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How to Play the Card Game Called Bastard (Also Known as Shithead, Shed, Palace or Karma)

Marianne is a writer from the United Kingdom who enjoys card-game strategies.

How to Play the Card Game Called Bastard (Also Known as Shithead, Shed, Palace or Karma)

How to Play the Card Game Called Bastard (Also Known as Shithead, Shed, Palace or Karma)

There are many different versions of this card game, so it's possible that your friends do know how to play, they just call it something different! The game is played in many countries across the world. It is simple and easy to play once you have the hang of it. The main thing you must do is agree on what rules you are playing from the start to avoid arguments halfway through because one of the players knows different rules.

The Basic Rules of 'Bastard'

The basic rules for playing the game are below, with details of some of the variations you might want to try at the end.

Supplies

  • You need standard sets of 52 playing cards.
  • If between 2 and 4 people are playing use one pack of cards.
  • If between 4 and 9 people are playing use two packs of cards.

Dealing of the Cards

  1. Shuffle the cards.
  2. Deal 3 cards face down in front of each player.
  3. Deal 3 cards face up on top of the cards you have just dealt.
  4. If there are more than 3 players, deal out 3 cards for each .player
  5. If there are less than 3 players, deal out 5 cards
  6. Put the remaining cards in a pile in the middle
Layout of the cards

Layout of the cards

How to Decide Who Starts

The player who gets to start is the first person who says they have a card of the value 3 in their hand. If no player has a 3, it is the person who has a 4, if no 4 then the player who has a 5, and so on. If more than 1 player has a 3, then go with the person nearest to the left of the dealer.

Moving

  1. The first person must start a pile of cards face up in the centre. They must play a card from their hand (or any number of cards of the same value in the centre).
  2. Once they have played a card they must pick up another card from the face down pile in the centre, so that they always have 5 (or 3) cards in their hand.
  3. The next player to the left must play a card that beats the previous card in the centre. If they cannot beat the card in the centre they must pick up the face up pile of cards, and it is the turn of the next person to the left.

What Cards You Can Play to Beat Another Card

The basic rule is that you must play cards of the same value, or higher than the player before you. For example, if the player before you plays a 6, you must play a 6's or higher. If you have more than one card of the same value you can play them together. Aces are high. Suits do not matter.

Some cards also have special properties, and you can play the game with different variations of the rules. (It is important to agree on these in advance of playing).

For the first time I recommend using:

  • 10: burns the pack—this means that you can play a 10 on anything, and all the cards in the pile in the centre are removed from the game.
  • 2: can be played on anything
  • 4 of a kind: burns the pack—if someone plays 4 cards of the same value all the cards in the pile in the centre are removed from the game

Winning the Game

Once the pack of cards in the centre, and a player has no more free cards in their hand, they can start playing the 3 face-up cards that were dealt to them at the beginning.

Only once the 3 face-up cards have all been successfully played, can the 3 face-down cards be played. These must be played blind, and if they do not beat the card in the centre, the deck in the middle must be picked up. The winner is the first person to have no cards left.

Variations on the Rules

You can give other cards special properties. Remember to agree on what variations you are playing with at the start. It is usually best to have 3 or 4 special cards.

  • 7s are invisible: This means you can play a 7 on any other card, and the person who takes a turn next to you must play a card that beats the card before the 7.
  • 8 or wait: This means the player who takes a turn next must either play an 8 or skip a turn.
  • 8 wait: This can mean that the player next to you skips a turn.
  • 9 or lower: This means the player whose next turn it is must play a 9 or lower value card.
  • Jack back: This reverses the order of play.
The four suits of playing cards are spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs. Bastard is unusual amongst card games as the suit of the cards do not really matter. It is the values that count.

The four suits of playing cards are spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs. Bastard is unusual amongst card games as the suit of the cards do not really matter. It is the values that count.

Questions & Answers

Question: What’s an ace worth in Bastard?

Answer: Aces are high, so you can only play another Ace on an Ace, or one of the special cards that you can play on any card like a 2 or a 10. (sometimes others depending what rules you play)

Question: Since you can play multiple cards of the same number if you're using an "invisible" do they count as 1 card in the cardgame Bastard? Ex. A king is played and I have two 7's that I put down. Is the next player beating the king or now a 7? Also, can an invisible card be played on another invisible card? The player before me puts down a king. I can't beat it so I put down a 7. Can the player after me put down a 7 also?

Answer: If you are playing with the rule that 7s are invisible, they are always invisible. So if you put down two or three 7's on a King the next player needs to beat the King. However you can play invisible cards on other invisible cards so if you play a 7 on a King, the next player can also play a 7.

If 4 7's are played together or in a row they burn the pack.

Question: Can you put down the same card after picking it up in Bastard?

Answer: If you have to pick up the center pile, then it moves on to the next person's turn so you don't get a chance to put the same card down after picking it up.

Question: What happens when you play a 2?

