Exploding Kittens: Rules, Setup, and How to Win Explained

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Exploding Kittens is a new and fun addition to the cultural canon of family card games that has become a fan favorite around the world. Read on to learn more about this exciting card game!

Gameplay of Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens is a strategic card game that combines elements of luck and player interaction. The objective is to avoid being exploded by drawing cards from the deck while strategically using action cards to manipulate the game. Players take turns drawing cards, and if an Exploding Kitten card is drawn without a defusing card, that player is out of the game. The last player remaining after all other players have been eliminated wins the game.

Player Count, Game Length, and Overview

Exploding Kittens is a highly popular card game designed for 2 to 5 players. The game length can vary depending on the number of players and their strategies, but a typical game usually lasts around 15 minutes. In Exploding Kittens, players take turns drawing cards from the deck, with the goal of avoiding the Exploding Kitten cards. If a player draws an Exploding Kitten and doesn’t have a Defuse card, they are out of the game.

However, players can use action cards to strategically manipulate the game, such as skipping their turn, peeking at the deck, or forcing other players to draw multiple cards. The combination of luck, strategy, and player interaction makes Exploding Kittens an engaging and fast-paced card game that appeals to a wide range of players. The player who survives the longest without getting exploded is declared the winner.

Setup for Exploding Kitten

To set up a game of Exploding Kittens, start by removing the Exploding Kittens and Defuse cards from the deck. The number of Exploding Kittens cards used depends on the number of players, with variations for 2, 3, 4, or 5 players. Afterward, thoroughly shuffle the deck, ensuring that all cards, including the Exploding Kittens and Defuse cards, are well mixed. Proceed to deal each player 7 cards, which will form their starting hand.

Next, place the remaining deck facedown in the center of the playing area, designating it as the draw pile. Take the required number of Exploding Kittens cards for the chosen player count and insert them facedown into the draw pile, ensuring that they are distributed throughout the deck and not clustered together. Each player should also receive a Defuse card, which can be used to defuse an Exploding Kitten if drawn. Make sure to distribute these cards accordingly.

Exploding Kittens Rules and Mechanics

Exploding Kittens is a card game that combines elements of luck and strategy. The goal of the game is to avoid drawing an Exploding Kitten card while using various cards and actions to outmaneuver your opponents. Here are the basic rules and mechanics of Exploding Kittens:

  1. Starting the Game: Each player starts with a hand of 7 cards, including a Defuse card, which is used to defuse an Exploding Kitten if drawn. The rest of the deck, including the Exploding Kittens, is placed facedown in the draw pile.
  2. Taking Turns: Players take turns clockwise, starting with the player to the left of the dealer. On their turn, a player can play as many or as few cards as they like from their hand before ending their turn by drawing a card. The goal is to avoid drawing an Exploding Kitten card. If a player draws an Exploding Kitten without a Defuse card, they are out of the game.
  3. Defusing Exploding Kittens: If a player draws an Exploding Kitten and has a Defuse card, they can play the Defuse card immediately to defuse the kitten. The Defuse card is then placed back into the draw pile, face up, allowing the player to continue their turn.
  4. Action Cards: The deck also contains various action cards that players can play during their turn to influence the game. These cards include skipping a turn, forcing other players to draw multiple cards, peaking at the top cards of the draw pile, and shuffling the draw pile, among others.
  5. Ending the Turn: A person may play as many cards from their hand as they choose before drawing a card. They could decide to forgo playing any cards altogether and simply terminate their turn.
  6. Favor and Attack Cards: Special action cards in the deck, such as the Favor card and the Attack card, allow players to interact with each other. A Favor card allows a player to ask another player for a specific card, while an Attack card ends the current player’s turn and forces the next player to take two turns.
  7. Winning the Game: The game continues until only one player remains. The last player standing, who has managed to avoid drawing an Exploding Kitten or successfully defused them, is declared the winner.

Winning Strategies in Exploding Kittens

To increase your chances of winning in Exploding Kittens, consider the following strategies:

  1. Manage Your Hand: Be mindful of the number of cards in your hand. Using all of your cards in one turn can leave you without cards or actions to take when you may need them later. This ensures you have more options to play and increases your chances of having a Defuse card if an Exploding Kitten is drawn.
  2. Save Your Defuse Cards: Defuse cards are crucial for avoiding elimination when an Exploding Kitten is drawn. It’s wise to hold onto your Defuse cards and not play them unnecessarily. Instead, use other action cards or skip turns to manipulate the game and force opponents into unfavorable situations.
  3. Observe and Predict: Pay attention to the cards played by your opponents and track the number of Defuse cards that have been used. This information can give you insights into the likelihood of players losing when drawing an Exploding Kitten. If many Defuse cards have been played, it’s more likely that players don’t have any defense against Exploding Kittens.
  4. Disrupt Your Opponents: Utilize action cards strategically to disrupt your opponents’ plans. Cards like Attack and Nope can force them to draw additional cards or nullify their actions. By creating chaos and limiting their options, you gain an advantage and increase the likelihood of their drawing an Exploding Kitten.
  5. Collaborate or Bluff: Negotiate and collaborate with other players to form temporary alliances. Sharing information or working together against a common threat can improve your chances of survival. However, be wary of potential betrayals and remember that everyone is ultimately playing for themselves.
  6. Adaptability and Flexibility: Be prepared to adjust your strategy based on the flow of the game. Circumstances can change rapidly, so remain flexible and adapt your plans accordingly. Stay open to opportunities and take calculated risks when necessary.

