New gametype: Shuffle Mode

There’s a hot new mode taking the Wodka scene by storm. In this mode all the red specials are randomized every hand so that the effects can be assigned to any value of red card.

At the time of writing, there is also a new effect which reverses the direction of play until the end of the trick.

The one static effect is that the red seven always goes first. It will also have another randomized effect and the effect counts as all suits is added into the pool to be assigned.

Passing

Much of the conventional wisdom around passing needs to be thrown out the window with the random assignment of specials. Most of the entries in my previous article on banned cards that you should not pass to opponents are based on the effect on that value of red card. For example, passing a three to an opponent is generally a bad idea since with the red two also being playable as a three, there are effectively five threes in the deck so passing one is more likely to give away a bomb.

However there are still some concepts we can still use. For example rule for not passing sevens to your opponents still applies for the same obvious reasons.

Instead of focusing on the values of the cards, we need to instead evaluate the relative power of the effects. In general this can be split into five categories:

Very Positive

  • +1 Point if played as your last card
  • N or N+1
  • Give a card to another player
  • Wish for a suit from another player
  • Counts as a pair
  • Skip the next player

Slightly Positive

  • N or N & N+1
  • Counts as all suits
  • -1 to your highest card

Situational

  • The following set must be lower
  • N+3 if Wodka, N+4 if Grand Wodka
  • Take a card from the previous set

Negative

  • Draw the undealt card
  • +1 to the next player’s highest card

Might as well not exist

  • Uno reverse

Looking at the effects categorized in this manner, we can determine that the very positive effects should not be passed to opponents, and also can be strong cards to pass to your partner. The exception to this is with the zero, as a pair zero or zero / 1 still aren’t great cards.

The slightly positive cards only work out in certain hands so don’t make great candidates for passing to your partner, and although not ideal, can be passed to opponents if there are no other options.

The situational cards are where things become interesting. The strength of these effect depends greatly on the values they are assigned to.

The following set must be lower

This effect gets strong as the value of card it’s assigned to lowers. A zero with this effect is only beatable with a bomb. Having pair twos or threes with this is also very strong. Whereas on an ace this effect becomes negative. It’s still an ace and probably not the best choice to pass to an opponent, but similarly it likely shouldn’t be passed to a partner who has placed a Grand Wodka.

N+3 if Wodka, N+4 if Grand Wodka

This effect ranges from slightly positive on a low card to very positive on a high card. On a Jack or higher this becomes extremely strong as when placing a Wokda this becomes an ace or better. On low cards it is still situationally useful as it can give someone the opportunity to build a bomb with it.

Take a card from the previous set

This effect is powerful on high cards and especially aces, but becomes less and less useful on lower values.

The negative effects when paired with low values are actively bad cards and are good choices to pass to opponents. On high cards such as kings or aces they become more situational so shouldn’t be passed away.

The Wishing Minefield

As mentioned above, there is now potential for some very bad red cards. In the normal game mode a popular tactic for less advanced players to is always wish a red card from an opponent as this tends to be most impactful if you’re not able to work out what is in the targets hand.

This is now only be done if the negative effects have already been played, or you know where they are. Otherwise you might be passed a zero that also grants you an extra random card!

It’s also worth considering that the player who goes first doesn’t necessarily have the card with counts as all suits so you may want to wait that one out too.

Patience with -1 to your highest card

This effect becomes much more interesting in this gamemode since if you have it in your hand, you often won’t know what effects you’ll get should you use this to lower your other red cards.

One approach with this is to save it along with your other red cards to see what values some of the other effects are assigned to. This strategy generally won’t allow you to go out first as it does involve not playing your hand early, but if it allows you to get an extra point by getting that effect on your last card, it can be worth it.

Placing a Wokda or Grand Wodka

Now that some truly terrible cards can exist, placing a Grand Wodka is a much riskier affair. Whist in the normal game you might be passed the zero which is usually a nuisance, in this gamemode there’s a good chance you’ll be passed at least one card which actively makes your hand worse.

The sanctity of aces has also been broken which is something to consider. If you have a hand which might normally be borderline for placing a Wodka, it’s worth determining if another play may have a bonus ace or tsar from the N or N+1 or N+3 if Wodka effects.

Summary

There’s a lot of new things to think about with the shuffle gamemode. The random assignment of the effects on the red cards does make the game less predictable which perhaps benefits less skilled players although it certainly doesn’t remove all skill from the game.

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