Welcome to Uno Variations!

This site is devoted to variations on the classic game of Uno. It started out as a site for gameplay variations, but has since evolved to include information on different themes of Uno as well, particularly the Special Wild cards that make each Uno set unique.

Check out the links across the top of the page for easy navigation. Here is a description of each page:

Home: Aside from containing this Welcome post, the home page contains posts for each of the Uno Variations in reverse chronological order.

Gameplay Variations: Gameplay variations are the meat of the site and this page acts as a central repository for links and basic information on each variation to help you decide what you want to try out. These variations can also be found on the Home page below this Welcome post and are linked to in the Uno Variations panel to the right of this frame (except on mobile devices).

Special Wild Cards: This page has a list of some of the different themes of Uno cards that exist as well as a picture of each of their Special Wild cards and a description of its effect. I update this page periodically as I get new sets of Uno cards. I find this page to be the most fun to work on and it is certainly the most visually appealing, so check it our.

Classic Uno Rules: If you need a refresher on the basic rules of Uno, check this page out.

Uno Editions: This is my ongoing attempt to list all of the existing versions of Uno games.

About Uno Variations: This page explains the origin of this site and has a sweet picture of part of our Uno collection.

I am always looking for new variations and other ways to expand this site, so feel free to send any comments, variations, or suggestions to UnoVariations@gmail.com.

Note: This post will remain at the top of the post list, so to see the latest posts, scroll below this Welcome post on the Home page.

Uno Variation: Three Hand Uno

Cards: 1 Uno deck (any variety)
Players: 2+ 
Time: ~10-30 min/round (depending on number of players)
Rating: 10/10

Special thanks to Alex for sending this in.

For this variation, deal 3 piles of 5 cards to each player face down.  The goal is to get rid of each of your hands of cards.

Each player will choose a starting pile and what order they will initially play the hands in (e.g. left to right).  For simplicity, it helps if the players all play the piles in the same order.  On a player's turn, he will play the hand normally, and then will set it face down and pick up the next pile to prepare for his next turn.  Play will then pass to the next player in the direction of play who will play her next pile.

Action cards only affect the next hand that will be played, not each of the player's hands.  For example, if a Draw 2 card is played, the following player will draw 2 cards into the hand that he had already picked up and was prepared to play from.  He would then set down the hand that drew 2 cards and pick up the next pile of cards to wait for his next turn.

When any of the piles of cards gets down to 1 card, that player must say "Uno."  After finishing off a pile of cards, that player continues to play and rotate hands of cards, but only rotates between the hands remaining.  The player does not treat the empty hand as if it was still in play or otherwise miss a turn when it would have been the empty hand's turn.  For a variation on this, see the note at the end of this variation.  Play continues until one person successfully gets rid of all her cards in each of her piles.

Advantages: This variation drastically changes the strategy of Uno.  It is also adds useful complexity and fun for more experienced players.  When played with players who know what they are doing and can keep track of their piles, this variation moves quickly and is extremely fun.

Disadvantages: The added complexity is not for everyone.  Playing with less-skilled players will likely lead to some frustration and will slow the game down to the point where it loses its charm.  You will also want to make sure you have a flat surface and plenty of room to deal with the extra piles of cards.

Overall: This variation is extremely fun and keeps you in the game trying to figure out how to get rid of each pile, and specifically how the other piles can help.  While some games can be long (be careful what Special Wild Card you use), in general things can move fast enough to stay interesting.  For anyone looking to add some more skill and strategy to their Uno game, this is the variation you're looking for.

Note: An extra twist you can try is to have each player take all of his turns sequentially instead of alternating with other players.  This adds another strategic element as the cards played have a direct effect on the next pile you will play (including negative effects like drawing cards).  It also acts as a catch up mechanism later in the game where players with 3 piles remaining will play 3 times in a row where their opponents may only have 1 or 2 plays in a row, depending on how many piles they have left.  The major disadvantages are that this reduces the interplay between players and slows the game down.

Uno Variation: Uno With A River

Cards: 1 Uno deck (any variety)
Players: 2+ (4+ preferred)
Time: ~5-10 min/round
Rating: 8/10

Special thanks to Joe Lindstrom for sending this in.

For this variation, deal 4 cards to each player instead of the usual 7. The dealer also places 4 cards face up next to the discard pile, which forms the "River."

This variation then plays like a traditional Uno card game except that if a card from the River can be played on the discard pile, a player may choose to play a card from the River instead of from her hand. If a player chooses to play a card from the River, he immediately replaces the played card in the River with a card from his hand. There must always be 4 cards in the River. Essentially, the River acts as a shared pool of cards that are treated as part of every person's hand (similar to Texas Hold 'Em).

The final caveat to this variation is that a player cannot play a card from the River when she only has one card left in her hand. If a player has only one card left and cannot play that card, he must draw from the Draw pile. After drawing, the player would then have two cards and would be able to play a card from the River to end his turn, if possible.

Advantages: The greatest benefit of this variation is how much it speeds up each round of play. Because of this, it is ideal for games with more people, particularly when playing with four or more players. The River also provides some new and interesting, yet easy to learn, gameplay mechanics and strategies.

Disadvantages: This variation can lead to occasional unnaturally short matches where a player is able to get rid of all her cards in only 4 turns. This is even more of an issue where only 2 people are playing.

Overall: This is a fun, simple twist that can be used to speed up otherwise long games (and can allow for games with more players). Because the variation is designed to help players get down to Uno quickly, the game can get quite tense once most players are just battling to get rid of their last card. Enjoy!

Uno Variation: Rainbow Fish

Cards: 1 Uno deck (any variety)
Players: 2+ (3-4 preferred)
Time: ~15-20 min/round
Rating: 8/10

Special thanks to Raven Patranella for sending this in.

This variation is the Uno twist to the classic game of "Go Fish."
Go Fish Rules: (those familiar with the rules of "Go Fish" can skip to the next section)
Each player is dealt 7 cards and the remaining cards are placed face down in a pile. Starting with the player to the left of the dealer, each player asks any specific player for any number card that she currently has (e.g. "Do you have any 9's?).

If the asked player has any cards of that number, he must give the asking player all of his cards of that number. The asking player then continues her turn by asking any player for another card (including the card that she just received). If the asked player does not have the requested card, he says "Go fish" and the asking player draws a card from the draw pile ("Fishing Hole") and ends her turn. In the event that a player draws the card that she just asked for, she will show that card to the other players as proof and take another turn.

If at any time during the game a player gets 4 cards of one number (a "set"), he may place the set face-up in front of him and no player can take those cards from him. Each of these sets will count as points at the end of the game (described below).

If at any time a player runs out of cards, he immediately draws 3 cards from the draw pile and continues his turn (if applicable). If a player is unable to play due to only having Skip and Reverse cards, he draws 1 card from the draw pile and ends his turn.

The game continues until the draw pile is empty and all of the number cards are on the table as sets. Once the draw pile is empty, players will simply end their turn when they are supposed to draw cards.

Uno Twists:
Each of the non-number special cards has a special effect when played. These cards are played face-up in a discard pile next to the draw pile:

Draw 2: Immediately draw 2 cards from the draw pile and continue your turn.

Wild: On your turn, play this card to request all cards of a specific color from a specific player's hand. That player must give all cards of that color, including Draw 2, Skip, and Reverse cards. If the asked player has no cards of that color, the asking player must "Go fish" and end her turn.

Wild Draw 4: Immediately draw 4 cards from the draw pile and ask a specific player for all cards of a specific color (as you would with a Wild card).

Special Wild card (if applicable): Ask all players for all cards of one specific color.

Reverse: When someone asks you for a number card or a color, play this card to turn the tables and take all of that number card or color from the asking player instead and end his turn. This card can be played in response to a Wild or Wild Draw 4 card, but not in response to a Special Wild card.

