious since you should give the cards to the player with the least amount of cards. The “knockout”cards tend to be passed back and forth between the players closest to winning.
The “go for it” cards pretty much just add a press your luck element to the game. Essentially you need to decide how much risk you want to take and that is it. If there aren’t many cards in the play pile you might as well press your luck a little since there isn’t much to lose. If there are already a lot of cards in the pile you probably shouldn’t press your luck.
This lack of strategy and decision making makes Beat the Count a boring game. The game didn’t have to be strategic but by having next to no chances to even make a decision, it just feels like you are going through the motions. You flip over a card. The next player flips over a card. Rinse and repeat until someone ends up winning the game.
You feel like your actions have next to no impact on the final outcome and that is because they rarely do. Your fate in the game is entirely dependent on luck. For example in the game I played, I ended up rarely matching the count and I ended up winning the game. Meanwhile another player for some reason kept matching the count and ended up having probably twice as many cards as all of the other players combined. That player had no chance of ever winning the game due to no fault of their own.
Another problem with the game is that at times you can forget what the current count is. When one of the special cards are played, the game pretty much stops while the player decides what they want to do or picks up all of the cards from the table. While they are making their decision you can sometimes forget what the current count it. This is a problem since the count is really important in deciding who ultimately ends up winning the game.
The components are nothing special either. You get a pretty standard set of cards. The artwork is pretty bland with the cards only featuring a number or words with a tie dyed background. The artwork serves its’ purpose but it could have been a lot better in my opinion. I also have to bring up the artwork on the box. The box artwork just looks weird. Due to what appears to be some pretty poor Photoshop skills, it looks like the people’s heads are pasted on their bodies. The artwork style is just strange and actually makes the father on the box look creepy.
While I think Beat the Count is a bad game, I like to address both the positives and negatives in every game I review. Beat the Count has a couple positives.
First the game is really easy to learn and play. You can learn the game in about a minute and master it in about the same amount of time since you have very few decisions to make in the game. The game only takes about 10-15 minutes to finish so you don’t have to invest a lot of time into the game.
The game will also work better with children than adults. The game is just too simple that I find it hard for adults to actually get much enjoyment out of it. The game is simple enough for younger children though that they may get some enjoyment out of it. I don’t know why the game has a recommended age of 7+. As long as you can count up to ten you shouldn’t have any trouble playing the game. I actually think the game would work better with younger children since it could be used as a learning tool to help them with their counting skills.
Finally the game could maybe be salvaged with some good house rules. The rules mention playing the game at a quick pace in order to make it more challenging. When I played the game we played at a pretty brisk pace and it still wasn’t very fun. If you played the game really quick though the game might be a little more fun since you would have more players messing up and being forced to take the cards because they played a card when they shouldn’t have. The first game was enough for my group though so we never took the time to try any house rules.
In my opinion Beat the Count is not a good game. I think you could debate whether it is a game or a counting exercise. The game’s fatal flaw is that you pretty much do nothing in the game. You flip over cards and hope that they don’t match the count. The only time you make any decisions in the game is when you flip over a “knockout” or “go for it” card and even in those situations the decisions are pretty obvious. Unless you want to use the game as a way to teach your children how to count or you want to spend a lot of time coming up with house rules, there is no reason to buy Beat the Count.