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TGN Review: Exploding Kittens

TGN Review: Exploding Kittens

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.

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.