Skip: When someone asks you for a number card or a color, play this card to stop that action and end the asking player's turn. This card may be played in response to a Wild, Wild Draw 4, or Special Wild card. When played in response to a Special Wild card, it only blocks the action as to the player who played it.

Sets are worth 1 point each, except the set of the number "0," which is 3 points. If at the end of the game, a player has any Skip or Reverse cards left in his hand, those cards (regardless of how many he has) count as 5 points.

The player with the most points at the end of the game (or predetermined series of games) is the winner.

Advantages: This game is the perfect blend of the memory elements of "Go Fish" and the strategy elements of Uno. The special cards keep the game fresh and the 5 point rule for unplayed Skip and Reverse cards usually prevents a player from claiming a victory until the very end of the game.

Disadvantages: This game is slower moving than regular Uno and it can be extremely frustrating when a person gets a string of luck that makes their turn last a long time. This can be a big problem when playing with more than 4 people. The rules and strategy may also take players longer to learn (particularly the strategy behind saving Skip and Reverse cards).

Overall: Rainbow Fish is a great twist on both Uno and "Go Fish." It is also flexible enough that players can tweak the rules to find what works best for them. Happy fishing!

As a slight (but interesting) variation, you can allow Reverse cards to be stacked so that the last person to play a Reverse card receives the other player's cards of the requested number/color (compare "Stacking Draw 2s").

For shorter games, you can take out half of the cards before playing. If you do, make sure that you keep exactly 4 cards of each number so that no number cards are left over at the end of the game.

Uno Variation: Uno Mao

Cards: 1 or more Uno decks (any variety)
Players: 2+
Time: ~5-25 min/round
Rating: 9/10

The game plays just like standard Uno with three additional starting rules and many more rules that will be created throughout the game. A violation of any of these rules during the game results in a penalty where that person must draw a card. The initial three rules are:

1) If a player has the exact same card as the card on top of the discard pile, he may immediately play it out of turn and play then continues as if he had played it as his turn.

2) Whenever a player plays a green card, she must say what the card is (i.e. "Green Five").

3) There is no talking while the game is in progress. You may, however, still call penalties on other players and if discussion is needed, the game can be paused by calling a "Point of Order." You may also talk in compliance with any other rules (such as rule 2, saying "Uno," or choosing the color of play with a Wild card). During a "Point of Order," all players put down their hands and may discuss freely until the game is resumed when one player says "traditional Mao starts now." Note that if a player touches his cards during a "Point of Order," another player may call a penalty on him.

After a player wins a round by discarding her last card, she then will create a new rule that will apply in all future rounds. However, only she will initially know what the rule is. Until all players figure out the rule, that player will be solely in charge of enforcing her rule. She must comply with her rule at all times and must also consistently call penalties on others who break the rule. If she does not do either of these things, another player (who has figured out the rule) may call a penalty on her for not enforcing her rule.

There are few guidelines on rules that a player can create. Players are allowed to contradict or modify any of the initial rules (i.e. they can create a rule that penalizes a player for calling a penalty for talking, which has the effect of eliminating the no talking rule). However, they cannot create rules that contradict another player's rules. Also, rules must be generally applicable and cannot target specific individuals. Some examples of good rules are: "Wilds must be played on the bottom of the pile (and thus have no effect)," "When a player plays a Red 6, she must slap the table," or "Skip cards skip two players instead of one." The sky is the limit when it comes to new rules. Experiment to figure out what types of rules work best for you!

Advantages: Each game of Uno Mao is unique and engaging. It is really fun to create new rules and it can also be fun to try to figure out the other players' rules. This variation will be particularly rewarding for more experienced players who are looking for a challenge.

Disadvantages: There are two disadvantages to this variation. First, a bad rule can make the game really frustrating. This can be avoided if all players try to create rules that are clear and can be easily enforced (and eventually figured out). Second, rounds can take a long time to complete. As the game goes on and the rules multiply, the game gets more challenging, the penalties are more frequent, and consequently the rounds can drag on later in the game.

