Today I am going to continue Geeky Hobbies’ look at the line of UNO spinoff games. So far we have looked at UNO Dominoes, UNO Flip, UNO Hearts, UNO Spin, and UNO Wild Tiles. After playing these many different UNO games I have started to notice that most of the UNO spinoff games fall into one of two categories. First there are the games that take the theme of UNO and apply it to other types of games. This would describe UNO Dominoes, UNO Hearts, and UNO Wild Tiles. On the other hand there are the games that take the basic game of UNO and add on a couple different mechanics. While UNO Flip failed to really add much to the formula, UNO Spin did a pretty good job remaining loyal to the original game while adding a unique twist to the formula. It was obvious that UNO Tippo was going to be one of the games that built off the original game but I was curious if it was going to be more like UNO Flip or UNO Spin. UNO Tippo actually adds a lot of interesting ideas to UNO that unfortunately don’t work as well as I would have hoped.
How to Play UNO Tippo
- Assemble the scale and place it in the center of the play area.
- Each player draws a card. The player who draws the highest card will be the first dealer.
- Shuffle all of the cards and deal seven cards to each player. The rest of the cards form the draw pile
- Take the top two cards from the draw pile and place one in each of the card holders to start both discard piles. If either card is a special card the first player can disregard the action. If one of the cards is a wild though the first player gets to choose the color that the wild will represent.
Playing the Game
On a player’s turn they will play one of their cards to one of the two discard piles. To play a card on a discard pile the card has to match one of the following of the top card in that discard pile:
If a player can’t play a card they will draw the top card from the discard pile. If the player can play the card they drew, they can immediately play it to one of the discard piles.
After a player has played a card or drawn a card, play passes to the next player clockwise.
One of the unique things in UNO Tippo is the scale. If the scale tips and the cards fall out of the trays, the last player to complete their turn (playing or drawing a card) will be forced to draw the top two cards from the draw pile. To reset the scale place the top two cards from each discard pile back onto the scale. The rest of the cards are set aside and will be reshuffled if you run out of cards.
When a player only has one card remaining, they must say “UNO”. If a player catches them before they say “UNO” or the next player finishes their turn, the player with one card has to draw two cards from the draw pile. When a player plays their last card the round ends and the game proceeds to scoring. If the last card played is a special card though the round doesn’t end until the special card’s action has been completed.
Draw Two: When this card is played the next player has to draw two cards from the draw pile and they also lose their next turn.
Reverse: When this card is played the direction of play is reversed. For example if play was moving clockwise, it will now move counterclockwise.
Skip: When this card is played the next player will lose their turn.
Wild: This card can be played on top of any other card. The player who plays the card gets to decide what color it represents.
Wild Draw Four: When a player plays this card the next player will draw four cards from the draw pile and will lose their next turn. The player who played the card gets to decide what color the card represents.
Tilt: This card can be played on top of any other card. When this card is played all of the players will take turns adding cards to the side of the scale that this card was added to. Players will take the top card from the draw pile and add it to the scale. The player who makes the scale tip will draw two cards from the discard pile. The scale is then reset. The player after the player who tipped the scale will take the next turn. If the last card played is an action card, the action will be applied to the next player.
Stop: Stop cards are played like any other number card. When a stop card is played to one of the discard piles though, cards cannot be added to that discard pile except under the following situations:
- A wild card can always be played on a stop card.
- Another stop card can be played on a stop card if it either matches the color or number.
- If a stop card has been played on both discard piles, the next player can play onto either discard pile if their card matches the color or number. Once one of the stop cards are covered though, the stop still applies to the other side.
The player that wins a round will collect all of the cards remaining in the other players’ hands. The player will score points for each card as follows:
- Numbers: Face Value
- Draw Two, Reverse, Skip: 25 points
- Wild, Wild Draw Four, Tilt: 50 points
If the player has not reached a total of 500 points another round is played.
End of Game
The game ends when one of the players has scored 500 points. The player who has scored 500 or more points has won the game.
My Thoughts on UNO Tippo
Before playing UNO Tippo I was really curious on how the game was going to balance between being a card game and a dexterity game. While all of the mechanics from normal UNO are still present, I wondered how they would work with a stacking/dexterity mechanic as they are from two very distinct genres. There are problems (which I will get to later) but the two different genres actually seem to work together better than you would expect.
Outside of changing some of the cards, the card game aspect of UNO Tippo is exactly the same as normal UNO. Players take turns playing cards that match the color, number or symbol of the top card on the discard pile with the ultimate goal of getting rid of all of the cards from their hand. I am not going to talk about this aspect of the game as pretty much everyone has played UNO before so they probably already have their own opinion of it. As the core of the game is the same as normal UNO, I can’t see the rest of the game persuading someone who hates UNO into liking UNO Tippo.
I think the biggest change in UNO Tippo comes from the scale itself. I am not talking about the dexterity/stacking mechanic but the fact that UNO Tippo allows players to play cards to two different discard piles. Having played UNO for so many years I have to admit that it is kind of weird having two different discard piles that you can play on. This opens up a surprisingly amount of options for players because two discard piles makes it much more likely that players will be able to play a card on their turn. Personally I liked this addition as it increases the odds that a player can play a card instead of wasting time drawing more cards. It also makes it harder for the players to gang up on the player in the lead. I would actually be intrigued to see how two discard piles would work with other versions of UNO.
