Airing from 1962 to 1971 on CBS, The Beverly Hillbillies was a pretty popular show for quite a few years. The basic premise behind the show was that a family from the Ozarks struck oil on their land and used their newfound riches to move to Beverly Hills. I have to say that I have never been much of a fan of the series. It was created over two decades before I was born, and the premise never particularly interested me. Outside of a few snippets here and there I don’t think I have ever seen an episode of the show. In total The Beverly Hillbillies had two board games made for it with both coming out in 1963. Today I am looking at Set Back: The Beverly Hillbillies Card Game. Set Back: The Beverly Hillbillies Card Game shares little in common with its namesake as it is instead content with being just another generic trick taking game.
How to Play Set Back: The Beverly Hillbillies Card Game
You can actually play two different games with Set Back: The Beverly Hillbillies Card Game. These games are Hillbilly Bridge and Set Back. I have outlined the rules for both games below:
- To determine the first dealer each player will draw a card. The player that draws the highest red card will be the first dealer. The role of dealer will pass clockwise throughout the game.
- Each player is given the following chips:
- 2 blue (10 chip units each)
- 2 red (5 chip units each)
- 5 white (1 chip unit each)
Playing the Game
Set Back: The Beverly Hillbillies Card Game is played over four rounds. Each round begins with each player putting chips into the pot in the middle of the table. The number of chip units that each player will put into the pot depends on the number of players:
- 2 players: 6 chip units each
- 3 players: 4 chip units each
- 4 players: 3 chip units each
- 5 players: 2 chip units each
- 6 players: 2 chip units each
The current dealer will shuffle all of the cards and deals ten cards to each player in 2-4 player games, eight cards in five player games, and seven cards in six player games.
Each player will pick up their cards and look at them. The cards should be sorted by color to make the rest of the round move quicker.
To start the first Trick/hand the dealer will choose one of the cards from their hand to play face up on the table. The color of the card that the dealer plays is considered the “lead color”.
The next player clockwise will then play a card trying to follow the lead color until all of the players have played a card. The player who plays the highest number of the lead color wins the trick. They will take all of the cards that were played, and will place them face down in front of themselves to indicate that they won a Trick. This player will then play the first card to start the next Trick.
In order to win a Trick a player usually has to follow the lead color chosen by the first player. If a player does not have a card that matches the lead color, they can play any other color. No matter what number they play though, they won’t be able to win the Trick unless they play a red card.
While players can normally only win a Trick if they played a card that matched the lead color, there is one exception. All red cards in the game are considered Trump. Therefore whenever a red card is played it will automatically beat any cards other than red cards that are a higher number.
If a player starts a Trick with a red card all of the other players must play a red card if they can. The player who plays the largest red card will win the Trick.
End of Round
The round ends when the players have played all of the cards from their hands.
Each player will get to take one chip from the pot in the middle of the table for each Trick they win. The rules do not clarify if this means one chip or one chip unit. As some chips are more valuable than others, the rules also don’t specify who gets to take chips from the pot first.
Any chips that aren’t taken by the players will stay in the pot to form a “nest egg”.
The next round then begins with the next player clockwise becoming the dealer.
End of Game
After four rounds have been played the game ends. All of the players count up their chips. The player with the most chips wins the game. The rules don’t clarify if this is chips or chip units. This player will also receive all of the chips in the nest egg in order to increase their overall score.
Set Back follows the same rules as Hillbilly Bridge with a few additions. These changes are outlined below in the relevant sections.
- Each player adds three chips to the pot in the middle of the table before the game begins.
Playing the Game
After each player is dealt the cards for the round they will decide how many Tricks they think they will win. One player will write down each players’ bid.
The player that bid the highest, or the first to make the highest bid, will get to start the round by playing the first card.
Players must follow the lead color if they can.
Red cards are still Trump, but they can only be played if the player doesn’t have a card of the color lead.
The 1 and 9 red cards are special in the game. When a player wins a Trick with one of these cards they can choose to either keep the Trick or give it to another player. They must make this decision immediately after winning the Trick.
End of Round
At the end of the round each player will compare the number of Tricks they won to the number they bid at the beginning of the round.
Each player that exactly matched their bid will get to take that number of chips from the pot. The rules don’t specify who gets to take chips first. They will also score the corresponding number of points.
Those that bid too high or low will have to put one chip into the pot for each Trick that they bid at the beginning of the round.
End of Game
The first player to total exactly ten points wins the game. They will take all of the chips left in the pot to add to their final score.
My Thoughts on Set Back: The Beverly Hillbillies Card Game
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I never really had any strong feelings either way about The Beverly Hillbillies. Therefore outside of the show’s basics I know very little about it. Honestly this doesn’t really matter as the game has very little to do with the show in the first place. This is not all that surprising as most board games from the 1960s based on a license had very little to do with the theme. The theme for Set Back: The Beverly Hillbillies Card Game has absolutely no impact on the actual gameplay. If you would take the theme away from the game and replace it with anything else, you wouldn’t even notice the difference with regards to the gameplay.
