UNO and Hearts are considered two of the most popular card games of all time. UNO basically took Crazy Eights and added a few new mechanics to create a wildly successful simple card game. UNO is such a popular card game that it has launched many spinoff titles including several that we have looked at on this site (UNO Dominoes, UNO Wild Tiles). With how popular the franchise is it doesn’t come as that much of a surprise that UNO was eventually combined with one of the most popular trick taking games Hearts. Like with most UNO spinoff games, UNO Hearts plays a lot like normal hearts with a couple UNO additions. UNO Hearts is not a terrible game but the few unique mechanics in UNO Hearts end up hurting the game more than they help.
How to Play UNO Hearts
A player is chosen as the dealer. The dealer shuffles the cards and deals thirteen to each player. The rest of the cards are placed face down on the table to form a draw pile. The player to the left of the dealer gets to lead the first trick.
Playing the Game
UNO Hearts is played in rounds. Each round consists of thirteen tricks with each player playing one card in each trick.
Each trick begins with the player who won the previous trick playing a card (for the first trick of a round it is the player to the left of the dealer). A player cannot lead a heart card until a heart card or the yellow thirteen card has been played in a previous trick (unless the player has no non-heart cards). The color of the card that is played becomes the lead suit/color. In turn all of the other players must play a card of the same color if they have one.
If a player doesn’t have a card of the lead color, the player can play any card that they want.
After all of the cards for a trick have been played, the cards are compared. The player who played the highest number of the lead color takes all of the cards played in the trick. These cards are put face down in a pile in front of the player. This player will then start the next trick.
Eight of Purple and Green: The eight of purple and green are worth zero points. When one is played in a trick though the player that wins the trick gets to decide which direction everyone will pass their entire hand (left or right).
Wild Draw Cards: When a wild draw card is played it counts as the number printed on the card. The wild draw card can be used as a heart, yellow, purple or green card. If a wild card is made into a heart it is not worth any points to the player who wins the trick. You can only play a wild card as a suit that you don’t have any other cards for though. When a trick is finished that had a wild draw card played in, the player who wins the trick must draw the corresponding number of cards and add them directly to their pile of cards that they have won.
Scoring and End of Game
Once all thirteen tricks in a round have been played scoring is conducted. Players turn over the cards they won from tricks. Each player counts the number of heart symbols on their cards to determine their score for the round. Players keep track of their scores from all of the rounds played. If no player has scored more than 60 points total, a new round begins.
If a player has scored more than 60 points at the end of a round, the game ends. The player that has scored the fewest points wins the game.
My Thoughts on UNO Hearts
If the game’s title didn’t already make it pretty obvious, UNO Hearts is basically a combination of UNO and Hearts. UNO Hearts pretty much plays like Hearts with the addition of some mechanics inspired by UNO. For those of you who have never played Hearts before, it is a pretty basic trick taking game. Players play cards and the player who plays the highest card in the lead suit wins all of the cards played. Points are scored for every card won that has a heart on it. At the end of the game the player with the fewest points wins the game.
The only areas where UNO Hearts differs from normal Hearts is the special cards inspired by UNO. UNO Hearts includes two unique types of cards the Draw Wild and the Switch cards.
The most prevalent new cards are the Draw Wilds. Basically the Draw Wild cards work like draw four wild cards from normal UNO. The card can be played as any suit not currently in the player’s hand. If a player is smart in choosing when to play one of these cards, they are basically guaranteed to avoid winning the trick. While wilds are really important in UNO, I don’t really think they work well in UNO Hearts. Being able to choose any suit is just too powerful.
In addition to be being wilds, these cards force the player who wins them to draw the corresponding number of cards from the draw deck and add them directly to their score pile. The number of cards that a player must draw from one wild card is between one and ten. You thought draw four cards were bad? How about having to draw ten cards? The Draw Wild cards have the potential to be really cruel if a player ends up drawing a lot of point cards. The good news is based on my experience you usually don’t draw a lot of cards that are worth points. Unless you have to draw a lot of cards you likely will only have to add a couple points to your score.
