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The Games of Our Youth: Uno

By Melissa Minners

                I was a kid when the card game known as UNO hit the stores and became all the rage.  We played it everywhere – at home, at school, in the park, at parties.  As an adult, I still love the game.  The game has undergone many incarnations since I first started playing, but the classic UNO card game will always be my favorite.

                First developed by Merle Robbins in Reading, Ohio in 1971, the aim of UNO is to be the first player to score five hundred points.  Consisting of 108 cards, featuring numbers of red, yellow, green and blue and specialty cards like Skip, Draw Two, Reverse, Wild and Wild Draw Four, the object of the game is to shed as many cards as you can by the time someone calls “UNO,” meaning that they are down to their last card.  Along the way, each player tries to one-up the others, throwing down cards like Draw Two so the next player has to take more cards, Skip to skip the next player’s turn, Wild to change the color of the discard pot, Wild Draw Four to make the next person pick four cards while changing the color of the discard pot or Reverse to reverse the order of the players. 

If you get down to your last card and don’t call out “UNO” before the rest of the players at the table, you will have to draw two cards.  The same penalty occurs if you falsely call out “UNO.”  Once you have gotten rid of that last card, all of the other players must add up the cards they have left with number cards counted at face value; Skips, Draw Twos and Reverses equaling 20 points and Wild and Wild Draw Fours valuing at 50 points.  The total value of the cards left over in each player’s hand is awarded to the player who ran out of cards in the hand.  The first to reach 500 points is the winner.

The game can last for hours if people really know what they are doing and come up with a fairly good hand.  As a kid, I learned that the more players, the more fun.  As an adult, I learned that UNO is most fun with a decent number of players and a decent number of adult beverages.  Heh, heh.

Years after UNO appeared, various styles of UNO began to be created.  There’s UNO Attack, a game in which you don’t draw cards.  Instead, a card launcher shoots cards out at random moments.  The rules are slightly different in this game.  I’ve never played it and really never wanted to.  UNO Wild Roller allows players to create customized rules and features a Wild Roller lever that must be pulled whenever special Wild Roller cards are played.  There are also variations of play that change the rules a bit for some added flavor.  And there are UNO video games for any variety of platforms and themed UNO card games as well.

But I can honestly say, the original UNO card game will always be my favorite.  I have many fond memories of playing this game with family and friends and hope to create many more with the UNO set I have and carry with me on every vacation.  UNO’s a fun game that I will never outgrow.

Click here to find all things UNO on Amazon.

Published by Melissa Minners

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