Uno | an initiative system

(This idea may have been suggested by someone before …) 

So this idea is probably not going to ‘feel right’ under some game settings, especially gritty settings.  But for more Gonzo, sci-fi or children-friendly settings this idea might work well enough. It’s your game, you’ll know.

For reference, below are the 108 cards in a standard UNO deck.

UNO full set


Simply shuffle the Uno deck and deal or ask the players to draw a card (either individually, or for the party if that’s how your group plays initiative). DM draws for the monsters.

The card holder goes on the segment that appears on their card (10 segments in a standard old school combat round) , e.g. 2 means go on segment 2. So low values are good. You’ll need to decide if “0” are high or low.

With a card in hand, no one has to remember who goes next.

Some optional rules …


In case of a draw, the colour of the card can be used as a tie breaker, e.g. like rock, paper scissors:

r2    beats  y2   beats  g2   beats  b2   beats   r2

Wild Card Cards

So what to do about the fancy wild card cards?

Well the simplest thing to do is to discard them (pun not resisted).

But here are some possible options:

neNo way! A fumble – the card holder loses their turn



2arrowFree movement – get a free movement and draw another card for initiative

or … can swap for the monster’s card


plus2Too Fast – draw two more cards and pick the best

or … double header; attack in the first and last segment of the round



Opps … card holder is surprised



plus 4Foresight – card holder is 4 segments ahead of the game and goes before all others;

or … redraw a number card and take 4 off the total;

or … draw 4 cards and take the best number card


If the there is an “or …” option, pick the one that will suit your game.

Other ideas

Please feel free to make suggestions to help make this idea better!

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More of my stuff on DriveThruRPG:

5 thoughts on “Uno | an initiative system

  1. Froth

    Hey…loved this Uno hack. I think my daughter will dig it. I linked to this post on my blog and mentioned it on my podcast this week. Keep up the great work, good stuff.



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