Exploding Kittens Review: It’s All Fun and Games and Explosions

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Who would have thought that mixing cats and explosives could create such a deadly combination? Well, the CIA and some other government agencies, for sure. But for commercial purposes? Matthew Inman, better known as the creator of the Oatmeal, and Elan Lee, a former Xbox game designer. These two had a pretty solid idea of what they were doing when they created the Exploding Kittens card game.

Is the game any good? Is it worth your time? The short answer is: YES! But if you are looking for a bit more than that, check out my Exploding Kittens review and see for yourself why I strongly recommend anyone to try this cool little game out.

Playing time:10 – 15 minutes
Number of players:2 to 5
Genre:Card, party, and family game
Release date:2015
Publisher:Ad Magic Inc.



What Is Exploding Kittens Card Game All About?

Despite the name, the game doesn’t actually involve real explosives, and no cats were harmed during its creation (or later). Instead, it’s a strategic card game where players draw cards and try to avoid drawing an “exploding kitten” card, which would eliminate them from the game. Think of it like Russian roulette, but a kitty-powered version of it. 

The game became an overnight sensation on Kickstarter, achieving its set goals in 15 minutes and raising over $8.5 million in just 30 days. Its explosive success continued even after its release, with over 11 million copies sold worldwide and multiple expansions released.

By the end of the Exploding Kittens Kickstarter campaign, the game had become the most-backed and most-funded project in Kickstarter history. It’s no longer the most-funded project, but it’s still the most-backed project on Kickstarter. When it comes to tabletop games, Frosthaven is the most-funded project on Kickstarter right now, with the Exploding Kittens card game still doing quite well in sixth place. 

The game itself has a pretty simple goal: survive!

exploding kittens meme
Simple, right?

Whoever is the last man standing is the winner, and to do that, you’ll need to dodge, evade, and do whatever is in your power to not draw an Exploding Kitten card from the deck. The game starts out easy on you and gives you a way to avoid the first kitten exploding surprise, but once you’ve used it, the pressure is on, and things start getting interesting. You’ll have to use strategy and luck to avoid the next kitten and keep yourself in the game. 

The game also includes various action cards that can help you or hinder your opponents, such as forcing them to draw extra cards or skipping their turn. Some cards even allow you to peek at the deck or shuffle it up, adding an element of unpredictability to the game.

One unique aspect of Exploding Kittens is the humor and artwork on the cards, created by Matthew Inman of the legendary webcomic The Oatmeal. The game has a mix of cute and absurd illustrations, often featuring cats in hilarious and unthinkable situations.

Overall, Exploding Kittens is a fast-paced, entertaining game that combines luck and strategy in a fun and unpredictable way. It’s suitable for players of all ages, and while the game can be played by seven-year-olds, it’s questionable whether they’ll find it interesting. 

How To Play Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens is an extremely easy and fun game to play. The board game comes with a leaflet explaining the rules, or if you don’t want to read, you can just watch the four-minute video on Exploding Kittens website and you are good to go. 

It’s perfect for game nights with friends and family. The rules are easy to understand, making it an ideal choice for beginners looking for a fun and engaging board game.

The goal is simple: do not draw an Exploding Kitten, but this is simpler said than done. Once that inevitable happens, and if you don’t have a way of defusing the card, you are out of the game. 

exploding kittens cards
Good kitty?

To get to the end, you’ll need to know what types of cards there are in the game. The core game comes with nine types of cards: 

  • Exploding Kitten cards – Tik tok, tik tok, not the social media one, tik tok. If you draw it, you’re done for, unless you have a defuse card on cand, in which case. you are safe for the time being. The player who drew the Exploding Kitten card has to place it back into the deck but they can choose where to put it. It can be the last or the first card, or anywhere in between.  
  • Defuse cards – Keep them secure, as others may attempt to snatch them away from you. They save you from Exploding Kitten cards and give you a second chance when you draw one. 
  • Favor cards –  It’s okay to ask your friends for favors. You are playing with friends, right? This card forces another player to give you a card of their choice. 
  • Skip cards – Afraid of the exploding kitten card? That is normal. Use a skip card to skip your turn without drawing a card from the deck.
  • Attack cards – Sharing is caring. Use an attack card to skip your turn and force the next player to take two cards from the deck. 
  • Shuffle cards – Just as the name suggests, shuffle the entire deck. 
  • See the future cards – Unsure if you want to skip the turn. Use the “See the Future” card to see the top three cards, but you can’t alter or change their place.
  • Nope cards – A Nope card stops any action except Exploding Kitten and Defuse card actions. It doesn’t have to be played on your turn, and it can block and be blocked by other Nope cards.
exploding kittens nope

You also have special card combos, which I would advise you to ignore for your first Exploding Kittens game. Include them once you’ve played a game or two and are more familiar with the cards. The card combos in question will allow you to steal cards from other players and the discard pile. This allows for more aggressive and competitive play. It’s my opinion that the game truly shines in a highly competitive match where everyone is trying to win and gives no quarter to the other players, but your mileage may vary. 

Don’t let the hilarious artwork and goofiness of the game fool you. This is a ruthless, cutthroat game that will force you to create strategies, count cards, and do whatever is in your power to be the only one standing at the end.

Exploding Kittens Expansions

As stated, Exploding Kittens is a fantastic game, and the number of expansions and standalone variations make it an even better one. 

Imploding Kittens: Expansion

The first game expansion gives 20 new cards, including an “Imploding Kitten” card, which is placed face-up in the deck and can’t be defused. When combined with the base game, it expands the maximum number of players from five to six. The expansion also comes with the “Cone of Shame” turn indicator, which is placed on the first player who forgets the playing order in a turn. Said player becomes the turn indicator for the rest of the game. 

