Originally created back in 1971 UNO is generally considered a classic card game. People have varying opinions of the game as some people love it while others hate it. While I can definitely see the flaws with the game I have always had a sort of fondness for it. UNO doesn’t have a whole lot of strategy, but there is something enjoyable about a quick little game that you don’t have to put too much thought into. Due to it’s popularity there have been quite a few different UNO spinoff games created over the years. I have taken a look at quite a few of them already including the other UNO Flip which was released in 2009. Today I am looking at the 2019 version of the game which shares little in common with the other UNO Flip outside of the basic UNO mechanics and the name. As a lot of the UNO spinoff games haven’t really improved upon the original game I was curious if this latest game in the series would do a better job. UNO Flip! may share a lot in common with the original UNO, but it succeeds at being one of very few spinoff games that actually improve upon the original game.
Note: This review is for the 2019 version of UNO Flip!. If you are looking for a review of the 2009 version of UNO Flip you can find it here.
How to Play UNO Flip!
- As the cards are double sided make sure all of the cards are facing the same way.
- Each player draws a card and reveals the light side to the other players. The player who draws the highest number (special cards count as zero) will be the first dealer.
- Shuffle all of the cards and deal seven cards to each player. Players should hold the cards so that the light side faces them and the dark side faces their opponents.
- The rest of the cards are placed on the table with the light side face down to form the Draw pile.
- The top card from the draw pile is flipped over to start the Discard pile. If a special card is flipped over a special action may occur.
- 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 one of the cards from their hand that matches the top card on the Discard pile. To match a card it has to either match the color, number, or symbol. The player can also play a Wild card which matches all other types of cards. If a player has a matching card and they want to play it they will add it to the Discard pile.
If a player doesn’t have a matching card in their hand or they don’t want to play it they will draw the top card from the Draw pile. The card should be added to their hand with the same side facing them as the rest of their cards. If the new card can be played the player can choose to add it to the Discard pile immediately.
In either case the player’s turn will end. Play will then pass to the next player clockwise/counterclockwise depending on the current direction of play.
Light Side Cards
In addition to the normal number cards there are a number of special cards in the light side deck.
Draw One Card: When a player plays this card the next player will draw one card from the Draw pile. The next player will also lose their turn. This card can only be played on top of another Draw One card or a card of the same color. When drawn to start the Discard pile the first player will have to draw a card and they will lose their first turn.
Reverse: The order of play immediately reverses. If play was passing clockwise it will now move counterclockwise and vice versa. If revealed to begin the round the dealer will start the round and play will pass counterclockwise.
Skip: When a Skip card is played the next player will lose their turn. If a Skip card is turned over to start the round the first player will skip their turn.
Wild: A Wild card allows the player who plays it to change the current color to whichever color they prefer. As a Wild card matches every other card you can play it at any time even if you have other cards that you can also play. If a Wild card is the card that begins the round the first player gets to choose what color it will be.
Wild Draw 2: A Wild Draw 2 card allows you to change the color to whichever color you prefer. The next player will also have to draw two cards and will miss their next turn. The catch with a Wild Draw 2 is that you can’t play it unless you have no other cards that match the current color. If you have a card that matches the number/symbol you can still play a Wild Draw 2. If a Wild Draw 2 is turned face up to start a round it is added back to the draw deck and a new card is drawn.
If the next player thinks the current player has played a Wild Draw 2 when they weren’t allowed to they can challenge the player. The challenged player must show their hand to the challenging player. If the player incorrectly played the card they will have to draw the two cards instead of the next player. If the player correctly played the card though the challenging player must draw four cards (the original two plus two more for incorrectly challenging).
Flip: When a Flip card is played all of the cards in the game will be flipped to the other side. Each player will flip the cards in their hand to the Dark Side. The Draw and Discard piles are also flipped over. A Flip card can only be played if it matches the current color or another Flip card.
Dark Side Cards
In addition to the normal number cards the Dark Side has the following special cards.
Draw Five Card: A Draw Five card forces the next player to draw five cards from the Draw pile. They will also have to skip their turn.
Reverse: The Reverse card reverses the order of play. If play was proceeding clockwise it will now proceed counterclockwise and vice versa.
Skip Everyone: When a player plays a Skip Everyone card all of the other players will lose their turn. The player who played the card will get to immediately play another card.
Wild: The person who plays a Wild card will get to choose which color the Discard pile will be changed to. The next player will then have to play a card matching the new color or they can play another Wild card.
Wild Draw Color: When a Wild Draw Color card is played the current player will choose which color to make the discard pile. The next player will then have to keep drawing cards from the Draw pile until they draw a card of the color chosen. The next player will also lose their turn.
A player can only play a Wild Draw Color card though when they have no cards in their hand that match the current color. If the next player thinks the card was played incorrectly they can challenge the other player. The challenged player will have to show all of their cards to the challenging player. If the card was played correctly the next player will have to draw cards until they get a card of the chosen color and then two additional cards for incorrectly challenging. If the player played the card incorrectly they will have to draw cards until they draw a card of the chosen color.
