Madness! Card games sure have gone to a new level within recent years, but the madness this one provides surely is unexpected. A comic-book themed game filled with goats, Jackanope’s and of course, kittens. Just looking at it, I knew an Exploding Kittens game review had to be done! First launched on Kickstarter in 2015, this has become one of the most funded Kickstarter games to date, receiving nearly 9 million dollars from backers.

That’s amazing, even the bigger branded games don’t compare to the amount this one earned. There’s something eyebrow raising here, the hype is high. It really is remarkable how well the response is for this game. From the maker of The Oatmeal comic series, Matthew Inman, and game developers Shane Small and Elan Lee, the combination of humour, art and fun was highly anticipated.

The box looks striking with its colourful theme, cat drawing and what-on-earth title. The cards are also made of a tough, sleek material, feeling long-lasting for continuous plays. Being the only components of the game, I’m glad these were well-made. It’s all attractive and draws you in, which isn’t surprising knowing the source of the design. This is the zaniest game I’ve seen for a while, so considering the amount of chatter behind it, do you get your hopes fulfilled?

Buy Exploding Kittens

What Do You Get?

  • 122 cards
  • Instruction sheet

How Do You Set It Up?

How it works:

In the deck of cards are some Exploding Kittens. You play the game by putting the deck face down and taking turns drawing cards until someone draws an Exploding Kitten. When that happens, that person explodes. They are now dead and are out of the game.

This process continues until there’s only one player left, who wins the game. The more cards you draw, the greater your chances of drawing an Exploding Kitten.

If you explode, you lose. If you don’t explode, you win. All of the other cards will lessen your chances of exploding.

Setting up:

  1. Remove all the Exploding Kittens cards (9) from the deck and set them aside.
  2. Look through the remaining deck and, based on the number of players, use the following cards:
    1. 2-3 Players – Use only the cards with a paw print in the corner.
    2. 4-7 Players – Use only the cards without a paw print in the corner.
    3. 8-10 Players – Use all of the cards.
  3. Remove all of the Defuse Cards from the deck and deal 1 to each player. Insert any extra Defuse Cards back in the deck (if there are any).
  4. Shuffle the deck and deal 7 cards face down to each player. Everyone now has a hand of 8 cards in total.
  5. Insert enough Exploding Kittens back into the deck so that there is 1 fewer than the number of people playing. Remove any extra Exploding Kittens from the game. This ensures that everyone will eventually explode except for 1 person.
  6. Shuffle the deck, and put it face down in the middle of the table. This is your Draw Pile. Leave space for a Discard Pile as well.
  7. Pick a player to go first.

How Do You Play?

When you take your turn:

  1. Look at the cards in your hand. Play a card by placing it face up on top of the Discard Pile and follow the instructions on the card.
  2. After you follow the instructions on the card, you can play more cards. You can play as many cards as you’d like or play no cards at all.
  3. End your turn by drawing a card from the top of the Draw Pile into your hand and hoping it’s not an Exploding Kitten.
  4. Play as many, or as few cards as you’d like, then draw a card to end your turn. This play continues clockwise around the table.

Ending the game:

The last player who hasn’t exploded wins the game. You won’t ever run out of cards in the Draw Pile because you inserted enough Exploding Kittens to kill all but one player.

Defuse cards:

Each player starts with a Defuse Card, the most powerful card in the game. These are the only cards that can save you from Exploding Kittens. If you draw an Exploding Kitten, instead of getting exploded, you can play the Defuse Card and reinsert the Kitten back into the Draw Pile anywhere you’d like in secret. You’ll want as many Defuse Cards as possible.

Types of cards:

Exploding Kitten – You must show this immediately, if you have no Defuse Card, you’re dead.

Defuse – If you drew an Exploding Kitten, you can play this card instead of dying.

Double Slap – End your turn without drawing a card and force any other player to take 2 turns in a row.

Triple Slap – Works the same way as Double Slap, but adds 3 turns instead of 2.

Skip – Immediately end your turn without drawing a card.

Reverse – Reverse the order of play and end your turn without drawing.

Shuffle – Shuffle the Draw Pile thoroughly.

Draw From The Bottom – End your turn by drawing the bottom card from the Draw Pile.

Favor – Force any other player to give you 1 card from their hand. They choose which card to give you.

