Much like Monopoly, Uno is regarded as one of the games that destroy friendships, as players would often be caught off-guard as to what their opponents will do during their turn, and most of these surprising moves are all about making others suffer by preventing them in winning the game. Uno seems like a simple game to play, but there is a lot of strategies found within it, but before we get into discussing the mechanics and intricacies of Uno, let us first take a look at the story of how the popular card game came to be.
The Uno card game was invented in 1971 by Merle Robbins, who worked as a barber in Reading, Ohio. According to Robbins, Uno is heavily based on an old card game called Crazy Eights, but he added special cards into the deck to make the game more fun to play. These special cards include Skip cards, Reverse cards, Draw Two cards, and Wild Draw Four cards.
After playing the game numerous times with family and friends, Robbins decided that he should start selling his game so that other people can play it. Robbins then shelled out $8,000 to produce 5,000 copies of Uno that he can sell in stores.
Upon realizing the potential of Uno to become one of the biggest card games in the market, businessman and funeral parlor owner Robert Tezak bought the rights of Uno to Robbins for $50,000 and royalties of 10 cents per game sold. Tezak eventually founded International Game, Inc. in 1981, but in 1992, the company was acquired by the Mattel family of companies, who also owns other well-known games like Pictionary and Apples to Apples.
For this Uno guide, we will be using the set of rules found on the Uno Classic Edition for reference. To start a game of Uno, players must first pick someone who will shuffle the cards and will distribute seven cards to each participant. After shuffling and distributing the cards, the chosen player must then turn over the card at the top of the pile and place it facing up on the table.
The card that was drawn will determine which color or number on a card the player to the left will have to place on top of the drawn card. If the card is blue and it has the number 5 printed on it, the player to the left must place a card that has the same color or the same color as the first card.
However, if the card that was drawn at the top of the deck is a Wild card, the player to the left must choose a color available to him or her and place a card with the same color. If it is a Wild Draw Four card, it will have to go to the bottom of the deck face down, and the player who drew the card at the top will have to do it again.
If Draw Two is the card drawn, the first player to the left must draw two cards and skips his or her turn. If the drawn card at the top is a Skip card, the player to the left must skip his or her turn, and if it is a Reverse card, the one who drew the card must go first, and the game will start in a counterclockwise manner. These rules for the action cards, except for the Wild and the Wild Draw Four cards, will also work anytime during gameplay.
The goal of a round of Uno is for players to discard all of the cards on his or her hands as fast as possible, and whoever gets to shed all of his cards will be the first to get points.
In order for the players to discard all cards on their hands, they must be able to match at least one card in their possession to the color or number of the card at the top of the face-up pile. As mentioned previously, there are also special action cards that are going to be used by players to stop others from moving or to add more cards to their hands.
A player can use a Wild card at any time during his or her turn, and once that card is used, he or she must then decide the color that the next player needs to discard. The same rule cannot be applied to Wild Draw Four cards, as the player can only drop this card if he or she does not have cards that will match the color on the pile.
But if the Wild Draw Four card is applicable, then the next player must draw four cards after the color is assigned. The player who will draw four cards can challenge the opposing player to see if he or she really doesn’t have any cards that are matching the same color on the pile. If the challenger is right in his or her suspicions, then the Wild Draw Four card’s second effect will not continue, but the current player must still choose a color.
Once a player is down to only one card on his or her hand, then that player must shout “Uno!” If the player fails to do it, other players may call him or her out, and that player must draw two cards.
If one player is able to discard all cards on-hand successfully, then a scoring session will be conducted. The points that the player gets for the round will depend on how many cards the opponents have and also their card type.
- Cards 0 to 9 – face value
- Skip, Reverse, and Draw Two cards – 20 points each
- Wild and Wild Draw 4 cards – 50 points each
The player who first gets 500 points wins the game.
Popular Editions and Variants
Besides the original version of UNO, there are also plenty of variants and special editions to choose from. Here are some popular ones that you can buy online.
Uno Flip is a more exciting and challenging version of the original Uno because of its interesting mechanics of flipping over its cards to reveal an entirely new set of colors, numbers, and actions. To enable this feature, a player must first discard a FLIP card, and once that is placed on the pile, the deck must be flipped as well as the cards on each player’s hand. On the FLIP side, players will be able to access new action cards like Skip Everyone and Wild Draw Five.
Uno Dare adds an exciting twist to the game by adding dares to the Add Two and the new Wild Add Two cards. Players who are punished with the said cards may either draw two cards from the deck or do the dare indicated by the number in the middle of the cards. Players can choose which set of dares they want to play, and these sets include Family, Daredevil, Show-Off, and a special House Rules set where they can write their own dares. Each set contains 16 dares in total.
