I do not remember a time when I did not love UNO. It is a simple card game, yet there are so many different rules and variations that can be applied, that there are myriad ways to play which can easily be adapted to younger children or over-enthusiastic adults.
Over the years, I slowly brought Francois over from being a sceptic to almost (almost!) outmatching my love of the game. Now, we play everywhere, anywhere, anytime – in the line waiting to board a bus, in airports, in cars if we’re stuck in traffic, at the back of a cab, in hospital if we happen to end up there (as happened in Bali) – and it always leads to laughter, disbelief at one’s luck or lack thereof, and, well, happiness.
Here are our rules, as requested by some friends who were brought into the UNO folds during our travels (Claire, I’m looking at you!):
Basic Rules (skip ahead if you know these already)
There are four colors: yellow, red, blue, green. Each color has numbers 0-9 and special cards such as arrows (reverse the order of players), barred cards (next player cannot play), +2 (next player takes two cards). There are also black cards: four colors (player can choose which color is played), and four colors +4 (player can choose which color is played and the next player must take four cards).
In a regular game, seven cards are dealt to each player and the first card played comes from the top of the rest of the deck which is placed face down as the “draw deck”. The objective is to get rid of your cards. You can play either the same number or color as what is on the played pile, or a black card.
If you have nothing to play, you must draw a card.
When a player has two cards left and plays one, he must say “UNO!” or suffer a penalty. The winner is the player who gets rid of all his cards first.
If a player cannot play, he must draw a card. If it is a card he can play, he is allowed to do so.
If someone plays a +2, the next player can either take two cards or – if s/he has a +2 – play a +2 which means the next player must take FOUR cards as these cards are cumulative (or six or eight, etc., as the case may be).
The same as the above applies to the +4 card.
A +2 cannot be played in response to a +4 and vice versa.
You cannot finish on a black card.
If someone plays a “0”, everyone must pass their cards to the next player for an all-around swap which respects the order of players (i.e. if the game is going clockwise, you give your cards to the player on your left and take the cards of the player on your right).
If someone plays a “7”, they can choose whether or not they swap cards with any specific player. They must state this intention before the next card is played or they lose the opportunity for a swap.
If a player has two cards and plays one, s/he must say “UNO!” – if someone else says “UNO!” on his or her behalf before s/he does, the penalty is to take 10 cards from the draw pile. (Variations include taking 2 cards, boring, or the whole deck that has already been played which is utterly unmanageable if rather entertaining.)
If a player has exactly the same card as has just been played, e.g. a red two has been played and s/he also has a red two, s/he can “jump in” and play the card even if it is not his or her turn. Then the player that comes after whoever just jumped in gets to play (so in a larger group turns will be skipped).
By the same principle as the above, if a player has two identical cards, s/he can play them both at once.
You can of course adapt as you see fit! Just make sure you set the ground rules before starting a game or tempers will flare and friendships may be jeopardized…
Do you have different rules? Let us know your favorite twists and we’ll test them out when we next play! Or post us a picture of you playing somewhere unexpected or fun, using the tag #UNObsessed
[The header photo is a placeholder. Original photos to follow as soon as wifi allows…]