While we don’t really cover a lot of Harry Potter on Geeky Hobbies, I would say that I am a pretty big fan of the franchise. In general most Harry Potter board/card games aren’t very good. They are either a re-themed version of another game, or a cheaply made game to capitalize on the theme. With that said I can’t say that I had high expectations for Harry Potter UNO. While I appreciate UNO more than a lot of people, I didn’t think Harry Potter UNO would be anything more than just Harry Potter characters added to a traditional UNO game. Most UNO themed decks don’t add anything of significance to the formula, but there are some decks that actually add some unique new cards. Harry Potter UNO happens to be one of those games so I was hopeful that it would find a way to stand out. Harry Potter UNO adds a couple interesting new cards to the original game, but doesn’t differentiate itself much from it.
How to Play Harry Potter UNO
- The player whose birthday is closest to Harry Potter’s (July 31st) will be the dealer.
- Shuffle all of the cards and deal seven to each player.
- The top card from the remaining cards is placed face up on the table to start the discard pile. If the card is a Wild Draw Four, Howler, or Invisibility Wild card it will be returned to the deck and a new card will be drawn. The rest of the cards are placed face down to form the draw pile.
Playing the Game
The player to the left of the dealer will start the round. On a player’s turn they will try to play a card from their hand that matches the top card from the discard pile. A player can match a card by its color, number or symbol.
If you have a matching card you can play it to the discard pile.
If you don’t have a matching card or you don’t want to play a card, you will draw the top card from the draw pile. If the draw pile runs out of cards shuffle all of the cards besides the top card from the discard pile to form the new draw pile. The card you just drew can immediately be played if it matches the color, number, or symbol of the top card on the discard pile.
In either case your turn ends with play passing to the next player in turn order (clockwise to begin the game).
When a player has only one card left in their hand, they must say “UNO”. If someone catches them not saying the word before the next player takes their turn, the player who didn’t say the word will be forced to draw two cards from the draw pile.
Harry Potter UNO has a number of different cards. The number cards have no special effects on the game. The other cards do alter the gameplay though as detailed below:
Draw 3 Cards
When you play this card, the next player in turn order must draw three cards from the draw pile. The next player will also lose their next turn. The only way to match a Draw 3 Card is with another Draw 3 Card or a card of the same color.
If this card is flipped over as the first card, the first player will be forced to draw three cards and lose their turn.
The Reverse card will reverse the direction of play. For example if play was moving clockwise, it will now move counterclockwise. This card can only be played on another Reverse card, or a card of the same color.
When revealed to begin a round, the Reverse card will make play pass counter-clockwise and the dealer will get to play first.
If you play a Skip card, the next player will lose their turn. A Skip card can only be played on a Skip card or another card of the same color.
If a Skip card is the card revealed to start the round, the first player will lose their turn.
When a player plays this card, they can change the current color to whichever color they prefer. As Wild cards match any other card, it can be played at any time.
When a Wild card is revealed as the start card, the first player will choose the color and will get to play a card.
Wild Draw Four Card
This card acts the same as a Wild card allowing the player who plays it to choose what color they want to change the discard pile to. The main difference is the next player will also have to draw four cards from the draw pile and will lose their turn.
A Wild Draw 4 card can match any other card. If a player has a card in their hand that matches the current color though, they are unable to play the Wild Draw 4 card. If they only have a matching number/symbol though, they can still play the Wild Draw Four. If the player that the card was played against thinks the current player played the card incorrectly they can challenge. The challenged player will have to show the challenger all of the cards in their hand. If the player played the card incorrectly, they will have to draw the four cards. If they played the card correctly, the challenging player will have to draw the four original cards as well as two additional cards.
When a Howler card is played, the next player will have to announce to the other players all of the cards that they currently have in their hand. This player will also lose their turn.
The Invisibility Wild acts like a normal Wild card. It can also be played to protect a player from any other special card that would otherwise impact them.
End of Round and Game
The game ends when one of the players play the last card from their hand. If a player played a Draw Three or Wild Draw Four card as their last card, the next player will have to draw those cards from the draw pile.
The player who played all of their cards will then score points for all of the cards left in the other players’ hands. Points are awarded for cards as follows:
- Number cards – Face Value
- Draw Three, Reverse, Skip – 20 points
- Wild, Wild Draw Four, Howler, Invisibility Wild – 50 points
After totaling all of the cards, the number of points the player earned is recorded. If no player has reached 500 points another round is played.
The first player to reach 500 points wins the game.
Instead of giving points to the player who got rid of all of their cards, all players will score points for the cards left in their hand at the end of the round. The game ends when one player scores 500 or more points. The player with the least points wins the game.
Two Player Game
If you are only playing with two players there are a couple alterations to the rules. When a Reverse, Skip, Draw Three, or Wild Draw Four are played, their normal effects are applied; and the player who played the card will get to play another card.
Partners will sit across from one another. When one player goes out, the round ends. The winning team will score points for all of the cards left in the hands of the players on the other team(s).
If there are only four players, you can also choose to play four hands with each of the other players as your partner (12 total rounds). You will keep track of your points scored in each round. The player who scores the most points wins.
If you are playing with eight players you can play two games at the same time. Players will play four rounds with each other player as a partner (28 total rounds). The player who scores the most points wins the game.
Challenge Harry Potter UNO
Each player will score points for the cards left in their hand at the end of the round. When a player has scored 500 points, they are eliminated from the game. When there are only two players remaining, they will play following the two player rules. When one of the remaining two players reach 500 points, they are eliminated. The final remaining player wins the game.
