Uno Variation: Three Hand Uno
Requirements: 1 or more Uno decks (any variety)
Time: ~10-30 min/round (depending on number of players)
For this variation, deal 3 piles of 5 cards to each player face down. The goal is to get rid of each of your hands of cards.
Each player will choose a starting pile and what order they will initially play the hands in (e.g. left to right). For simplicity, it helps if the players all play the piles in the same order. On a player's turn, he will play the hand normally, and then will set it face down and pick up the next pile to prepare for his next turn. Play will then pass to the next player in the direction of play who will play her next pile.
Action cards only affect the next hand that will be played, not each of the player's hands. For example, if a Draw 2 card is played, the following player will draw 2 cards into the hand that he had already picked up and was prepared to play from. He would then set down the hand that drew 2 cards and pick up the next pile of cards to wait for his next turn.
When any of the piles of cards gets down to 1 card, that player must say "Uno." After finishing off a pile of cards, that player continues to play and rotate hands of cards, but only rotates between the hands remaining. The player does not treat the empty hand as if it was still in play or otherwise miss a turn when it would have been the empty hand's turn. For a variation on this, see the note at the end of this variation. Play continues until one person successfully gets rid of all her cards in each of her piles.
This variation drastically changes the strategy of Uno. It is also adds useful complexity and fun for more experienced players. When played with players who know what they are doing and can keep track of their piles, this variation moves quickly and is extremely fun.
The added complexity is not for everyone. Playing with less-skilled players will likely lead to some frustration and will slow the game down to the point where it loses its charm. You will also want to make sure you have a flat surface and plenty of room to deal with the extra piles of cards.
This variation is extremely fun and keeps you in the game trying to figure out how to get rid of each pile, and specifically how the other piles can help. While some games can be long (be careful what Special Wild Card you use), in general things can move fast enough to stay interesting. For anyone looking to add some more skill and strategy to their Uno game, this is the variation you're looking for.
- An extra twist you can try is to have each player take all of his turns sequentially instead of alternating with other players. This adds another strategic element as the cards played have a direct effect on the next pile you will play (including negative effects like drawing cards). It also acts as a catch up mechanism later in the game where players with 3 piles remaining will play 3 times in a row where their opponents may only have 1 or 2 plays in a row, depending on how many piles they have left. The major disadvantages are that this reduces the interplay between players and slows the game down.
- Special thanks to Alex for submitting this variation.