Lately Geeky Hobbies has been taking a look at the many different UNO spinoff games that have been created over the years. These games can vary significantly from games that just add a new mechanic to UNO to games that take another game and add in the UNO theme. Of all of the games that I have looked at none of them have added a speed element to UNO. That brings me to today’s game UNO Flash (the 2007 version and not the game also known as UNO Blitzo). UNO Flash takes the normal UNO mechanics and adds in an electronic component that adds a speed and a randomization mechanic to the game. UNO Flash somehow finds a way to add even more luck to UNO and yet UNO Flash is one of the best UNO spinoff games that I have played.
How to Play UNO Flash
- Insert batteries into the electronic component. Flip the switch on the back of the game unit to the desired amount of time you want to give the players to play a card. You can choose between four seconds, six seconds, and an unlimited amount of time. Then turn on the game unit.
- Each player randomly draws a card. The player who draws the highest number will be the first dealer.
- The dealer shuffles the cards and deals seven cards to each player. The rest of the cards are put in one of the trays to form the draw pile.
- The top card from the draw pile is flipped over to start the discard pile. If the card that is flipped over is a special card, the action will apply to the first player. If the card is a wild draw four or a slap card though a new card is flipped over.
- Each player presses the button in front of them which will become their player button for the rest of the game.
- Press the play/pause button which will start the game.
Playing the Game
Unlike normal UNO, turn order in UNO Flash is determined by the electronic unit. When the electronic unit lights up a player’s button, it is that player’s turn.
On a player’s turn they must play a card to the discard pile that matches the color, number or symbol of the card on the top of the discard pile. Once a player has played a card they press their player button which makes the game unit select the next player.
If a player doesn’t have a card that can be played or they choose not to play a card, they will draw the top card from the draw pile. If the player can play their new card they can immediately play it to the discard pile. After drawing a card and possibly playing it, the player presses their player button.
Players should take their turn and press their player button as quickly as possible if the players chose to add a time limit to the game. If a player does not press their player button in time the game unit will buzz and the player is forced to draw two cards from the draw pile.
When a player has one card remaining they must say “UNO.” If a player catches them before they say it and before the next player takes their turn, the player is forced to draw two cards. When a player plays their last card the round ends with the player who got rid of all of their cards winning the round.
With the game using the electronic component to select the player, all special cards will impact the next player chosen by the game unit.
Draw Two: The next player will draw two cards and lose their turn. The player has to draw the two cards before they can press their player button. If they don’t press their player button in time, they will have to draw two additional cards (four total).
Skip: The next player will lose their turn. They have to press their player button in order to skip their turn.
Wild: The player who plays the card gets to choose the color for the discard pile.
Wild Draw Four: The player who played the card gets to choose the color for the discard pile. The next player has to draw four cards and will lose their turn. For wild draw four cards the player is allowed to pause the timer (by pressing the play/pause button) so they have enough time to draw the four cards.
A wild draw four can only be played if the player doesn’t have a card in their hand that matches the current color. If the player who is affected by the card (challenger) thinks the player incorrectly played the card they can challenge them. The challenged player shows the challenger their entire hand. If the challenged player incorrectly played the card, they will have to draw the four cards instead of the challenger. If they correctly played the card, the challenger will have to draw six cards instead of four.
Slap: When a player plays the slap card they will press the slap button (yellow button) instead of their player button. Once the player presses the slap button all of the other players press their player button as quickly as possible. The last player to press their player button will have to draw two cards from the draw pile.
The player who got rid of all of their cards will collect the cards remaining in the other players’ hands. They will score points for each card as follows.
- Number cards: face value
- Draw Two, Skip, Slap: 20 points
- Wild, Wild Draw Four: 50 points.
If the player hasn’t scored over 500 points total, a new round is played.
Winning the Game
The first player to score 500 or more points wins the game.
My Thoughts on UNO Flash
As pretty much everyone already has their own opinion of UNO, I am not going to spend time talking about the basics of UNO Flash. Your opinion on these mechanics should be the same as your opinion of the original UNO. Instead I am going to talk about what is unique in UNO Flash. UNO Flash differs from the original UNO in three areas: the speed mechanic, the randomization mechanic, and the slap card.
Lets start with the speed mechanic as it is the most prominent addition in my opinion. The electronic component gives the players an option of limiting how much time players have to play a card. Players can choose to either give players unlimited time, six seconds or four seconds. To familiarize ourselves with the other unique mechanics my group decided to play the first round with no time limit. After playing one round with no time limit I can confidently say that I will never play the game again without the time limit. Without the time limit the game feels just like normal UNO with a couple other mechanics that mostly just add luck to the game. Played this way UNO Flash is kind of boring and worse than the original UNO.
