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Subject: Not an eight million dollar game: A review of exploding kittens. rss

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Jesse Marzel
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A while ago, a friend of mine got his KS copy of Exploding Kittens. This game has been something of a point of conflict between us - I was skeptic about it, and he thought I was being elitist. He claimed that those who backed it weren't just backing it based on pure fanboyism, but based on their trust and respect for the creator - which to me sounded the same. And so, I've read the rules, got to our game night, and agreed to play a couple of games of exploding kittens as filler.

The concept of the game is nothing short of brilliant - in essence, the players are manipulating a deck of cards, trying to mine or booby-trap it so that other players will lose in a sort of passive-aggressive Take That game. The players take turns playing cards from their hand and than drawing a card from the deck - theoretically, with the correct usage of those cards, a savvy player would get good cards while making sure his opponents die a fiery death to the eponymous felines.

However, the execution of this idea is horrible. There is exactly one interesting way to manipulate the deck - the defuse card allows whoever drew an exploding kitten to replace it in the deck wherever he wants, which could lead to smart mind games. Besides defusing a trap, you can reshuffle the deck, peek at, but not change the order of the next three cards, steal a card form another player, skip a turn, make another player draw twice and... that's it. Other than a card that allows you to cancel another players action, this is the extant of things you can do in this game. Accompanying this limited, banal and impotent set of action cards are the filler cards, empty cards that do nothing by themselves can be used to mimic the steal card when used in sets, but are ultimately just there to make the deck slightly bigger.

This limited set of actions leads to the players doing mostly nothing of consequence during their turn, then drawing a card wishing they could be playing something else instead. Maybe they shuffle, maybe they peek, but overall the game just kinda happens instead of being played.

I didn't have a bad time playing this game, but it wasn't because of the game. I was with my friends, so we laughed, and giggled, and joked around and so on, but nothing that we laughed about was based on or because of the game, and in all honesty, I think we'd have had just as much fun talking about farts. The game wasn't funny, but at-least it didn't get in the way.

And that is not something that should be said about a game that raised 8 million dollars for its development. Riding to fame on the coattails of the webcomic/surreal poetry site "The Oatmeal", fans backed it blindly and gave the creators a wide berth and a generous budget. The concept was great, and all the game needed was a good designer stepping in and creating an interesting set of abilities that would make for a smarter game. But no-one cared enough about this game or its backers to do this.

No one should buy this game. There is no reason to buy it.

If you are a fan of the Oatmeal, this is not a game for you - this game is devoid of Matthew Inman's wit/abstract musings, and has only the art to show - which is horrid. No-one reads the Oatmeal for the art - you read it despite the art, because the writing is good, or at the very least interesting; both of which cannot be said about this game.

If you enjoy light card games, there is no shortage of great ones, with better artwork and better gameplay. If you want funny take-that games, the market is saturated with those as well. If you are a fan and want the creator to prosper, there is a donate button on Inman's site.

This game has no redeeming qualities - the design is lazy, the art is ugly. There is nothing good that can be said about it, and I pity the trees that gave their life so that this abomination could exist - it would have been more dignified to turn them into toilet paper. It is a waste of time and money, and everyone should stay away from it.
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Marc S
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Watch a group of 10 year old boys play it. They dig it.
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Nathan Clegg
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JoeNothin wrote:
has only the art to show - which is horrid. No-one reads the Oatmeal for the art - you read it despite the art

I love the art. It provides a perfect complement to his writing, but even on its own it's charming.
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Roger S
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I backed it to play with my kids. And they think it hilarious.

As for the "limited set of actions" I'm not sure how many actions you would have liked. It seems to have a good amount of mischievous things you can do. Add too many more in, and I think you take a relatively simple game and make it too complex.

I probably would not play this just with adults (maybe a game or two at most) but it's a good family game and anything that gets the kids engaged in games is alright in my book.

I think you are being a little too harsh, just because it raised $8M on KS. Would you have been so negative on the game if it had only pulled in the $10k they were looking for?
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Tor Iver Wilhelmsen
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JoeNothin wrote:
I didn't have a bad time playing this game, but it wasn't because of the game. I was with my friends, so we laughed, and giggled, and joked around and so on, but nothing that we laughed about was based on or because of the game, and in all honesty, I think we'd have had just as much fun talking about farts. The game wasn't funny, but at-least it didn't get in the way.

