Anyone who has checked out a fair number of our reviews here on Geeky Hobbies will know that we have played a lot of different UNO games over the years. UNO has had a lot of different spinoff games created over the years, and we have actually taken a look at most of them. Some are only slight tweaks to the UNO formula, while others actually change the core gameplay quite a bit. Before I try out a new UNO game, I am always intrigued to see where it will fall on this spectrum. Released last year, I was really curious about UNO Triple Play.
There have been a number of electronic UNO games released over the years. Some of these have been better than others. In particular I liked UNO Flash as it added a sort of speed mechanic to the game as well as a way to randomize who got to take the next turn. UNO Triple Play intrigued me for a couple of reasons. The electronic component was one of them. The fact that there are three play piles and a mechanic that punished you for playing too many cards to a pile were others. UNO Triple Play is an interesting twist on the traditional UNO game adding some interesting new mechanics which makes it one of the best UNO spinoff games.
At its core UNO Triple Play is similar to your typical UNO game. The objective is still to try and get rid of all of your cards before the other players. To play a card it either needs to match the color, number or symbol of the last played card. The game has a number of action cards which also change up the gameplay. UNO Triple Play introduces three new cards to the game.
The biggest change is the addition of the electronic component. The game unit has spaces for three different discard piles. For each turn the game unit will choose which of these discard piles that you can play cards too. You always need to be careful when playing a card though. When too many cards are played to a pile, you will overload it. This will force you to draw cards. Finally the game has an optional mode which adds a timer to the gameplay forcing you to play cards quickly or face a punishment.
If you would like to see the complete rules/instructions for the game, check out our UNO Triple Play how to play guide.
Heading into playing UNO Triple Play I was intrigued. With how many different UNO games that I have played, I look for games that do something different. They need to find the right balance between sticking to the original gameplay, while introducing some new mechanics that actually change it in interesting ways. Hopefully these changes improve upon the original game. UNO Triple Play had the potential to improve upon the original UNO, and I think it does in many ways.
The most obvious difference comes from the game unit. The game unit actually does a number of things. The first change comes from there being three different discard piles. The game unit chooses which of these discard piles that you can play to. Based on my experience it seems completely random which spaces it will choose for you. Even the number of choices you have appears to be random. I would say that you will get to choose from two different piles a majority of the time. Sometimes you will only get one choice, and other times you will get to play to any of the three discard piles.
While the three discard piles come with their own issues, for the most part I liked the addition. Most of the time you will get two choices for piles to play on. Maybe our group was just lucky when we played, but it seemed to make it considerably easier to play cards on your turn. Having two different piles that you could play on increases your odds of having a card that you can play on your turn. There will be a decent number of times where you can play on more than one pile as well. This gives you a choice of what card to play on your turn. This could potentially add a little strategy to the game.
The game randomly choosing which piles you can play to is kind of fun between the sound effects and lights. In theory I don’t mind the game randomly choosing which piles you can play too. If you could play to all three piles at any time, it would be way too easy to play your cards. With it being random which pile you can play to, you need to adjust your strategy as it could change based on what piles you can play to.
The problem with this element of the game is that it does add more luck to the game. Basically you need to hope that the game is on your side. If the game keeps giving you piles that you can play to, you have a good chance of doing well in the game. If it keeps picking piles that you can’t play to, things are going to be considerably harder. The number of piles that it chooses can have a big impact as well. Obviously having two or even three options is always better than only having one option. This is especially true when the overload mechanic comes into play. Likely some players are going to benefit more from the random choice than others.
Outside of having potentially three different piles to play to, the other main addition that the game unit adds to UNO Triple Play is the overload mechanic. Each time you play a card to a pile you will press down on the corresponding button. This tells the game unit that a card was played to the pile. The game unit randomly decides how many cards can be played to each pile before they overload. The game has indicator lights to give you an idea of how many more cards can be played to a pile. When this light turns red, you are taking a risk each time you play another card to the pile. If you play the card that overloads the pile, you will be forced to draw one to four cards.
I generally liked the overload mechanic. Usually you can’t avoid an overload especially if you only have one pile that you can play to. It does occasionally add some interesting decisions to the game though. If you can play to two or three of the piles, you may decide against playing to a pile that has been in the red for a while. Sometimes you need to weigh the risk of playing to the pile. It might be really helpful for you to play to a pile, but is the risk of having to draw cards worth it. It doesn’t add a ton of strategy to the game, but I think it is a nice addition to UNO Triple Play.
The final thing that the game unit adds is the timer mode. When you choose to play this mode, it plays basically the same as the normal game. The only real change is that there is now a time limit for how long you have to play a card. When it is your turn you need to quickly analyze what piles that you can play to, and see if there are any cards that you can play. You then need to play the card and press the corresponding button as quickly as possible. You need to do all of this within seven seconds. If you can’t, you will draw six cards. That is a lot of cards, so you want to avoid it if at all possible.