Flip: A Flip card will flip all of the cards from the Dark Side to the Light Side. All of the players will flip the cards in their hands. The cards in the Draw and Discard piles are also flipped over. A Flip card can only be played on a card of the same color or another Flip card.
End of Round
When a player only has one card left in their hand (no matter if the cards are on the Light or Dark Side) they must say “UNO”. If they don’t say UNO and another player catches them before the next player’s turn they will have to draw two cards from the Draw pile.
If the Draw pile ever runs out of cards before the end of a round the Discard pile will be reshuffled to form a new Draw pile.
A round ends as soon as a player plays the last card from their hand. If the last card that was played forces another player to draw cards they will draw the corresponding cards. The players who still have cards in their hands will then put them face up on the table based on the side that players were using when the round ended. The player that got rid of all of their cards will then score points based on all of the cards left in the other players’ hands. The number of points each card is worth is as follows:
- Number Cards: The number on the card.
- Draw One Cards: 10 points
- Draw Five, Flip, Reverse, Skip: 20 points
- Skip Everyone: 30 points
- Wild: 40 points
- Wild Draw Two: 50 points
- Wild Draw Color: 60 points
If no players have scored over 500 points total another round is played.
Winning the Game
The first player to score 500 or more points wins the game.
Instead of giving the winner points for all of the cards held by the other players you can choose to have players score points for the cards left in their own hand. Scoring is otherwise the same. When one player has scored 500 or more points the game ends. The player that has scored the least amount of points wins the game.
My Thoughts on UNO Flip!
Like all spinoff games it should not surprise you at all that UNO Flip! is very similar to the original UNO. All of the main gameplay mechanics are exactly the same. The objective of the game is to get rid of all of the cards from your hand. To play a card it has to match the color, number or symbol of the last played card. As a matter of fact outside of the Draw Two card being replaced with a Draw One and the Wild Draw Four being replaced by a Wild Draw Two the Light Side of the deck is pretty much exactly the same as traditional UNO.
With the two games sharing so much in common if you have ever played UNO before you should already have a good idea of whether you will like UNO Flip!. While UNO Flip! adds a little more complexity to the game (which I will get to soon) the game still has the same simple gameplay. UNO Flip! can be taught in just a couple minutes and the whole family should have no problem playing the game. The game still doesn’t have a lot of strategy as it is more the type of game that you play if you want something easy that you don’t have to put too much thought into. If you have always hated UNO I don’t see that changing with UNO Flip! as you will probably hate it as well. Those who love UNO or at least don’t mind it should read on as you may be surprised by UNO Flip! like I was.
While I thought the premise of having double sided cards sounded interesting, I was a little skeptical of UNO Flip!. Too many spinoff games especially UNO games fail to live up to the original games. They rarely add any meaningful new mechanics and in many cases add mechanics that ruin what was good about the original game. I will gladly admit that my first impression about UNO Flip! was off. At first glance it might not seem like UNO Flip! drastically changes the UNO formula as how much could adding double sided cards impact the gameplay. It turns out more than I thought as it genuinely improves upon the original game. Despite always liking the original UNO more than I probably should, I have no qualms about saying that UNO Flip! is a significant improvement over the original game where I will be hard pressed to go back to the original UNO.
So what is actually different about UNO Flip!? Well the main difference is right there in the title. All of the cards in UNO Flip! are double sided. Each round begins on the Light Side of the cards. These cards are basically the same as normal UNO except the cards that force other players to draw cards are half as bad. The other addition to the Light Side deck is the the Flip card. Whenever a Flip card is played all of the cards are flipped to the other side. Players flip the cards in their hands as well as the Draw and Discard piles. Therefore players will have to use a new side of the cards while also having to match a totally different card.
While reading the rules I didn’t realize how big of an impact flipping the cards would have on the game. It turns out that this actually has a bigger impact than the new types of cards present on the Dark Side of the cards. The biggest impact that flipping the cards has on the game is that it actually adds a surprising amount of strategy to the game. The UNO franchise has never been known for strategy, but UNO Flip! genuinely adds some strategy to the game. Don’t get me wrong UNO Flip! is far from a highly strategic game. It has quite a bit more strategy than your typical UNO game though.
A lot of this additional strategy comes from the fact that the cards are double sided. While the official rules don’t have any specific rules on whether you can hide the back of your cards from the other players, I would highly recommend preventing players from blocking the back side of their cards. This adds an interesting element to the game as there is now a memory mechanic to the game. While playing the game you should try to keep track of what cards the other players have on the other side of their cards. When the cards are flipped over you will have an idea of what cards that the other players now have. This gives you an idea of what cards you should play and what you should avoid to prevent the other players from winning. Sometimes it won’t matter, but you can use this information in order to prevent the other players from winning the game. Having a good memory won’t drastically improve your odds of winning, but you could make a good move that you otherwise wouldn’t have made.
