Exploding Kittens

Date Wed, August 26 2015

Now that Exploding Kittens has become available to purchase, there’s no better time to write a review, right?

Exploding Kittens Card Game

Exploding Kittens Card Game

First, let’s start with a little history. Exploding Kittens is a Kickstarter project, in fact, the only one I’ve ever backed. It’s an easy card game with art by Matthew Inman of the Oatmeal. Plus, it’s got cats. And we all know I love them. The Kickstarter page describes the game as:

…a card game for people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats…

Exploding Kittens is a highly strategic kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette. Players take turns drawing cards until someone draws an exploding kitten and loses the game. The deck is made up of cards that let you avoid exploding by peeking at cards before you draw, forcing your opponent to draw multiple cards, or shuffling the deck.

For $35, I invested and received perks of both the first edition deck and the NSFW (not safe for work) deck. A deal if I do say so myself! A lot of other people must have agreed, because the crowdfunding campaign met its goal on the first day. It became the most-backed game via crowdfunding and then the most-back campaign ever (by nearly twice!).

So I was among friends; although, I wasn’t in a location where I could play test. Bummer. It meant I had to wait until July for my game to ship as a perk. I received it in the beginning of August, while I was in the beginning of GISHWHES. That was crazy and busy, but I took some time to play with my sister and her friends. It became obvious that it’s a kid-friendly game — without the NSFW deck. She has asked me to play almost daily since. The game is now on loan to her so she’ll stop.

So how do you play? It’s pretty simple. Draw until you get an exploding kitten. At which point you lose. Unless you have a defuse card. Everyone starts with a defuse card, so you’ll last at least one round. And a game has to last no more than 15 minutes.

By process of elimination, players will lose. This leaves the players left with a higher chance of picking an exploding kitten. As you use up your defuses and other cards, such as the card that let you skip drawing a card, you’ll be closer to losing — or winning, if your opponent kicks the bucket first.

There are a number of self-explanatory cards:

  • Skip drawing
  • Attack the next person
  • See the next three cards
  • Ask for a favor

There are also “Nope” cards, which allow you to cancel a person’s attack or action, and strange cat cards that are played in combinations. Aside from the cat, every card in the deck is different. All the themes by Matthew Inman are amusing. Many of them are new, but some are recycled from The Oatmeal, so you’ll recognize them if you’re a fan.

There’s more strategy required than Uno. It’s less luck-based than Cards Against Humanity, but it’s not tough by any means. You just have to pay attention.

But here’s the thing. This game is only fun with the right vibe and the right people. If someone, anyone, in your group isn’t into it, it’s going to make it less fun. If anyone isn’t paying attention or doesn’t catch on, they’re going to slow down the game. Played slowly, it’s a drag, okay? I also think playing with more than two decks makes it longer than neccesary.  And it’s just not fun with less than three people

When you’re into it, and you have fun causing your friends, family and the boss who’s going to fire you to lose.. when you guys build on that tension.. and when you’re easily amused by the cards, it can make for a good game. It’s quick, and you might play a few rounds in the vein of “best two out of three.”

I’ve played nine rounds in a row. I’ve played with people who have wanted to play it every single day since. I’ve played with people who won’t play it again. I personally enjoy it, and would play it again.

It’s quality production, including the meowing box it came in (with room for a second deck) and the NSFW box. It should withstand quite a bit of play.

But I think I’ll save it for people who are most likely to enjoy it!

Exploding Kittens has just become available from Amazon for $20.


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