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.

NaNoWriMo Day 7 (11/07)

Well, I’m officially further behind now. Another evening of video games (Destiny 2 and Overwatch) means little writing was done. I did a bit, thankfully, so I’ve managed to hold on to my “write every day” goal, but tonight looks like it won’t be any more productive. I’ve got D&D this evening and I realized this morning that I never actually prepared the dungeon my players are investigating. Sure, they started it last session (which was a while ago), but starting a dungeon is WAY easier to wing than doing a whole dungeon.

Because of my daily blog updates, I’m guaranteed to get writing in every day. That’s certainly helpful, but it also means that I need to write 2200 words a day to stay on schedule. More, now that I need to catch up. Given that I’ve got a lot of commitments coming up, I’m not sure that I’m going to be able to take much time on the weekend to catch up either. Part of me wants to give in because, even after 5500 words, I’m still kind of hating my story, not mention the whole “half the words I should have written by now” thing.

That being said, I feel its important to acknowledge that I hate my story because it’s about aspects of life that I find challenging. All of my reading and video game escapism is to escape exactly the things that I’m writing about. I have to go into my head, where all my worst problems exist in their strongest forms, and get close enough to them to write about them without getting so close that I get caught up by them. It’s a very fine line and, as I found out Sunday, getting caught in them has consequences that last for days.

Writing can be dangerous. I can’t try to ignore my problems if I have to walk among them. My mind is my strongest ally and my most dangerous foe. It provides me the weapons to fight back while supplying the energy my problems need to wear me down. I am my biggest problem.

This reflection on living with mental illness has been brought to you by National Novel Writing Month: “an incessant reminder that everything has a cost.”

Gee, this would up being way more maudlin than I intended.


Daily Prompt

Most people enjoy action. A good action sequence can take place in almost any kind of story because there’s so much than can cause an action sequence to unfold. Chase scenes, fight scenes, races of all kinds, sports, shootouts, head-to-head combat via video games, and more! Write an action scene for your character today. They don’t need to be the primary actor in the sequence, but they should be observing it.


Sharing Inspiration

As a not-typically-cheerful person, I’ve often struggled with our culture’s focus on the common interpretation of what the founding fathers called “the pursuit of happiness.” As creators in general, we’re often not prone to being the most cheerful sorts. We all have our bouts of melancholy or severe/crippling periods of depression (Ha ha ha…). When I start to feel like the pressure to embrace this undefinable idea of “being happy,” I often turn toward The Oatmeal for my dose of cynical–often scatological–humor to remind me that life isn’t always about being happy and that, sometimes, all that matters is to feel energized and content. I suggest you check it out (this comic, specifically) if you’re struggling to feel alright with being unhappy.


Helpful Tips

Writing can be a difficult task when so much competes for our attention every time we sit down at our computers. If you’re having trouble focusing, I definitely recommend turning off the internet for a while. Disconnect your computer from the wi-fi or landline, turn your phone on airplane mode, and turn off any other devices. Turn off your second monitor (if you’ve got one), load up some CDs or setup your iPod, and then just get to work. Eliminating distractions can help you push to reach higher word count goals in less time.