See The Future – Privately view the top 3 cards from the Draw Pile and put them back in the same order. Don’t show the cards to the other players.

Alter The Future – Privately view the top 3 cards from the Draw Pile and rearrange them in any order you’d like. Return them to the top of the Draw Pile face down, then continue with your turn.

Nope – Stop any action except for an Exploding Kitten or a Defuse Card.

Cat Cards – These cards have no instructions on them and are powerless on their own, but can be played as matching Pairs or in Special Combos.

Pros Of The Game

  • Easy to learn
  • Invokes skill and challenge, satisfying if you win
  • Inspires experience along with fast-gameplay
  • Great for fans of this kind of humour and The Oatmeal comics
  • Well made with great style and design
  • Easy-going and good for social settings like parties
  • Fun and silly whilst requires focus

Cons Of The Game

  • Humour can be off-putting for some people
  • Other editions and expansions can be expensive
  • You can feel helpless some games if all your cards get taken
  • Mixed views on replay ability
  • Not a games night kind of game, more of a time-passer
  • Could be better by increasing the number of players allowed to play
  • Needs attention throughout, can’t let your mind wander

Should You Get Exploding Kittens?

Many may think of this game as a goofy version of Russian Roulette whilst still keeping the tension. Plain and simple, you must avoid the Exploding Kittens, no matter what, or you’re out of the game. The source of the game is making your fellow players perform moves that increase their risk of drawing Exploding Kitten cards whilst you not having to draw many cards at all.

You can imagine the paranoia you’d get with every card draw you make, and the game puts it in your hands how many you want to draw. Action cards put others in tough positions, like seeing cards at the top of the deck and forcing them to draw more cards. Defence cards can save you from being controlled by others with Nope cards.

This is a good captivating way to spend time trying to sabotage your friends. You need to focus on this game if you want to stand a chance, you won’t get very far if your mind wanders. Attention is needed, which might not be a positive for those looking for a more chilled game like those with luck and dice-rolling.

This game demands you learn quickly and gain experience if you want to survive and hold out. Watch how others react to seeing the top few cards, work out how you’ll play knowing the top cards you’ve seen. Choose which players are better off blowing up based on how many cards they have and can use. Prevent others from shuffling or making moves, whilst seeking Defuse Cards to protect yourself. You don’t have to use Nope cards on your turn, which adds more planning as to when you should make the right moves.

This is fast-paced, serious gameplay that brings out the competition between you. People who have played this have been fully enveloped trying to outwit each other. If you’re not fully into the gameplay, it might just go past you and you’ll move on to the next game. Keep up or be blown up, this is kitten warfare!

It feels this is more for the devoted fans and considering how many backers it has had on Kickstarter, this is a decently sized audience to aim for which I’m sure they appreciate. I think a big part of what attracts people to this game is the crazy artwork and style. The comic book theme is what makes this stand out, and the immersive drawings and random designs really make every card look eye-catching. The cards look amazing and have a unique outtake compared to the artwork of other card games.

The well-loved Oatmeal comics, with their silly humour and style of writing, are clearly the heart of the game, and it was a very good idea to engrain them into the gameplay. Exploding Kittens stays true to its comic predecessor, the cards and box look brilliant, and the rules themselves even relate to the comics.

There are two versions of the game, the base game, and the NSFW (Not Safe For Work) Edition, noted too horrible for the core game. The NSFW is the same as the original with gameplay, except it contains cards that are much more adult, which reaches fans of Oatmeal who love that kind of humour. So this works for everyone, providing a kid-friendly version, and an older version that pertains more to it’s comic-based roots.

There’s been comparisons to Cards Against Humanity, but this gives a different experience and adds to the adult board game genre. You’ll find there’s more skill than the initial look of the game leads on. Winning relies on applying each cards abilities appropriately and keeping a poker face on what you can do and what you know.

It’s for 2-5 players, with the amount of difficulty varying appropriately with more Exploding Kitten cards being added to the deck for each player. There’s a ‘Frist Edition’ of the game where the box has an added space for more cards, and a funny feature where the box meows when you open it, I’m serious! Nice touch, but this costs an extra £10, so it’s up to you whether it’s worth it. There is also a card expansion which adds 20 new cards, which is nice, but it costs nearly as much as the base game, which makes me wonder who did the pricing for these extra features, I’m sure they would sell better if they were priced more appropriately.

