- 2-5 players
- Exploding Kittens Game
Additional Setup Notes
- Begin by taking out all of the Exploding Kitten cards and Defuse cards from the deck.
- Shuffle the deck and deal 4 cards face down to each player. Keep your hand to yourself!
- Deal 1 Defuse card to each player. Everyone should have 5 cards in their hand.
- Insert Exploding Kitten cards back into the deck. The amount of Exploding Kitten cards used is determined by counting the number of players and subtracting one. For example, for a game with 5 players, there will be 4 Exploding Kitten cards within the deck. Remove any extra Exploding Kitten cards from play.
- Insert any remaining Defuse cards back into the deck. For games with two players, place only 2 Defuse cards back in the deck.
- Shuffle the deck well and place it face down in the center of the playing area. This deck is the draw pile for the game.
- Select a player to go first by choosing the oldest or youngest member of the group. Alternatively, choose with whatever criteria you decide to switch it up each round!
The only goal within the game of Exploding Kittens is to avoid exploding. Players take turns playing action cards from their hands and drawing a card from the draw pile in hopes they don’t pull one of the dreaded Exploding Kitten cards. With several Exploding Kitten cards hidden inside the deck, knowing when and where the Exploding Kitten cards will detonate can be tricky. If you don’t explode, you win!
Exploding Kittens Gameplay
The game begins with the first player looking at their hand and playing a card by placing it face up in the center of the table. This is the designated Discard Pile. If the card played has instructions, the player will complete the action. Once they have played a card, they will pick a card from the draw pile.
Play continues clockwise around the table. Players may play multiple cards at one time. Players do not have to discard one of their cards, but it helps move the game along. Each turn ends with the player pulling a card from the Draw Pile. This either adds to the cards in their hand or could result in pulling the dreaded Exploding Kitten.
There are several action cards in the Draw Pile that influence the course of the game. Some may allow players to take a peek at future cards or even steal cards from other player’s hands. All cards that are not Exploding Kitten or Defuse cards are classified as action cards. Cards will vary based on specific Exploding Kitten game sets, but common cards include:
- Exploding Kitten: Exploding Kitten cards are the worst cards you can draw in the game. Pulling an Exploding Kitten card causes you to explode, kaboom, and lose the game. That is unless you have a Defuse Card, at which point you are to put the Exploding Kitten back into the Draw Pile in private to avoid other players locating the card for upcoming rounds. And yes, when returning the Exploding Kitten card to the pile, you’re totally allowed to place it right on top to screw over the next player. All is fair in love and Exploding Kittens!
- Defuse: Defuse is the most valuable card in the game. The Defuse card is the only card that can negate the effects of an Exploding Kitten card. Once a Defuse card has been played against a Kitten, it is discarded and out of play. Each player begins with one Defuse card but can potentially gather more throughout the game.
- Cat Cards: Cat cards are any cards that don’t have instructions on them. Cat cards can be played as a matching pair to steal a random card from another player. Each deck has four cards for each cat.
- See the Future: These cards allow the players to draw the top three cards from the deck, look at them in secret, and replenish them in the same order they were pulled. The order is not allowed to be changed, but can offer valuable intel.
- Favor: Favor cards allow a player to steal one card from another player’s hand. The player losing a card is the one who selects which card is lost to the player who played the Favor.
- Shuffle: The only time the Draw Pile is allowed to be shuffled is by playing a Shuffle card. This is typically played to prevent pulling Exploding Kitten cards. These cards are super valuable once players begin playing Defuse cards and placing those Kittens back into play.
- Nope: Nope cards are played to cancel another player’s action. The only exceptions are Defuse or Exploding Kitten cards. When a player plays an action card, a Nope card can be discarded before the action is performed to negate the card’s effect. And yes, you can play a Nope card against another Nope, meaning it cancels the original negations and allows the action to occur. With five Nope cards in the deck, this Nopeception is allowed to go on for as long as players prefer.
- Attack: Attack cards are played to instantly end a turn and skip the typical draw phase. This forces the next player to take two turns in a row, meaning they will play action cards and draw a card from the Draw Pile twice in a row. If an Attack card is played after another Attack card, the cumulative turns roll over to the next player, and so on. A lengthy Attack train could prompt a player to take up to eight turns in a row.
- Skip: Skip cards allow the current player to instantly end their current turn and avoid drawing a card. If a Skip card is used in response to an Attack card, it only skips one turn – the player must still play the additional round, or play two Skip cards to prevent the Attack’s impact altogether.
Each turn consists of playing action cards and ending the turn by grabbing a card from the Draw Pile. At any point, if a player pulls an Exploding Kitten card from the Draw Pile, they lose. The only way to prevent explosions and losing the game is by playing a Defuse card.
In the exciting scenario where a player pulls an Exploding Kitten card and has a Defuse card in their hand, they can negate the explosion. The player will place the Defuse card into the Discard Pile and then return the Exploding Kitten card into the deck. They can place the Exploding Kitten card back anywhere they like and are free to continue playing. At this point, players may or may know where that Exploding Kitten will fall in the lineup and can play accordingly.
But remember- anyone who pulls an Exploding Kitten that doesn’t have a Defuse card at the ready is dead and out of the game.
Find a video of Exploding Kitten’s official rules, here.
Exploding Kittens Endgame
Keep taking turns playing cards and pulling from the Draw Pile until all of the Exploding Kitten cards have detonated. The game is won when all but one player has “exploded”, or drawn an Exploding Kittens card. Don’t explode, and you’ll win!
Exploding Kittens Strategy
- Players are allowed to count cards left in the Draw Pile. They are not allowed to look through the cards or rearrange the Draw Pile, but can play certain cards based on desired impact.
- There is no maximum or minimum number of cards allowed in a hand. If you run out of cards, simply keep playing the game until you draw at the end of your next turn.
- The Draw Pile will not run out of cards, so don’t feel hassled to shuffle the deck.
Can Exploding Kittens be played with more than 5 people?
It’s easy to increase the number of players in Exploding Kittens, simply double up on the decks to double the potential players! For games with 5 or more players, combine two or more decks and adjust the number of Exploding Kitten cards accordingly to guarantee there is always one fewer Kitten than the number of players in the game.