Merle Robbins and his son got into a fight over Crazy 8s regulations in 1971. Uno was the name he chose for a new game that he came up with in a stroke of inspiration. Playing cards to a shared discard pile is the goal of UNO players. There were cards of four different colors numbered 1-9, Wild cards, Skips, Reverses, Draw 2 cards, and the infamous and iconic Draw 4 card in this new game When a player only has one card left in their hand, they must shout “UNO” to the table, effectively painting a target on their back, to let everyone know they might be able to go out.
International Games paid Robbins $50,000 and ongoing royalties for the rights to UNO after he raised the $8,000 to print 5,000 cards and sold them out of his barbershop. UNO has remained the undisputed king of custom card games for nearly 50 years and has sold more than 150 million copies. Whether you love it or hate it, the popularity of UNO isn’t a fluke. The game’s easy rules, vibrant visuals, and amount of strategy allow players to converse with one another as they play.
Even though UNO is the most popular card game in the world, there are many alternative options available. Six light card games that I believe could take the place of UNO on your family’s game table are presented in this Top 6 feature.
There is a game on the list that I believe has the potential to replace UNO as the light card game king. PUSH is a card game in which players “push” their luck in order to acquire more points from a shared deck of cards than their rivals do.
For each turn, flip over a card from the deck and place it face-up in one of three piles. There can only be one card of each number and one card of each color in each pile (red, blue, purple, yellow, and green). As long as you can place the card in one of the three stacks, you’re good to go. If you can’t, your turn is over. You have the option of taking all of your cards in a single stack and putting them in your Bench at any time before you bust. Stacks are taken one at a time, clockwise, until all of the stacks have been taken. If you burst, all of this still occurs; you just lose the opportunity to select a stack, which might give your opponents a lot of points.
In addition, unless they’re Banked, cards sitting on your Bench pose a security risk. There are a few Roll cards tucked away among the point cards. In order to choose your stack, you must use the supplied 6-sided die and take your chances if it contains a Roll card. Unless it shows one of the five different colored faces, you must discard all of your cards of that color from your Bench if it comes up black. All cards of the same color can always be passed to the Bank during a player’s turn, ensuring their safety.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend teaching PUSH at any game night you attend this year. One of the few games I don’t bother to teach the rules before playing is this one. When the game begins, I just deal the cards and explain what’s happening. Even though the game’s rules appear straightforward, the decisions you must make aren’t. Is it possible to have two good selections and one bad option? This is a common situation. If you give it a try, you might be able to convince yourself to put UNO away for good.
2. Five Crowns
For the most part, I’ll never recommend a mass-market game to you, but Five Crowns is an exception. When playing Five Crowns, you’ll use all five of the traditional rummy suits (heart, spade; club; diamond; star); you’ll have 13 chances to win. The wild card is the one that appears in every hand with the same number of cards as the number of cards dealt. In the first round, participants are dealt three cards (one of which is a wild card), up until the 11th round, when they receive 13 cards (with the king card being wild). The game’s tagline, “It’s not over until the kings go wild,” is derived from this.
Each player’s turn begins with a card draw from the top of the deck or the discard pile, followed by a card discard. Five Crowns calls this a book, and it contains of cards all of the same number: 8? 8? 8?. Players can lay down sets and runs between drawing and discarding. At the end of the round, if no one has left any cards in their hand, the game is ended. After the other players have added up their points, a new round begins. The player with the fewest points at the end of all rounds is declared the winner.
When I initially heard about this game, I was suspicious.
5 Crowns is a new favorite of mine, however. It’s been a longtime favorite in my wife’s family, and I expect it to stick around for a long time. My mother-in-law is so amazing at this game that I accuse her of witchcraft almost every time we play Five Crowns. It’s a little more substantial than UNO, but it shares many of the same qualities, and because you’re only impacted by the person to your right, it’s ideal for catching up with friends around the gaming table.
3. No Thanks
No Thanks is one of the easiest games to pick up and learn how to play. Players of “anti-bidding” card games pay to have the fewest points at the end of the game in this light.
For each card drawn from the top of the 35-card deck, players must put down a single chip into the pot in order to say “No Thanks” and opt out of accepting the card. This proceeds around the table until one player is unable or unable to “chip in”; that player then takes all of the chips in the pot and places it in their own personal tableau, thus completing their hand. That card will be worth exactly what it says on the tin at the end of the game.
However, if a series of cards is unbroken, just the lowest card in that sequence is taken into consideration. One less point at the conclusion of the game means that picking up the 19 card means you’ll have one less point at the end, and taking a 21 means you’re basically getting it for free!
Many tactical decisions can be taken even if the game’s ruleset is simple. What happens if you’ve already received the 20 chips? Do you “send the 19 around” and try to obtain more chips, or do you take the 19 on the first try to ensure you get it? It’s up to you whether or not you buy the 18 and hope for a 19 at some point. By the time the game is over, any chips in your favor count as a win for you and lower your score.
Regardless of how many times I teach it, No Thanks is always a big hit. When it comes to No Thanks, you’ll want to respond “Yes please.”
