Uno Dice, Tripoley Dice, and Phase 10 Dice

2 Mar

Uno, Tripoley and Phase 10 are all classic card games.  They’ve all been around for decades and have been printed and reprinted countless times. And, as all classic games do, they have spawned their share of offshoot variant games. In this post, we are going to take a look at these three dice variants, see if they are good games, and if they are worthy to carry the name of the parent game.

UNO DICE

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To start, Uno is a card game I do like to play on occasion. There are few decisions to be made, but everyone knows how to play already. It’s good to as one of those games to shut off your brain, and just talk to friends for a while.

Uno Dice is the oldest of the three games, being released in 1987. I love the tag line “All the fun of Uno. All the Action of Dice!” Because when I think action, I think DICE! In the Uno Dice box, you get a small plastic tray, and 24 wooden Uno Dice, as well as a black plastic bag to hold said dice. The dice are nice and chunky, although one of the dice in my copy has had the paint on two sides completely wear away over time, making that die useless in the game.

IMG_1903Uno Dice has rules for 3 games inside the box. Game 1 uses half of the plastic board, and is closest in spirit to the rules of the Uno Card Game. Players each have a hand of four dice. On their turn, a player simply places a die onto the board if it connects in the tried and true Uno way to any of the dice surrounding it. If it gets to your turn, and none of your dice can legally be played, you may re-roll them and then play a die for no penalty. If you still don’t have a legal play, then you have to draw a die from the bag and roll it to see if you can play it. The round ends once one player has run out of dice. They then get points based on the dice not played by the other players… 0-9 are face value, Draw 2s, Skips, and Reverses are worth 20 points, and Wild or Wild Draw 4s are worth 50 points. The winner of the game is the first to score 500 points.

There is one very strange change between this and the Uno Card game, and it is in the functions of the Wild Draw 4, and Draw 2 sides. Instead of penalizing your opponent by making them draw dice, they make YOU draw extra dice if you play them on the board.

IMG_1904There is a slight amount of area control in this game as each person’s dice are open information, you can try to make plays that force the other players into situations where they can’t make a play. Overall, this game just isn’t that fun. Rounds do tend to go quickly, because it’s really tough to truly block a player from making a play. However, with only 4 dice in hand, almost everyone will be down to 1-2 dice at the end of a round…meaning that there’s just not many points sitting around, unless someone gets incredibly unlucky which makes the game go on an interminably long time.

Game 3 (we’ll come back to Game 2 in a minute) is a variant of Game 1. In this game, players will be sharing a communal hand of dice. The start player draws 4 dice out of the bag, and plays one, then passes the dice to the next player. That player must then roll those three dice, and make a match if possible. When a player places a die on the board, they score points for the chain of dice they just added to. If we take the picture above as an example, playing the green 8 would score the player 41 points (20 for the Reverse + 7 + 6 +8). Once the full board is full, the player with the high score wins. This is the better of the two Uno style games, but only because it ends once the board fills up once. So it ends quickly.

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Going for a Red Flush…that sounds horrible.

Game 2 is a truly bizarre mashup of Uno and Yahtzee. Players start by drawing 5 random dice out of the bag, and then continue with Yahtzee rules. The combinations players are trying to score are things like 2-3-4 of a kind, all dice of one color, all Wilds etc. I am a bit of a Yahtzee fan, and this is a unique take on the game.  I will say that combinations like 4 of a kind are insanely tough to get in this game, since you have to magically draw enough dice sharing symbols to even be able to reach those levels.

Overall, I can’t recommend the Uno Dice package. The area control games are insanely dry and boring. The Yahtzee variant is novel…but I’d rather just play Yahtzee…or the next game.

*Side note* There was an Uno Dice Game released in 2011. It is not the same as this one. It’s a 2-player only game. Players each have 5 dice in hand, and have to just continue a string being played in the middle of the table. If you enjoy playing dice in a straight line, you’ll love this yawnfest.

TRIPOLEY DICE

I have absolutely no experience playing the card game version of Tripoley. I know I used to own a Michigan Rummy set as a child (possibly a rummage sale buy?), but never played it because the rules confused me back then. After playing the dice game, I may want to give it a shot again.

IMG_1907As it says on the box, Tripoley Dice is the game of Michigan Rummy, Hearts, and Poker. To be fair, as we’ll find out, these are rough approximations of those classic card games. Tripoley Dice plays out over three rounds. In the first round, players play Hearts. I probably should put Hearts in quotation marks, because this is not the Hearts I know and love. In this version of Hearts, players have 3 rolls of the 9 included dice (which have a really cool speckled green look to them). Players are trying to roll the dice shown on the included score sheet. Players get 10 points if they have any of the single dice from the Ace of Hearts down to the 10 of hearts. They score an additional 25 points if they get both the King and Queen of Hearts. Players can also score another 50 points if they end up with the run of 8-9-10 in any one suit.

