written by David Steffen
Exploding Kittens is a card game designed by Elan Lee and Shane Small, published by The Oatmeal, that describes itself as a “highly strategic kitten-powered version of Russian Roulette”, published in 2015.
When you play the game, the deck will have one less exploding kitten in the deck then there are people playing. Each turn you can play one or more cards from your hand, and your turn ends when you draw the next card from the deck. If the next card is an exploding kitten, then you lose! Unless you have a Defuse card (everyone starts with one and there are more in the deck). Defuse card lets you put the exploding kitten somewhere back into the deck.
Many of the cards, even if they’re part of a common type, have different artwork and explanations that are fun to read. So the Defuse might be a laser pointer that is used to distract the kitten from exploding, but it might be something else.
So, the exploding kitten and the defuse are definitely the two most important types of card in the game. But there are a variety of other cards to help strategize with. A See The Future card lets you pick at the top few cards on the deck without drawing them, so that you can decide whether to draw or to avert a crisis by playing a Shuffle card to reshuffle the deck, or play an Attack card that skips your draw and forces the next person to draw two cards instead of one.
My personal favorite card is the “Nope!” card. All other cards you can only play when it’s your turn, but you can play a “Nope!” card at any time to cancel out whatever card was played previously. Just slap down that Nope and say “Nope!”. They think they’re going to see the future to peek into the deck? Nope! They think they’re going to defuse that exploding kitten? Nope! They think they’re going to “Nope!” your card? Nope!
It’s a pretty quick game to play once you get the strategy, and can be played with two or more, a fun game to strategize and kill some time.
Suitable for all ages, though it would help if they’re old enough to read they could learn to recognize the colors of the different cards if they’re a little bit too young. Don’t need kids for it to be fun.
Can be reasonably challenging if you try to be as prepared for the exploding kittens as you can be, but there is a huge element of chance in that whether you draw the kitten and whether you draw extra defuses and other important factors decide a lot of it. If you’re a good strategist you’ll do better, but you still can’t always win.
Each round is generally done in around 5 minutes, you can play as many rounds as you want.
Plenty replayable, I’ve played it for hours and it didn’t get old, with the variety of cards in the deck.
Fun silly original premise and the play isn’t like any other card game I’ve played.
Nice compact fast-paced game, easy to learn and fun to play, can be played with groups of different sizes and the face pace would keep it entertaining for kids. The different illustration and explanation for each individual card even if they’re identical in functionality are a fun and nice touch. Lots of fun!