Gen Con 2023 – Mattel

UNO Mattel had a booth full of card games at the convention. Sure, there was a Pictionary Air going on alongside the party game If You Were, but otherwise there was UNO Quatro, UNO Ultimate DC, UNO House Rules, and UNO Flex!. (Yes, several of those are older titles but we’ll lump them into this report anyway.)

First we’ll get the non-UNO If You Were out of the way. This is a straightforward party voting game. The active player reads a card with a question like “If I were a tasty chicken what would I be?” Five choices are given like spicy, fried, nugget, etc… Players then simultaneously pick the choice most like the active player. The goal is to pick the choice that the majority of players will pick. Once players have voted, the players in the majority score a point and the game continues with a new active player. The game is currently a Walmart exclusive for now.

UNO Quatro was on several tables, including a giant one at the front of the booth. This is a game played with an upright board composed of several slotted columns. Players choose one of their three UNO-like tiles in their hand drop one onto the top of the board, sliding them down to land on any tiles already in the column. The goal is to form a matching set of four tiles either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Like UNO, however, one must play a tile that will form some sort of match with an adjacent tile (color or number.) There are no wild tiles, but there are three special ones. One simply punishes the next player by removing two of their tiles at random (giving them only one choice for their next turn before redrawing to 3.) The second lets a player remove and swap any two columns on the board (the board is constructed so this is not very difficult.) The final tile option is to push down on the column on which it is played. There is an opening at the bottom of each column and so a gentle push will pop out the bottom-most tile, dropping all the other tiles by one space. (Note, checking for a win happens AFTER the tiles are dropped – a fine point we discovered during play.) UNO Quatro has the dubious honor of one of the few games I finished at the convention, and the only UNO game I played. While it was close a few times, I won out over the brothers Yu by strategically being the only player with a yellow tile. The game goes from 1-4 players and should be already out in stores.

UNO Flex! is another new, slightly more strategic, take on the UNO brand. It is a standard UNO deck but some of the cards may be played as one of two colors (see the green/red 4 in the photo.) Either color can be used for placement rules, but they change the active color (if it is different) to the color in the center of the new card. Special ability cards sometimes also have two choices, giving a player even more options.

However, players may only “flex” their card to use the alternate color if their Flex token is green. After use, it flips over to red and a player can no longer flex their cards. Some of the special ability cards flip your Flex token, but this happens even if it is currently on its green side. First to go out of cards wins, or players can keep score with the player going out gaining points equal to the cards left in the other players’ hands.

UNO Ultimate has been out a few years, but UNO Ultimate DC is the first foray into the DC comics universe. Play as Superman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, or (my obvious favorite) Green Lantern. This is the standard UNO mechanic but players play using their own hero-themed deck that contains unique special abilities on the wild cards. There is also a central deck of cards that messes with the game. This deck contains events, enemies, items, and (new to this game) location cards that apply a global effect to the game. The central deck is constructed each game from special cards from each hero at the table. This adds to the theme and helps to further differentiate each character from the others. As is typical with UNO, the victor is the first to run out of cards in their hand but it is also possible to win by eliminating the other heroes using the special cards in the game.

I checked the BGG database and UNO House Rules was released in 1998 so I am pretty darn sure this is a new re release for the 2020s. It is still UNO, but when a player places a card with a “house rules” symbol they get to make a new rule that players have to follow for the rest of the game. For example, if I played a “5” with a house rule I could say that for the rest of the game anytime a “5” is played everyone must slap the table and the last player to slap will have to draw a card. The wild cards in the deck allow players to change a previous house rule they don’t like.

If those don’t scratch your UNO itch, you’ll just have to wait for next year to see the next UNO release.

About Matt J Carlson

Dad, Gamer, Science Teacher, Youth Pastor... oh and I have green hair. To see me "in action" check out Dr. Carlson's Science Theater up on Youtube...
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