Exploding Kittens


While organizing our bookshelves recently, we discovered a card game that a kind soul had gifted us for Christmas. It had been lying on the shelf ever since, waiting for better days.

We invited some friends over, put the kettle on, dealt the cards, and got down to what Tiggers like best - blowing up little, sweet kittens.

The game is called "Exploding Kittens". Its creator is the same guy who, along with his wife, recently published a popular science book about humanity's expansion into space. A professional comic artist, as it turns out, he also dabbles in various other ventures. Here, I think he hit the bullseye.

The game is a (very) distant relative of Makao or Uno, but I warn readers who are not fans of these games right away that the resemblance is really thin.

The goal of the game - quite like in real life - is to stay alive as long as possible. You can only "die" in the game in one way, namely by drawing a card with an exploded kitten from the deck.

The game itself is ridiculously easy to master; essentially, after one trial round, everyone knew what it was about and we spent the next two hours trying to explode the competition while remaining unexploded ourselves.

Initially, all exploding kittens and "Defuse" cards (which disarm the exploding kitten) are removed from the deck, and then seven cards are dealt to each player. Additionally, each player gets one "Defuse" card, so everyone starts with eight cards. The remaining "Defuse" cards go back into the deck. Also, exploding kittens are added to the deck; one less than the number of players. For example, with five players, four exploding kittens are added. The deck is shuffled and placed in the middle of the table, face down. Players draw cards from this pile.

Then, the first player is determined (by any method) and players perform their actions in a clockwise direction. An action consists of (optionally) playing one or more cards from your hand, and then (obligatorily) drawing one card. Cards played by a player - after performing their associated actions - go to a separate pile ("discard pile"), where they remain until the end.

Action cards are the main attraction of the game. For example, you can play a "See the Future" card, which allows you to check the top three cards in the draw pile. Or "Attack," which frees you from the obligation to draw a card but forces the next player to draw two cards. Or "Skip," which means skipping a turn. Or taking a random card from a chosen player. Or shuffling the pile. Or cancelling another player's action (this card can be played at any time, i.e., out of turn). And so on, and so forth.

After drawing an exploding kitten from the pile, two things can happen: either we have a "Defuse" card in hand - if so, we get rid of it, and the exploding kitten goes back into the pile (at any place - other players must close their eyes during this time), or we don't have a "Defuse" and then we're out of the game, and the fatal card goes to the discard pile. This way, there's always one less explosive card in the pile than the number of "alive" players.

After playing a few rounds, it's worth changing seats, as the clockwise order and the presence of the "Attack" card means we always "attack" the same neighbor.

"Exploding Kittens" is very lively and dynamic, and a single game rarely lasts longer than 10 minutes. The fun, in my opinion, is excellent. On the manufacturer's website, you can also buy additional action cards - if I ever decide to do so, I will almost certainly post a new, updated review here.

My personal rating: 10/10. Definitely worth it.


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