The perfect version of Uno for pool parties, Uno Splash contains waterproof plastic cards that can be played while in a pool or just on the shore of the beach. As opposed to the paper cards found in the regular version, these waterproof cards will be able to retain their shape and color no matter how much water is poured or splash into them. To make them easier to carry during trips, there are holes in two corners of the cards where you can insert the take-along clip that bundles all the cards together. You can also place the take-along clip on your backpack, and the cards will look like cool keychains.
The Uno Retro Edition features cards with the same layout and designs as the original ones back in the 70s. During that period, the symbols for the action cards were not created yet; instead, they only used words and the first letter of those words for those cards. The back of each card in this version also features the first logo made for Uno, which has a simple white font color and the red, yellow, blue, and green stripes at the bottom that indicates the colors shown in the cards.
Dos is the sequel card game to Uno that has its own set of rules. In this game, two to four players can compete against each other to see who will get the most points by matching the cards on the face-up pile. However, instead of only having one face-up pile like in Uno, Dos has two face-up piles to make the game faster. The first player to earn 200 points will win the game.
Uno Emoji replaces the biggest numbers on each card with funny emojis that will surely add more joy to the players while playing the game. The emojis printed on the card include the heart-shaped eye emoji, the thumbs-up emoji, the poop emoji, and the wink emoji. The same rules for the original version still apply for this edition.
Similar to the Emoji version, the Uno Minecraft Edition plays just like a regular Uno, but the big numbers on the cards are replaced with popular characters and enemies from Minecraft, a popular video game developed by Mojang. The card on this edition also features the iconic pixel-style colors found in Minecraft.
The next edition is the Uno Incredibles 2, which has images of all the heroes and villains seen in the Incredibles 2 movie produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. It plays like a normal Uno game, but it has an added Screen Slaver card that allows the player who discarded it to give two cards to one opponent. The Screen Slaver card also serves as a Wild Card, so the player can change the color indicated on the pile once he or she sheds the card.
The Uno Harry Potter edition features familiar characters from the popular book series and movie franchise created by J.K Rowling. This edition can be played using the regular rules, but players can choose to include the exclusive Sorting Hat card, which allows one player to choose an opponent that will keep drawing on the deck each turn until he or she draws the Gryffindor card. If he or she finally draws the Gryffindor card, the Sorting Hat’s effect will be lifted.
This version of UNO showcases the various characters seen in the Super Mario video game franchise by Nintendo, which are Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser, and many more. Each card shows an image of a Super Mario character, and at the back of the cards, players will see the familiar bricks at the back of the UNO logo. The back of the cards also features the Super Mario logo at the lower right corner. The set of rules for this edition is the same as the one used for the original version.
The Uno Legend of Zelda edition features another classic Nintendo franchise, but instead of having the same rules as the regular version like the Super Mario variant, this edition has an exclusive card called the Wild Triforce Card. Once the Wild Triforce Card is discarded in the face-up pile, the player who owned the card must choose one opponent, and that opponent will then have to discard one card that has a Triforce symbol on it in the face-up pile. Not all cards have the Triforce symbol on it, so if the opponent does not have the correct card, he or she must draw three cards on the deck.
Uno Attack Mega Hit is a faster and more engaging version of Uno that lets players use the included random card shooter to spit out cards on the table. Uno Attack can be played using the original rules, but players can also add the Attack! Attack! action card on the deck to utilize the card shooter. If a player draws the said card on the deck, then that player will have to move the card shooter and face it in front of him or her. The card shooter may then shoot out a random amount of cards, or it may not even shoot any card at all. If it does shoot cards, then the player must take all of them on his or her hand.
This edition contains not only Uno, but other classic card games published by Mattel, such as Phase 10 and Snappy Dressers. In Phase 10, players would have to show correct sets of cards in order to reach the 10th phase of the round and win the game, and in Snappy Dressers, they would have to match the clothes cards with the animal cards and see which player made the most number of correct matches. All of these games are contained within a tin box that neatly separates the cards for each game.
Made in collaboration between Mattel and the World’s Smallest brand, the World’s Smallest Uno contains cards that have almost the same size as a penny, although it is slightly bigger. Those who are finding wacky ways of playing Uno may like this edition, as it even comes with the smallest copy of the modern Uno card game.
All in all, Uno is a great card game that has simple mechanics and fun gameplay elements that can be played by people of all ages. But get ready to get your friendships ruined or built back up while you play this party game with friends or loved ones, as it can get very competitive the longer you play.