When we are allowed to gather once again party games will have a resurgence. These games from Exploding Kittens publishing and creative mastermind Matt Inman are (for the most part) family friendly and will make everyone laugh.
Exploding Kittens is the original Kickstarter miracle worker from back in 2015, and ranked at #5 on Meeple Mountain’s 100 Most Important Board Games of the 2020s. This card game is revved up Russian-roulette as players try to avoid picking up an exploding kitten card, which well, explodes and removes the player from the game. There are action cards that can be used to target other players and avoid certain kitty death. If you want to play with more people there is a version which can accommodate up to 10 players, a NSFW version if you want to see some dark kitties and the new Barking Kittens expansion with new cards and a crazy cat hat. Overall, the game is much more fun at higher player levels and, while the art is fun, the player elimination mechanic hurts gameplay. It is not nearly as fun to watch others play and wait for the round to end so you can get back in the action.
Bears vs. Babies
Bears vs. Babies is a 2-5 player card game which pits various Bears of the world against weaponized babies. Players must arm their animal army with appropriate weapons and then take on baby armies in the air, land or sea to acquire points. Beware though, when the last of the accessory and action cards are drawn there is a big final battle which can make or break the game. Whoever has the most points at the end is the winner. It’s quick, it’s fun and the monstrosities always provide a laugh.
Throw Throw Burrito
Throw Throw Burrito is an active game for 2-6 players; a combination of card game and dodge-ball, the first in what I will call the Oatmeal’s “ow” games.This game is much more active than the other iterations, players get points by collecting sets of the same card but these sets can also result in burrito havoc. Various cards mean that players will throw squishy burritos at each other, get hit and lose precious points. Very much a family friendly game, but room is needed so you can run and hide!
You’ve Got Crabs
You’ve Got Crabs is a much bigger party game than the ones previous, it is meant for 4-10 players and everyone is split up into teams of two. Players will try to accumulate points with their partner by collecting sets of cards, however, they must use a decided upon secret signal to tell their partner they have a set. When a set is made players who identify their partner’s signal shout “you’ve got crabs” and that team gains a point. If another team sees the signal and shouts the same, the revealed team loses points. This game is fun, but a re-skinned and fancy version of KEMPS. What you’re paying for is the Oatmeal’s art and a fancy box. However, if you are an Oatmeal collector the $25 CAD price tag is not too expensive. If you like the game there is also an expansion pack with an extra game-changing card and giant crab claws, because who doesn’t like to watch others desperately unable to complete simple tasks like picking up cards?
Poetry for Neanderthals
The next “ow” game comes in the form of Poetry for Neanderthals, a game for 2 or more players, although I can confidently say you need at least 4 players to make this work. Players earn points by making the others guess what their prompt is on the card using only one syllable words. If the player who is giving the one syllable hints makes an error they are hit with the “no” stick and lose points. This is a game for people who know each other well and a great opportunity to really examine your personal vocabulary. This game works really well, and because the words have to be one syllable it can be a great equalizer for all the people who use big words for no reason.
On a Scale of One to T-Rex
This game is unique to the Exploding Kittens publishing collection as Wolfgang Warsh, creator of The Mind, helped to design this game. This game for 2-8 players is based on traditional charades but better. This game is not for the shy as the crux is to act out your charade card to a secret level of intensity. Everyone acts out at the same time, just to different degrees. Points are earned by matching cards with other players as everyone performs. If both players agree that their intensities match they reveal cards at the same time. If there is an exact match players get two points, a near match for one point and no match which results in a negative point. Not my favourite of the Oatmeal universe as it feels chaotic, a little loud and can isolate some in gaming groups.
A Game of Cat and Mouth
This game has nothing to do with cards. This pinball like game is for 2 players and presents typical Oatmeal art in a nyan-cat-on-drugs way. This dexterity game is all about flinging magnetic balls through the cat’s mouth over rounds. The round is over if the nose ball is hit out of Rainbow Cat’s face to your opponent’s side, if all white balls are on your opponent’s side or if all 8 yellow balls are on your opponent’s side. This game is really fun, but if losing tiny parts are a problem, if you have dogs that eat anything on the floor or dexterity games are not your jam; this game may not be for you. This game could become a very amusing drinking game and is something that ‘hardcore’ board gamers could love. This is more of a Hungry Hungry Hippos level of difficulty.
Tacocat Spelled Backwards
Tacocat is a game for two players centered around palindromes. The art and creativity of the cards is truly the selling point of this game, the palindromes don’t have anything to do with gameplay, just fun-der-ful flavour. Each round the number of cards dealt is displayed on the game board, tacocat begins their journey in the center and the object of the game is to bring tacocat to your side of the board. The lowest card in a player’s hand wins the round and moves tacocat, to accomplish this players will attack with a high card and the other player must defend or sacrifice one of their cards. Defending results in playing a card equal or higher in value, sacrificing means having to play your lowest card. This most recent game from Exploding Kittens is the most strategic yet and perfect for pandemic numbers.
A Little Wordy
A Little Wordy is the new-newest game from the Exploding Kittens team (the release caught me by surprise because Tacocat just came out in February). A Little Wordy follows the trend of fun and clever two-player games. The game has two players taking a jumble of letter tiles and creating a word with the letters provided: the trick is not all letters need to be used. Players can make whatever word they like from what they are given. This makes the game more accessible, any vocabulary level can play. There are clue cards players can use to help them guess the word, but the more clues you use the fewer points you get. There is even an Oatmeal Dictionary that players can use to make sure their word is valid. Overall, this is a light and fun game that combines the best of Scrabble and Pictionary.
We hope that this piece has been informative for board gamers everywhere. If you would like a more in-depth review of any of these games please let us know in the comments down below!