Random humour is more popular in games today, having lol-like tones. Games like this are Killer Bunnies and Card Against Humanity. Some hate these kinds of games because the humour exceeds the gameplay itself, but many find the fusion of humour and play with Kittens surprisingly satisfying. You can’t go wrong with a light-hearted game with depth and difficulty, the combo reaches many, and the push-your-luck style puts risk on the players skill, rather than one after the other laughs with no consequence, which is refreshing.

If you want a party game, this is a contender. You want a game that’s easy to learn whilst drinking yet gives a good challenge to compete each other with. This is a very easy game to pick up on, the instructions are simple, and it only takes a play or too to get the hang of. Then it’s up to you to work on your game and outmanoeuvre the others.

Just be wary, you’ll need to keep concentration on what is going on and stay patient with how to play your cards, but if everyone is half drunk, you might get away with being less focused On the other hand, though saying it can be a party game, you sometimes want more players to be involved at larger gatherings. Extra cards can help with this using current and future expansions, you’ll be paying more though.

This truly connects with its intended audience and invokes experience with frequent playthroughs. It’s a good laugh, has speedy gameplay, and brings out your inner silly. The layout is really well-made and is a nice extension to what attracted original fans to the franchise in the first place. It has a good combination of humour in the style, and seriousness with tension in the game itself. More sensitive people may find feel disgusted by the humour, it’s not for everyone, even with the base game, it varies from group to group, family to family.

The replay value is mixed between people. Some say after a certain point this game can get a bit redundant after playing for so long, that once you have gone through all the cards, the replay ability can reduce significantly. Others say the replay ability is high, embracing the depth of the game and getting immersed by the level of skill.

You might feel helpless at times if other players keep taking your cards and there’s nothing you can do about it when you come across a Kitten, it can be merciless to you some plays. However, gameplay is very quick, lasting between 10 and 20 minutes, so don’t worry if you blow up, it won’t be long until the next game!

You really feel satisfied when you avoid getting blown up because of your strategic card plays and chucking others in the firing line. There’s chance with what cards you get, but it’s up to you whether you want to draw cards, so it’s very much on you to win, and if you do win, you feel on top of the world.

It’s not a big games night kind of game, just a simple card game for time-passing and mingling. Some find the price is not worth the product, which can be understandable, especially with other extensions being equally priced, it can be contingent on how much you get out of it.

There’s great fun here with jokingly themed plots of sabotage. If you like being silly and can enjoy this game’s bizarre charm, you’ll have a good time. Plus, if you don’t like cats this can be a good game for you too! This is best enjoyed at parties and with as many players as you can, Interaction is a key part here and it inspires it very well. You’ll be tempted to say ‘Ha!’ and ‘Take that!’ at certain times here, it’ll bring out your merciless side. Goofy adult humour, strategy, comic artwork and plenty of interaction, if these tick your boxes you’ll have a great time. I’m very curious on what other games these guys can make, maybe teleporting dolphins and flame-throwing postmen.

Thank you for reading my Exploding Kittens game review! Do you enjoy the game? Can you play it continuously? What do you think of the comic style? Does it meet you kind of humour? How do you find the pricing? Any and all comments are welcome!

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Scott Board Game Reviews

6 Replies

  1. Actually, I’ve laways enjoyed the games that keep me on the edge of my seat.
    After all, isn’t that what a good board game is supposed to do?
    If you don’t enjoy yourself while playing, then what’s the point, right?
    I really appreciate how you take the time to explain how the Exploding Kittens actually works, not too many people bother with the details and I think that they are important.
    Honestly, this is the first time I’m hearing about this game.
    But after reading your review I’ll be checking it out.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. I’m glad the suspense can keep you gripped! It’s all about the fun and entertainment, tension can be a part of that, anticipating how it will all end up. Good point of view. You’re welcome, glad you enjoyed it, I definitely recommend!

  2. Certainly, this sounds like a real cool game. I love board games and ever so often I get together with family and friends to play. I am always on the look out for a good board game. Exploding Kittens will definitely be my next board game purchase. I can’t wait for our next game night. Thanks for sharing. Keep me posted when you roll out reviews of new ones.

    1. Thanks Carol, good to hear you’re an avid board game lover! You’ll get some good laughs from Exploding Kittens and it might get you into more of the manufacturers games with this kind of style. Enjoy!

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