As I have mentioned before, UNO might be a simple card game but it has spawned a surprising number of spinoff games. We have already looked at several of these spinoff games on Geeky Hobbies including: UNO Dominoes, UNO Flip, UNO Hearts, and UNO Wild Tiles. Today I am going to be looking at another one of these UNO spinoff games, UNO Spin. UNO Spin basically takes UNO and adds in a spinner. UNO Spin doesn’t play drastically different than normal UNO but the spinner adds some interesting twists to the tried and true UNO formula.
How to Play UNO Spin
- Place the spinner gameboard in the middle of the table. The wheel reference cards are spread around the table so each player can quickly reference one of them.
- All of the players draw a card. The player who draws the highest card will be the first dealer.
- The dealer shuffles the cards and deals seven cards to each player. The rest of the cards are put into one of the slots of the spinner forming the draw pile.
- The top card from the draw pile is turned over and placed in the other slot to form the discard pile. The player to the left of the dealer will start the round. If the card is a wild draw four it is replaced with another card. Any other special cards impact the first player.
Playing the Game
On a player’s turn they will play one of the cards from their hand. To play a card it has to match the top card of the discard pile in one of three ways:
If a player either can’t play a card or chooses not to, they will draw the top card from the draw pile. If the player is able to play this new card they can immediately play it if they want to.
After a player has played or drawn a card, play passes to the next player.
When a player only has one card remaining in their hand they have to say “UNO”. If someone calls them out before they say UNO or the next player has taken their turn, the player has to draw two cards from the draw pile. When a player gets rid of their last card, play passes to the scoring phase.
Draw Two: When played the next player has two draw two cards and will miss their next turn.
Reverse: When played the turn order will reverse. For example if play was moving clockwise, it will now move counterclockwise.
Skip: When played the next player will miss their next turn.
Wild: The player who plays the card can choose what color the discard pile will change to.
Wild Draw Four: The player who plays the card can change the color of the discard pile to any color. The next player will also have to draw four cards and will miss their next turn. A player cannot play a wild draw four if they have a card in their hand that matches the color of the discard pile.
Spin: Spin cards are indicated by the swirling pattern around the number. When a player plays a spin card the next player will use their turn to spin the wheel.
Spinning the Wheel
When a player spins the wheel they will take the action corresponding to the space that the spinner lands on. If a player gets to discard several cards they get to choose which card is placed on top.
Almost UNO: The player who spun the wheel can discard all but two of their cards.
Discard Number: The player who spun the wheel chooses one number and can discard all of the cards of that number from their hand. A player is not required to discard all of the cards of the chosen number.
Discard Color: The player who spun the wheel chooses one color and can discard all cards of the chosen color. A player is not required to discard all of the cards of the chosen color.
Draw Red: The player who spun the wheel will keep drawing cards from the draw pile until they draw a red card.
Draw Blue: The player who spun the wheel will keep drawing cards from the draw pile until they draw a blue card.
Trade Hands: All of the players will pass their hand to the player on their left. If a player is passed a hand of only one card they have to say “UNO” or they will be assessed the two card penalty.
Show Hand: The player who spun the wheel has to show their hand to the rest of the players. Once everyone has seen the cards, the player can once again hide their hand.
War: All of the players will choose the highest number card from their hand. Everyone reveals their cards at the same time. If one player plays a card higher than all of the other players, they will win the battle. If two or more players tie for the highest number, all of the tied players will play their next highest card. The players will keep playing cards until only one player remains. The player who wins the battle gets to discard all of the cards they played in the war. All of the other players have to put the cards they played back into their hands. The player who plays after the player who won the war gets to take the next turn.
UNO Spin: When this symbol is rolled all of the players race to yell out “UNO Spin”. The first player to yell it out gets to discard one of the cards of their choice from their hand. Play then continues with the player who plays after the player who discarded one of their cards.
The player who won the round takes all of the cards left in the other players’ hands. The player who won the round will score points for each card as follows:
- Number Cards-Number Shown on the Card
- Draw Two, Reverse, Skip-20 points
- Wild, Wild Draw Four-50 points
If none of the players have a combined total of 500 points another round is played with the next player clockwise becoming the dealer.
End of Game
The game ends when one of the players have scored 500 points. The player with 500 or more points has won the game.
My Thoughts on UNO Spin
So I am going to get right to the point. UNO Spin shares a lot in common with normal UNO. It kind of feels like UNO Spin is an expansion for the original game. It comes with all of the cards and mechanics from the original game. UNO Spin just adds the spinner mechanic and changes some of the normal number cards into special cards that are used to trigger the spinner mechanic. While the spinner does change how the game is played, the majority of UNO Spin is going to still feel like normal UNO as probably at least 80% of the game is just normal UNO. With that said your enjoyment of UNO Spin is probably going to depend on your feelings towards the original UNO. If you have never liked UNO I can’t see you enjoying UNO Spin. If you enjoy UNO though I would recommend reading on.
As pretty much everyone has played UNO or a similar card game sometime in their lives I am not going to waste time talking about the main mechanics of the game since you probably already have your own opinions of UNO. Instead I am going to talk about the only major difference in UNO Spin which is the addition of the spinner. Before playing UNO Spin I have to admit that I didn’t know what to expect from the game. The problem with a lot of these UNO spinoff games is that they can vary quite a bit on how much they actually add to UNO. For example I recently looked at UNO Flip. The main problem with UNO Flip is that it didn’t really add anything to the UNO formula other than a flipping mechanic that didn’t really work. I was worried that UNO Spin was going to suffer from the same fate.
