There might not be a game more well-worn and loved on our shelves as Exploding Kittens. It’s a modern classic that holds the record for most-backed project in Kickstarter’s history and has been a staple of game collector’s shelves since its release in 2015. It was designed by Elan Lee, Matthew Inman, and Shane Small, utilizing Lee’s game design skills and Inman’s art skills as creator of The Oatmeal comics. The artstyle of Exploding Kittens is iconic now, especially since it spans the many games that Exploding Kittens Inc. has released since 2015 (just a few include You’ve Got Crabs, Poetry For Neanderthals, and Throw Throw Burrito.) Exploding Kittens has a lot going for it: wacky artstyle, out-there characters, easy-to-learn rules, elimination-style gameplay, and high replayability, all in a handy, portable box. It’s no wonder we’ve had to replace our store copy from being played so much!
If you’ve never had the pleasure of playing before, then read on to become an expert in the rules and leave all your friends to get exploded on. We’ll also touch on the various expansions and different editions that the Exploding Kittens team has released to squeeze every last drop of fun and insanity out of their most beloved card game.
Beginning A Game
So. Kittens explode now. That’s the premise of the game. We all know the internet loves both cats and explosions, so combining them was really a genius move. The goal of the game is to be the last player alive, aka the only one who has not drawn an Exploding Kitten card and gotten blown up. The original game is for two to five players, so for however many people you have playing, have one less Exploding Kitten card in the deck. This allows for someone to be the sole survivor. When starting the game, remove all the Exploding Kitten cards and Defuse cards from the deck. A Defuse card is what will save you when you draw an Exploding Kitten, meaning you discard the Defuse card and return the kitten anywhere you want in the draw pile. Each player starts out with one Defuse card, afterwards being dealt seven more cards for a total of eight. The Deck is then shuffled (with the correct amount of Exploding Kittens) and put face down on the table, so the game can now begin.
Let The Carnage Begin
On your turn, you can choose to play as many (or as few) cards as you like, even passing and playing no cards. Some cards will have direct instructions on them such as See The Future, which allows you to peek at the top three cards in the draw pile and put them back how you found them. There’s also cards that allow you to skip a player’s turn or shuffle the draw pile. Other cards may have no instructions, but they still have value. They’re all unique cat cards, such as Potato Cat or Tacocat, who got their own spin-off game, Tacocat Spelled Backwards (It’s always great to see a breakout star’s career blow up.) Playing these cat cards in pairs allows you to steal a random card from another player’s hand. You might get lucky and grab their Defuse card!
After you’ve played as many cards as you want, you will draw a card to end your turn. This is the tense moment where you find out whether an Exploding Kitten lurks just beneath your fingertips. If you’ve got a Defuse card, you get to live, but if not…That’s game over for you. You’ll get to watch other players continue to compete for last player standing. This is why there are cards that allow you to skip drawing a card at the end of your turn, a truly based power to wield. However, you can be blocked from playing cards. The Nope card can cancel out any other player’s card (except for a Defuse or Exploding Kitten), meaning you just can’t do what you want, which is a lot like life. You CAN Nope another player’s Nope, though, which is a ray of light in the darkness that is an intense Exploding Kittens game.
Essentially, Exploding Kittens is survival of the fusest…aka the player who has the most Defuse cards will probably be the winner, though smart strategy and mercy from Lady Luck can turn the tide and save your hide.
Variations On An Exploding Theme
The popularity of the game has of course led to several different editions and expansions for more fun and chaos. For those looking to be inappropriate, there is the NSFW Edition of Exploding Kittens, where “boob wizards” and “sometimes butts” make an appearance. The basic gameplay remains the same beyond that, but the world certainly could use more boob wizards. For younger audiences (or moms who love sharing Facebook memes) there exists Exploding Minions, a crossover with those classic yellow guys from Despicable Me. A new card in this game is the Clone card, which becomes whatever card is beneath it when played. This suits the theme because of the sheer amount of Minions there are everywhere. Like, everywhere you go, there’s Minions. Even online. Someone has to be cloning them.
Another great choice for fans is the Exploding Kittens: Party Pack Edition, which accommodates up to 10 players and will absolutely make everyone at the party become your friend. It’s a real testament to a game that it still functions well after doubling the amount of maximum players. It certainly wouldn’t work with Clue! But maybe you want to downsize and get real intimate and personal. For that the newly released 2-Player Edition is just what you’ll need to save your marriage, or at least have a blast of a night before it all falls apart. The original game does work with two players, but this edition is specifically tweaked for the best two-player experience, and is much smaller in space and price.
Expanding On Said Theme
When it comes to expansions, you have three different ones to choose from: Imploding Kittens, Barking Kittens, and Streaking Kittens. These all introduce new cards and gameplay mechanics that will keep you on the tip of your paws. For example, Imploding Kittens features cards such as Feral Cat (can be used as any cat card such as Watermelon Cat or Tacocat) and Alter the Future (check the top three cards and put them back however you want to). The main edition is the Imploding Kitten, which there is only one of. When drawn, you won’t immediately die…you’ll actually return it to the deck secretly and face up, meaning everyone can see it coming. Whoever does eventually draw the Imploding Kitten will implode with no chance of defusing or noping. It’s a cruel fate similar to the cruel void of space, but adding it does allow up to six players. Also included is the Cone of Shame, worn embarrassingly by whichever player forgets whose turn it is. Now you can finally know how cats feel.
If you’re a huge fan of Exploding Kittens, or a new fan who just wants to have all the content available, Exploding Kittens: Recipes for Disaster is the cornucopia of the Exploding Kittens library, featuring the best 120+ cards from every single edition of the game and its expansions. it’s a massive box that also features Recipe Booklets, which are instructional guides on how to play different versions and variations of the game such as Lightning Kittens, where the entire game lasts two minutes. The Recipes will tell you how to assemble the deck to play the variation and what new rules it introduces, adding plenty of spice to the classic gameplay everyone’s familiar with. You can even come up with your own Recipes on blank cards, which is a fun way to let loose that creative or sadistic streak inside you.
Overall, there’s plenty of charm and havoc to be found in this party pleaser of a game. It’s for all crowds: Those who like cats will enjoy playing it, those who hate cats will like watching them explode. The team at Exploding Kittens Inc. have really covered all their bases. If you’re not convinced yet, come by Funny Bones and play a couple rounds and see what the fuss is about.