Exploding Kittens is a card game that my girlfriend and I have been playing a lot every since we picked it up in Manchester from Travelling Man. It’s an odd name for a comic book and tabletop games store, but it was pretty awesome and the employees are fantastic.
The game itself is fairly simple, addictive, and features some delightfully weird illustrations from the artist behind The Oatmeal. The object of the game is to be the only player still standing after every other player has fallen victim to Exploding Kittens.
You start the game with 5 cards in your hand. One of which is always a Defuse card, which you’re going to need. Defuse cards are the only cards that will let you stay in the game once you draw an Exploding Kittens card. Once you use it, you lose it, so the best strategy is to stockpile your Defuse cards and steal as many as you can from your opponents.
There are several other cards in the deck that can help you achieve this. Most of the cards tell you exactly what they do. You can play as many cards as you wish on your turn, but the fewer cards you have, the greater the chance that someone will successfully steal your Defuse cards from you. Plus, you’ll have more options available for avoiding drawing an Exploding Kitten card.
You must draw a card at the end of your turn unless you have played either the Skip card or Attack card on your turn. Personally, I think these cards best saving until you know for certain that the next card you’re going to draw is an Exploding Kitten. Which brings me to my favorite, and most underestimated card with new players, the See The Future card.
With See The Future you can look at the top 3 cards of the draw deck. I like to use these cards early in the game. Not only to avoid an early Exploding Kitten, but also to make sure I’m collecting the other cards I need to win. If an Exploding Kitten is the topmost card, it’s the perfect time to Skip or Attack. However, most players will know what you’re up to and try to either Stop your action or Shuffle the deck.
If you have a Stop card of your own you can use it to prevent them from shuffling the deck or stopping you from skipping the draw step. Which is why you want to make sure, if you can, that your opponents’ hands are as empty as possible. You can do this with the Favor card (which I can’t find a picture of on the official website), and the cards that have no instructions on them such as Tacocat, Beard Cat, or Hairy-Potato Cat.
If you have any two matching cats from among these cards, you can use them to take a card at random from an opponent’s card. Ideally, you want to take their Defuse cards so that you have them and they don’t. This, of course, is tricky if they still have a hand full of cards. Favor cards force an opponent to give you a card. They’re not just going to give you a Defuse, but they will have to whittle down their cards to make the chances of stealing a Defuse with a pair of cats much more likely.
Chances are they will give you one of their own random cat cards. With any luck, it will match one that you’re holding, and you can steal another. Of course, people will want to take your cards too. If they use Favor on you, I highly recommend (if they take their turn right before you) that you give them Attack cards. Attack cards will let them end their turn without drawing and force you to take 2 turns.
This may seem counter-productive, but many players will then immediately play it on you, allowing you to draw two cards on your turn and build up your own arsenal. Don’t do this if they just used See The Future, though, unless you’re prepared to either Defuse the inevitable Exploding Kitten, Stop their Attack, or play your own Attack to pass both turns to the next player.
Most of the other players should be desperately trying not to draw, getting more and more nervous as you continue to play. If you’ve played your cards right, though, using my suggestions, you should be able to draw with impunity knowing that you can handle anything the deck throws at you.
It’s a hilariously fun game, even if you lose. There are two versions of the box set available, one of which is adults only, and an app. We have the standard set which meows when you open it. I sincerely hope the adults only version meows too because I don’t want to know what sound it makes instead. If you have both sets you can have up to 9 players. Otherwise, it’s for 2-5 players and only takes about 15 minutes to play.
They’ve also just released an expansion for the game called Imploding Kittens that adds some new card types to the game, and a human-sized cone of shame! I highly recommend you buy at least one set plus the expansion, and then send me pictures of yourself wearing the cone of shame! Right now they have a discount code ‘Holiday20’ that knocks 20% off your entire order. Go buy it!