Add a little color to a standard deck of playing cards, reheat the classic game of Crazy Eights, and you get the game of Uno, a game that dominated the seventies and eighties. Fast forward a couple of decades, and you can’t swing a mongoose in a supermarket’s gaming aisle without hitting an Uno spin-off or derivative.
We’ll get back to Uno in a bit, but first, we have to cover some tech speak.
The Fiddly Bits
Designer: Merle Robbins
Date Released: 1971
Number of Players: 2-10
Age Range: 6 and up
Setup Time: none
Play Time: as much as 30 minutes
Players empty their hands and catch opposing players with cards in their hands, which scores the players points. Players take turns, attempting to play a card from their hand that matches, in either color or number, the topmost card on the discard pile. If you’re unable to play, you draw a card from the draw pile, and if you’re still unable to play, you pass your turn. If you have one card in your hand, you have to say “Uno,” or if another player catches you before saying Uno, you have to draw more cards into your hand. Play continues until someone has 100 points, and then the player with the least points wins.
Did I say Uno is the commercial version of Crazy Eights? I did? Well, it bears repeating. Sure, Uno adds wild and special cards to jazz up the gameplay, but it doesn’t venture too far from the basic rules.
I enjoyed playing Uno as a kid. The gameplay had plenty of gotcha and take that moments, but as a result of those moments, luck played more of a role than anything else. It’s still an okay filler game – or an appetizer game that you can play while you wait for the gaming main course – but it doesn’t hold my interest as it once did.
And if you find yourself on the receiving end of a lot of those gotcha and take that moments, you’ll grumble your way through a game where you don’t get to play much. The game plays you. There’s nothing worse than to get skipped, and you almost get your next turn but don’t because the player in front of you plays a reverse card. Or worse yet, the dreaded Wild, Draw Four card. Thanks.
Uno plays up to ten people, so it could serve as a party game, but there are plenty of other games that have surpassed it. Uno remains a filler game for me. But make sure you rub your lucky rabbit’s foot, hang your horseshoe in the right manner and eat your Lucky Charms. You’re gonna need all the luck you can get.
Like Crazy Eights before it, Uno relies too much on luck to be anything more than a mixed bag of a filler game.