Sounds like a summary of most party games. laugh
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Cal Rasmussen
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JadedGamer wrote:
JoeNothin wrote:
I didn't have a bad time playing this game, but it wasn't because of the game. I was with my friends, so we laughed, and giggled, and joked around and so on, but nothing that we laughed about was based on or because of the game, and in all honesty, I think we'd have had just as much fun talking about farts. The game wasn't funny, but at-least it didn't get in the way.

Sounds like a summary of most party games. laugh


I'll second this. It's just like most party games. Party games don't need in depth strategy, rules, abilities, etc, etc. All they need to do is be fun, quick, goofy, easy to learn, etc.

Plus I have read they are already working on adding expansions. So some of what you feel is missing may be added.
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Sean H
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The only big seeming flaw i have with this review is that you cite it as an 8 million dollar game. Implying that the success of the kickstarter of the game directly correlated with the complexity of the game. The company was very clear with the game they were selling, and before purchasing, I knew that I wasn't getting a game that had strategic dept on the level of chess for what was actually valued at $100+ dollars(and its neither).

That being said, your expectations were misaligned with your purchase. And I agree, I wouldn't goto this game first, but its enjoyable enough of a party game to be purchasable to a more casual player IMO.
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The War Chief
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I wish there was a thumbsdown button, just for this review.whistle

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Clyde W
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crblackhawk wrote:
JadedGamer wrote:
JoeNothin wrote:
I didn't have a bad time playing this game, but it wasn't because of the game. I was with my friends, so we laughed, and giggled, and joked around and so on, but nothing that we laughed about was based on or because of the game, and in all honesty, I think we'd have had just as much fun talking about farts. The game wasn't funny, but at-least it didn't get in the way.

Sounds like a summary of most party games. laugh


I'll second this. It's just like most party games. Party games don't need in depth strategy, rules, abilities, etc, etc. All they need to do is be fun, quick, goofy, easy to learn, etc.

Plus I have read they are already working on adding expansions. So some of what you feel is missing may be added.
The problem is there are many amazing party games out there. This is absolutely one of the worst party games, especially if you factor in its bizarre popularity.

Far better party games I suggest anyone to go play instead include:
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
The Resistance: Avalon
Spyfall
Codenames
Balderdash
Telestrations
Time's Up!
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Rick Teverbaugh
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I have had a long-standing problem with the way games are judged on BGG, especially by those moved to do reviews. It seems that many believe in order to justify the popularity of a game, it must have a certain amount of meat to it. The decisions that need to be made and the options to explore need to be numerous. I disagree, at least to a point. I think the biggest thing is that game needs to provide a fun experience for the people playing and delivery it in such a way that those gamers want to play again, either immediately or at some future time. Certainly a game like Love Letter is one that is enormously popular and yet chastised for that popularity because the mechanics are sparse and the choices limited.
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Paul DeStefano
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Users of this site are not the targetted audience.

Fans of The Oatmeal and people who play Uno are the targetted audience. Which is a far larger segment.
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Mike Forrey
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Geosphere wrote:
Users of this site are not the targeted audience.

Fans of The Oatmeal and people who play Uno are the targeted audience. Which is a far larger segment.


That pretty much sums up how they got so much money during that Kickstarter. You have to hand it to the guys that ran that KS. They are laughing all the way to the bank on that on.
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Rick Teverbaugh
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bearn wrote:
Geosphere wrote:
Users of this site are not the targeted audience.

Fans of The Oatmeal and people who play Uno are the targeted audience. Which is a far larger segment.


That pretty much sums up how they got so much money during that Kickstarter. You have to hand it to the guys that ran that KS. They are laughing all the way to the bank on that on.


