Strategy Guide - Guide for UNO

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Copyright 2008 Aaron C. Yappa
Email: fireaza (at) hotmail (dot) com
Version: 1.0
All rights reserved
This may be not be reproduced under any circumstances except for personal,
private use. It may not be placed on any web site or otherwise distributed
publicly without advance written permission. Use of this guide on any other web
site or as a part of any public display is strictly prohibited, and a violation
of copyright.

Well! I've been playing UNO on Live Arcade for awhile now, and seeing as I've
just earned the "Devotee" achievement, I thought now would be a good time to
write a FAQ for UNO! That, and write my very first FAQ! I'm not saying I'm some
sorta UNO expert, but there are a few tricks and strategies I've picked up. I
hope you enjoy my FAQ, and that it helps you win!

| Table of Contents |
-> Introduction ..........................................................[001]
-> Controls...............................................................[002]
-> Strategies ............................................................[003]
   -> Challenging ........................................................[004]
   -> When to Never Challenge ............................................[005]
   -> When it's Not Such a Good Idea to Challenge ........................[006]
   -> When it's Somewhat Safe to Challenge ...............................[007]
-> Achievements ..........................................................[008]

| Introduction |
So what is UNO? The original UNO is a card game created in 1971 and adapted
into an Xbox Live Arcade video game in 2006. It's priced at a mere 400 Microsoft
Points, great value considering how fun and re-playable the game is. The game
can be played in both single player and multiplayer. Multiplayer is obviously
the best choice, as you'll be playing with fellow humans, with human-flaws :D

For those who have never played UNO before (either the card version or the
subject of this FAQ) UNO is a turn-based game, with the order being either
clockwise or anti-clockwise. The game starts with all players being dealt seven
cards, the goal of the game being to get rid of all your cards. This is
accomplished by "playing" a single card on your turn onto the "discard pile", 
which will have different effects depending on what card it is (more on that in
a second). But in order to play a card, it must either be:

   * The same colour as the card played before it. 
   * The same "rank" as the card played before it (i.e. the same number or the
   same type of "action" card).
   * A "wild" card.

If you do not have a card you can play, you must pick up a card from the "stock"
pile and add it to your hand. But! One of the great things about UNO is if the
card you pick up is playable, you can play it right away, no need to wait until
your next turn! As to the cards themselves, they will be ether a "number" card
or an "action" card, and will also come in one of four colours: red, blue, green
or yellow (except for "wild" cards which are whatever colour the player chooses)
Number cards are simply cards which will have a number from 0-9 on them.
Action cards are special cards that force the next player to perform a certain
action. There are five types of action cards:

   * "Skip" - This card force the next player to miss their turn.
   * "Reverse" - This card will reverse the order of play. i.e. if the turn
   order was clockwise, it's now anti-clockwise.
   * "Draw Two" - The next player must pick-up two cards from the stock pile,
     as well as miss their turn.
   * "Wild" - The player chooses a colour and the next player must play a card
   of that colour or another Wild card. If they can't, they must draw a card.
   * "Wild Draw Four" - Just like the Wild card but the next player must also
     draw four cards as well as miss their turn.

Play continues in a turn-by-turn fashion until a player only has one card, at
which point that player must call "UNO!". If they don't, one of the other
players can "challenge" them and force the non-"UNO!"-calling player to draw
two cards, providing the next player hasn't played their turn. The first player
to play their final card wins.

The Live Arcade version of UNO plays in the same way, one difference being you
must obtain a certain "score" in order to win the game, scores being obtained
at the end of each round. This means that you will normally need to play
multiple rounds in order to actually "win", so don't leave just because
someone has played their last card! I believe that your score is the total
value of your opponent's remaining cards, but I'm not entirely certain on this.
The score you must reach on the default UNO rules is 500, though this, as well
as other options, can be changed by the host. At present, this FAQ will focus
only on the default UNO rules. There are also two different decks you can
download, which add new cards as well as new rules, but again, for now this
guide will only focus on the default deck.

| Controls |
Controls in UNO are simple, here they are:

   * Left analogue stick = Navigate the menu/highlight a card/highlight a
   colour on the colour wheel.
   * Right analogue stick = Not used
   * D pad = Navigate the menu/highlight a card/highlight a colour on the
   colour wheel.
   * Right trigger and left trigger = Highlight a card
   * Left and right bumpers = Not used
   * A button = Play highlighted card/select highlighted colour
   * X button = Call "UNO!"
   * B button = Don't challenge/back
   * Y button = Challenge
   * Start button = Menu
   * Back button = Hide the stock pile

| Strategies |
Like any great multiplayer game, UNO is a simple, pick-up-and-play type of
game, but still containing a hidden level of depth, mostly knowing when to play
certain cards. And with UNO being a card game, a lot of the skill comes from
being able to "read" your opponent. I know that sounds kinda silly, what with
you being unable to actually see the faces of your opponents, but that doesn't
 mean it's impossible! So, let's move on to some strategies:

