Guide to Exploding Kittens

The game of Exploding Kittens is both extraordinary and strange. It’s fascinating in a lot of different ways.

The first time it was released by The Oatmeal, it broke all records for funding on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. Over 219,000 people supported the project at the outset, which resulted in a substantial amount of funding being collected. Also, despite billing itself as a “highly strategic version of Russian Roulette,” the game is surprisingly straightforward.

To that end, we will examine the game in greater detail with this guide.

What Is Exploding Kittens?

You’ll need a deck of cards  with Exploding Kittens if you want to play the card game Exploding Kittens. Players draw cards from the face-down deck until someone gets an Exploding Kitten.

When that occurs, the affected individual “explodes.” They have been eliminated now that they are dead. This continues until only one of you is left, and the winner is determined.

A simple rule of thumb is that explosions are game-ending. You win if you don’t blow yourself up. The other cards will reduce the likelihood of an explosion.

Game Components

  • A deck of cards
  • Rules Booklet

Exploding Kittens game play


Types of Cards

Exploding Kittens (4 Cards)

Present this card right away. Everyone is toast unless they have a defuse card. You must toss out all your cards, even the exploding kitten.

Defuse (6 Cards)

If you were dealt an explosive kitten, you could play this card to avoid instant death.  First, discard your defuse card.  Second, sneakily return the exploding kitten to the draw pile in any position you like without looking at the other cards or changing their order.

Do you wish to annoy the next player in line? Arrange the kitten atop the deck. When you don’t want anyone to see where you put the deck, you can hold it under the table. 

Nope (5 Cards)

It stops everything unless it’s a defuse card or an exploding kitten. Assume that all cards (and any pairs or unique combinations) have vanished directly below a nope card. In addition, you can use a nope on a nope to make a double negative yup, and so on.

Players can play a nope card before an action has begun at any time, even if it is not their turn.

Attack (4 Cards)

You can make the next player take two turns in a row by ending your turn(s) without drawing. Regular play continues for this card’s target (play cards, then draw). After everyone else’s turn is done, it’s the next person’s turn.

If the player who takes damage from an attack card then plays an attack card, their turn ends immediately, and the next player takes two turns. Even if a Nope is played on top of your attack card, you must still draw a card before moving on to the next player’s turn.

With a Nope card in play, the attack card below it is rendered ineffective, as if the player had never played it.

Group of friends in a party playing cards

Skip (4 Cards)

Stop your turn without having drawn a card. Using a skip card to counter an attack card only stops one of your turns. If both players were dealt two skip cards, the game would end immediately.

Favor (4 Cards)

Obtain one card from another player’s hand by ordering them to do so. The card you receive is at their discretion.

Shuffle (4 Cards)

Don’t look at the cards in the Draw Pile until you’re told to stop shuffling. This comes in handy when you anticipate an impending kitten explosion.

See the Future (5 Cards)

In the Draw Pile, look at the top three cards and replace them in the same order. Keep the other players from seeing your cards.

Cat Cards (4 of Each Type)

Gathering sets of two or three of a kind allows you to steal from other players.


Take out of the deck all four Exploding Kittens and six Defuse cards. Deal each player four cards face down and shuffle the remaining deck.

To ensure that everyone has a hand of five cards, deal one Defuse card to each player. Don’t reveal your hand.

If more people are playing than there are Exploding Kittens, shuffle them back into the deck until there is exactly one less. Eventually, this will cause everyone to explode, save for one person. Do not forget to take out of the game any extra Exploding Kittens.

Just shuffle the extra Defuse cards back into the main deck. Only two extra cards should be returned to the deck for the two-player variant. Take out the other two players.

Happy young family playing card game at dining table at bright modern home

The quantity of Exploding Kittens in the deck should be adjusted so that there is always one less than the number of players if two or more decks are combined for a larger group. You’ll need to swap in eight Exploding Kittens to accommodate a group of nine players.

The cards should be shuffled and placed face-down in the center of the table. The reshuffled cards are your new draw pile. Finally, select a person to start the game;  in other words, you’re all set to play! 

Game Play

An Exploding Kittens card deck will be yours to use. To play, you must lay the deck face down and take turns drawing cards from the top until an Exploding Kitten is drawn.

To play a card from your hand, you must place it face up at the top of the Discard Pile and use it as directed. It’s okay if you don’t play any cards at all.

You may play additional cards once you’ve completed an action on a card or used a Pair. You are free to use as many cards as you like.

After your turn, you must draw one card from the pile and cross your fingers that it isn’t an Exploding Kitten. Unlike other games, your turn here ends when you draw a card.

The turn order at the table is clockwise.

Exploding Kittens game


Two of a Kind (Blind Steal)

Any two-of-a-kind can be played into the discard pile to steal a card. Suppose you had two tacocats; for instance, you could use them as actions and pick a player. You’d see that player hold up their hand, and you’d pick a card at random from their hand.

Three of a Kind – “Go Fish”

When you have this, you can choose a card from any player’s hand and force them to give it to you. Keep an eye on who still possesses defuse cards; if they run out, you’re out of luck.

How Do You Win?

Ultimately, whoever remains unexploded at the end of the game is declared the victor.

Even at first glance, you can tell that Exploding Kittens is more than it seems. You have choices and instruments at your disposal, including ideas that can boost your chances of success. It’s fun to discuss, so we hope this guide is useful if you decide to play with your friends and family.