Ever since I was a kid I have been a fan of UNO. A lot of people dislike UNO as it does have quite a few issues, but I enjoy the game because it is one of those games that you can just sit back and enjoy without having to put in too much thought into what you are doing. With how popular UNO has been it has lead to a lot of spinoff games which we have been trying to play through here on Geeky Hobbies. So far we have gone through quite a few of the UNO spinoff games. Some of these games have been pretty good while others have been bad. Today we are looking at arguably the most popular UNO spinoff game UNO Attack! (also known as UNO Extreme at one point). Of all of the UNO spinoff games UNO Attack! may have been reprinted the most as it seems like a new version seems to come out every couple years since it was first released back in 1998. In many ways UNO Attack! is like the original game but differentiates itself by adding a few new types of cards as well as the card launcher. UNO Attack! may add quite a bit more luck to the original game, but it maintains the elements that make UNO enjoyable while adding in some fun new twists as well.
How to Play UNO Attack!
- Place batteries in the launcher and turn it on.
- Each player randomly draws a card. The player who draws the highest number will be the dealer. Special cards do not have a numerical value.
- The dealer shuffles the cards and deals seven cards to each player. They will take the top card from the remaining cards and place it on top of the launcher to start the discard pile. They will place the rest of the cards in the launcher.
- The player to the left of the dealer will start the game.
Playing the Game
On a player’s turn they will try to play a card from their hand to the discard pile. To play a card it has to either match the color, number or symbol of the top card on the discard pile. Wild cards can be played at any time. If you have a matching card you can play it to the discard pile. Play will pass to the next player clockwise unless a Reverse card was played to reverse the order of play.
If you don’t have a card that matches or you don’t want to play a card (playing a card is optional), you will have to press the button on the launcher. If any cards shoot out of the launcher or are sticking out of it the player who pressed the button will add the cards to their hand. Play will then pass to the next player.
When a player only has one card left in their hand they must say “UNO”. If they don’t say it and another player catches them before the next player takes their turn (plays a card or presses the button), the player who failed to say UNO will have to press the button twice and take any cards that are shot out.
If the discard pile ever gets larger than the stopper on the top of the launcher, all of the discarded cards will be shuffled and added to the launcher.
If you ever suggest a card that another player should play you will be forced to press the button four times.
Note: As UNO Attack! has been reprinted quite a few times the games has changed at times. The card design has changed a couple times and thus the icons for some of the special cards listed below will look different in some versions of UNO Attack!. In newer versions of the game the distribution of the special cards are different as some cards were eliminated or changed.
Reverse – When a player plays a Reverse card the order of play will reverse. If play was moving clockwise it will now move counterclockwise and vice versa. If this is the first card added to the discard pile the dealer will get to play first and play will move counterclockwise.
Skip – After a Skip card is played the next player will lose their turn. If this is the first card added to the discard pile the player to the left of the dealer will lose their turn.
Wild – A Wild card can be played on any other card. The player who plays the card will get to choose a color and the next player must play a card from that color. If a Wild card starts the discard pile the player to the left of the dealer gets to choose the color and play a card.
Hit 2 – After a Hit 2 card is played the next player will have to press the launcher button twice. Any cards that come out will be added to this player’s hand. The player will then lose their turn. If this is the first card added to the discard pile the player to the left of the dealer will press the button twice and lose their turn.
Trade Hands – When a player plays the Trade Hands card they will trade their hand (without the card they just played) with the hand of another player of their choice. If this is the card that starts the round it is added back to the deck and another card is drawn.
Note: This card was eliminated in the 2010 version and Jurassic World version of UNO Attack!.
Discard All – Discard All cards can either be played on cards of the same color or on another Discard All card. When this card is played the player who played it will get to discard all of the cards from their hand that match the color on the card. If this card starts the discard pile the first player has to play a card of the matching color or another Discard All card.
Wild All Hit – A Wild All Hit card will force all of the players except for the player who played the card to press the launcher button once and take any cards that come out. This will begin with the player to the left of the current player. Play will then proceed as normal with the next player. The player who played the card will get to choose the color. If this is the first card added to the discard pile all players beside the dealer must press the launcher button. The dealer gets to choose the color of the wild.
Note: This card is eliminated in the 2010 and Jurassic World versions of UNO Attack!.
Wild Hit-Fire – When a Wild Hit-Fire card is played the next player will have to keep pressing the button until cards are shot out. The player who pressed the button will add all of these cards to their hand. The player who played the card will get to choose the card’s color. If this card is the first card in the round the player to the left of the dealer will have to press the button and take the cards. The dealer gets to choose the color of the wild.
Note: This card was eliminated in the 2010 version and Jurassic World version of UNO Attack!.
The Jurassic World version of UNO Attack! features three unique cards not found in the other versions of the game.
Hit 4: The next player will have to press the button four times and take any cards that come out. This player will also lose their turn. The player who played the card will get to choose the color for the wild.