While the spinner mechanic doesn’t drastically change the gameplay, I think for the most part it is actually a nice addition to the UNO formula. What I like about the spinner is that it doesn’t try to change the main gameplay but instead tries to complement it. This is shown by the fact that you could take the spinner mechanic out of UNO Spin and it would play exactly like normal UNO.
Unlike UNO Flip though, the spinner actually has an impact on the game. The spinner doesn’t come into play a lot (around 20% of the cards trigger the spinner mechanic) but when it does come into play it can actually have a pretty big impact on the game. All of the spaces on the spinner are not equal. The Show Hand, War and UNO Spin spaces probably have the least impact on the game. Showing your hand gives the other players a lot of information about what cards you have but your hand will likely change pretty quickly so it doesn’t have a long term impact on the game. The War and UNO Spin spaces usually lead to a player only getting rid of one of their cards. The biggest impact these spaces have is in determining who gets to play next. We actually ended up using our own house rule for the UNO Spin space where the player who spun the wheel got to get rid of one of their cards. We used this house rule because with how the wheel was designed it is hard for all of the players to see where the spinner stopped at the same time which gives some of the players a big advantage.
While some spaces don’t have a huge impact, some can really help/hurt a player. The Almost UNO space is probably the most powerful as it puts the player who spun it two turns away from possibly winning the game. This could easily take a player from last to first. The Trade Hands space can also be powerful as some players will end up with quite a few less cards while others will end up gaining quite a few cards. The Draw Red and Draw Blue spaces could also be pretty powerful if a player can’t draw the right colored card. While most of the time it only leads to a player drawing a couple cards, there could be times where a player is forced to draw a lot of cards.
The most interesting spaces on the wheel though are probably the discard number and discard color spaces. In general I wouldn’t say that UNO Spin has a lot of strategy since you mostly need to be dealt the right cards to win the game. One of the few strategies that you can implement in the game though is to try and keep cards of the same number and color together. Keeping a lot of cards of the same color and number is helpful since it lets you get rid of a lot of cards at a time if you spin the corresponding space on the wheel.
I think these spaces along with the War space actually add a little risk/reward to the game. If you are playing with the scoring rules you generally want to get rid of your high number cards as early as you can in the game. You want to get rid of them early because if you are stuck with them in your hand at the end of the round you are going to be giving more points to the winner of the round. The possibility of spinning these spaces though might encourage you to keep cards in your hand that you otherwise would have tried to get rid of as soon as possible.
While on the topic of strategy the spinner does a pretty good job of messing up your strategy from time to time. This happens because when the spinner allows players to discard cards, players have quite a bit of freedom over what cards they end up discarding. If the player discards multiple cards they also get to decide which one goes on top. This can really mess up your strategy as both the color and number/symbol that is on the top of the discard pile can change. The discard pile could be the color or number you need and then after the spinner is spun it could be changed to something that you can’t play.
I think UNO Spin made some nice additions to UNO but it is far from perfect. The biggest problem is that the spinner mostly just adds additional luck to the game. UNO has always relied heavily on luck and yet I think UNO Spin relies even more on luck. Basically the spinner adds more randomness to the game eliminating the little strategy found in the original game. Generally I am not a big fan of randomness but I don’t think it is a huge problem for UNO Spin as UNO has always relied heavily on luck and in some ways I think the additional randomness kind of works for the game.
One thing I don’t really understand though is why the game decided to have the spin cards make the next player spin instead of the current player. I thought this was kind of odd because I think spinning the wheel is usually more of a benefit than a punishment. The player loses their turn when they spin the wheel but I think the wheel will benefit the player more often than it will hurt them. Of the nine spaces three of the spaces end up impacting all of the players equally so I wouldn’t consider them to be a punishment or a benefit. Three of the remaining spaces hurt the spinning player while the last three help the spinning player. I personally think the benefits far outweigh the negatives though. Showing your hand to the other players is not that big of deal in my opinion unless you are about to go out. Meanwhile the Almost UNO space gets you really close to winning a round. I think the discard spaces are also potentially more powerful than the draw spaces. With every other special card in the game hurting the next player, it is interesting that the spin cards can actually help the player that they are played against. I would be curious though to see how the game would play with a house rule where the player who played the spin card getting to choose between spinning the wheel themselves or letting the next player spin.
As far as the components go I would say UNO Spin does a better job than I was expecting. The cards are basically the same as any other version of UNO. The only issue I have with the cards is that it is somewhat hard to see which cards force a player to spin the wheel. This is particularly true for the yellow cards since it is hard to see the swirl in the corners. As far as the spinner I think it is pretty good. It is sturdy and spins well. The only problem that I had with it is that it is hard for all of the players to see the space that the spinner landed on. Especially if you place cards in the card holders it is pretty hard for people on the opposite side of the spinner to see what was spun.
Should You Buy UNO Spin?
While UNO Spin doesn’t drastically change the UNO formula I would say that it is one of the better UNO spinoff games that I have played. I think this is due to the game mostly focusing on the main UNO gameplay while adding in a mechanic that occasionally changes things up. The spinning mechanic has enough impact on the game to make it worthwhile but avoids becoming distracting. The spinning does add quite a bit randomness to the game though which makes the game rely more on luck than normal UNO. UNO Spin is not a must buy UNO spinoff game but it is a nice distraction.
If you don’t like UNO you will probably like UNO Spin even less. If you like UNO though and like the idea of the spinning mechanic I think you will like UNO Spin.