My Thoughts on Harry Potter UNO
When it comes to most UNO themed decks, they stick pretty close to the original game. The same holds true for Harry Potter UNO as well. The basic gameplay is exactly the same as every other UNO game. There are basically only three unique things about the game which come from the three new cards added to this version of the game.
The first is the Draw Three card. I would classify this as more of a “new” card. The card is pretty much the same as the Draw Two card which is in pretty much every version of UNO ever created. The only difference is that the next player has to draw three cards instead of two. If you hated drawing two additional cards, you will hate this even more. I really didn’t have strong feelings about this card. I will say that it seems to make rounds take longer though as players end up having to draw more cards. Some people will likely hate this addition.
The next card is the Invisibility Wild. Unlike the Draw Three card, this card is actually kind of unique (at least compared to the original UNO). Basically the Invisibility Wild acts as a shield against bad cards that otherwise would be played against you. I honestly thought this were a pretty good addition to the game. Luck has always been a big factor in UNO and I think the Invisibility Wild helps mitigate it some. It sucks when another player plays a card that forces you to draw cards. That makes it so satisfying when you are able to play this card to mitigate the effects. Unfortunately there is only one of these cards in the entire deck which is kind of disappointing. I don’t know why the game couldn’t have included more of these cards as I thought they were a good addition to the game. Other themed UNO decks have a card that is similar to this, but I am actually kind of surprised that this type of card was never incorporated into the original UNO.
The final addition to the game was the Howler card. The Howler card basically forces the next player to tell the other players what cards they hold in their hand. We honestly found it simpler to just have the player reveal their hand to the rest of the players as each player could then look at the cards for themselves. While a little unorthodox for UNO, I actually thought this was an interesting addition to the game as well. Getting the ability to see what cards the other players have in their hand can be a pretty big advantage in the game. If a player has a ton of cards, it doesn’t help all that much. When you are able to find out what cards a player with only one or two cards left has though, it gives you information to help you play cards to prevent them from going out. I liked this addition to UNO as it added a unique little twist to the game.
I had two problems with the Howler card though. First like the Invisibility Wild there is only one of the card in the entire deck. I think there should have been a couple more of the card in the deck. The other problem that I had with the card is that you can only direct it at the next player. You might not really care what cards the next player has, while there is another player that it would be very helpful to know what cards they have. For this reason I think the Howler card should have let you choose which player you wanted to reveal their cards. If this was the rule, it could have added a decent amount of strategy.
Those three new additions are pretty much the only new things that Harry Potter UNO brings to the original UNO. Otherwise the game plays like every other version of UNO. In general I thought the new cards were interesting new additions to the formula. I mostly thought they made the game better even though the Draw Three is kind of questionable. Outside of some slight differences though, Harry Potter UNO plays exactly the same as every other UNO. Therefore your opinion of UNO in general is likely to have a pretty big impact on how much you like Harry Potter UNO. If you never really liked UNO I don’t see the game changing your mind unless you are a big fan of the Harry Potter franchise.
Like every other UNO game, Harry Potter UNO is a simple card game that relies on quite a bit of luck. You can learn the game within just a couple minutes. If you are familiar with UNO it will take even less time. The gameplay basically consists of playing a card that matches a color, number or symbol with the ultimate goal of getting rid of all of the cards from your hand. The strategy is pretty limited as it usually either doesn’t matter what card you play or it is really obvious. This means that the game relies on a lot of luck. Whoever is dealt the best cards will likely win. Those that want a little more impact on their fate, will likely be turned off by the game.
Despite the high reliance on luck compared to strategy, I have always kind of liked the UNO franchise. What I have always liked about the game is the fact that it is just so easy to play. Harry Potter UNO is a perfect conversation game. What I mean by this is that you don’t have to put too much thought into your move for any given turn. It is the type of game that you can turn off your brain while playing. While I usually enjoy strategy in the games that I play, it is occasionally nice to play a game that you can just sit back and enjoy without having to put in much thought.
As for Harry Potter UNO’s components, I was kind of disappointed. The cards are of the same quality as pretty much every other version of UNO. They are sturdy enough that they should last quite a while. I can see some fans of the franchise liking the artwork. The artwork reminds me a lot of the artwork used for the books. I personally found them to be a little too cluttered though. UNO cards are usually pretty straightforward as they only have a color and a number/symbol. The artwork kind of distracts from this. In particular the words on some of the cards are actually kind of hard to read. This isn’t a huge problem as you quickly figure out what all of the different cards do, but I personally wasn’t a huge fan of the artwork.
Should You Buy Harry Potter UNO?
For the most part Harry Potter UNO is exactly what you would expect it to be. The basic gameplay is the same outside of the Harry Potter theme. The game is quick to learn and play, and excels at being a game that you can play without putting too much thought into what you are doing. It relies on a lot of luck though and has very little strategy. As most of the game is exactly the same as every other UNO game, your opinion of the franchise will very likely translate to Harry Potter UNO as well. The only real differences is the addition of three new cards. I found the Howler and Invisibility Wild cards to be pretty interesting as they mix up the gameplay and potentially even add a little strategy. There are so few of these cards though that they don’t really make much of a difference.
Ultimately your opinion of Harry Potter UNO is likely to depend on your opinion of Harry Potter and UNO. If you don’t really care for one of the two franchises, I don’t see the game being for you. Harry Potter fans that want a quick and easy to play card game though, may enjoy Harry Potter UNO enough that it might be worth checking out.
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