Wild Attack – Attack: (Also included in the 2010 version of the game.) The player who plays the card chooses another player who has to press the button twice and take any cards that come out. The player who played the card will get to choose its color. The next player is turn order will then get to take their turn.
Wild Customizable Card: This card will act like a normal Wild card. The players can also write whichever additional rule they prefer on the card that must be followed.
End of Round and Scoring
When a player plays the last card from their hand the round will end. If a player goes out by playing a card that forces a player(s) to press the button they will press the button and take any associated cards. The player will score points for all of the cards left in the other players’ hands. Each card left in the other player’s hands will score points as follows:
- Number Cards – Face Value
- Hit 2, Reverse, Skip – 20 points
- Discard All, Trade Hands – 30 points
- Wild, Wild All Hit, Wild Hit-Fire – 50 points
If the winning player hasn’t scored 500 or more total points another round is played with the next player clockwise becoming the dealer.
The first player to score 500 points wins the game.
Two Player Game
The two player game is mostly the same as the main game except for a couple of changes:
- Reverse cards are treated like Skip cards. Therefore when a player plays a Skip or Reverse card they will immediately be able to play another card.
- When you play a Hit 2 card the other player will press the button twice. You will then get to take another turn.
In the challenge game players will score points for the cards left in their hand instead of giving points to the winning player. Once a player has scored 500 points (or whatever total the players agree to) they are eliminated from the game. When only two players remain you will follow the rules for a two player game. The last player remaining wins the game.
My Thoughts on UNO Attack!
UNO Attack! is arguably the most well known of all of the UNO spinoff games that have been created over the years. It has been regularly in print for over 20 years at this point which is more than can be said for most of the UNO spinoff games which were only printed once and soon forgotten about. I am not sure if I played the game when I was a kid as I vaguely remember it, but I don’t have any strong memories about the game. I didn’t know what to expect from UNO Attack! as in many ways it feels similar to the original game. While a card launcher is always fun I was worried that it would just add luck to the original UNO which already relied on a lot of luck.
For the most part UNO Attack! is very similar to the original UNO. The basic gameplay is exactly the same. Players take turns playing cards that match the color, number or symbol of the last played card. I would say that 80-90% of UNO Attack! is exactly the same as normal UNO. You basically try to get rid of your cards as quickly as you can while also preventing the other players from going out before you.
Because most of the gameplay is exactly the same as normal UNO, your experience with the game is going to be similar to the original game. Like the original game UNO Attack! is really easy to play. The game has a recommended age of 7+ which seems about right as you only need to be able to match colors, numbers or symbols. The rules are really simple where you can teach the game to new players in just a couple minutes. If the players are already familiar with UNO you literally only have to teach them the rules about the launcher and the new special cards as those are the only things that differ from the original game.
UNO is one of those games that a lot of people hate as it isn’t a particularly deep game. The problem most people have with the game is that there isn’t much strategy to the game. The card you should play is usually really obvious or it doesn’t matter as what card you play won’t make much of a difference. There are a few times where you have to make a strategic play. This mostly comes down to reading the other players and making a play that prevents them from playing their last card. Despite being a fan of UNO I have no problem admitting that the game relies on little strategy and a lot of luck. The reason that I like UNO though is that due to its simplicity you don’t have to put too much thought into the game. While I generally prefer games that require strategy, it is sometimes nice to play a game where you can just relax without having to think through a ton of different options. UNO Attack! fits nicely into this niche.
UNO Attack! mostly differs from the original UNO in two main ways.
The most obvious difference is the addition of the launcher. Basically the launcher replaces the need to draw cards in the game. Whenever in the original game you would have had to draw cards is replaced with pressing the button on the launcher. Sometimes you will get lucky and no cards will get shot out. Other times you will press the button and a bunch of cards will be shot out. Whatever cards leave the launcher will go to the player that pressed the button that released the cards. I have some mixed feelings about the addition of the launcher.
On the positive side the card launcher is kind of fun. Instead of knowing that you will have to draw one/two/four cards from the draw pile, with the launcher you don’t know what is going to happen. This adds some suspense to the game as the press of the button could do nothing or it could pretty much ruin your hand. This suspense is kind of fun as it keeps things interesting. A hand isn’t over until the last card is played from a player’s hand. You could be one card away from winning a hand and then the launcher shoots out ten cards that you have to add to your hand. It is always kind of funny when a bunch of cards gets shot out forcing another player to add a bunch of cards to their hand.
