Play Journal – Uno

Uno is one of those games that my family just loves. It was easy to learn when the boys were little and you can tweak the rules here and there to meet your own needs. We enjoyed a rousting game between 3 of us this Sunday night which was a great end to a busy day of working around the yard (thanks to my son Derek for stopping by with his chainsaw).

Uno is a simple card game with number cards from 1-9, special cards (reverse, draw two, skip) all in 1 of 4 colors. Then there are two different types of wild cards – regular and a draw 4. You start out with the typical hand (7 cards), the deck to draw from, and 1 card face up. You need to either match the cards face or the color in order to lay down a card from your hand or you can use a wild card. The object is to get rid of all the cards in your hand to win. Then you tally up the points of the cards for the other people and that is your score. Simple enough.

One of the difficulties is that the deck is huge that we have making it challenging to shuffle.The surprise always comes from how people decide to play. Will they just be keeping others from getting to Uno or will they be trying to win for themselves. Tonight my first plan was to win. BUT my son’s goal tonight was just to see how many cards he could get us to draw and keep his dad and I from getting Uno. He was quite successful in annoying his father for the first several rounds but then the cards seemed to change with Mark finally winning the game by reaching 200 points (that was the limit we set for the night because we were all tired).

Personally I love the games simple design because it is a game that families can learn to play together when the children are still young. There is a simple level of strategy involved. As children get older they will be able to decide if they want to play or hold onto a wild card when they can not match the face card. The flip side is that it is pretty limiting because of the format. Though creative players could add a depth and variety to the game. At one point in time my boys had decided that the different numbers did different things. This game the 8 was wild also. Maybe every red card counted for double points in scoring. Etc.

This game links me back to the paper that I had read earlier regarding games with exclusions and young children. This is a great game because no matter how many hands you loose you still get to play (unlike the Exploding Kittens where you had to wait for a winner before getting back in the game). It is important that all people feel involved.



  1. UNO is a game that I played a lot as a kid in the 80s and it was a game that all my friends owned. It was definitely an old standby. The only thing I remember about the play was that it could be quick and that making your opponent draw as many cards as possible was one of the goals – which makes sense because the object is to discard everything. It was always fun, but I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much as an adult. I agree with you that it’s a great game to play with kids!

  2. This is a great post. I love the game the game too. What I really liked about your observation is the factor of involvement of all players at all time. Just as video games have key factors that they are designed around, such as visuals, rewards system, motivation factors, etc. the card games have such targets as well. And I think you are right about this one, involvement is definitely a key in order to keep players engaged.

  3. Did your son decide 8 was wild too because of crazy 8s? I haven’t played a game like Uno in a while, and I agree it can be quite refreshing to play something simple that everyone can understand.

    I find it interesting that your son played a “meta game” of annoying your husband. Do you feel that your husband focuses less on the game because of it?

    I agree with you that all people should be involved. I really don’t like games where people are eliminated unless the game is rather short.

  4. I have played a lot of this game over the past 5 years, except in UNO Attack form. There is a battery operated device that holds the cards and shoots them out when you push the button sometimes. It’s random. You would think the game would take forever since there is potential to draw many cards but they offer an “exchange” hand card and a card that allows you to place all of the same color in the discard pile. This allows play for someone to potentially go out quickly. I really like the fun of this version by the addition of the cards spitting out at people and potential for someone to be robbed of their UNO by trade hands. It’s grievous! But the design of UNO is really to grief! So when you mentioned your son grieving your husband, it really spoke to the spirit of the game. The limiting factor of the original game is that you can only grief the person directly adjacent to you in turn. However with UNO Attack, there are cards where you can choose a penalty to be played on any player. So I think some of the “limiting” factors have been overcome in new versions of the game. There are at least 2 updated attack versions that I know of with a couple different cards. Thanks for sharing your UNO experience with us!

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