Contributed by sjhsniffen@netzero.net

UNU's Not Uno!

Unu is a card game for two or more players. Use no more than one deck (standard 52 French suited) for every 5 players participating. The object of the game is to discard all of your cards. A dealer is chosen, and s/he deals seven cards to each player, regardless of the number of players. The remaining cards are put face down and become the stock. The dealer turns over the top stock card and puts it in a different pile, which becomes the discard pile. The player to the left of the dealer goes first, and play continues in that direction.

On his/her turn, a player must either discard a card in his/her hand that matches the top card of the discard pile or draw the top card from the stock. To match a card, it has to be either the same suit or the same rank (number or name) as the top card of the discard pile. The exception is when the top card is an eight.

If a player discards an eight, s/he must name a suit. The next player to discard must match the suit called or must discard another eight.

Besides eights, other cards have special properties.

  • If an ace is discarded, the next player loses his/her turn.
  • If a queen is discarded, the direction of play is reversed.
  • If a two is discarded, the next player must draw two cards from the stack before taking his/her turn. (A player who has to draw two takes a normal turn instead of losing his turn.)
  • If a player discards a king, that player gets to go again.
  • Six is the anti-card. No card may be played upon it, so when one is discarded, the game is continued by turning over the top card of the stock and placing it on the discard pile. Play then proceeds as before.
  • Seven is the golden card. If a player plays a seven, he has "free reign" of the discard pile. Essentially, he can pretend the other players don't exist for a while and just discard cards one after the other (using the normal matching rules, of course). He must stop and let the game resume normally either when he decides to draw a card from the stock, when he plays another seven, or when he runs out of cards. The special powers of all cards except sevens and eights are nullified during this period, as is the possibility of discarding a series (of course, why would you need to?).

If matching by suit, a contiguous series of cards from lowest to highest may be played, making sure the highest of the series lies on top of the discard pile. For the purposes of this rule, eight is the lowest card, seven is the highest, and the order increases and wraps around K-A-2. In other words, the order from low to high is 89TJQKA234567. The special properties of every card played still take effect in the ascending order of precedence, i.e. eight, queen, king, ace, two, six and seven (both explained below). For example, if eight heart thru two heart is played on five heart, the player calls a suit for the eight, reverses the direction of play, takes another turn, skips the next player in the new direction, and makes the player after that draw two. This rule means that if there are two players, playing A-2 together will hurt you, while playing them separately will hurt your opponent. You cannot discard a series if doing so will get rid of all your cards.

Here is what gives the game its name: If a player during his/her turn is about to have only one card left, s/he has to say "unu." If the player fails to do this before s/he discards her second-to-last card and any player mentions it before the next player starts his/her turn, then the player who failed to say "unu" must draw cards from the stock pile. The first time in the game this happens, four cards must be drawn; the second time, two cards; and for each subsequent "offense," one card.

If a player's only card is an eight, s/he cannot play it and is forced to draw a card that turn.

The winner is the player who discards all of his/her cards. If the stock runs out of cards, the game is a draw between all players.

Note: it is perfectly legal to use writing, sign language, morse code, French, or any other form of communication in order to express "unu," as long as all players are made aware of this and accept it ahead of time (just in case they don't believe in mental telepathy :).

Last updated: 6th January 2002