Tabletop Tuesday: Exploding Kittens

Welcome to the first installment of Tabletop Tuesday here on SA Gamer! Last week we started off with an introduction on the rising popularity of tabletop games over the last few years. Starting today, we will be bringing you a weekly feature on some of our favourite tabletop games. First up, a quick-fire card game packed with crazy artwork, fun, strategy and
death by…Exploding Kittens!

Avoid those Exploding Kittens!

In 2015, Exploding Kittens became (at that point) the most-backed Kickstarter and most funded Games project of all time. 219,382 backers invested their money, raising a whopping $8,782,571! And this is the end result all those Dollars gifted us:

The standard deck of Exploding Kittens cards can accommodate 2 – 5 players, although two decks can be combined and there are now multiple expansion packs available. It takes just 2 minutes to learn (really!) and a round lasts an average of 15 minutes. For what ages? Well, the normal edition is ideal for ages 7 and up. However, they also have a NSFW edition which is, depending on your kind of humor and sensitivity, absolutely hilarious. Unfortunately, all the boob and butt jokes aren’t ideal if you are planning on playing with kids or grandparents.

How does it work?

YOU PUT THE CARDS FACE DOWN ON THE TABLE AND TAKE TURNS DRAWING FROM THEM.

IF YOU DRAW A KITTEN CARD, YOU EXPLODE. WHEN YOU EXPLODE, YOU DIE AND YOU ARE OUT OF THE GAME.


Exploding Kittens Rulebook

That’s basically it, other than some additional elements to make things fun. However, by the end of the first round, everyone at the table will be experts.

In order to be the last player left unscathed, you pick up cards you can use to protect yourself, sacrifice others and most importantly: avoid those dreaded exploding kittens! Picking up one of the four exploding kitten cards, naturally, makes you explode and ends your game. Unless, you have one of the six defuse cards. These are nicer kittens that, once played, give you a second chance and the right to reinsert the exploding kitten back into the deck… anywhere… even right on top!

Boom!
Saved by the kitten.

Much like those dreaded +4 cards in UNO, friendships can be endangered by strategically placing an Exploding Kitten card where you know your target will pick it up, or force them to pick up two cards with a +2 card. And as if that does not make keeping the peace difficult enough, any of the players can at anytime, “deny” a card that has been played. This is done by using one of the 5 “Nope” cards. – The Pope of Nope has spoken! Of course, you also have defensive cards: Skip, shuffle, pick a card from another player or see the future.

How fun is it?

Quite often, some of the best moments are right at the end of the round. As the cards in the deck become fewer, tension rises and strategy becomes essential. The next card you pick up could very well be your last!
There are three players left, only 4 cards in the deck and everyone knows that 2 of those are exploding kittens.

Suddenly, it becomes every player for themselves as you hope you have a more powerful arsenal of cards than those of the other players. When it’s your turn to pick up a card, all eyes lock on yours and you get the sense that those evil grins mean they have seen your future… but ha! You still have a defuse card. You play it and the next player’s smug expression suddenly melts down into agony.

My favourite part of Exploding Kittens, might very well be the artwork. All of the card artwork was done by Matthew Inman who runs a website called The Oatmeal, which does online comic strips. The artwork is so silly, yet simplistic and so many of them (still) make me laugh out loud. One of my favourites is: “seeing the future by discovering a boob wizard living in your boobs and listening to the secrets he tells.” It’s outrageous and random and I love it. Along with so many others that I’m not allowed to mention since they are NSFW. But even the standard deck is filled with funny and cute artwork.

Pick a card, any card.

Who would like this game?

Because Exploding Kittens is a combination of quirky, lighthearted fun and strategy, everyone can enjoy it. I first played it with a group of serious boardgame enthusiasts, which used it as their gateway game before a three-hour tabletop marathon. Next, I introduced it to my non-gamer friends after a braai and the fast paced intensity combined with the light-hearted humor of the artwork was an instant hit that now needs to be played at every braai.

If you have a sense of humor and like the artwork style, you’ll love Exploding Kittens even more. However, I am sure that some might not like the “over the top” artwork quite as much others.

Positives

  • Quick to learn
  • Short rounds
  • Surprisingly deep gameplay and strategy opportunities
  • Humorous artwork
  • Multiple expansions now available

Negatives

  • Sensitive players might find the humor distasteful
  • Five player limit
Games, sports, music, series, reading. I think I have too many hobbies.

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