Answer: You can play a 2 on any card, and it resets the value the next player needs to play, i.e. the next player can play any card because it is worth more than a 2.

Question: When an ace is played during the card game Bastard, and there are no options for further play, what happens?

Answer: If no one can play on top of an Ace (or any other card) the pile of cards in the centre is picked up by the player whose turn it is.

Question: While playing Bastard, can you burn a deck with 4 of a kind with a 7 in between?

Answer: Yes, if you are playing that 7s are invisible.

Question: While playing the Bastard card game, If I play four of a kind on top of a card that is higher then the four of a kind does it still blow up the pile? Example pack of 3's on top of a 4 or higher.

Answer: If you play 4 of a kind it always blows up the pack (although I call it burning the pack). You can't play four 3's on top of a 4 though because they are lower, but you could play four 4's or four of any kind on top of a 3 to burn the pack.

Question: When playing "Bastard" card game, if you have more than 5 cards in your hand, do you still draw a card?

Answer: No, if you are playing where each player has 5 cards in the hand you would only draw when you have less than 5 cards.

Question: What happens when you play a 3 while playing the card game Bastard?

Answer: If you follow the rules I play 3's are not special cards, so they don't do anything special -although the next player can play any card as everything is higher than a 3 apart from a 2 which can go on anything!

Some people play variations where 3's are special cards though. For example, 3's are invisible. This means that if the card played before the 3 was say a king the next person has to play as if the last card was a king - the 3 makes no difference. I've also heard of 3's meaning the next player has to pick up the pack, but no doubt some people play other rules involving 3's too.

Question: Can you put a queen on top of a king while playing Bastard?

Answer: No, a king is higher value than a queen.

Question: Can you play four of a kind on any card to burn the pack or do you have to have a higher value of the card?

Answer: You should have a higher value for the card.

(I know some people play where 4 of a kind can be played on anything, but I think it makes the game boring).

Question: Can a king be put on an ace in Bastard?

Answer: No, Aces are high.

Question: When playing the card game Bastard and two players are out of cards and the pile in middle has a king and none of the face-up cards can beat the stack, what do you do?

Answer: I understand that you mean the 2 players no longer have cards in their hand, but still have cards face up in front of them. If the player whose turn it is can't beat the card in the middle from the face down cards, they will need to pick up the pile in the middle. So in this case the player would pick up the king. The next player would then take their turn - if they only have face up cards they can play any of them.

Question: How does play move on after someone placed a 2?

Answer: Play moves on to the next player. They can play any card on top of a 2.

Question: When playing the card game, Bastard, if you say pick up 20 cards on the next go when you lay your card do you still need to pick up one from the deck?

Answer: No, you only need to pick up if you would have less than 3 cards (or 5 if playing with 5 cards in hand)

Question: If you burn the deck do you play another card?

Answer: Yes, you get to go again after burning the pack.

Question: What does the joker do in bastard?

Answer: Normally you would remove the jokers from the pack and not use them. However, if you wanted to, you could keep the jokers and make them do something. I've seen some rules where the jokers change the direction of play.

Question: When playing bastard, who plays next after a 10 is played--the player who played the 10 or the next player?

Answer: The player who played the 10.

Question: Can you put a 7 on top of an ace when playing the card game Bastard?

Answer: If you are playing with the rule that 7’s are invisible, yes you can, otherwise no.

Question: Can you use 4 of any kind to burn the deck when playing Bastard?

Answer: Yes, if you play 4 of any kind in a row it always burns the pack.

Question: The 3 cards on top, can you rearrange them with the cards in your hand at the beginning?

Answer: I think this is one of those rule variations you need to agree with the other players. I've usually played it with the rules that you can rearrange at the beginning, but I think it makes for a better more challenging game if you can't.

Question: How do you know who plays the first card after someone has picked up the cards in Bastard?

Answer: It doesn't make a difference to turns when someone has picked up the cards, as you always go round in a circle taking turns. You normally go around clockwise and take turns, so it would always be the next person to your left. If someone has played a card that reverses the direction of play though you might be going anti-clockwise so it would be the next person to your right.

Question: Can you win the card game Bastard with a 10?

Answer: Yes, you can.

Question: So each time you place a card you have to take another card from the pile?

Answer: Yes, until the pile runs out.

Question: If you play 2 of a kind do you go again?

Answer: No, play moves to the next player.

Question: Can you play a 9 on a high card in Bastard?

Answer: It's up to you what rules you play as long as you agree with the other players. I have played Bastard when 9 can be played on any card and then the next player must play 9 or lower.

However I've also played where you can only play a 9 like normal, and the next player must play 9 or lower. I prefer this way personally as I think it makes the game more challenging.

Comments

Amy Southgate on March 12, 2019:

I just want to know how to play shit head/basterd properly the way my town plays is 10 burns 2 go on anything 7 u can put on anything except an ace but u after go lower also when u av been dealt ur hand and u get ur three u can change what u av on the cards faceing up nd also add to the pile for example if I av a another 2 u can add it to my ones facing up!!!