Other than the Draw Wild cards there are the Switch cards. The Switch cards consist of just the eight of purple and green. When a player wins a switch card they get to decide whether all of the players will trade their cards left or right. Even though they don’t come up often, I hate these cards. All they do is add luck to the game and make any potential strategy mostly pointless. A player could spend the early parts of a round getting rid of their worst cards. Then a Switch card could be played and they could be handed all of the worst cards from another player. If a Switch card gets played it basically throws away any strategy that the players tried implementing before the Switch card was played.
With the Draw Wilds and Switch cards being the main two additions to Hearts, I have to say that UNO Hearts doesn’t do a great job improving on its’ inspiration. The Switch cards I would ditch entirely since all they do is add luck. The Draw Wild cards don’t have as big of an impact on the game but they don’t really improve it either. The wilds are too powerful since they are easy to play in order lose a trick. Plus the player who gets stuck with the wild ends up potentially drawing a lot more point cards. I honestly don’t think either type of card really improves the game and you could make an argument that they actually make the game worse.
While this rule is also in normal Hearts, I really don’t like the idea of the thirteen point penalty card. This card is too big of punishment for the player who gets stuck with it. The player who takes the thirteen point card is almost guaranteed to get the most points for a given hand no matter how many other tricks they win. If one player can avoid getting the thirteen point card in the game they have a very good chance of winning the game. I just think it is too big of punishment to lay on a player due to one mistake or even possibly due to no fault of their own.
The thing is I actually like the idea behind the card. I like that the card keeps players honest early in rounds. Without the threat of the high point card, you will just ditch all of your high cards early in the game. The yellow thirteen card makes players cautious of playing high yellow cards to avoid getting stuck with it. I honestly think Hearts/UNO Hearts might be improved by having one of these cards for every suit. This would create an interesting decision for players as they decide when is the best time to play their high cards. If you were to add these additional cards though the punishment should be lowered to five or so points. At five points it will be a deterrent but won’t be too big of a punishment.
Another problem I had with UNO Hearts is that I think the game lasts a little too long. I think this type of game would be best at about 20 minutes. UNO Hearts will usually probably take around 30-45 minutes though. At 45 minutes the game tends to drag. If a player had bad luck in an early hand they will be basically eliminated from the game. Unless their luck drastically changes they are stuck playing a game they know they likely won’t win. At 15-20 minutes this isn’t that big of deal but it starts becoming a problem at 30-45 minutes.
Component wise you basically get what you would expect out of an UNO game. There are quite a few cards in the game. Unless you are playing with a lot of people, you likely won’t use quite a few of the cards in a given round. This makes it impossible to count cards and adds a little suspense as you can never be sure what cards the other players have in their hands. The game’s artwork is reminiscent of every other UNO game. The cards are easily recognizable but are also kind of generic.
Basically I would say that UNO Hearts is a pretty generic trick taking game. The game is quite easy to play where you don’t have to put too much thought into any given move. In most tricks you either won’t have a choice or it will be pretty obvious what you should do. I wouldn’t say UNO Hearts has much strategy but there are the occasional situations where you can take some risks to get rid of your worst cards.
Not being a huge fan of trick taking games, I didn’t love UNO Hearts. The game is not bad but there are better trick taking games out there. UNO Hearts just doesn’t really do anything original. With so many other trick taking options I think there are better options out there for people who aren’t huge fans of the genre. For example I think Zing! is considerably more enjoyable than UNO Hearts.
Should You Buy UNO Hearts?
As a whole UNO Hearts plays like most other trick taking games. As a matter of fact the only things it adds to Hearts is two unique types of cards inspired by UNO. The problem with these cards is that they actually make the game worse as they add unnecessary luck to the game. UNO Hearts is not a great game but it isn’t terrible either. I found the game to be a little long but the game is easy to play as you don’t have to put too much thought into any given move.
Unless you are a big fan of trick taking games I probably wouldn’t recommend picking up UNO Hearts. There are better trick taking games out there and UNO Hearts is surprisingly rare/expensive. To play a normal game of Hearts you just need a standard deck of cards and I think it probably is a better game. If you really like Hearts though and like the idea of the Switch and Draw Wild cards it may be worth picking up UNO Hearts. I would try to find a deal on the game though.