Exploding Kittens Card Game Review

Editor's rating:
Reviewed by Bobby Brower
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We like

  • Hours of entertainment
  • Easy-to-follow rules
  • Comical illustrations on all of the cards
  • Builds strategy skills
  • Suitable for kids, teens, and adults allowing for family play
  • Multiple decks can be merged to add more and more players to the game
We don’t like
  • Cards may peel and come apart

How it works

Exploding Kittens Card Game boasts as being the number one, highest backed game on Kickstarter. More people gave money to have this game produced than any other game. Exploding Kittens is a family card game or an NSFW card game (depending on who’s playing) that is designed after the rules of Russian Roulette, but with a twist. There is a way to save yourself from an explosion by bartering, stealing cards, changing the course of the game and simply defusing a kitty that is about to explode. There are many rules, but once these rules are committed to memory, the game can move quickly and provide hours of fun during game night or family night at home. Like all card games, it can also be brought anywhere and can be played in the car, on the beach, or any location on the globe. Multiple decks can be merged and shuffled together to make room for more people to play the game. Each deck is suitable for up to six players and when two decks are merged together, you can have up to 12 people play the game. Exploding Kittens offers hours of silly fun no matter your age.


<h2>Game Cards</h2>

Game Cards

There are several different game cards in the Exploding Kittens deck. Each card has a different value and can be used in a different way depending on where you are in the game and what you need to do to either save yourself or prevent yourself from exploding. Each card has been illustrated by Matthew Inman who is the creator of The Oatmeal webcomic. There are four different kinds of cards. There are the Exploding Kitten cards, the Defuse Cards, the Cat Cards, and the Action Cards.

There are six Exploding Kitten cards and six Defuse cards. The rest of the deck is comprised of the Cat Cards, which are the Catermelon Card, the Bearded Cat Card, the Ralphing Rainbow Cat Card, the Taco Cat Card, and the Hairy Potato Cat Card, and the Action Cards, which are the See the Future Card, the Nope Card, the Favor Card, the Shuffle Card, the Attack Card, and the Skip Card. Each of the action cards helps to either save you or harm another person during game play.
<h2>The Action Cards</h2>

The Action Cards

The Action Cards are used to save you from utter oblivion. In the event that you draw an Exploding Cat Card from the pile or suspect, there is one on top of the pile, you can use the Action Cards to prevent yourself from exploding. The See the Future Card allows you to see the next three cards in the deck only. This way you can go ahead and draw a card and know that you will be safe. This also allows you to know what the next two players are going to draw as well. The Nope Card is used when the person to your right plays a card against you.

You can put the Nope Card down and it cancels out what that person just put in the discard pile and forces them to go again as if that previous turn never happened. The Favor Card allows you to ask another player for one of their cards.

The Shuffle Card allows you to reshuffle the deck in the event that you know there will be an Exploding Kitten card on top of the deck, the Attack Card ends your turn safely, and you do not have to draw from the deck, and the Attack Card forces the next person to play two turns in a row. Finally, the Skip Card allows you to end your turn without having to draw from the pile. The other Action Cards mentioned are the Defuse Cards, which cancel out an Exploding Kitten, and the Exploding Kitten cards themselves.
<h2>Game Rules</h2>

Game Rules

To play Exploding Kittens the game rules are fairly easy to follow. Some have said that rules are reminiscent of the card game Uno, but with a few more twists and turns. To start, shuffle the deck. After the deck is shuffled, each player receives four cards. On top of those cards, each player gets a Defuse Card. After the cards have been dealt, place the Exploding Kitten cards into the deck. There should be one less kitten than the number of players to ensure that one player will not explode and will win the game.

Once the Exploding Kittens have been placed in the deck, then play can start with the person to the left of the dealer. The first person to take a turn must choose to either play a card or draw from the deck. Once he or she draws from the deck then their turn is over. If they choose an Exploding Kitten Card they can use their Defuse card and then privately return the Exploding Kitten to the deck and replace the deck to the center of the playing area. They will then draw a card and their turn ends. The next person will then go and either play a card and draw from the deck or just draw from the deck and play will continue following the rules. Play continues as players draw the Exploding Kitten Cards and get eliminated from the game until there is one person remaining who did not draw an Exploding Kitten.
<h2>Combo Cards</h2>

Combo Cards

The Cat Cards are pretty much useless unless they are used together in pairs. When they are paired up they hold certain powers. During play, if you want to play a pair that matches (i.e. two Catermelon Cards or two Hairy Potato Cat Cards) you can turn to another player and blindly pick a card from their hand. The other player will fan out their cards and place them in front of the person choosing and that person will blindly pick a card.

