Boom (shake the room)
Usually, whilst I like to hint throughout my reviews as to the impression I have of these games, I feel I can’t with Exploding Kittens. If you read my Top 10 Gateway Games review you’ll see it was highly placed (if you haven’t then please do as it makes me look awesome) and for good reason. IT IS A GREAT GAME. I was one of the obscene amount of people (219,382 people to be exact) which backed it on Kickstarter and I don’t regret it in the slightest.
Death by cuteness
Exploding Kittens is a game of the simplest form. You have a deck of cards, you draw cards, you avoid the exploding kitten and avoid being taken out of the game. There is always one less kitten than there are players and you can play with 5 people straight out of the box. Since they earned so much money for the campaign they managed to make the cards from a really good quality stock, so you’re definitely getting good value for what you pay for.
“How do you stop from exploding?” I hear you cry. Well, when the game is dealt out, you all get a random hand of 4 cards and a diffuse card. You can play the diffuse card if you draw the exploding kitten, and once you have diffused the kitten you can place it back in the deck wherever you like.
Considering the basis of the game is all about cute little critters blowing you and themselves into oblivion, make no mistake; this game is seriously cut-throat! You could make the decision to put it a few cards down into the deck if you’re hoping to take out a specific other player, but don’t forget you’ll never know where all of those sneaky kittens are… unless you’re down to 2 cards and you made sure that the other person draws the exploding kitten that is!
Blessings from the Pope of Nope
All of the other cards in the game have effects to help you avoid the titular exploding kitten, or to attack the other players. You have cards that can skip your turn (you know that someone has it in for you really, and you’re probably right), you could play attack cards which means then next player has to take 2 turns or you can play a shuffle card to destroy the well laid plans of your fellow kitten dodgers. However, there is one card which lords it over all of the rest…
The fabled NOPE card *insert ethereal music*.
The nope card is the best invention in any game ever. If someone plays an attack card on you; “nope”, play your nope card and it doesn’t happen. Your adversary plays a nope in return so it becomes a “yup”, assuming you have another card then it’s “still nope”. One important thing to remember though is that you can never nope a diffuse card, because let’s face it; not even exploding kittens are that harsh.
*WARNING* Serious amounts of “Noping” can really upset people. I should know, I used to be an adventurer before I took an arrow to the knee…
There are also cards with no instruction text on them. Some examples of this are the palindromatic Tacocat and the rainbow ralphing cat. What? Have you never seen a cat throw up a rainbow before? Then you’ve never lived!
These cards can be played in pairs or 3’s to get people to hand over their cards. If you play a pair you nominate someone to give you a card from their deck which is randomly chosen by you. This can be helpful if you’re lucky and manage to steal a nope or even better a defuse. However, if you manage to get 3 of the same card you can nominate someone to give you a card of YOUR choice. This can turn the game around if you steal someones diffuse card right before they draw the exploding kitten.
An Explosive art form
The art is so silly, yet simplistic, that it goes full circle and comes out the other side being amazing. All of the card artwork was done by Matthew Inman who runs a website called The Oatmeal which does online comic strips and things like that. It must have a monster following for people to have taken such an interest in Exploding Kittens, but the art is great, and is what drew me to the Kickstarter project before finding out how great the gameplay was. It’s hard to pick favourites as they are all so good but below are a selection of the ones I love from the deck. I do have an all-time favourite but it’s only available in the NSFW deck. Let’s face it, you’d love to see what a crack smoking owl looks like too wouldn’t you? Tell you what, I’ll put a picture right at the end of the review, just for you. Be warned however, there’s an F Bomb on it so don’t let the kids see.
I have been racking my brain as to why I love exploding kittens so much. I have decided after some very careful deliberation that I don’t actually care why. The game is so easy to learn (there is an amazing video to teach you the rules. It even gives you a taste of the kind of humor you see in the game. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAkRKuv5Rts) and can be played by anybody. I have even played with grandparents and they have enjoyed it too. I think that one of the keys to a good game is simplicity and exploding kittens has that in spades. Coupled with that, I don’t think I have ever managed to have a single game of exploding kittens ever. Even when teaching other people one game always turns in to 2 or 3, so there’s an addictive quality to it.
I think all in all, the game is just good fun. Although it is 5 players out of the box I have 2 boxes so could play up to 10. Exploding Kittens have also just announced a 6th player expansion with new cards and artwork so you could pick it up if you’re a regular 6 person game group and most people would love it, so long as they don’t mind the randomness of card games anyway.
I would always recommend buying copies of games that I like. However, this time (much to my annoyance) the ones available from Games Quest are the Kickstarter exclusive boxes. I’m not sure how they got them, but there you go. What’s the difference? It has a magnetic clasp to keep it nice and safe… oh yeah, and it meows when you open it!
Check them out here: https://www.gamesquest.co.uk/new-releases/exploding-kittens-strategy-card-game/
If you’d like to have a look into Matt Inman’s artwork some more, check out The Oatmeal here: http://theoatmeal.com/
Lastly, if you play the game and think it’s amazing, come back and tell me.
Ah yes, one last thing… here’s the owl:
The following two tabs change content below.
I am just a regular guy that fell into board gaming. That's why I am no longer allowed in my local Toys R Us. I'm a huge fan of deckbuilding games and games with unusual themes or mechanics. OK, maybe I'm not that regular after all.