After playing without the time limit I lost most of my expectations for UNO Flash. When the time limit was added to the game though the game got significantly better. I think this shows how important the time limit is to UNO Flash. While UNO has always been a quick game, I never realized how well a speed mechanic could work with the game. I think the speed mechanic works well with UNO Flash because UNO has never been considered a highly strategic game. For the most part the decision of what card to play is pretty obvious. By adding the speed mechanic players don’t waste as much time trying to figure out what card they want to play. While this will occasionally lead to a player regretting playing the card they eventually chose to play, speeding up the game brings more excitement to the game and actually makes each round move quite a bit faster.
While I liked the speed mechanic I will admit that it doesn’t have as big of impact on the game as I would have thought. When I first heard that you only have four or six seconds to play a card, I thought it was going to be really hard to finish your turn in time. At the beginning of the game I tried to rush my turns as quickly as possibly since I didn’t think six seconds was going to be that long. After you play the game for a while though you start to realize that six seconds is longer than you would think. As long as you are ready to play when it is your turn you shouldn’t have much trouble getting your turn finished in time. With a six second timer you can’t waste time but you will rarely have to draw cards. Four seconds will force you to move quicker and will lead to more penalties. It adds more excitement to the game but some players might find it to be too chaotic.
Overall I would say that the speed mechanic is the best addition to UNO Flash. I never thought I would want a speed mechanic in UNO and yet after playing UNO Flash I don’t know if I would want to play UNO without the speed mechanic. I generally like speed games though so UNO Flash was made for me. People who don’t like speed mechanics are not going to enjoy UNO Flash though. The game doesn’t give you a lot of time to make decisions so people who don’t like to be rushed are probably going to be stressed out while playing UNO Flash.
After the speed mechanic I would say the second biggest addition is the fact that the electronic component adds a randomization element into the game. No longer does play move clockwise or counterclockwise around the table. It is truly random who will get the next turn. More often than you would think players get two turns in a row and sometimes you can even get three turns in a row. I would say that I have mixed feelings about the randomization mechanic.
On the positive side it is kind of odd to play an UNO game were you always have to be hesitant about playing a negative card. While it is a no brainer to play a draw two or a wild draw four in other UNO games, the same cannot be said in UNO Flash. By playing one of these cards you have not idea who it will ultimately impact. There is just as good of a chance that the card will impact you as any of the other players. The fact that the game forces you to second guess playing negative cards does a good job limiting some of the power from the cards.
On the negative side randomly choosing who gets to take the next turn adds quite a bit of luck to the game. UNO already relied on a lot of luck and yet UNO Flash relies on even more. With it being random some players are going to get more turns than other players. Turn order also becomes even more critical in the game. Which players are affected by the special cards are going to be entirely determined by luck. The randomization also eliminates the little strategy that is present in UNO. You no longer can target a player that is close to winning since you have no idea who is going to play next. Basically the player who wins each round is likely going to be decided by who is the luckiest.
The final new mechanic in UNO Flash is the slap card. While the slap card is not bad I have to say that I was a little disappointed with it. The card works fine with the electronic component (as long as players don’t press their own player button instead of the slap button which happens more often than you would think) but I was expecting more from it. When you break it down the slap card ends up adding a very basic speed mechanic where players race to not be the last player to slap their button. This type of mechanic is in so many other games. It is moderately enjoyable but I just think UNO Flash could have come up with a better way to utilize the electronic component.
As far as the components I would say that UNO Flash does a better job than I was expecting. There is nothing special about the cards as they are basically what you would expect out of any UNO game. I have to say that the electronic component is nicer than I would have expected though. It is sturdy and works better than I was expecting. This is good since the game unit will probably take quite a beating through extended use as players will likely press down on their button hard as they are racing to press their button in time. I also liked the sound effects as they add to the tension of trying to finish your turn in time. I could see them getting annoying after a while though.
Should You Buy UNO Flash?
I have to say that I didn’t expect a lot out of UNO Flash. The game looked decent but it looked like another spinoff game that was using an unnecessary electronic component. I have to say that the electronic component actually adds a lot more to the game than I was expecting. The speed mechanic is actually a really good addition to UNO. It speeds up the game and adds excitement as players have to quickly choose which card they want to play. While the randomization mechanic tweaks UNO in some interesting ways, it does add a lot more luck to the game. The slap card is fine but I wish the game could have found a better way to utilize the electronic component. At this point I have played quite a few different UNO spinoff games and I have to say that UNO Flash is one of the best that I have played.
If you have never liked UNO or games that rely heavily on luckl, UNO Flash is not going to be for you. If you like UNO and speed games though I think you will like UNO Flash a lot. I would generally recommend UNO Flash to these people but there is a catch. Since UNO Flash did not sell particularly well, it is surprisingly rare at this point and sells for quite a bit. While I enjoyed the game I don’t think it is worth the price that it is currently selling for. If you can find the game for a good price though I would recommend picking it up.