   * The "Re-Draw" - If you notice that your opponent, unable to play a card, is
   forced to draw from the stock pile, then doesn't play the card he picked up,
   it's a pretty safe bet that he's missing a card of the same colour as the
   current card in play, seeing as the chances of having a matching colour card
   is greater (one in four) than having a matching rank card (one in fourteen).
   Play a Reverse card of the same colour and laugh as your opponent suddenly
   finds it's his turn again and he still doesn't have a card of the right
   colour, forcing him to draw another card! Of course, if he manages to draw a
   card of the right colour, or draws a reverse card then it will have all been
   for nothing, but most of the time it's comedy gold.

   * The "Colour Block" - Similar to Re-Draw, if you notice that your opponent
   (ideally one who is close to winning) is unable to play a card and is forced
   to draw a card, which he is also unable to play, it's a pretty good bet that
   he doesn't have a card of the colour as the current card anywhere in his hand
   Simply make sure that the current card always stays this colour and he'll be
   forced to pick up card after card until he finally gets one of the right
   colour or rank.

   * The "Trump Card" - There's nothing more frustrating than being on UNO, but
   continually unable to play that final card. You go from UNO, back to two
   cards, back three cards and so on, unable to win the round. The trick is to
   try an save at least one Wild card, either a regular Wild or a Wild Draw
   Four. If you can manage to have your UNO card be a Wild, then a win is all
   but guaranteed on your next turn(unless the guy next to you plays an Action
   card), as Wild cards can be played at anytime, regardless of the current card
   on top. And as an added bonus, if your trump card is a Wild Draw Four, then
   the guy you use it on will be forced to draw four at the end of the round,
   increasing your score.  

   * The "Straight Man" - Having the Trump Card strategy fail on your second-
   last card (i.e. you're forced to play your Wild card) can put you in an
   awkward position. You're forced to choose a colour, and if you choose the
   colour of your UNO card, you've basically just announced to the other
   players what colour they need to try and prevent from coming up when it's
   your turn. So the logical thing to do would be to choose a different colour
   right? Not usually, as you're pinning all your hopes on the final player
   changing to the colour or rank of your Uno card. It's usually best to just
   go ahead and choose the colour of your Wild card to be that of your UNO
   card. Sure, the other players will be trying their damndest to change to a
   different colour, but there's often little they can do to prevent it. If
   you do decide to go the reverse psychology route, make sure you choose a
   different colour to the card underneath your Wild card. The whole plan
   kinda falls parts when the other players notice you have chosen the exact
   same colour as the previous card.

   * The "Tactical Elimination" - There's nothing more annoying than not having
   a legal card to play. As I mentioned in the Re-Draw strategy, you have a much
   better chance of having a legal card if you have a matching colour. This is
   why it's a good idea to try and keep one of each colour in your hand if
   possible. Start by getting rid of any colours that you have too many of until
   you're left with one of each colour. It's also a good idea to target the
   colours with higher numbers, as your opponent's final score is gleamed from
   the value of his opponent's remaining cards, so you don't want to have any
   high number cards in your hand in the event that your opponent wins. Ideally,
   you'll want to end up with no number cards at all, just action cards, mostly
   because these cards have more strategic use than number cards and are more
   commonly played (just in case you can't get one of each colour).

   * The "Second Opinion" - While the game does a decent job at pre-selecting a
   legal card for you, it sometimes can cause you to screw-up the Tactical
   Elimination strategy because it has a habit of selecting cards of a colour
   that you only have one of. Take a close look at what card it's suggesting and
   choose a different one if it's going to make you get rid of a desirable card.

   * The "Hospitable Neighbour" - Considering you can't play cards to the guy
   across from you, it sometimes pays to be nice to the guy who takes his turn
   after you. That is, don't use Skip and Reverse cards on him, let him take his
   turns and maybe he'll use some action cards to mess with the other guy. This
   is especially useful if the guy across from you is close to winning. Of
   course, if your neighbour is low on cards, you might want to give him a
   little help by "gifting" him a few new cards...

   * The "Distraction" - The evil twin of the Hospitable Neighbour strategy,
   "Distraction" involves you using the guy across from you as a human shield in
   the event the guy who takes his turn before you has a lot of cards, which
   will likely include a few nasty action cards. Simply play a reverse card and
   hopefully the guy across from you will take the brunt of your neighbour's
   action cards.  