Understanding the Function of Exploding Kittens Cards

The Exploding Kitten card is the central threat in the game. Drawing an Exploding Kitten without a Defuse card results in elimination. However, a Defuse card can be used to defuse the kitten and avoid being eliminated. Defused Exploding Kittens are then placed back into the draw pile, creating tension and unpredictability.

Action cards add strategic depth to the game. The Attack card ends the current player’s turn, forcing the next player to take two turns. The Skip card allows a player to avoid drawing a card by skipping their turn. The Favor card enables players to select another player and ask for a card of their opponents’ choosing, potentially disrupting their plans. The Shuffle card rearranges the draw pile, adding uncertainty to future draws. The See the Future card allows players to glimpse at the top three cards of the draw pile, aiding in strategic decision-making. The Nope card is a powerful tool that can cancel out the effect of an action card played by another player. Additionally, there are Favorable Cat cards that, when collected in pairs, allow players to steal a random card from another player’s hand during their turn. These cards incentivize players to strategize their card collections and create opportunities for interference.

Evolution and Development of the Game

Exploding Kittens has an interesting evolution and development story. The game was created by Elan Lee, Shane Small, and Matthew Inman. They launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2015 to fund the production of the game, and it quickly became a massive success, surpassing its funding goal within minutes. Following the success of the Kickstarter campaign, Exploding Kittens gained widespread popularity, attracting a large fan base. It received positive reviews for its engaging gameplay and humorous design.

In subsequent years, Exploding Kittens continued to expand its reach and influence. It became available in retail stores, making it more accessible to a broader audience. The game also spawned a digital version, allowing players to enjoy the experience online or on mobile devices. Today, Exploding Kittens remains a popular and widely played card game, continuing to evolve with new expansions and editions. Its development and growth serve as an inspiring example of how a creative idea can thrive and capture the imaginations of players worldwide.

Expansion Packs for Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens has released several expansion packs that add new cards and mechanics to the base game, offering players additional content and gameplay variations. Here are some notable expansion packs for Exploding Kittens:

  1. Imploding Kittens: This was the first expansion pack released for the game. It introduced the concept of “imploding kittens,” which are even more dangerous than the regular exploding kittens. It also included new action cards and rules to increase the strategic depth of the game.
  2. Streaking Kittens: This expansion pack introduced a new type of card called the “Streaking Kitten.” These cards allow players to hold an exploding kitten in their hand without being eliminated. Streaking Kittens adds an extra layer of tension and bluffing to the game, as players try to protect their hidden explosive felines.
  3. Barking Kittens: Barking Kittens is another expansion pack that adds new cards and gameplay elements. It introduces “Barking Kittens” cards, which can be played to move and manipulate cards in the draw pile. It also includes new types of actions and rules that spice up the gameplay and increase the interaction between players.
  4. Party Pack: The Party Pack is a bundle that includes the original Exploding Kittens game along with both the Imploding Kittens and Streaking Kittens expansions. It offers a comprehensive package for players who want to experience the full range of content and gameplay options.
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Exploding Kittens Mobile Versions

Exploding Kittens is not just limited to the physical card game, but it also has mobile versions available for play on smartphones and tablets. The official Exploding Kittens app is available for both iOS and Android devices. It offers the complete experience of the card game with a digital interface. Players can enjoy multiplayer matches with friends or random opponents online, as well as play against AI-controlled opponents in single-player mode.


How Many Players Does the Game Support?

Exploding Kittens supports 2 to 5 players, making it a versatile game that can accommodate small to medium-sized groups.

What is the Recommended Age Range?

The recommended age range for Exploding Kittens is 7 years and older. The game is designed to be accessible and enjoyable for both kids and adults, making it a great option for family game nights or gatherings with mixed-age groups.

How Long Does it Take to Learn and Play Exploding Kittens?

Exploding Kittens is a relatively simple game to learn, and most players can grasp the rules within a few minutes. Typically, it doesn’t take long for new players to understand the core concepts and start playing. The game generally lasts between 15 to 20 minutes depending on the number of players and the pace at which they play.