How to Play Exploding Kittens (Rules and Instructions)

If you’re looking for a family-friendly card game that’s fast-paced and easy-to-learn, Exploding Kittens could be the game for you. The Exploding Kittens rules are basically a kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette and a game of chance rather than skill. 

Exploding Kittens is a great game to play with the whole family. Although the age recommendation is from 7-years and up, younger children could easily join in and practice their sharing and patience skills with everyone else. 

Like Beat The Parents, parents could take on kids in teams with Exploding Kittens and see who will make it to the end. 

Read our full guide below to learn how to play Exploding Kittens.

What is Exploding Kittens?

Exploding Kittens Card Game Info Image

Exploding Kittens is described as a “strategic card game about cats and destruction.” There is a deck of cards, some of which are the dreaded Exploding Kitten card. 

The game is played by players taking turns to draw a card from the (facedown) deck until someone gets the Exploding Kitten. That player is then out of the game. 

Exploding Kittens is a card game, but similar to traditional games such as Kerplunk it is a fun way to fill time, for all ages. Younger children will pick it up easily, and older kids are sure to enjoy the game because it takes little effort and thought. 

This game is very similar to classic UNO, although with ‘added elements, such as goats, exploding kittens, and magical enchiladas.’ 

Number of Players: The game is for 2 to 5 players or 2 teams of 2.

Ages: Recommended 7-Years and Over

Difficulty: Easy

Length of Play: 15 Minutes

Similar To: UNO, Unstable Unicorns, Jaipur

Main Objective: Be the last player to pick up an Exploding Kittens card.

Why We Love it: It takes two minutes to learn and fifteen minutes to play. We love the simplicity of this game. It is a great game for family game nights, to take on vacation, or to play with younger ones as a great introduction to card games that are a little more thrilling than Go Fish.

A Brief History of Exploding Kittens 

Exploding Kittens is the third biggest Kickstarter campaign to date, with more than $8.5million in pledges. 

Today, Exploding Kittens holds the record for the number one most-backed project in history, as well as the tenth most-funded Kickstarter project. Exploding Kittens has sold nine million units outside of Kickstarter worldwide and is consistently among the top-selling games and toys across major global retailers. 

What You’ll Need to Play Exploding Kittens

To play Exploding Kittens all you will need is the board game. 

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You could make it more intense by including a timer for when people are taking their turn or using a buzzer when people lose, but it is up to you and your family whether these things really add anything to the game. 

In the game box, you will find:

  • Game Rules 
  • 56 Cards

Exploding Kittens Rules

The point of the game is not to pick up an Exploding Kitten card; if you do that, then you’re out. 

To stay in the game, you can use the cards in your hand to your advantage, and here is where a little strategic play can come in: You want to lower the odds of drawing an Exploding Kitten card by increasing the odds that an opponent will. This is done by using other cards in the deck. 

Special Cards

Defuse Card

In the pack is a Defuse Card, and this card counteracts the Exploding Kitten. However, you only get to play the Defuse Card once, but when you do, you’ll stay alive (in the game) and get to put the dreaded card back into the deck – wherever you want it to go; plan ahead, and you could ensure an opponent has to pick this card up. 

Attack Card 

Another card you can use for strategic gameplay is the Attack Card. The Attack Card lets you immediately end your turn, forcing the next player to take two turns in a row. Taking two turns means there are two chances of drawing an Exploding Kitten card. 

Skip Card 

If you feel like the card you have to pick next is surely an Exploding Kitten card, then you can skip your turn, providing you have the Skip Card left in your hand. 

See the Future Card 

The “See the Future Card” allows players to look at the very top 3 cards in the deck. A Shuffle Card will let you shake up the deck a little, which is a great way to move down an Attack Card or position it in a place that you’re likely to get it. 

Favor Card 

You could use the “Favor Card” in order to make an opponent hand over one of their cards to you; this card will be of their choosing unless you have a pair of matching “Cat Cards”, then you can steal a card randomly from their hand. It is always better to take a card from an opponent as there is no chance of it being an Exploding Kitten card! 

Nope Card 

The Nope Card is used to counteract any action against you, so it is a great loss if taken from you. 

Of course, all of these strategies can be used when playing against you as well. When playing with younger players, you can simply play a fun card game, but the anti could be increased with adult players. 

Starting the Game

Begin by shuffling the cards and arranging teams or players. The game supports two to five players, but you could buy additional sets of cards to include more players. 

Players begin with identical hands of special cards; Attack, Defuse, See the Future, Favor, Shuffle, and Nope. The deck is placed face down, and players take turns drawing a card from the top of the pile. 

You’re automatically out of the game if you pick up an Exploding Kitten (unless you can use a Defuse Card to counteract this).

Game Play

Players can play as many cards (face up) from their hand during their turn as they like. They can also play none. Played cards cannot be used by other players and go into a discard pile. 

Each player may play as many cards from their hand during their turn, or no cards at all. Played cards go into the discard pile.

How to Play Exploding Kittens – Video Tutorial

Frequently Asked Questions

How Graphic are the Cards for Children in Exploding Kittens?

Some of the cards may be inappropriate for younger children or offend parents. This may be true for cards featuring a goat’s anus, with a head coming out of it. Some cards could have sexual innuendos, and there are lots of references to breaking wind.

However, if you are easily offended, then making a game about exploding domestic creatures is best avoided anyway. 

Is Exploding Kittens a Good Group Activity Game for Youths?

When looking for youth group games, often card games are the last to be considered. Card games can seem duller, more lengthy to play, and more complicated than board games.

However, this isn’t the case with Exploding Kittens, and it would make a great addition to a youth club’s game collection. It is easy for everyone to learn in a few minutes and very fast-paced, with lots of laughter-inducing cards to pick.

Why is Exploding Kittens so Expensive?

Considering that Exploding Kittens is pretty much a deck of cards, it is a little pricey. However, the price tag is in line with other favorites like Unstable Unicorns and Cards Against Humanity. A deck of UNO cards, though, costs around half the price of Exploding Kittens. 

Alternative Games to Exploding Kittens

If you’re not sure if Exploding Kittens is the game for you, then you could consider Apples to Apples, which is another card game that the whole family can enjoy. The age recommendation is for 12-years and up, and upto ten players can play individually or as teams.

We find Apples to Apples similar to Taboo, in that although a card game the play is around words. For example, if the dealer’s card states ‘Vacation’, players have to select the card from their hand that matches this word the best. 

Another great choice for family play is Dragonwood. This game involves players defeating the enemy and earning victory points to win. It is recommended for ages 8 and over, and a pretty challenging game. 

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