Tabletop Highlights: Exploding Kittens

I’m a huge fan of The Oatmeal. His comics are wonderful, he tackles some very difficult ideas in his stories, and he helps create wonderful games. I’ve been following him for a few years and have really enjoyed most of what he’s created. When I heard that he was doing the art for a tabletop game and had helped create it, I immediately ran to Kickstarter to check it out. True to form, the Kickstarter for Exploding Kittens was chock full of The Oatmeal’s particular art, wonderfully depicting all kinds of ways cats could accidentally blow you up through cat-like behavior.

Eventually, I backed it. I got the full edition of the game along with the hilarious (and very) NSFW version of the game. Since then, I’ve stayed up to date on the game. They eventually created an expansion called “Imploding Kittens” and another game called “Bears vs. Babies” which was not quite as fun and charming as Exploding Kittens.

In Exploding Kittens, the object of the game is to be the last player left alive. There is a deck of cards that everyone draws from at the end of their turn. If they draw an exploding kitten, they die unless they can play a diffuse card (like a laser pointer or kitten therapy). Before you draw, you can plan any number of other cards to do things like skip your turn, give your turn to another player (forcing them to take two turns), steal another player’s cards, or look at the top three cards on the deck.

Once you’re out of usable cards and you draw an exploding kitten, you’re out. Don’t worry, though, it wasn’t personal. The cat was just walking on a computer console that just happened to have a nuclear launch button on it or they were playing with a hand grenade and accidentally pulled the pin while tossing it around. I’m going to avoid going into the NSFW cards because that’s not something I want to write about on this blog, but I encourage the interested parties to check it out.

The game is a ton of fun when you’re having a game night with your friends and it only gets more fun if you’re drinking a little. Don’t drink too much, though. The game is a little more complicated and strategic than you’d expect, so too much alcohol is just going to make it easier for your friends to set you up for an explosion. Which is exactly what you should be trying to do, since you can place the exploding kitten wherever you like in the deck if you play your cards right.

The biggest downside to the game is that it can really drag on for a long time if there aren’t very many players. The game has instructions on how to tailor the game to the number of players, but I’ve followed the instructions with a small group before and wound up sitting around for almost half an hour while the last two players tried to end the game. Even in larger groups, where people get eliminated faster, the first player out can wind up spending a lot of time waiting if they were just incredibly unlucky. You can always cut the deck down for smaller groups, of course, but that can be difficult to get right as some cards only work when paired with similar cards.

Either way, as long as everyone’s relaxed and participating, the game is ridiculous amounts of fun. If you want a new game that will last around an average of 15 minutes per game, I suggest picking up Exploding Kittens.

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