Tabletop Tuesday: ‘Exploding Kittens’
Needless to say, this isn’t the first tabletop game to employ an attention getting title. It’s evocative of the already popular ‘Kittens in a Blender’. Yet this game has become a pre-order smash hit after it’s massively successful Kickstarter campaign. For a modestly packaged card game, it raised close to an amazing US$9million through a record breaking 219,382 backers. This means that even you don’t have a copy you’ll likely know someone who does.
The game is simple to get going. Everyone starts with 5 cards, one of which being a ‘Defuse’ card, and the remaining cards are shuffled into the deck and placed in the middle of the table. Going round the table each player takes it in turn to play any number they want from their hand and then draw a new card. If that card is an ‘Exploding Kitten’ (a card picturing an explosion triggered by a cat doing normal cat things, like running across a keyboard) you must reveal it and, if possible, cancel it with a ‘Defuse’ card and place the Kitten back into the deck. If you can’t defuse, you’re out of the game. The last man standing wins.
Other cards in the deck allow you to sneak a look at the upcoming cards, skip your turn, force other players to take extra turns, shuffle the deck, cancel cards and take cards from other players. There are a precious few ‘Defuse’ cards scattered through the deck, and it becomes imperative that you keep yourself in the game until you can get hold of them. It’s not all down to luck however, as knowing who is holding defuse cards and picking the right time to play your cards can be costly. Being able to choose where in the deck you replace a defused Kitten can result in some of the biggest dick moves in modern gaming, as dropping them straight onto the next player is entirely an option.
One of the biggest selling points of the game, and a key factor in it’s massive campaign backing, is the artwork supplied by Matt Inman of theoatmeal.com. His brand of comedy and cartoons have been one of the best things about the modern internet and they elevate this from being a tightly crafted 15 minute game to comedy gold. Spec-Op Bunnies, All-Seeing Goat Wizards and Kitten Therapy provide much mirth and chuckles throughout play, and the NSFW expansion/stand-alone deck is even funnier. Cards describing tying a butterfly to your genitals and discovering a wizard living in your boobs are wonderfully odd. Extra additions like the magnetic case, personalised comic and the super special secret (can we talk about that yet?) make us feel like appreciated costumers.
So after all the waiting and the unexpectedly enormous Kickstarter campaign we can boil it down to one simple question: is it fun? Absolutely yes. With a single deck and up to five players the game goes quick and satisfying. Shuffling the standard deck and NSFW deck together and getting 9 players together doubles the run time but it’s still just as tense and fun. Starting everyone with a ‘Defuse’ card is a good move as it usually means everyone gets through the first half of the deck. As tension builds at play starts getting dirty, dropping a ‘Nope’ card on your opponents is damn good fun.