The only area where the theme comes into play at all is with the components. Basically all of the cards in the game feature a picture of one of the characters from the show. The characters are basically the same except for the Jed cards which beat all of the other cards in the game. The pictures feels like they were taken for publicity shots for the show and then used for the cards as well. The cardstock is pretty typical for the era. Otherwise the game comes with some basic chips and the instructions/scoresheets. Ultimately the components are pretty much what you would expect from a card game from the 1960s. There is nothing special about the components, but I think fans of the series will enjoy them.
Since Set Back: The Beverly Hillbillies Card Game doesn’t really have anything to do with the theme, what does it play like? For the most part the game plays like your typical trick taking game. Basically each round consists of a number of tricks. Each trick is lead with a card. All of the players have to play a card that matches the color of the lead card if they have one. If they don’t they can play a card of any color. The player who plays the largest number of the lead color will win the trick unless someone plays a Jed card. In this case the player who plays the highest Jed card will win the game. The ultimate goal is to win as many tricks as possible as the player who wins the most will be the winner.
For the most part Set Back: The Beverly Hillbillies Card Game feels like your typical trick taking game. Outside of a few minor differences mostly dealing with the chips, there is no difference between this game and almost every other game from the genre. This is not a huge surprise as licensed games from the past were not particularly original when it came to the gameplay as they mostly just took an established game and slapped the theme on top of it. This is in many ways exactly what Set Back: The Beverly Hillbillies Card Game is. For this reason your opinion of the game is likely going to be very similar to your typical trick taking game.
As for my opinion of the game I found it to be decent, but nothing special. On the positive side the game it is quite easy to play. Players basically just take turns playing cards with the player playing the highest card winning the trick. Anyone familiar with the genre will likely be able to pick it up almost immediately. The game has a recommended age of 10+, but I think it could go a couple years younger. On top of this Set Back: The Beverly Hillbillies Card Game is one of those games that you don’t have to put too much thought into what you are doing. Outside of the player who is playing the first card in a trick, it is usually pretty obvious what card every other player should play. If you want a game that you can basically play while turning off your brain, this game will do a decent job.
The problem is that there isn’t much strategy or skill to the game. There are mainly two things that determine how well you will do in the game. First is luck. What cards you are dealt are likely going to make a big difference in how well you do in the game. This is mostly because there is a clear hierarchy to the cards. Higher cards are better than lower cards, and Jed cards are the best as they beat all of the other cards. If you are dealt a bad hand of cards there is nothing you can do no matter how good your strategy is.
The other thing that impacts your fate is your ability to read the other players. Unless you are literally dealt all of the best cards, you aren’t going to win every trick in a round. Therefore you need to pick and choose which tricks you are going to try and win. Remembering which cards have already been played is obviously helpful. Figuring out what the other players are going to do is quite helpful as well though. You don’t want to play a high card just for another player to beat you. You also don’t want to waste a high card if everyone else plays low cards. Basically your goal is to play a card that only slightly wins you the trick. There is a little strategy to this element of the game, but it is not as prominent as the reliance on luck.
For this reason I would probably recommend using the Set Back rules. The game is still going to rely on quite a bit of luck, but each player has a little more control over their fate due to each player betting on how many tricks they think they will win. Basically players have to analyze their cards and decide how many tricks they think they will win. Then during the game each player has to selectively pick which tricks they will try to win so they exactly match the amount they bid. This creates an interesting dilemma as players are going to try to purposefully lose tricks and help other players win tricks so they don’t match their bids. In many cases you don’t really have that much control over whether you win or lose a trick though, so you better hope that you guessed correctly at the beginning of the game.
So the one thing that Set Back: The Beverly Hillbillies Card Game adds to your typical trick taking game is the chips. I have to say that this element of the game is by far the most confusing element of the game as the game doesn’t do a particularly good job of explaining these rules. Sometimes the game refers to chips, sometimes chip units, and other times points. I had a hard time interpreting exactly what was meant by several sections of the rules. The rules were confusing to the point where I didn’t really know whether the chip units really even mattered. Based on my interpretation of the rules it felt like the chip units were only used to determine how many chips to put in the pot and to determine players final scores at the end of the game. If this is actually the right interpretation I don’t even understand the point of different values as it would have been easier to just have all of the chips be the same value. Maybe someone else has a different interpretation of the rules as I would be grateful for a comment to verify that I interpreted these rules correctly.
Should You Buy Set Back: The Beverly Hillbillies Card Game ?
In many ways Set Back: The Beverly Hillbillies Card Game is pretty much exactly what you would expect from a 1960s card game based on a television show. The game has next to nothing to do with the show outside of using artwork from the show on the cards. Instead the game feels like just another generic trick taking game. Most of the mechanics are exactly the same as every other trick taking game. The game has a little strategy and doesn’t require a lot of thought. It mostly just relies on card draw luck though. The only thing where the game differs is with the chips. These rules don’t add much to the game though, and are written so poorly that it is hard to figure out what exactly you are supposed to do with them.
My recommendation comes down to your feelings towards the theme and trick taking games in general. If you aren’t a huge fan of trick taking games or could care less about The Beverly Hillbillies, I see no reason why you would enjoy the game. If you enjoy trick taking games though and are a fan of the show, there may be enough to Set Back: The Beverly Hillbillies Card Game to warrant picking it up for a good price.