Airing from 1979 to 1985 the Dukes of Hazzard was a pretty popular show for a number of years. As the show aired before I was born, I honestly can’t recall having ever seen an episode of the show outside of maybe a few clips/scenes here and there. Like everything that was popular, Dukes of Hazzard had quite a bit of merchandise made during its run to capitalize on its popularity. This actually included two different board/card games both released in 1981. There was a more traditional roll and move board game, and the card game which I am looking at today. As I have never seen the show before I normally wouldn’t have been interested in the card game, but I was intrigued by the fact that the card game was created by the makers of UNO. While a lot of people hate UNO, I have always kind of liked it. The Dukes of Hazzard Card Game is a good example of what you get when you slap a popular franchise on a popular game, kind of a mess that doesn’t really work.
How to Play The Dukes of Hazzard Card Game
- A player is chosen to be the dealer. They will shuffle the cards and deal seven cards face down to each player. The rest of the card form the draw pile.
- The dealer flips over the top card from the draw pile to create the discard pile. If an action card is flipped over, a special action may be taken.
- Road Block – The dealer will play first and play will proceed counter-clockwise (right) instead of the normal clockwise direction.
- Hog Wild – The player to the left of the dealer will draw four cards and will not be able to meld or discard on their first turn.
- Hazzard County Clout – The first player can choose to take the card from the discard pile for their draw action.
- Play will then begin with the player to the left of the dealer (unless an action card changes it).
Playing the Game
Drawing A Card
Each player will begin their turn by either taking the top card from the draw or discard pile. You may not take an action card from the discard pile except for a Hazzard County Clout card. A Hazzard County Clout card can only be taken if it wasn’t used for its effect.
Players will then have the opportunity to create a meld. There are two types of cards in the game: character cards and action cards. The character cards are divided into two types: “good guy” cards and “bad guy” cards. The “good guy” cards consist of Bo, Luke, Uncle Jesse, Daisy, and Cooter (card text in red). The “bad guy” cards consist of Boss Hogg, Rosco, Cletus, and Flash (card text in black).
Players can create a meld in one of two different ways:
- You can play three or more cards of the same type to create a meld.
- You can play three or more different good or bad guy cards together to create a meld. You can either create a “good” or “bad” meld in this way as you can’t mix “good” characters with “bad” characters.
In addition to creating new melds, you can add cards to melds that you have already created if it continues the meld already created. For example you can only add more of the same character to a meld featuring one character or a new different character to a meld featuring different characters.
The rules do not specify whether you can only make one or multiple melds on your turn.
Discard/Play A Card
Players will then end their turn by discarding a card. If a player discards a character card, nothing happens. When a player discards an action card, a special action will occur depending on what card is played.
Road Block – When this card is played you will take another turn and the direction of play reverses.
Speed Trap – The next player will lose their turn.
Parking Ticket – The next player will have to draw two cards from the draw pile. They will not be able to meld or discard on their next turn.
Hazzard County Clout – When another action card is played against a player, they can play this card in order to nullify its effects. The card’s effect on other cards are as follows:
- Speed Trap – You don’t lose your turn and the player who played the Speed Trap will lose their next turn.
- Parking Ticket – You don’t have to draw two cards and you can take your turn like normal. The player who played the Parking Ticket will have to draw two cards.
Hogg Wild – The next player will have to draw four cards from the draw pile and they lose the ability to meld or discard on their next turn.
End of Round
A round ends as soon as one player gets rid of the last card from their hand (either through a meld or a discard).
If a player’s last played card is a Hazzard County Clout card used to block a Parking Ticket card, the other player will be forced to draw two cards and the player who played the Hazzard County Clout card will draw a card to start their turn which they can either add to a meld or discard to end the round.
Players will then tally their score for the round.
The player that got rid of all of the cards from their hand will count up the value of the cards used in their melds. They will also score 50 bonus points for going out.
All of the other players will count up the points from their played melds and subtract the values from the cards left in their hand. The rules make a note of the action cards having negative values on them so they will subtract from your total. The rules don’t say what happens with character cards left in your hand, but I assume you lose points for them as well. Players can score negative points for a round.
Players will then add the points they earned from the current round to the points earned in previous rounds. If no player has scored 500 points, another round is played.
End of Game
The first player to score 500 points total wins the game.
The game has a number of variant rules you can implement to tweak the gameplay.
To make the game shorter or longer you can change the number of points needed to win the game.
You can implement a rule that you can only go out by discarding your last card.
You can choose to not allow negative scores for hands. If you should score negative points, your score for a round is zero.
If there are only two players it is recommended you take out one of each of the action cards from the deck.
My Thoughts on The Dukes of Hazzard Card Game
I honestly didn’t have very high expectations heading into The Dukes of Hazzard Card Game. As I already mentioned I never watched the show so the theme had no impact on my feelings towards the game. On top of that most themed games (at least from the 1980s) were quite bad as the theme was usually slapped onto a pretty bland/generic game in order to make a quick buck. The only thing that gave me a little hope was the fact that the game was created by the makers of UNO which is a game that I have always kind of enjoyed even though it has its faults.
