Exploding Kittens has been one of the most successful family-friendly games of recent years. From the incredible success of the Kickstarter, the game has spread around the world and found fans wherever it went.
The core game, which you can read more about here, was launched in 2015, and the following year the makers released the first expansion pack, Imploding Kittens.
If you’ve played card games before, you may have been disappointed by expansion packs in the past. Sometimes, they do little to bring new life to the game. So is it worth spending your hard-earned cash on Imploding Kittens?
What is Imploding Kittens?
Imploding Kittens is the first expansion pack for Exploding Kittens. There are six new card designs in a pack of twenty. Thematically, they follow the original game closely with a similar style of illustration and underlying sense of humor.
What makes Imploding Kittens interesting, is that the new cards are all new mechanics to enter the game. This isn’t an expansion that just adds bulk, it enhances and changes the original gameplay. The new cards in the pack are:
Imploding Kitten Like its exploding cousins, an Imploding Kitten card ends a player’s game; but it can’t be defused. The first time it is drawn it isn’t a problem. The player who draws it must return it to the draw pile, face up. When it appears next, it’s game over for the person who draws it.
Feral Cat This card can be paired with any of the cat cards from the core game and used to make a pair.
Targeted Attack Like the attack card from the core game, using this card ends the players turn immediately. The difference here is that the player then chooses another unfortunate soul to take two turns in a row.
Alter the Future A step up from the ‘See the Future’ card of the core game, this allows the player to alter the order of the first three cards in the draw pile.
Draw from the Bottom Is there an imploding or exploding kitten coming up that you want to avoid? Use this card and you can pull something from the bottom of the draw pile instead. Hopefully, it’s something better.
Reverse This is where Exploding Kittens meets Uno; playing this card allows the order of play to reverse direction.
It’s this final card that brings the final new element to the game, the Cone of Shame. If a player forgets the direction of play twice in a row, then they have to wear the cone which comes with a handy arrow to show which way play should pass. Don’t worry, it’s reversible to allow for either eventuality.
Another bonus of the expansion is that you can increase the total number of players from 5 to 6. If you’re looking for a couples game, don’t let that put you off. You can still use the expansion with just two players.
Review of Imploding Kittens
Although there are quite a few new cards to master, because most of them are just power-ups for cards in the core game there isn’t a steep learning curve. We played with one adult and two kids (8 and 12) and they had no problem picking things up. If you’re familiar with Exploding Kittens, you can be playing confidently with the new cards in a matter of minutes.
What the expansion does is take a lot of what made the original game fun, and add to it. The addition of a single Imploding Kitten, for example, adds more tension to a game that already has a Russian Roulette element. Because the card is turned the other way, it’s possible to see where it is in the deck, which means reversals, attacks and other methods of doing the dirty on your fellow players take on a greater role.
I didn’t tell the kids that the Cone of Shame existed, meaning when the first of them earned it there was a lot of laughter. It was a fun element for the first couple of games but then got old. As it’s quite large compared to the card, it adds a lot of extra packaging to the game (and presumably cost) which could have been avoided without it.
The beauty of the expansion is that it gives you more strategic options. Exploding Kittens can often feel like a game of pure chance, but Imploding Kittens gives you more options to change your fate. Or at least it feels that way.
One potential downside is the cost, which does seem quite a lot for what is essentially just 20 cards. However, if you’re likely to play the game often as we do, then it’s worth the cost in the long term.
Strategy Tips to Help You Dominate in Imploding Kittens
This guide should be read in association with our strategy tips for the core game.
Know Your Cards There are more action cards in this deck than in the previous, and although they are similar, there are differences. Take some time to familiarise yourself with all the cards before you play, so you know exactly what you have in your hand.
Shuffle Under the Table When the Imploding Kitten is in play, shuffling above the table will allow other players to see where it is. To keep it an element of chaos, complete any shuffles under the table where no one can see (not even you).
Hold Your Safety Cards The Imploding Kitten card can’t be defused, so if you know it’s coming the only thing that you can do to save yourself is pass your turn to someone else. The cards which help you do this are the new Reverse Play card, the Attack card from the original game and the Targeted Attack and Draw from the Bottom cards from the new game.
The Deck is a Timer Just as with the original game, your chances of getting ex/imploded get greater as the draw pile gets smaller. Keep hold of your action cards until you need them, as tempting as it might be to teach someone a lesson.
Imploding Kittens is the first expansion for Exploding Kittens, but there are other options available when considering a new expansion. The second expansion, Streaking Kittens, was released in July 2018. It offers some new game mechanics of its own, but without the Cone of Shame is a lower price.
For more adult gamers, there is the NSFW version of the core game. If you’re just looking to play with more people, the buying the Exploding Kittens party pack may be more useful, as you can then have up to 10 players in each game.
The Bottom Line: Yea or Nay?
Imploding Kittens takes some of the best features of Exploding Kittens and adds to them. It has all the charm and humor of the first game but adds more tension and opportunities to get one over on another player.
We don’t tend to play card games with large numbers of players, so for us paying extra for an expansion that makes one of our favorite games even better is a no brainer. Other alternatives might be better for larger families or party people.
Sarah Dixon is a freelance writer and author who lives in York, England. A Couch to 10K veteran, she takes full advantage of the beautiful Yorkshire countryside to get outside, hiking, geocaching or just playing games with her two children