The act of flipping the cards itself adds some strategy as well. When you have a Flip card in your hand you have an interesting decision to make. As you can see what cards you and the other players have on the other side of your cards you can try to figure out when is the best time to play a Flip card. If another player is close to winning and it will be hard for them to win with the other side of their cards it may be worth flipping the cards. If you have a lot of valuable cards on the other side you may want to flip them as well. In some situations you will want to hold onto the cards though to find the best time to mess with the other players.
UNO Flip! is never going to be confused for a highly strategic game, but I was genuinely surprised by the game having more strategy than I expected. Card draw luck is still going to be the biggest factor in determining who wins a round. With this additional strategy you can actually have some impact on your own fate though. Smart use of your cards won’t make up for terrible luck. If you use your cards well though you can improve your chances quite a bit. People who have never cared for UNO because it has little strategy may be surprised by UNO Flip!. If you were looking for a version of UNO with more strategy UNO Flip! may be the game that you have been looking for.
Other than flipping the cards the other main addition to UNO Flip! is the Dark Side of the cards. If I were to describe the two sides of the cards I would probably say that the Light Side is the nice side. Meanwhile the Dark Side can be pretty cruel. The Dark Side includes the same number cards as the Light Side in different colors as well as the Flip, Reverse, and Wild cards. The other cards are considerably more powerful/harsh than their Light Side counterparts though. Instead of forcing another player to draw just one card they will have to draw five cards. The Skip card doesn’t just skip the next player but all of the players. Then there is the Wild Draw Color card which somewhat implements a popular house rule into the game. A house rule that many players like to use involves forcing players to keep drawing cards until they draw a card that they are able to play. This card takes that and forces a player to keep drawing until they draw a card of a specific color. This could be just one card or it could easily be ten plus cards.
While not as impactful as flipping the cards I liked the Dark Side of the cards as well. I see the Dark Side of the cards as being the risk and reward side. During the game these cards can be really powerful. A player could be close to winning the game and then you stick them with having to draw a lot of cards. These cards are powerful when played, but they can also be harmful if you don’t get rid of them before the end of the game. These cards are worth quite a few more points than their counterparts on the Light Side so if a player wins on the Dark Side they will score considerably more points. I think the thing that I liked the most about the Dark Side cards is that they just add more variety to the game. They don’t drastically change the gameplay, but they keep the gameplay fresh as they mix things up. Between both sides of the cards there is enough variety that the game should remain interesting for longer.
For the most part I think UNO Flip! is a considerable improvement over the original game. The one area where I think it might be a little worse though is that hands seem to take longer. UNO hands can always vary quite a bit due to how lucky players are and how well players do at preventing other players from going out. Normal UNO has some short hands and some long hands. The same can be said for UNO Flip!. On average though I would say that you will probably encounter more long hands in UNO Flip!. This is mostly because of two things. First in the game you can force players to draw more cards which means you have to get rid of more cards. The game also gives players more ways to mess with one another which makes hands take longer. Knowing what cards the other players may have in their hand gives you more info to prevent them from going out. Hands in UNO Flip! are still pretty short as most should only take five or so minutes, but some can take considerably longer. The overall game shouldn’t be too much longer though because you generally score considerably more points from a hand than you do in normal UNO.
As for the components I think they are basically what you would expect. The cardstock feels the same as any other UNO game. As for the artwork it is what you would expect from UNO. The Light Side is basically the same as any other UNO game. The Dark Side adds some new colors and new symbols for the new types of cards. Like the original game these new symbols work well showing what the card does without having to rely on text. I don’t know this for sure but it feels like the two sides of the cards don’t correspond to one another. This was a good decision because otherwise you could infer what was on the other side once you became familiar with the cards. This is also interesting because the two sides of your cards could be vastly different where one side is quite powerful and the other side is just a normal card. Nothing about the game’s components are fantastic, but you couldn’t really ask for much from a game that retails for such a low price.
Should You Buy UNO Flip!?
Heading into UNO Flip! I was cautiously optimistic. The premise of double sided cards was interesting, but too many UNO spinoff games have been disappointments. I was pleasantly surprised by UNO Flip! as it is one of the best UNO spinoff game that I have played and actually improves upon the original game. The main gameplay is the same as normal UNO which means the game is easy to pick up and play. The game has two main differences. The first is the flipping mechanic. This actually adds a decent amount of strategy to the game as you can memorize what cards the other players have on the opposite side and you can strategically choose when to flip the cards. The other difference is the inclusion of the Dark Side. These cards are considerably more powerful than the Light Side, but also are worth more points which adds a risk reward mechanic to the game. In many ways UNO Flip! improves upon the original UNO. The one area where it might be a little worse though is that rounds will usually take a little longer to complete.
Basically your opinion of UNO Flip! will likely depend on your thoughts about UNO. If you have always hated UNO I don’t think you will like UNO Flip!. People who wish there was more strategy in UNO though may be pleasantly surprised by UNO Flip! as it adds quite a bit more strategy. Fans of UNO should also love the game as I think it is genuinely a better game than the original. With its low retail price I see no reason not to pick up UNO Flip! if you have any interest in the game.