Board game fans are familiar with the Spiel des Jahres, which is the most prestigious prize in the industry. Aimed at rewarding and promoting high-quality games in Germany, the Spiel des Jahres was established in 1978 together with its sister prizes, the Kennerspiel des Jahres and the Kinderspiel des Jahres. Spiel des Jahres nominations and winners like The Mind, Kingdomino, Codenames, and the 2019 nominee L.A.M.A. by Reiner Knizia show a trend toward lighter and more family-oriented games in the past 10-15 years.
Playing cards to a central discard pile in L.A.M.A., as in No Thanks, is the key to achieving the lowest possible score. There are just 56 cards (numbered 1-6 and 8 “llama” cards) in the deck. As long as you can match the discard pile’s top number, or one higher, with a card from your hand, you can play it. Ones can only be played on top of llamas, llamas can only be played on top of llamas, and so on.
A round is over when the last card is discarded by one of the players, or when all players have folded. The face value of any remaining cards in your hand is applied to your score (llama cards are 10 points). There are exceptions to this rule, such as cards with the same number. Because of this, a 1 and three 3s only have a total point value of 4.
Despite the fact that my friend, a grumpy new gamer, initially spat, “I heard L.A.M.A. stinks; it didn’t deserve the Spiel des Jahres nomination,” after playing a game he said, “That was lot better than I expected it would be.” This is the best thing I can say about L.A.M.A. A simple and enjoyable game with some interesting push-your-luck mechanics, L.A.M.A. is a lot of fun. It’s well worth the money. Is there anyone else who would wear a llama costume for the occasion of an awards ceremony?
Set gathering game Pearls sees players diving to the ocean floor to harvest rare pearls, which they may then sell to jewelers in their area.
A central display of all pearl cards of the same color, or playing any number of pearl cards of the same color into your scoring area where they will be at face value at the end of the game are the two options Pearls gives players. A bonus card may be available if you wait until the end of a larger set to play, but you can still accumulate points more quickly by playing smaller sets. Remember that you can only hold ten cards at a time, so your decisions aren’t always as simple as “pick up the nice cards.” Remember that. Your opponents will be able to take advantage of the three 5s in the display if there are only two cards left in your hand.
Pearls is a delightful game to play since the rules are simple, the artwork is gorgeous and vivid, and the artwork is basic yet lovely.
In Kariba, animals gather around a drinking well for a little kum-ba-yah…until the huge dogs rumble in and try to take over.
As many cards of the same species of animal as you like can be placed into a common watering hole by players in Kariba. Scares away the next smallest animal when the number of cards on that numbered approaches 3 or more. A single point will be awarded to you for each of the scared-off animals that you gather into your scoring pile (no matter the number on the card).
If you’re looking for a simple and straightforward game, Kariba fits the bill. Despite its simplicity, the artwork has a pleasant effect thanks to its use of vibrant colors. Even though Kariba comes in a small package, it’s packed with flavor. Because you must play at least one card each turn in Kariba, you’re forced to make decisions you’d prefer not, and because the stack “breaks” at three animals, you’re constantly on the watch for someone who can play on top of the exact stack you meant to take. I can’t say enough good things about Kariba.
7. Honorable Mention
Because there are so many light card games to choose from, compiling this list proved to be more difficult than I anticipated. However, the other members of our writing team had their own ideas about what to replace UNO with. Honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the cut are listed here. You can let us know if I missed your favorite game by leaving a comment or by posting about it on social media.
8. 6 Nimmt
6 Nimmt is a multi-player simultaneous game in which the goal is to finish with the fewest points possible. Then, choose a card from your deck and set it face down on the table. As a final step, each player turns over the card they’ve chosen and sets it in the order in which it was drawn. To win, your card must be lower than one of those on display, and if it is, you must take the stack. Cow images, or “bull heads,” appear on each card, and each one counts as a point against you at the end of the game. 6 Nimmt is a ton of fun, despite the fact that it can be frustrating at times. You may play 6 Nimmt until the cows come home because each round just takes a few minutes.
9. Team Play
Our is a team-based game, one of only a few on this list, and it’s fun. Don’t let that discourage you, though. Team Play is fantastic card game in the same vein as Hearts, Bridge, or Canasta. The goal of this game is for teams to gather sets of cards in their hands that match the cards spread out on the table. Examples of mission cards are “1 2 3 4 of any color,” “red 3 of a kind,” and “two cards of add up to 9.”. Cards can be exchanged between teammates, but no other kind of communication is possible. At the end of the game, the winner is the player with the most points earned from playing mission cards.
10. The Game
In the event that you’re sick and tired of losing to your grandmother in card games, The Game might be the perfect “game” for you. The Game, unlike the other games on this list, is cooperative, which means that granny can be on your side for a change! Each participant in the game takes it in turns to deal cards from their hands to one of four piles: two that are stacked ascendingly and two that are stacked descendingly. Goal: All participants should have no more than one hand in the air. In order to determine where, when, and what cards to play, players are unable to communicate with each other. The deck’s cards are numbered sequentially from 2 to 99, and the order in which they are dealt is dictated by a few simple rules. To win The Game, you must be able to effectively communicate with other participants while adhering to its strict rules. Trying to stop playing is another difficulty, of course. You and your family and friends will want to play The Game over and over again.