Friday, May 13, 2016

Dual/Duel Review: Uno Roboto vs. Uno: Doctor Who

Dual/Duel reviews are an online smackdown between two books, movies, games, podcasts, etc. etc. that I think are interesting to compare, contrast, and comment on. For a list of other dual/duel reviews, go here.

Uno is such a popular game that has come out in many different variations, hoping to increase sales. Two variants are the subjects of our smackdown today: Uno Roboto and Uno: Doctor Who. In addition to sharing a sci-fi vibe, they definitely look like two robots ready to battle it out:

The contenders

Let's clear up one issue first--yes, I know that Daleks are not robots. In fact, this particular Dalek is just a stylish carrying case for the deck of cards. The cards also have a Doctor Who theme, with visuals borrowed from the rebooted version of the show. Otherwise the deck is mostly the same as a regular Uno deck--four colors of cards with numbers and some specialty cards.

Sample cards

The various Wild Cards (and the back of all the cards)

The one difference is the "EXTERMINATE" Wild Card. When played, the player with the fewest cards in hand has to draw four cards. The regular Wild Draw 4 makes the next player (who may not be the one with the fewest cards) draw four. So the game plays mostly like a regular Uno game.

Uno Roboto comes with a standard Uno deck along with the fun plastic pal who makes the game different.

Fun plastic pal

He's not entirely plastic--he does require some batteries. When turned on, each player can record a name into the microphone (those five dots where his belly button should be). The players can also add a "house rule" which will randomly occur during the game. Cards are dealt as normal but the discard pile is the top of the robot's head, which has a button that makes a pleasant beep when a card is put in. Except when it doesn't make a pleasant beep. The robot occasionally gives random instructions, like telling a player to draw or discard cards, or two players to trade hands, or whatever the house rule is. So the random element of the game is ramped up. Oh and I should mention that the robot typically speeds up any recorded name or house rule, so it sounds like the person sucked some helium before speaking into the microphone. I think it's meant to be cute, but your mileage may vary. When someone wins, that player pushes the blue button and a trumpet fanfare sounds.

I see these two games contending in various fields:
  • Sci-Fi credentials--Doctor Who clearly wins out here
  • Cute factor--Uno Roboto is very cute (maybe too much); the Doctor Who monsters are fairly scary looking and may be disturbing to little kids (if not, something is wrong with your little kid!). Uno Roboto wins out here.
  • Making Uno more fun--The Doctor Who version is almost the same as the base game, though the EXTERMINATE card can make a game go longer. Uno Roboto is cute and the extra randomness just makes the game more random and thereby frustrating for strategic players. If you are playing Uno to demonstrate your strategic and tactical superiority, you need to find another game. Uno Roboto wins here.
  • Packaging--Uno Roboto comes with a deck box for the cards that doesn't quite fit into the tray on top of his head, making storage a little awkward. The Doctor Who Dalek doesn't easily store in with other card games but it looks very nice on a shelf. Doctor Who wins here.
  • Availability--Uno Roboto is in print and available world-wide. Doctor Who is only available in the UK and even there it is out of print, making it tough to find (we bought it at a church sale when we lived in the UK). Uno Roboto wins here.
By a three-to-two count, the winner is Uno Roboto! (Though the Dalek does look a lot better on the shelf).

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