   * The "Tango" - Like the name implies, this strategy requires two people,
   which, sadly, means it's rare that it occurs. If the player after you is
   winning, play a skip or reverse card. This will (obviously) cause him to miss
   his turn, but with any luck the next player will also play the same type of
   action card, which will cause you to have your turn right away. At which
   point, you should try and play the same action card again. This will result
   in the turn order going back and forth between the same two players, causing
   the two other players to continually miss their turns.

   * The "Ambush" - Some players, for whatever reason, continually forget to
   call "UNO!" when they come down to their last card. A lot of the time they
   can get away with this  because the other players aren't expecting them to
   forget, and they accidentally take their turn. Keep an eye out for these
   forgetful players and keep your finger poised above the challenge button when
   they're about to play their second-last card. Be quick, because sometimes
   they remember at the last second. This strategy works well against computer
   players, who despite as much as they cheat, continually forget to call
   "UNO!". There's a similar trick like this you can use when playing on the
   Kameo deck. Obviously when someone uses the magic book to swap cards with
   another player, they will choose the player who's on UNO. But the one thing
   nearly all players fail to do is to then call "UNO!" themselves (they are
   down to their last card, so they're suppose to call it). Take this
   opportunity to turn their one card into three.

   * The "Order of Uno" - It should go without saying, but call "UNO!" BEFORE
   playing your second last card. Getting into this habit will prevent you from
   having to get rid to two extra cards.

Now then, let's move on to one area that requires its own section, an area where
I see a lot of new players having problems: challenging.

| Challenging |
The Live Arcade version of UNO has a new feature that would be nigh on
impossible to implement in the card version of the game (unless you were
playing with some VERY honest people), the ability for players to "challenge"
Wild Draw Four cards. What this means is if someone plays you a Wild Draw Four
card, and you think they could have played a different card instead, you can
"challenge" them. If you're right, the player you challenged is the one who must
draw four! Sounds like a good deal right? The catch is, if you're wrong, instead
of drawing four cards, you draw six instead. Ouch. Unfortunately, many new
players fail to see this downside, and will challenge at the drop of a hat, and
90% of the time, they get it wrong. The safest best is to never challenge,
drawing four cards beats drawing six. But that's no fun! So you'll be happy to
know there are times where it's reasonably safe to challenge. At the same time,
there are also situations where you should NEVER challenge as well as situations
when it's risky to challenge. Make sure you take note of the former so you don't
look like an idiot in front of the Xbox Live users :P Also keep in mind that
Draw Two cards cannot be challenged, so if you want to send a few cards your
opponent's way, but don't want to risk them correctly calling your bluff, use a
Draw Two. Alright, let's start with the most important topic: when you should
NEVER challenge.

| When to Never Challenge |
There's one situation in UNO when you should NEVER challenge a Wild Draw Four
because you'll be wrong every time. Yet time and time again, I see newbies
challenging when in said situation, and all I can do is roll my eyes at them.
The situation I speak of is when the player has just drawn a Wild Draw Four
card. Why? As I already mentioned, the only time you can draw then play the
drawn card is when you didn't have any other cards you could play. You can tell
when this happens because a card flies from the stock pile to the player's deck
then they suddenly play a card. Say a player does this, then plays a Wild Draw
Four card. Now, considering the only time you can manually draw a card then play
said drawn card in the same turn is when you had no other legal cards to play,
wouldn't it make sense that said player has only just now acquired that Wild
Draw Four, and is his only choice of legal card to play? So why do I see so many
new players challenging at this point? Don't do it moron! 

| When it's Not Such a Good Idea to Challenge |
Because drawing four cards is much more preferred than drawing six for getting a
challenge wrong, here's a list of when it's not such a good idea to challenge a
Wild Draw Four card:

   * At the start of the game - At the start of the game, everyone has seven 
   cards. So unless your opponent has a vendetta against you, why would they be
   trying to "bluff" a Wild Draw Four? It doesn't make sense for them to waste
   a Wild Draw Four card on a player that may not end up being a threat. Of
   course, if you're currently leading in terms of score, it's possible that
   your opponent is trying to cripple you and prevent you from winning this
   round, but it's still a risky call to try and challenge it.