I think the best way to sum up the gameplay of The Dukes of Hazzard Card Game is to say that it feels a lot like what you would get if you took Rummy and added elements of UNO to the formula. The main gameplay revolves around trying to create melds. This involves either getting multiple of the same card, or getting several different cards of the same type (good vs bad). When you get three or more cards that fit one of the two types of melds, you can play them to the table. This gets them out of your hand and also scores you points at the end of a round. The round ends when a player gets rid of the last card from their hand.
Honestly there isn’t a whole lot to say about the Rummy aspect of the game. It is moderately fun like every other Rummy game. Trying to collect cards that can be turned into melds is enjoyable enough. The game does very little to distinguish itself from any other Rummy game though. The only tweak is the addition of the “good” and “bad” characters which basically give the game two different suits that you need to be aware of when creating melds. The Rummy aspects of the game are not bad, but I wouldn’t say that they are anything special either. Basically it is a very generic Rummy game.
The UNO elements come from the action cards that are included in the game. While the game tries to hide its inspiration with different names and ties to the show, almost all of these action cards have direct comparisons to the action cards from UNO. To illustrate the Road Block cards are basically Reverses, Speed Traps are Skips, Parking Tickets are Draw Twos, and Hogg Wild are Wild Draw Fours without the wild element. The only somewhat unique card is the Hazzard Country Clout card which basically is used as a shield against some of the other cards being played against you.
While I don’t mind these type of cards in UNO, they don’t really work along with the Rummy elements. You are basically left with a game that feels like a mishmash of mechanics that don’t work well together. On their own Rummy games and UNO are enjoyable. Together they are worse than their individual parts though. The game has some fun mechanics, but as a whole the game just doesn’t work all that well. I honestly would rather just play a dedicated Rummy or UNO game as adding the two mechanics together doesn’t really add anything to the experience.
The game isn’t helped by the fact that the game’s instructions are poorly written. The game itself is honestly not that hard to play. Like UNO and Rummy it is a game that you can play without putting too much thought into what you are doing. This may make the game appeal to some people that like these type of simple card games. The problem with the rulebook is that it is written in a way which makes understanding it much harder than it needed to be. As I noted in the how to play section, there are a couple of things that the game never makes fully clear so we had to just make some assumptions while playing. Once you finally comprehend what the designers were trying to say the game is not difficult, but the game could have done a much better job making it more clear from the get go.
Like all card games The Dukes of Hazzard Card Game also relies on quite a bit of luck. There technically is some strategy to the game. If you make bad decisions you will hurt your chances of winning. The strategy for the most part is really obvious though where there aren’t any tough decisions to make. As your decisions don’t play a big role in the outcome of the game, this means that luck is likely to play a big role in who ultimately wins. Some cards are better than others as some actions are more powerful and some character cards are worth more points than others. Most of the luck just comes from getting the right character cards at the right times to be able to make melds. You also need to hope that the other players don’t mess with you too much.
While it helps with the game relying so much on luck, I have to say that I didn’t like how quickly the rounds went. Maybe players just got really lucky, but most rounds only took a couple minutes to complete. While this is better than rounds taking forever, rounds seemed to end almost as quickly as they began. If the game would have actually had strategy, it wouldn’t have mattered as you wouldn’t have had enough time to actually implement a strategy. Quite a few rounds ended with players being able to get rid of all of the cards from their hand within 3-4 turns. This regularly left at least one player losing a lot of points as they couldn’t get rid of most of their cards. I wouldn’t want the hands to be too much longer as the game would then drag quite a bit, but the hands are so short that it feels like the game never really gets going.
As for the game’s theme, you can tell pretty quickly that The Dukes of Hazzard Card Game was mostly created in order to make a quick buck off of fans of the show. The theme has very little impact on the actual gameplay. The only slight impact it has is it gives the game an excuse to split the character cards into “good” and “bad” groups which determine how melds are created. Otherwise you could change the theme and it would have no impact on the gameplay. The game mostly uses the franchise for theming. All of the cards are based off of characters from the show. The artwork on the cards is not bad as they seem to resemble the characters quite well (coming from someone who never watched the show). Fans of the show may appreciate the artwork, but the game doesn’t really offer much else to them.
Should You Buy The Dukes of Hazzard Card Game?
I can’t say that I had high expectations for The Dukes of Hazzard Card Game, but I hoped that the game being made by the makers of UNO would defy my odds. Unfortunately the game ended up being pretty much what I expected it to be, a cheap cash-in on the Dukes of Hazzard franchise. The game attempts to take a pretty basic Rummy game and combine it with some of the unique cards from UNO. The Rummy and the UNO elements on their own are fine and are kind of fun. The game is also quite easy to play once you figure out the overly complicated rulebook. The problem is the two mechanics don’t really work all that well together where you are left with wanting to play the individual games instead. The game also relies on a lot of luck and rounds end surprisingly quick. The game’s artwork utilizes The Dukes of Hazzard theme pretty well, but the gameplay is barely changed by it.
I personally didn’t really care for The Dukes of Hazzard Card Game. Unless the theme or premise really intrigues you, I don’t think it will be for you either. Those that are either big fans of the The Dukes of Hazzard or think the idea of combining UNO and Rummy mechanics together sounds really interesting, may enjoy The Dukes of Hazzard Card Game and should consider picking up the game.
Buy The Dukes of Hazzard Card Game online: eBay. Any purchases made through these links (including other products) help keep Geeky Hobbies running. Thank you for your support.