I generally liked the timer mode, even though it isn’t going to be for everyone. It does add a sense of stress to the game as you need to make decisions quickly. I think it is a good sense of stress though. You need to think quickly as you race against the timer. This will sometimes lead you to playing cards that you normally wouldn’t play. If you aren’t forced to draw a card, you will usually have enough time to put a little consideration into what you do. For players that don’t like speed games though, the time pressure may be too much. I liked the speed mechanic though as it was a good change of pace from the normal game. I wouldn’t use it all of the time, but I can see playing both modes of UNO Triple Play from time to time.
The final addition to UNO Triple Play is three new cards. Two of these cards directly relate to the game unit and the third card plays like a normal action card. I actually really liked the Discard Two of the Same Color card. Basically you can play the card along with another card of the same color at the same time. If used well it allows you to get rid of two cards on your turn instead of one. This is a card I would like to see implemented in other UNO games in the future. The Wild Clear is a solid card as it keeps you safe from overloading a pile, as it resets the pile to green. The Wild Give Away card is interesting as it basically encourages you to try and overload a pile. When you overload the pile, you get to give the cards out to other players. This allows you to directly attack the player that is closest to going out. In general I liked the three new card additions to UNO Triple Play.
At the end of the day I think UNO Triple Play does improve upon the original UNO. It does a good job remaining loyal to the original game, while also doing something new. The game is a good example of what a spinoff board game should do. UNO Triple Play plays close enough to the original to please fans. It changes things up enough though where it feels like a new game. It may be recency bias, but I think I will end up playing UNO Triple Play more than the original UNO game.
With the additions out of the way, lets quickly talk about what the game shares in common with the original UNO. The gameplay plays basically the same as the original game. The game is pretty straightforward. It is obvious what cards you can play each turn. Sometimes there is a decision to make. Other times you only have one choice, or your choice is really obvious. The game is far from deep. It relies on a lot of luck as the cards you are dealt will likely play a pretty big role in how well you ultimately do. Basically if you don’t like the UNO gameplay, I don’t see UNO Triple Play changing your mind.
I have always kind of enjoyed UNO though. The game is not meant to be highly strategic. Instead it is meant to be a game that you can enjoy without having to put too much thought into what you are doing. The game is easy to play and learn. It usually plays quite quickly as well as long as you don’t get into a situation where no one can play their remaining cards. The reason I mostly enjoy UNO is that it is a game that you can just relax and play. Those who enjoy the UNO gameplay or are just looking for a simple card game, will enjoy UNO Triple Play.
As for the game’s components, I generally thought they were pretty good. The card design is on par with every other UNO game. The card artwork is kind of simple, but it is to the point. The cards should last as long as you aren’t too rough with them. As for the game unit, I generally liked it. It seems to work quite well. It is sturdy to the point where I think it should last. The combination of sounds and lights work well. The only real complaint I have with the game unit is that it doesn’t appear to have a reset button. To reset it for another game/hand, it seems like you have to turn it over and flip the corresponding switch. While not too big of a problem, this is kind of annoying. A reset button on the front of the game unit would have been appreciated.
Ultimately I was pretty impressed by UNO Triple Play. The game still has most of the problems present in all UNO games (a high reliance on luck compared to strategy). I think it improves upon the original game in quite a few different areas though. The simple laid back gameplay the franchise is known for is still present. The game does a good job remaining loyal to the original game, while also creating a different experience. The game unit works well while adding additional discard piles and the overcharge mechanic. These are good additions for the most part. Even the new cards are good additions to the game.
My recommendation for UNO Triple Play is actually pretty straightforward. If you have never cared for UNO, I don’t see that changing with UNO Triple Play. Fans of the original game that want a different experience though, should enjoy UNO Triple Play and consider picking it up.
UNO Triple Play
Year: 2021 | Publisher: Mattel | Designer: NA | Artist: NA
Genres: Card, Family
Ages: 7+ | Number of Players: 2-6 | Length of Game: 10-15 minutes per hand
Difficulty: Light | Strategy: Light | Luck: Moderate
Components: 112 cards, UNO Triple Play Unit, instructions
- Does a good job balancing between being loyal to the original, and adding interesting new mechanics.
- Maintains the simple, easy, and enjoyable gameplay that the franchise is known for.
- Has most of the same issues that UNO is known for.
- Some of the new mechanics add some luck to the game.
Recommendation: For fans UNO that want a new interesting twist on the formula.
Where to Purchase: Amazon, eBay (Amazon has an exclusive version of the game called UNO Triple Play Stealth). Any purchases made through these links (including other products) help keep Geeky Hobbies running. Thank you for your support.