Streaking Kittens: Expansion

The second game expansion provides 15 additional cards, including the streaking kitten, garbage collection, catatonic bomb, super skip, swap top and bottom, alter the future, mark, curse of the cat butt, and an additional exploding card. 

Barking Kittens: Expansion

The third expansion adds 20 more cards. This expansion focuses mostly on stealing cards, but it also adds the “Barking Kitten” and the “Cat Crown” cards, which protect you from thieving players. 

Exploding Kittens Standalone

Next to expansions, there are also additional standalone versions that can be combined, with some of them being able to be combined with the base version or with the expansions. 

Zombie Kittens: Standalone

Zombie kittens allow players who explode to remain in the game as undead and torment the living players, but as long as they are undead, they can’t win the game. Luckily for them, there is a way to come back from the dead. 

Exploding Kittens: Cat Burglar Edition

This is the same as the base version of the game, but it comes with a cute little plushy cat burglar you can use to steal cat cards from other players. Just beware. Whoever you stole from or failed to steal from will get the cat burglar, and you may just be their next target. 

Exploding Kittens: Party Pack Edition

If you have a larger party of players you know will love playing this game, then the party pack is a must-buy. It raises the limit from five to ten players and adds some cards from the Imploding Kittens expansion pack, but you do not get the “Imploding Kitten” card itself. 

Exploding Kittens: NSFW Edition

It’s no surprise that this game has an NSFW version. The original game art was already borderline NSFW, but this version delivers a truly non-family-friendly version of the game. The NSFW edition is fully compatible with all the expansions and some standalone versions, like Zombie Kittens.

Exploding Kittens 2-Player Edition

The original game package is already compact and portable, but the 2-Player Edition takes it to the next level with a smaller box that can easily fit into a pants pocket or a small bag. Perfect for on-the-go gaming, this version is designed specifically for two players and includes all the same hilarious and suspenseful gameplay as the original. 

Exploding Kittens: Recipes for Disaster

“Exploding Kittens: Recipes for Disaster” is a combination of 121 cards from all expansions and standalone versions of the game. However, it does not include all of the cards from previous expansions and standalone versions of the game, but only a “best-of” selection. The game features 13 “recipe books,” representing different game modes that can be played using the cards included in the box. The game also includes a “cone of shame,” my favorite addition to the base game.

Games Like Exploding Kittens

If you don’t like the humor or art of Exploding Kittens, you’re not alone, but if you enjoy the dynamic and competitiveness of it, there are other party board games you can try. 

  • Coup is a strategic bluffing game where players try to eliminate their opponents by using their influence and manipulating information. The last player with any characters remaining wins.
  • Love Letter is a fast-paced deduction card game for 2-4 players that involves players vying for the affection of the princess while trying to eliminate their opponents.
  • Sushi Go Party is a cute and colorful card game where players draft sushi dishes and try to score the most points by creating different combinations of dishes.
  • Cards Against Humanity is a popular and controversial party game where players fill in the blanks on sentence cards with outrageous and often offensive words or phrases from their own hands. The fun comes from the absurd and often irreverent combinations that result as players try to outdo each other with the most outrageous responses.

While all of them are great party games with some similarities to the Exploding Kittens card game, the Unstable Unicorns card game is the most similar one. Unstable Unicorns is a strategic card game in which players collect a unicorn army and use it to either protect themselves or sabotage their opponents. However, unlike Exploding Kittens, there are no player eliminations. 

The goal of Unstable Unicorns is to be the first player to place a certain number of unicorns in your stable to win. The game also has a similar sense of humor to Exploding Kittens, making it a good alternative for those who enjoy the whimsical nature of the game.


Many players tend to have two common issues with this game – either they don’t like its humor or they find it excessively competitive, or sometimes both.

If you don’t like the humor in The Oatmeal comics, then this game simply won’t be for you. Also, while it doesn’t have to be played in a cutthroat fashion, that is where it shines, so if this bothers you, it’s best to give Exploding Kittens a wide berth.

That said, if you are the type of board gamer who enjoys a specific combination of humor, competitiveness, and fast-paced gameplay, then you’ll absolutely love the game. Just remember that although it’s easy to learn and play, mastering it will take some time and practice. 


  1. Is Exploding Kitten worth it?

    Exploding Kittens is a great game for a light board gaming night with friends or family. It takes around five minutes to explain and set up the game, and you are good to go. 

  2. What is so great about Exploding Kittens?

    The game is fast and easy to learn, and on top of that, it’s inexpensive. You can get it from Amazon for less than $20. 

  3. Is Exploding Kittens appropriate for kids?

    The Exploding Kittens game is generally recommended for players ages seven and up, but it ultimately depends on the maturity level of the child and the discretion of the parents. The game contains some cartoonishly violent imagery and crude humor, including the “exploding kitten” concept itself, which some parents may find inappropriate for younger children.

  4. Is Exploding Kittens a fun game?

    Yes, Exploding Kittens is a fun party game, but be prepared for a high level of competition among players. The game can be fast-paced and intense, with everyone at the table trying to outwit each other and avoid an early and explosive elimination.

Milos Djurovic

Milos Djurovic

Milos started his RPG journey with live-action role-playing, and his geeky hobbies escalated quickly from there. He’s a grizzled Imperial Guard general and still wages an ongoing war against unpainted grey miniatures. Having an active board gaming crew doesn’t help with finding free time, but he doesn’t mind.