IMG_1906The second round is poker. In this round, players get two rolls to try and make the best poker hand they can. That’s really all there is to this one. 1 Pair scores a player 10 points, 2 Pair is 20 points, a Flush scores 50 and so on. My biggest gripe with the rules here is that they don’t make it specifically clear that you are rolling for only one hand. We played it the first time that you got points for every Poker hand you could build with your dice. After I saw a few old score sheets in the bottom of the box, I realized that wasn’t quite right, and you only scored the best hand you rolled. There is a fun puzzle element to the poker here. I do wish you got three rolls, though. I constantly was like “All right, only one more for a straight!” “That was your last roll.” “Oh yeah…10 points for 1 pair.” *Rain Cloud*

Finally, there’s a round of Michigan Rummy. I have never played Michigan Rummy before. After reading the rules this morning, it seems like a follow the leader game, possibly an ancestor of Uno. In Tripoley Dice, players get three rolls to try and extend a run of dice. The first player rolls, trying to roll a 2 of any suit. If they do, they set that die aside, then look if they rolled a 3 and so on. Once a player has gone as far as they can after 3 rolls, they pass the dice to the next player, who continues on the same run. I gather that the big change here is that suits don’t matter at all in the dice game, whereas they are key to the card game. Once one player has extended the run to an Ace…that player can try to continue the run by wrapping back around to 2 and so on. Once they’ve finished that turn, the game ends. Players get 5 points for each number they successfully added to the run.

There’s every possibility that I enjoyed this game because it’s short. One game only takes 10-15 minutes tops. They do recommend playing 3 games in a series, and I can agree to that. It’s very easy to get one or two bad rolls in Hearts, and fall so far behind that no amount of masterful Michigan Rummy can save you. I also like that you are trying to do different things each time you roll the dice.

PHASE 10 DICE

I’m unsure if any game has caused as much unbridled hatred in my gaming group as Phase 10. A few years ago, I saw this nice tin anniversary edition, figured it had to be good because it came in a tin, and bought it. The ensuing 2 hours of frustration, swearing, and card throwing will go down in as the second worst day in gaming history…right behind the day where we played Monopoly, Risk AND Bingo in the same day… *shivers*

IMG_1909But Phase 10 Dice…that can’t be as bad, right? I mean, it’s dice! And to an extent, it is a better game than the card game, but only barely. For those who have never played it, Phase 10 the card game goes like this: Each player is dealt a hand of cards, and they are tasked in each Phase with building a certain hand of cards, like two sets of three of a kind, or a run of 8 etc etc. As the game goes on, the tasks get much harder. First to finish all 10 phases wins. What makes the card game so bad, is that when one person finishes their phase…everyone has to stop what they are working on, discard their hands and start over. It is very possible to get stuck on one phase for 10-15 hands.  There is no player interaction at all, you simple draw a card and discard until someone finishes their phase, and everyone else groans. There is also the wonderful “catch-up” mechanism of “Phase 10 is so stupidly hard, that everyone else will surely finish Phases 1-9 before I can get 10 done…so everyone is at the same spot anyway, and why did we bother with the previous 2 hours?”

Phase 10 dice plays basically the same way, with the one change that nobody affects the other players at all. So I can run all the way through the Phases in 10 turns, and my opponent can sit on Phase 4,  and it no longer affects either of us.  Also, players keep track of scores in the dice version, so it’s possible for a player stuck in Phase 8 to win if they’ve been consistently rolling higher scoring combinations than the other players.

IMG_1908Phase 10 Dice is superior to the card game in that it takes far less time to play, and you get to roll a bucket full of dice. It still has all the same frustrations, though. It is still easy to get stuck on one phase for multiple turns if the dice don’t turn up right. Games that grind to a halt like this, to me, are just bad games in general. It may work better if players could finish the phases in any order they wanted (with a score bonus for doing them in the correct order), or allow 0 scores in phases that get failed 2-3 times…just to keep some momentum flowing.

So, for the tl;dr crowd – Skip Uno Dice and stay far away from Phase 10 Dice, but give Tripoley Dice a shot if you enjoy Yahtzee style games, it’s a fun and quick playing game.

 

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One Response to “Uno Dice, Tripoley Dice, and Phase 10 Dice”

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  1. Carcassonne, Ra, and Catan Dice Games | It Came From The Basement!! - April 9, 2014

    […] classic card games that were turned into dice games with mixed levels of success (which you can read here) . This time, I’m going to take a look at three Euro style board games that have also gotten […]

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