If you have three cards that match (i.e. three-of-a-kind) then you can ask another player for a specific card. For example, if you have three Taco Cat cards you can ask another player for their Defuse Card. If they do not have a Defuse Card you can keep asking them for a specific card until they have that card and they give it to you. There is also a special combo that can be used as well.

This combo is when you have five different cards in your hand. If all five of your cards do not match at all then you can swap five new cards from the discard pile with the five cards you have in your hand. This is a good strategy after several important cards have been played like Defuse Cards. This is a way to get those cards back into your hand. These little side rules make the game more interesting and extend play. The building of strategy is important while trying to win Exploding Kittens.
<h2>Strategy Skills</h2>

Strategy Skills

The biggest gain for kids who play Exploding Kittens, and adults as well, is that Exploding Kittens is a game of strategy. The rules of the game and the power behind the cards make it a great training ground for knowing how to develop and use strategy. Although the game seems silly and has funny rules and a funny storyline, it bears to notice that in order to win you must pay attention to not only what is going on in your hand, but also what is going on in the hands of your opponents.

By paying attention to their cards and what they are discarding into the pile gives you a sense of what cards they may be holding in their hands and how you can use your own cards to counteract what they may potentially play in their next hand. Strategy skills of this kind help foster better concentration and focus all the while being entertained by the cards and the people playing. For younger children, this is also a great way to build social skills and comprehension skills as they play with others and learn how to follow rules and manipulate them to be able to build a plan to win the game. A game of this kind also requires that all players act fast in order to build the perfect counter-attack to whatever is going on in the game.
<h2>NSFW Cards</h2>

NSFW Cards

There have been updates made to Exploding Kittens since its original manufacturing. A new set of cards have been developed that are NSFW cards, or in other words, adult cards that depict adult drawings and themes. These cards are great when all the players are adults who are having a grown-up game night. The NSFW cards can be mixed with the regular cards to make a bigger deck and have more people play the game as long as everyone is an adult. The game is for up to six players, but the more decks that are married together the more players can play. You can mix together two regular decks as well to make room for more players.
<h2>Age Range</h2>

Age Range

Exploding Kittens is recommended for ages seven and up as it does take some pretty sharp reasoning and comprehension skills to follow the game rules. Although younger kids will be amused by the drawings on the cards, they may not fully understand how to play the game or develop a strategy to win based on how the game has progressed. What most of the younger kids are into is finding the Exploding Kitten and being decimated and thrown out of the game.

Many parents and grandparents who have purchased this game for the young kids in the family have found the younger kids do love the game and the silliness that comes with it. Parents and grandparents have also found the quality of the cards is not so high and the cards tend to peel and come apart after a while, so it bears to keep the cards in as good as a condition as you can to maintain the quality of the game.


A lot of people have complained the price is too high for a card game especially since the quality of the cards vary, but it seems that this is the average price for most board games on the market. The game set only comes with the 56 cards as that is all that is needed to be used to play the game effectively. The illustrations on the cards have been drawn by a reputable and famous illustrator and the game does boast being the highest-funded Kickstarter game in history, so for these reasons, we'd say that the price tag is pretty fair.


Exploding Kittens is the perfect addition to your board game and card game collection. It adds a certain level of fun to game night. It is a versatile game that is appropriate for any player who is seven-years-old and up allowing for all members of the family to play together. If you merge multiple decks you can keep adding more and more players up to six players per deck.

The illustrations are funny and the silliness of the game makes for a light-hearted game that also builds strategy and pits players against each other in the quest to be the only person who does not explode and gets removed from the game. For game nights that are adults-only, the humor of the game can be elevated by using adults-only cards that have been designed for this specific purpose.

In all, it is easy to see how Exploding Kittens was the highest backed game in Kickstarter history and how it was illustrated by The Oatmeal illustrator Matthew Inman because it is a simple game that creates hours of fun and entertainment in a silly and over-the-top way. Exploding Kittens is a must-have for anyone who loves games and game nights.
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