Uno Ultimate – MARVEL edition
- Designer: uncredited
- Publisher: Mattel
- Players: 2-4
- Age: 7+
- Time: 30 minutes
- Played with review copy provided by Mattel USA
Uno is one of the staples of American childhood gaming. It’s the sort of game you can find in just about every home, a deck will always be found at the lake house or summer camp cabin, or in the recesses of the basement toy chest. Just about everyone knows the rules (or thinks they know the rules) – though apparently you can’t stack +4 and +2 cards – https://twitter.com/realUNOgame/status/1314309660589998080 and https://twitter.com/realUNOgame/status/1124720366130204672
There are now approximately 762 different versions of UNO available in stores today (check out this affiliate list on Amazon – https://amzn.to/3FLOjF6 ), and the most recent version has a MARVEL tie-in for theme. In this game, each player takes on the identity of a Marvel character, and they get special character powers to use each turn! You choose to be Thor, Captain Marvel, Black Panther or Iron Man, and you take the corresponding character deck, shuffling it and drawing 7 cards. The Danger deck is made by shuffling in the purple Enemy and Event cards associated with the superheroes chosen for this game.
The game starts out like regular UNO, with one player playing a card from their hand. Any time a card is played, check to see if your hero has a special action which is triggered by that card. The next player then gets to take a turn. First, check the whole table to see if there are any start-of-turn effects to be resolved.
Then, the active player has the opportunity to play a card. They can always play a card which has a matching color, number or symbol. If it is an Action card (+2, reverse, skip, wild, etc), then follow the special directions on that card. Some cards have a danger icon on them (an exclamation point in an orange sunburst); when this happens turn over the top card of the Danger pile. The player can also simply choose to not play a card (whether they have a legal play or not) and draw one card from the deck and add it to their hand. The next player then starts their turn.
There are 2 types of cards in the Danger Pile – Enemies and Events. Each player can have one Enemy in front of them. If you already have one when you reveal an Enemy from the Danger Deck, replace the current one with the new one. Enemy cards have a number of instructions on them: 1) what happens when you place them in front of you, 2) rules changes that affect you so long as the enemy is in play, 3) what type of card you must play in order to defeat the enemy. Event cards give varied special instructions that must be followed.
Normally when you draw or add cards to your hand, they come from your specific Character Deck. You may be forced to Burn cards, which discards them out of your Deck. However, they may not be permanently lost as you can Recover some of those cards with other actions.
The game can end in the “usual” fashion – that is by getting rid of all the cards in your hand (and correctly exclaiming UNO when you have one card left). However, you can also win if you are the only person remaining with cards left in their Character deck.
My thoughts on the game – so this turns out to be UNO with a few chrome-y bits to make it a bit more interesting. The special actions of each of the superheroes gives you a starting strategy; as each has a different ability:
- Thor – each time you play a Wild, the next player to go must burn 2 cards from their Character Deck
- Iron Man – When you play a Danger icon card, everyone else must burn one card
- Captain Marvel – on your turn, you can add a card to your hand to freely chance the active color
- Black Panther – When you defeat an Enemy, recover 2 cards from your Burn pile.
The enemy cards add a nice twist as they give unique penalties and conditions to your card playing; and in some cases, nice benefits when you are able to defeat the Enemy in front of you (if you are Black Panther). The Enemy cards add a bit more strategy to the base game because they give players one more reason to play certain cards. For instance, if I know that you must burn a card every time you play a Green card, I might always try to change to color to Green to hurt you. Similarly, if I know you need to play a Red card to defeat an enemy, I’ll try to prevent that as well.
Not that I have bothered so far, but I suppose the fact that each player has their own deck means that you could theoretically count cards and know what players may or may not have in their hand. I personally didn’t expend that much energy, and honestly, I didn’t notice much of a difference in the game with each player having their own supply as opposed to one giant deck.
The game does take a bit longer to play as you have special abilities to consider – both in your choice of card and then in the actual resolution of said cards. But, overall, it doesn’t add too much to the structure of an UNO game. My 8-year-old nephews seemed to handle it just fine, and they really liked the thematic additions.
As you would expect, the game is rife with opportunity for expansion, and there are different Character decks that can be found. Spiderman, Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch are already in my box. Furthermore, there are 4 special foil cards (gotta catch them all?!) in each box, with the opportunity to collect more in other base sets and expansions.
For those of you looking for a bit more to your UNO games, or those with a MARVEL addiction, this may be a good addition to your game collection. The game has just released and should be available in most mass market locations. For instance: https://www.walmart.com/ip/UNO-Ultimate-Marvel/938663720?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor