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April 6, 2004 12:01 AM

Broken: New Uno card design

Dave Jung writes:

We recently replaced our 15+ year old Uno deck with a new one. The old deck had the number six underlined to help distinguish it from the number nine. If it had a line on it, the card was a six-- quick and easy.

The new cards have been redesigned. The number nine card now has its own line under it! Since you are playing in a circle, you have to be able to read the card upside down and sideways. The picture shows both a six and a nine card. Quickly, which is which? I find it extremely difficult to tell, especially if the cards are side-by-side.


The shadows are different, which helps if you look closely at it.

But is this really a design flaw in our numerals?

Posted by: reed at April 6, 2004 10:54 AM

The original Uno cards had an underline under only the 6, so you could easily and accurately which was which. Now you can't.

Posted by: Eric Hodel at April 6, 2004 03:17 PM

Okay, hold on. Are you saying that Uno used to have an unambiguous symbol (the 6 with a line) and an ambiguous symbol (the 9 without a line) -- and now you say they've broken it by making both symbols unambiguous?

I can see that if you were used to the old system, the new 9-with-a-line might be confusing at first, but surely for a novice player it makes more sense to have the line on both cards.

Posted by: E.T. at April 6, 2004 04:30 PM

Look at the corner -- it's pretty easy.

Posted by: Menolly at April 6, 2004 08:11 PM

Sorry - I think this is perfectly decent design.

Posted by: Steve at April 7, 2004 03:21 AM

The poster's point is that what used to be dissimilar and easily distinguished -- if arbitrary -- are now similar and easily confused.

Posted by: reed at April 7, 2004 11:59 AM

>The poster's point is that what used to be dissimilar and easily distinguished -- if arbitrary -- are now similar and easily confused.

That's true - but distinguishable or confusable to whom?

It's actually a classic nebie/power user tradeoff. To someone who knows the Uno pack well, the old form (ambiguous 9, unambiguous 6) is preferable, as *for their degree of knowledge* it provides the maximum distinctiveness.

For a new player, however, they won't have internalised the fact that only one of the card has an underline symbol, so they'll find the 9 ambiguous.

Possible Cures:

- make the underline symbol less vertically symmetrical, so that it reads as an underline regardless of the card's orientation.

- include the words "six" or "nine" on the cards, as well as the digits.

Posted by: Steve at April 7, 2004 08:42 PM

Another possible fix is to draw the 9 with a straight stem, rather than a curved one. This is how almost everyone writes it anyway.

Posted by: Rick Clark at April 9, 2004 12:38 PM

They won't include the words "six or nine" on the cards because the cards are specifically created to work in multiple countries, or at the very least, they're moving toward this goal (in the case that they're still actually using the words "reverse" and "wild" etc on the U.S.-based cards).

See the exhibit at:

Posted by: Cardhouse Robot at April 9, 2004 03:46 PM

If you have trouble distinguishing the cards where they both obviously have a line and the corners show quite well what numeral it is, well, perhaps the problem doesn't lie in the card design...

Posted by: Michael Giagnocavo at April 9, 2004 06:38 PM

Wasn't the old nine a different color as well? I seem to remember being able to distinguish the old cards by both color and underline.

Posted by: Scott Johnson at April 9, 2004 07:29 PM

Scott: No, the color is the "suit" of the card.

Posted by: mendel at April 9, 2004 07:46 PM

Oddly enough I seem to recall our family's ancient UNO deck having both underlined as well, I could be mistaken. Though it seems some older players have identified with 6 as simply "having a line" more so than "having an UNDERline".

Many other game systems have dealt with this ambiguity in the same fashion, underline the ambiguous numbers. I dare say this practice has been used on dice for quite a few years as well (certainly not the standard 6 sided dice we're all familiar with).

This is hardly broken. In fact, I consider this "fixed". Though it's not uncommon to be uncomfortable with a new fix when you've become so used to an old problem ;)

Posted by: Two-Bits at April 10, 2004 02:45 AM

After having been raised in an avid UNO-playing family for years, we also recently upgraded our old decks. From my experience, the "this is broken" part is not so much with the lines on the six and nine (though that did take some getting used to and has more to do with the font used than the placement of the line, in my opinion), but rather the move to more pastel, muted colors on the cards. My grandmother now has a very difficult time distinguishing which color set each card goes with, especially between the blue and green cards. She has no troubles when using the old set. Since obviously her eyes are getting older and don't work as well anyway and nobody else in my family has colorblindness, I'd be curious to see if people who do have trouble distinguishing colors have encountered similar frustrations with the new card designs.

Posted by: Kurt Heimbigner at April 14, 2004 01:54 PM

You're an idiot. The line indicates the bottom of the number (always has; where have YOU been). Also, you could look at the corner: it's correct no matter which way the card is oriented.

Posted by: Chris S. at April 27, 2004 12:35 AM

If you find it difficult, maybe it's because you dropped out of Jr. High School.

Posted by: me at May 10, 2004 08:49 PM

If you can't tell which number is which, maybe you should spend less time playing Uno, and more time learning your numerals.

Posted by: you at June 12, 2004 09:16 PM

RE: The new Uno cards design.... the instructions / rules multi-language paper skip advising users/players of what the "blank with no number" colored cards do or mean in the game.

Please reply here AND sincerely appreciate a reply CC: also to my Email as well.

Thank you...

Joe Rotello

Tucson, AZ

Posted by: Joe Rotello at July 25, 2004 12:06 AM

I think that we could use a totally different set of numerals altogether... Maybe hieroglyphs or something.

Posted by: Bill at August 11, 2004 04:36 AM

Yes. It is more difficult. The old deck had two different colors for the 9 and the 6. Besides, putting a line under a number to distinguish it's preferred orientation is really quite juvenile anyway. My daughter sits down to draw a six one day and places a line under it. That's when I woke up. I have always drawn, by hand, my nines in a very typewritten way and still... there is a difference and always should be, especially in print. Otherwise, when looking at the cards our minds file it away as 'laziness'. (Even if it's only on a subconscious level.)

Posted by: KimberlySMoore at October 2, 2004 11:06 AM

nerds... just play the game huh?

Posted by: craig at October 3, 2004 04:28 PM

No no no, what's *really* broken is this weirdo set of Uno cards I played the other night. I have no idea what half of the cards actually mean, as it was a deck at a restaurant. Cards labelled with silly things like "X?" - what is that, draw infinity? And other ones showing three cards, but crossed out. Huh? I really wish they hadn't tinkered with the core Uno game.

What really gets me though, is that I can't find info on what the cards mean anywhere.

Posted by: Mike at October 10, 2004 09:12 PM

Line or no line just rember top left number is

right side up on eather card

Posted by: K. May at February 14, 2005 08:20 PM

Why don't you get out your jiffy marker and mark the sixs or the nines somehow to make them visually more distinguishable?

Posted by: Narf at March 26, 2005 01:15 AM

Actually, lawyers for the number 9 contacted the company and threatened to sue them if they did not give equal highlighting to their client.

Posted by: Boris the Spider at April 4, 2005 03:48 PM

what's "UNO"???

Haven't you all heard of "computers" to waste your time on????

Posted by: imnotright at May 3, 2005 06:27 PM

Where can I get a replacement deck (or or new) for Uno Attack?????

Posted by: Phyllis at November 18, 2005 01:28 PM

Where can I get a replacement deck (old or new) for Uno Attack?????

Posted by: Phyllis at November 18, 2005 01:30 PM

Maybe it's hard for you to figure out which number it is because you're a moron... Dip!

Posted by: Kelligar at January 5, 2006 02:07 AM

sorry to you on this one. the underline is standard engineering protocol, both the 6 and the 9 get underlines on them.

you solution would only work for those familiar with the [non]standard. looking and a non-underlined 9 would be ambiguous.

now of course why wouldn't you just write the letters "SIX" down the side is another story...

Posted by: jleslie48 at April 20, 2006 02:19 PM

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