Back in January a humble Kickstarter campaign for a card game was started which was to go on to take the Interwebs by storm. Initially hoping to sell around 500 copies, Exploding Kittens went on to sell 460,000 copies and racked up 219,000 backers. They are the most backed campaign in Kickstarter history and the most funded game ever, too.
This month, Exploding Kittens broke with Kickstarter tradition and actually delivered their product on time. Crazy.
So what’s it like? Was it worth the hype and – most importantly – is the NSFW edition as kooky as it sounded?
Generally, the answer to that is yes, except for in the first question where that answer doesn’t make any sense.
Presentation is everything
I ordered the main game alongside the NSFW edition. Initially this was going to be a half deck but in the light of their enormous success, it was bumped up to a standalone deck. Aces. The main game (red box) comes with a super secret surprise, [spoiler]when you open the box it makes a meowing sound. Super cunning and enough to send the dog a little crazy[/spoiler], I enjoyed it immensely. The box is kept shut with a slick magnet system and feels sturdy and premium. In all honesty I was expecting it to be shit, so was pleasantly surprised.
There are slots for 2 decks which is great as it means I can transfer the cards from the good-but-not-as-nice NSFW box into the main box and only keep one.
The cards themselves feel sturdy and, again, well made. The artwork is what makes them however and there is a lot of charm and charisma in there. The drawings are all ripped from the mind of the man behind The Oatmeal and the parallels are obvious.
Playing a round of Exploding Kittens
Around 15 minutes a round, I found that we needed 2-3 to really get into the swing of things. The rules are certainly simple enough but there are certain nuances to some of the cards which need a bit of experience to fully appreciate.
The premise is simple; there are a number of exploding kittens in the deck (1 fewer than the number of players in fact) which, if you draw one, put you out of the game. Everyone is given a ‘defuse’ card and you can draw a couple more throughout the round but generally they are to be avoided. All of the others cards either help you avoid drawing cards, to lessen your chances of kitten exposure, or are detrimental to your opponents.
There’s an interesting balance throughout the game between keeping your most powerful cards with you into the latter stages of the round where they become more effective. The other side of this coin is using enough of them to make sure you get there at all.
The avoidance cards are all quite different. A particular favourite are the ‘nope’ cards, which involve you shouting ‘NOPE’ at fellow players as they try to complete their turn to cancel various actions. The ‘Pope of Nope’ (one of the nope cards) quickly became a favourite.
Once the games were sped up a little the game came into its own a lot more. Coupled with a couple of G&Ts, the game quickly becomes more fun and more noisy. We played it fast and loose with a couple of the rules and made some executive decisions on what was allowed and when. This sort of jiggery pokery works well in a game such as this.
All in all, the game is very good fun and would be well worth taking to the pub/playing at home over a few drinks. It has a similar vibe to the venerable and disgusting Cards Against Humanity, except it’s a little more casual and requires less effort to set yourself up.
I would heartily recommend that you head on over to the site to pick yourself up a copy once available!