As opposed to crying?
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Clyde W
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rickert wrote:
I have had a long-standing problem with the way games are judged on BGG, especially by those moved to do reviews. It seems that many believe in order to justify the popularity of a game, it must have a certain amount of meat to it. The decisions that need to be made and the options to explore need to be numerous. I disagree, at least to a point. I think the biggest thing is that game needs to provide a fun experience for the people playing and delivery it in such a way that those gamers want to play again, either immediately or at some future time. Certainly a game like Love Letter is one that is enormously popular and yet chastised for that popularity because the mechanics are sparse and the choices limited.
The only real question a review should answer is, "Is this game good for what it is?" And here clearly the answer is no. It is not a good game, when compared to similar games like Love Letter.
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Trueflight Silverwing
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I have no problems with the game. It is not anything spectacular, but it is a fun party game and well worth the $20 it costs. I think people look at the amount of money that the Kickstarter pulled in and expect a lot more out of the game than what it is. What most of them fail to take into consideration is the massive number of copies of the game that amount was split between. It really didn't make all that much per copy, yet you get far more fun and entertainment out of this than most other games in the price range.
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Clyde W
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Ender02 wrote:
It really didn't make all that much per copy, yet you get far more fun and entertainment out of this than most other games in the price range.
Do you? I can think of many games that are $20 that are far better. In fact, nearly all of the games I listed above are about $20 and are all significantly better. Like, orders of magnitude better, by any scale you care to measure by.

(all prices on Amazon.com)
One Night Ultimate Werewolf - $16.85
The Resistance: Avalon - $15.11
Spyfall - (out of stock )
Codenames - (out of stock )
Balderdash - $12.25
Telestrations - $19.45
Time's Up!: Title Recall - $14.61

And those two games that are out of stock? Out of stock because their first print runs sold out in days. Because they're amazing.
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I agree. Way too much money for what it is.
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Mike Beiter
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I spent $30 on it to get the NSFW deck too. I agree with what was said above. It is fine for a $10 game. I do enjoy the art. But there is not enough substance to justify a $30 or even $20 price tag.
I backed it because I love the Oatmeal.
And I cary no shame in admitting that.
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The War Chief
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I don't think anybody would even be discussing or complaining about this game if they raised $10K instead of $8M.whistle
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Jesse Marzel
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JadedGamer wrote:
JoeNothin wrote:
I didn't have a bad time playing this game, but it wasn't because of the game. I was with my friends, so we laughed, and giggled, and joked around and so on, but nothing that we laughed about was based on or because of the game, and in all honesty, I think we'd have had just as much fun talking about farts. The game wasn't funny, but at-least it didn't get in the way.

Sounds like a summary of most party games. laugh


What are you talking about..?

First, this isn't a party game - this is a 4 player light card game that can be turned into an 8 player torture machine when combined with another copy of itself. The turns take too long for this to actually be a party game.

Second, this is not something you can say about any party game - have you ever played a game of The Resistance? Of Mascarade? Of Cash & Guns? These games create group experiences that cannot be replaced by just sitting around and talking, and generate interesting and funny interaction between the players. They are awesome.

Its a shame you think this is what party games should be like. It really saddens me.
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Jesse Marzel
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schiavonir wrote:
As for the "limited set of actions" I'm not sure how many actions you would have liked. It seems to have a good amount of mischievous things you can do. Add too many more in, and I think you take a relatively simple game and make it too complex.


It doesn't need more actions, it needs the whole set replaced with interesting actions. "Draw three, place them back in any order"; "Draw two, keep one and give the other to another player"; "Draw one, place it at the top or bottom of the deck". Interesting things to do, meaningful choices.
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Jesse Marzel
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Ender02 wrote:
It really didn't make all that much per copy, yet you get far more fun and entertainment out of this than most other games in the price range.


Are we using the same internet? Because on the internet I'm using you can find an endless plathora of amazing games for 35$ + shipping. Here, look at how many games you can get for 20$-35$: http://goo.gl/2CyZX0

You can get battlecon: war of the indines for that amount. You can get Seasons. You can Mafia de Cuba. You can get The Resistance. You can pretty much get every genre and type of game for 35$ or less.

Why are you even saying this..? Why is this bold faced lie a defense for this lazy game?
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azza rein
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Dude, in a world where monopoly is a top seller, are you surprised?
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Tor Iver Wilhelmsen
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JoeNothin wrote:
It really saddens me.

Then lighten up; and I can find detractors for every "better" game out there, if that is the point. I have played Exploding Kittens once, it was a pleasing enough filler, and its contribution to the world as a whole was just the same as if we had played any of those you mentioned, except those usually would take longer - and be unfunny for many kinds of people anyway.

Edit: You really should not go on the offensive just because some people disagree with you in the comments. That will just tell people they might just as well ignore you.
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Cal Rasmussen
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JoeNothin wrote:

Why are you even saying this..? Why is this bold faced lie a defense for this lazy game?


Well that's a little harsh. Difference in opinion. Don't be rude.
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