TGN Review: Exploding Kittens

By Polar_Bear
In Card Games
Aug 26th, 2015

Earlier this year, Exploding Kittens figuratively blew up Kickstarter. In 30 days, Elan Lee and his team raised almost $9 million thanks to the help of 219,382 backers. Some people here in the office were among that crowd. And a mere 6 months later, Exploding Kittens has made it to their desks. So, now that we’ve gotten a chance to play the game, was it worth all the hype?


Meow, meow, meow, Kablooey! It’s time for another TGN Review. This time it’s Exploding Kittens.

In Exploding Kittens, you’re trying to be the one player left after all the others have been blown up by the titular exploding kittens. You can stave off explosion by playing certain cards, primarily by not drawing a card in some way, or by defusing a kitten if you do manage to draw one.

Game Box Interior

Setting up the game is easy. First, take out all the Defuse and Exploding Kitten cards from the deck. Shuffle the rest. Deal 1 Defuse card to each player. Then deal out 4 more cards from the deck to each player. Then, take the remaining Defuse cards and Exploding Kitten Cards (only use 1 less than the number of players you have. So if you have 4 players, use 3 Exploding Kitten cards, for example) and shuffle them into the deck. You’re now ready to play.

There are 9 types of cards in the game:
1. Defuse – Use this to avoid being blown up if you draw an Exploding Kitten card. If you don’t have one when you do draw an Exploding Kitten card, you’re out of the game.
2. Exploding Kitten – You can’t really call a game Exploding Kittens without Exploding Kitten cards in it. Well, you could, but you would have a misleading game title. If you draw one of these, you’re out of the game (unless you have a Defuse in your hand).
3. See the Future – This card allows you to look at the top 3 cards of the deck. You can’t change how they’re arranged, but you get an idea of what’s coming up.
4. Favor – Use this to force another player to give you one of their cards (their choice on what they give you, though).
5. Nope – This card cancels out any other action of another player.
6. Skip – Play this card to skip your turn, meaning you don’t have to draw at the end of it (so no chance of getting an Exploding Kitten).
7. Shuffle – Just as the name says, this lets you shuffle the deck of cards.
8. Attack – Like a Skip, but meaner. Not only do you end your turn without having to draw, but the next person after you has to take two turns in a row.
9. Cards With No Instructions – These are set-matching cards of the deck. If you have a matching pair, you can play them together to steal a card, at random, from another player. If you play three of a kind, then you can name a type of card and take that from another player (if they have one. If they don’t, you’re outa luck).

Game play is rather simple. On your turn you play cards from your hand (as many as you want, including none if you so choose, or if can’t play anything). When you’re done, you draw a card (assuming you’ve not played an Attack or Skip card). Drawing your card is the end of your turn, so make sure you’ve done all you want before you draw. If you draw anything but an Exploding Kitten, then keep your card to yourself and breathe a sigh of relief… for now. If you draw an Exploding Kitten, you explode! If you’ve got a Defuse, you’re ok. However, you have to put that Exploding Kitten card back into the draw pile. So turn your back or put the cards under the table, or some other way to hide it from others’ views and put the card back in. You can pick where you want to put it, so if there’s someone at the table you want to get back at for something, now’s your time to set up your revenge plot. Put the cards back out after you’re done, cackle maniacally, and let the next player take their turn (if they dare). If you didn’t have a Defuse, you exploded and are out. Sit quietly and wait for the next game to start. Or I guess you could storm off in a huff, but what fun would that be?

Exploding Kittens fits into that category of “quick, fast, easy-to-play game that you can toss in your gaming backpack and have on-hand to play just whenever.” It’s a fun, little game that you can have a short game of between other games, or even make a full evening of playing. Rounds are pretty quick, so even if you get blown up early (which shouldn’t happen too often, since you get a Defuse card in your hand at the start), you won’t be sitting around, waiting very long until the next round starts. The artwork, done by The Oatmeal’s artist, is cute and fits perfectly with the tongue-in-cheek theme of the game. There’s the Standard deck and the NSFW deck, both of which can be shuffled together if you want to accommodate up to nine players at a time. If you’re a fan of quick, press-your-luck and “gotcha” styles of games, or even if you just like The Oatmeal, I suggest giving it a try.

They are taking orders now over on their website.

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  • Garth Westphal

    Sadly they don’t ship to Canada through Amazon. 🙁

  • Justin Unsworth

    I backed the KS and I have to say it is a really good light game. It has a great deal of ‘take that’ play in it but the theme is so tongue-in-cheek that it’s good fun. It’s also very quick to pick up.

    Are we allowed to mention the box? 🙂

  • This could’ve been a digital game very easily. I have no idea why it
    wasn’t. It’s not like people will be playing this for very long.

    • hvedhrungr

      Not true. Still a staple go-to game when the evening has drawn on, the long games are finished and you’re just looking for a quick kicker before heading home.
      Right up there with Click-Clack-Lumberjack, Loveletter and Zombidice.

      Is it vastly inflated due to the success of the kickstarter and the prominent illustrative artist? Why, sure.
      Does that make it a bad game? Not at all.

      • Well, everyone’s going to have their own games that they like and dislike, of course. Not every game is going to appeal in the same way to every gamer.

        Personally, I knew that the games that I played of EK for the review would more-than-likely be the last games I played of it, possibly ever, but at least for a long time. It wasn’t my copy that I used for the review, but a coworker’s who got it during the Kickstarter. There’s nothing really wrong with the game, but it’s not something that I’ve got in my collection to bring out when it’s time to get some gaming on.

        • hvedhrungr

          Of course it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. And, as I said, I also think the game has been hyped too much, both in advance and after release. But I wouldn’t knock it unnecessarily…