Now you might be wondering by giving players two discard piles isn’t it really easy for players to get rid of their cards? This is where the stop cards come into play. Basically the stop cards act as a way to close off one of the two discard piles unless a player has one of the few cards that they can play on a stop card. At the basic level I don’t have any issues with the stop cards. By adding another discard pile the game had to find a way of being able block one of the discard piles or it would be too easy to get rid of cards.
The final major addition to the game is the most obvious, the scale. The scale was interesting because I had no idea how a balancing mechanic would work with a simple card game like UNO. I actually think the idea of adding a scale is actually pretty clever. With the scale players are able to play cards to either side of the scale but they have to be careful not to play too many cards to one side or they would tip over the scale and face the penalty. The game even includes tilt cards which force players to keep playing cards until someone tips over the scale. The scale actually adds a little strategy to UNO as players can try to force the other players into playing cards on the side of the scale that is likely to tip over.
When you look at all three new additions it is not hard to see that UNO Tippo is probably one of the spinoff games that adds the most to the UNO formula. UNO Flip basically only added a flipping mechanic that really didn’t impact the game. UNO Spin basically kept the card playing mechanic the same while adding the spinning mechanic that occasionally changes things up. Of the three games UNO Tippo actually feels the most like a new game and not just a couple mechanics added onto normal UNO. The problem is that while it is a new experience I am not sure whether that is actually a good thing.
UNO Tippo has a lot of interesting ideas and yet none of them work as well as you would expect. They actually end up ruining the best part of UNO, the length. One of the best things about UNO is how short each round/hand is. While there will always be setbacks, it usually only takes around five to ten minutes for one of the players to get rid of all of their cards. This is not the case in UNO Tippo though. Rounds tend to drag on for too long as players are regularly forced to draw cards.
The biggest culprit for the extended length comes from the scale itself. I actually give the scale a lot of credit as it is a lot more stable than I thought it was going to be. If players are careful and play cards evenly between the two discard piles you can actually add an almost endless number of cards to each side of the scale. The problem is that rarely will ever happen. Even if a player wanted to try and keep the scales balanced it is easier said than done. Too often the scale tips over forcing a player to draw two cards and then reset the scale. As soon as a player is close to going out they seem to always tip over the scale.
The main culprit is the stop cards. While I understand the necessity of the stop cards, at times they can be too much. When a stop card is played it is really hard to get rid of it. The only true way to get rid of one is to play a wild card on top of it. You could play a different stop card but the discard pile will still be blocked. Playing a stop to the other discard pile lets you play cards on top of one of the stop cards but as soon as a card is played the other discard pile will once again be blocked. Once a stop card is played the discard pile is basically stuck with it for most of the rest of the round.
UNO Tippo might be trying to be a dexterity balancing game but there is very little actual dexterity to the game. While I appreciate that the scale is sturdy the only way to knock over the scale prematurely is to be careless. Unless the scale is right on the edge of tipping over you don’t have to be careful when placing cards. One player even threw their cards into the tray instead of laying them in and it didn’t tip over the scale. Unless you carelessly press down on one of the trays when adding your card, you aren’t going to tip over the scale unless one side of the scale has several more cards than the other side.
As the scale is sturdy you can pretty much always tell when the scale is going to tip over. Therefore there is not as much strategy in choosing which pile to place your card on as I would have hoped. While you can take a risk placing a card on the side that is close to tipping over, it usually is not a good decision. The other player will likely just play their card on the other discard pile so you don’t gain anything by purposing getting one of the sides to be close to tipping over. The only time that the scale tips is when a player is forced to play a card on the side that already has too many cards. This usually is due to the stop and tilt cards. While there is some strategy in forcing another player into playing on a side that will make the scale tip, I don’t think it offsets the fact that usually you have no way to avoid the situation when you are stuck in it.
While I find some of the additional mechanics in UNO Tippo to be a little questionable, I actually think the game deserves credit for the components. The cards are basically what you would expect out of any other UNO game. As I already mentioned I actually think the scale is surprisingly well made. The scale is made of moderately thick plastic where I can’t see it breaking unless players are really rough on it. While the scale has a decent amount of pieces it is pretty easy to assemble. The only real complaint I have is that it might be too sturdy. While I like that the scale is not so flimsy that it is easy to knock over, with the scale being so sturdy it basically eliminates the dexterity mechanic from the game.
Should You Buy UNO Tippo?
UNO Tippo might look silly at first but I actually thought it looked like an interesting twist on the UNO formula. The idea of adding a dexterity mechanic to UNO was interesting. The game actually has some interesting new mechanics including two discard piles, stop cards and the dexterity/stacking mechanic. While these ideas are interesting, none of them work as well as they should. The main problem is that UNO Tippo adds too many new ways to draw cards which makes the rounds take quite a bit longer than normal UNO.
If you don’t like UNO in general, UNO Tippo is not going to change your mind. If you like UNO things get a little more complicated. UNO Tippo has some good ideas but they all extend the game so if you like how short UNO hands/rounds are, UNO Tippo might not be for you. If you want to try something new with UNO though, UNO Tippo is a unique game in the franchise. If you can find the game for cheap it may be worth picking up.