This randomness leads to the biggest problem that I had with the launcher though. Not surprisingly this adds a bunch of luck to the game. While the normal UNO relies on a lot of luck, UNO Attack! relies on even more. In addition to being dealt good cards you also need to be lucky and not have cards shot out when you press the button. You could be forced to press the button a lot and never have any cards shoot out. Another player could press the button once and have a bunch of cards shoot out. There is no way to improve your odds with this as you just need to hope that you press the button at the right time. There is even some luck in relation to how many cards get shot out. Sometimes it may be only one or two cards which isn’t bad. Other times it can be five or more cards. You can recover from adding a couple cards to your hand. When you are given a bunch of cards it is much harder to recover. If the machine is really “generous” with the cards hands can take a long time as it will be hard to get rid of cards as quickly as you receive them from the machine.
The other problem with the launcher comes down to the component quality itself. The cards in the game are basically the quality you would expect from any UNO game. The one issue with the cards in my version of the game (1998) was that for some reason the game didn’t use anything to distinguish between the sixes and nines. The only way to tell the difference was to make sure all of the cards were the right side up. The biggest issue with the components is with the launcher itself. At least with my version of the game the launcher can be kind of finicky. Sometimes it works just fine shooting out cards and other times you can hear the wheels spinning in the launcher and no cards were shot out. Especially with the older versions of the game the launcher needs maintenance in order to work well. The instructions recommend using a damp cloth or rubbing alcohol on the wheels inside the launcher when it has trouble shooting out cards. While I don’t have a newer version to try this out, it sounds like the launchers in the newer versions of the game work considerably better.
The other major difference in UNO Attack! is the addition of special cards unique to this version of UNO. As UNO Attack! has gone through a couple of different versions the special cards that are included in the game have changed over the years. The rules appear to have stayed mostly the same until 2010 when the card distribution and some of the cards were changed. As I have the 1998 version of the game I can only talk about the cards included with that version of the game.
I personally had some mixed feelings about the special cards included in UNO Attack!. The Hit 2 card basically replaces the Draw Two card. You just press the button two times instead of drawing two cards. This can either be a good thing as you don’t have to draw any cards, or it could be much worse as you might get stuck with more than two cards. I had no problem with the Wild All Hit card as it basically forces all of the players except for the player who played it to press the button once. Each individual player doesn’t take a huge risk as I would say on average every third or fourth button press triggers the launcher. Likely one of the players will have to take cards though.
The final three cards are the ones that I have the strongest feelings about. The Wild Hit-Fire card is pretty cruel as the next player is forced to receive cards as they have to keep pressing the button until cards shoot out. For this reason the card feels kind of rigged as you likely will end up giving quite a few cards to the next player. I am guessing most people didn’t like this card as it was eliminated from the newest versions of the game. The Discard All cards also seem kind of rigged. In many cases they probably won’t be all that useful as you might only be able to get rid of one or two additional cards. If you have a lot of cards of the card’s color though you can quickly get rid of the cards from your hand. You could theoretically win a hand with your first card if you have a Discard All card and all of your other cards are the same color as it. There aren’t many of these cards in the game so they don’t come up often but they seem overpowered.
The Trade Hands card may be the most interesting card in the game which is why it is strange that it was eliminated from newer versions of the game. This card can be really powerful or really hurtful depending on when it is played. If you have a bunch of cards in your hand when you play it you will be able to drastically reduce the size of your hand if someone has only a few cards left. This will really help you and hurt the other player which seems a little unfair. I don’t mind the card all that much though because it works in reverse as well. You don’t want to hold the card too long as when you play it you have to trade hands. Therefore you could end up getting more cards in the trade. This card adds a lot of luck to the game, but I kind of like it as it can be a double edged sword.
Should You Buy UNO Attack!?
In many ways UNO Attack! is exactly what you would expect it to be. Most of the gameplay is exactly the same as the original UNO. This means the game relies on a lot of luck and doesn’t have much strategy. At the same time though it is really easy to play and is one of those games that you can just relax and play as you don’t have to put too much thought into what you are doing. The most obvious addition to the game is the launcher. I had mixed feelings towards the launcher as it adds some randomness which is fun, but also a bunch of luck. The launcher also doesn’t always work as well as it should. The other main difference in UNO Attack! is some new special cards. Most of these cards are pretty powerful which adds luck to the game, but also keeps things interesting.
Ultimately UNO Attack! doesn’t drastically change the original game in any significant way. It mostly does what you would expect from a spinoff. It keeps a lot of what people love/hate from the original game while adding in some interesting new twists. For this reason it is probably one of the better UNO spinoff games. At the end of the day I think it is about on par with the original game. Some people will like it more and some will like it less.
My recommendation for UNO Attack! basically comes down to your opinion of UNO in general. If you have never liked UNO or don’t like the idea of adding even more randomness/luck to the game, I don’t see UNO Attack! being for you. Those that like UNO for its simplicity and randomness though should like UNO Attack! as well and should consider picking it up. Whether you should pick up a newer or older version of the game depends on two things. If you want a launcher that works better I would suggest purchasing a newer version of the game. If you think you will like some of the special cards included with earlier versions of the game that were eliminated in the newer versions though you might be better off picking up an older version of UNO Attack!.