Overall: Because Uno Mao is different every time you play it, it has great replay value. It will challenge and entertain players and is very enjoyable as long as the players create good rules. Give it a try!

Note: Uno Mao is fun to play without any actual winners or losers (and can last until the players get bored). However, Uno Mao also works well with traditional Uno scoring to give the game more of a competitive edge.

Uno Variation: Special Card Roulette

Cards: 1 or more Uno decks (any variety); 1 or more dice; List of Special Wild card effects
Players: 2+
Time: ~10-25 min/round
Rating: 10/10

This variation is a sister variation to Special Card Showdown and it improves upon it in significant ways.

To play, you will need a complete list of Special Wild card effects to reference (condensed version, printer-friendly version). From this list, you will assign numbers to each effect (1-6). If playing with more than 6 effects (recommended), separate the effects into 6 groups (numbered 1-6) and then number the effects within those groups (1-6) (if there are extra numbers, effects may be given more than one number).

During game play, whenever a player plays a Wild card or a Special Wild card, he will roll the dice to determine the effect that it will have. Where there are more than 6 effects being used, the player will roll a die twice to determine the effect (the first roll to determine the effects group and the second for the effect within that group).

Advantages: This variation makes use of all of the different Special Wild card effects, allowing players to experience a wide variety of game play, and leaves the outcome to chance. The uncertain outcomes of wild cards makes this variation fun, unpredictable, and easy to play again and again.

Disadvantages: The major disadvantage (perhaps the only disadvantage) to this variation is that it can cause rounds to take a long time where many people are involved. If you want to shorten rounds, only roll the dice to determine the effects for Special Wild cards, not for regular Wild cards.

Overall: This is easily the most enjoyable Uno variation we have played to date. It keeps things original, changes the strategy, and is easy for both beginners and advanced players. There is some initial preparation time, but once it is done, the same list can be used over and over again for great experiences. Try it out!

Note: Instead of using dice to determine the Wild card effect, the variations can be printed out, cut into strips of paper, and selected from a hat or bowl. By not replacing an effect once drawn, all effects will eventually be used.

Uno Variation: Time Bomb

Cards: 1 or more Uno decks (any variety)
Players: 2+ (3+ preferred)
Time: ~10 min/round
Rating: 5/10

For this variation, all Draw 2 and Draw 4 cards are time bombs and don't take effect immediately after played.

For a 2 player game, the fuse is set at 3 and counts down for every turn after the card is played. For example: P1 plays a Draw 2 card (fuse: 3) -> P2 takes turn (fuse: 2) -> P1 takes turn (fuse: 1) -> time bomb explodes on P2 who then draws 2 cards. If you play with "Stacking Draw 2s," the fuse is not set until the last stacked Draw 2 card is played.

For a 3+ player game, the fuse is set at 2. For example: P1 plays a Draw 4 (fuse: 2) -> P2 takes turn (fuse: 1) -> time bomb explodes on P3 who draws 4 cards.

The key to this variation is that Skip and Reverse cards affect who will end up drawing cards. For example, in a 3 player game: P1 plays a Draw 2 (fuse: 2) -> P2 plays a Reverse card (fuse: 1) -> time bomb explodes on P1 who draws 2 cards.

Advantages: This variation balances out the action cards in the game, taking some power away from the Draw 2 and Draw 4 cards and adding some power to Skip and Reverse cards. The game is also more unpredictable and dangerous knowing that the time bombs can also hurt the person who plays the Draw 2 or Draw 4 card.

Disadvantages: In its current form, this variation may be more trouble than it is worth. It can be very difficult to keep track of the time on the bomb(s) and takes enough effort that it can become the controlling feature of the game at the expense of game play.

Overall: This variation has the potential to shake up traditional Uno. Feel free to try it out and if you think of ways to make this variation better, please leave them in the comments.

For changing fuse lengths, you can roll a die at the beginning of the game to set the fuse length.

Fuse lengths can also be applied to Wild, Skip, and Reverse cards, but doing so takes away the power of the Skip and Reverse cards to alter the course of the bomb.