   * When you already have a lot of cards - Here's an another common mistake I
   see. A player already has lots of cards, then they challenge the Wild Draw
   Four they're dealt, resulting in six more cards in their hand for their
   trouble. Ask yourself, why a player would be wasting their Wild Draw Four
   card on you, who already has loads of cards, when the player to their other
   side is close to UNO? Unless they hate you that is.

| When it's Somewhat Safe to Challenge |
While it?s usually best to just play it safe and never challenge a Wild Draw
Four, there are a few situations where your odds of success do improve. And here
they are:

   * When your opponent takes longer than usual to make their move - This is
   where the aforementioned "reading" of your opponent comes into play. You may
   have noticed that UNO on Live Arcade actually moves along at a pretty fast
   pace. Thanks to the game automatically highlighting suitable card choices,
   players can usually get through their turn in seconds. So, if you see a
   player taking awhile to have their turn, it's a sure sign that they're
   thinking. Or they've gone for a snack (but if you've been paying attention to
   the game you should know which players are here and which are distracted).
   This is because players, when faced with only one card to play, will just
   play it as soon as it's their turn rather than wasting time. Considering that
   the only time players are forced to play a Wild Draw Four is when they have
   no other legal cards to play, it stands to reason that someone who does not
   play their Wild Draw Four card right away isn't being forced to play it. Say
   you're on UNO. At this point, there would no better monkey wrench to hurl
   into your works than a Wild Draw Four card. However, keep in mind that it's
   very possible that a player who deals you a Wild Draw Four when you were on
   UNO simply had no other legal cards was actually forced to the play it. Now,
   since we don't want to have to get rid of six extra cards, we have to be
   reasonably sure that your adversary is bluffing, which once again, brings us
   back to the ability to "read" them. Say your opponent, after taking a little
   longer than usual to decide, plays a Wild Draw Four card. This "pause" is
   actually a pretty big indicator that your opponent is probably bluffing.
   Doubly so if said opponent has a large selection of cards to choose from.
   While it's possible that your opponent *isn?t* bluffing, I often find this
   strategy to be successful most of the time, provided you've read your
   opponent correctly and your analysis of his hand leads you to believe that
   there was at least one other card he could have played.

   *When your opponent has a large number of cards - Say your opponent has a
   large number of cards, around 14 or so. He then plays you a Wild Draw Four.
   Isn't this a bit suspicious? Out of all the cards he has, his only choice was
   a Wild Draw Four? There's a good chance that he's bluffing. Of course, make
   sure to keep the "When it's Not Such a Good Idea to Challenge" tricks in
   mind. If for example you've already got lots of cards yourself, then it would
   be a pointless act for him to try and bluff a Wild Draw Four, even if he does
   have a lot of cards.

| Achievements |
UNO has twelve achievements, nearly all of which can be unlocked by simply
playing the game normally. Some of them (such as "Devotee") will take awhile to
unlock though.

"UNO!" - Simply call "UNO!" then win the game. Easy. 
"Bluff" - This one is a little tricky, you need to successfully bluff on a Wild
Draw Four twice in the same game. The simplest way to accomplish this is to play
Wild Draw Fours when people wouldn't be expecting a bluff, for example on 
players who already have a lot of cards. Remember, you have to do it twice in
the SAME game.
"Multiplayer" - Simply complete a multiplayer game (any mode) with four other
players on Xbox Live. I'm pretty sure that in order to unlock this you need to
stay for the WHOLE game, which means that yes, you'll need to play multiple
rounds until someone gets enough points to win.
"Quick Change Artist" - Change the colour of the discard pile five or more times
in a single round. This one is pretty easy, whenever you have the chance to
change the colour of the discard pile, take it.
"Wild Abandon" - This achievement relates to the Trump Card strategy, all you
need to do is win using a Wild or Wild Draw Four card.
"Ace!" - This one comes down to luck, but isn't too hard to accomplish. What you
need to do it win the game without ever drawing a card.
"Wild Thing" - Play 40 Wild or Wild Draw Four cards. Simply play the game for
long enough and you'll eventually get this achievement.
"Skip to My Lou" - Play 40 Skips cards. Like "Wild Thing", you'll get this one
from simply playing the game for long enough.
"Twister" - Play 40 reverse cards. Same deal as the other three achievements.
"High Noon" - Play 40 Draw Two cards. Same as before.
"Devotee" - Win 40 games of UNO. This one will take awhile, because you actually
have to win the GAME not just the ROUND. So yes, you'll need to play multiple
rounds until you have enough points to win the game, at which point you'll be
one step closer to getting this achievement. You can check how close you are to
unlocking it by going to "View Friends Leaderboard" in the UNO menu. Also note
the wins can be in any mode on any deck.
"UNO Shark" - Win ten four-player games of UNO on Xbox Live in any mode. You'll
probably unlock this achievement while trying to unlock "Devotee".

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