Exploding Kittens: This Place is About to Blow!

Game: Exploding Kittens

  • Publisher: Exploding Kittens
  • Designed by: Matt Inman, Elan Lee, Shane Small
  • Illustrated by: The Oatmeal
  • Ages 7+
  • 2-5 players, more with expansions and party version
  • 15 minutes

Kittens, Explosions and Cheetah Butt.

Yes. I said Cheetah Butt.

Exploding Kittens is a game that brought the art of The Oatmeal to life. In the game you are playing a game of chance, playing cards against each other and praying that the card you draw won’t be your last.

In the game you and your opponents are trying to avoid drawing the Exploding Kitten. During your turn you will have the chance to play any number of cards against your opponent. You also have chances to steal cards, look and alter the future, skip drawing cards and more. When you play actions there also may be NOPE cards to block an action. After playing your cards, you will draw a card. If it is an exploding kitten, you are eliminated, unless you have a defuse card in hand. That card can help you survive and place the kitten somewhere in the deck. (Note: NOPES cannot stop defuse or Exploding Kitten cards.)

When there is one player left standing, that person wins the glory of not being blown up.

Manatees are better looking with a Fabio haircut.
Components

There is something nice about seeing a fun card game. What makes the game an exciting experience is the images on the cards. There are so many cards and the artwork is hilarious. There also is flavor text on most of the cards to add to the humor of it all. The card quality is well made. We had a small spill in one game, and the cards that got wet dried out and didn’t lose shape.

Defuse Cards are your best friend. They could lead to you having a closer chance at winning.

Abigail: I like exploding kittens because you get to blow each other up and after try to avoid getting blown up yourself. I don’t like how some of the cards are really weird and kind of disturbing. I like how you have a chance with the diffused to put the exploding kittens back in the deck so that you can live a bit longer and continue playing. It’s not too long but it’s not too short so it makes for a good amount of playing. It’s definitely one of my favorites and I’d say buy it. Recommendation: BUY IT!

Beth: This game is just messed up. I can have fun playing it, but let’s be honest it’s disturbing. Seeing as that was most likely the intent of the creators I think they succeeded! It never fails to make us laugh and even to groan in a little bit of disgust. I would not say it’s for everyone, but it definitely has its place! Recommendation: Try it.

There is something magical about wearing the cone of shame. It’s a reminder to pay attention to others and to the game. Forget and pay the consequences.

Chris: Oh, I love this game. This was a gift that my sons gave to me as a belated Christmas gift. After playing this, we added the Imploding Kittens expansion and the Streaking Kittens pack. There is something so rewarding when you watch a friend or family member put on the cone of shame. It is hilarious! Recommendation: BUY IT!

Daniel: I like the exploding kittens because well it’s just a really fun game. I like all the different cards and I also like the see the future so you can know what’s coming next and I like the nope cards so you can cancel the other people’s like catermelons or hairy potato cats and stuff like that. And I like how there are several expansions that can make the game a lot more fun and funnier. And I like the picture of one of the exploding kittens it has a cat chewing on Dynamite. Recommendation: BUY IT!

Elijah: It’s fun. There’s a card that will allow you to alter the future five times. I like the streaking kitten that will allow you to hold one exploding kitten in your hand so if someone says a favor you know what you will give to them, an exploding kitten. One of them has a kitten who took over driving and running off of the cliff. Maybe Try it. Recommendation: Try it.

There is nothing better than stopping someone from doing some devious deed to you. Even more when they now have to draw that Kitten card on the top of the deck that you know about….bwahahahaha!
This is a fun elimination game that will make you laugh and smile as you look at the hilarious images and watch your friends and family explode.

Valley of the Vikings: Bowling for the Whole Family

Game: Valley of the Vikings

  • Publisher: HABA
  • Designed by: Marie and Wilfried Fort
  • Illustrated by: Maximilian Meinzold
  • Ages 6+
  • 2-4 players
  • 15 minutes

HABA provided a copy of the game for a review. Thank you to HABA for this opportunity.

I have my boat ready for plunder. Hopefully this time I will get the most coins.

Shoe Rentals: $2.75 per person

Bowling Alley Cost for one game: $5 per person

Taking a family of five for two games of bowling: $38.75

Valley of the Vikings: Around $30 with multiple plays and fun.

So I used to go bowling a lot. The cost wasn’t bad during college night and it was a great way to relax and not think about the craziness of life.

Jump into the future, marriage, work and kids and bowling has been replaced with choir concerts, soccer games and board games. Costs of games have gone up and getting those chances to go out as a family don’t happen as often.

That is where board games come in, and in this case Valley of the Vikings from HABA.

Elijah loading up his money after knocking me into the water.

In Valley of the Vikings, you and your clans are competing for gold and glory through bowling. On your turn you are taking your viking and bowling barrels of different colors in hopes to knock someone into the water.

When a player bowls the barrels, the ones that get knocked over represent the player markers in the game. The player who bowled gets to move the markers closer to the end of the viking dock, in hopes to push someone off and possibly get some loot. Along the dock are random items, such as gold coins and other players. When someone is knocked off, the players whose markers are still on the board get the treasures that they are below. The player knocked off makes their way to the beginning of the dock and gameplay continues until all the coins have been achieved. The player with the most coins is the winner. Huzzah!

Daniel putting a sweet curve into his bowl.
Components

The board is like a cute little puzzle that can be put together with ease. I recommend letting the kids have fun with it. The ball is lightweight, but has enough to knock over the nice wooden barrels. The markers for players and tokens are a nice thick cardboard with vibrant colors and characters. The artist gave it a feel of something you could easily take from “How to Train Your Dragon,” and that only adds to the appeal of the game even more.

Thank goodness I’m not blue. Bowling never felt so good…

Now for the best part of the components, the coins and the boats. The coins are a simple large plastic coin that are a bright yellow. The boats are these adorable viking ships that are easy to assemble and need little disassembly to get them back into the box.

I am not surprised at the quality of components in this game. HABA has made some quality components before and the boats are my favorite piece. I want to play with them after the game.

Such beautiful artwork and components make this a relaxing experience.
Our Family’s thoughts

Abigail, 13: Well, its an okay game, but I like ones with more strategy to it. There is a little but not much. Its a good kids game that you can mess people up by throwing them overboard. I would try it. Recommendation: Try it.

Beth: This is a game I would pull out when we need a simple family game to just have a good time with. There isn’t much thinking which sometimes is needed! This game definitely has its time and place and that will usually be when we have less than 30 min before bedtime at our table. Go ahead and buy it. Recommendation: BUY IT!

My boat at the end of the game…

Chris: There is something great about a game that mixes family fun and bowling into a board game. I love the idea that I can rework the knocked down barrels to mess with my opponents even though I know my kids will plot to see me in the water. This is a great filler family game that is worth the purchase. Recommendation: BUY IT!

Daniel, 11: I like it because it involves actually knocking down stuff and i like how you can arrange the barrels how you want so that I’m not the one knocked down. I like knocking my brother or dad in the water. Its a really fun family game. I usually just end up with 2 coins at the end of the game though. Buy it. Recommendation: BUY IT!

Elijah, 8: I like dumping someone in the water and I like knocking the barrels over. I like winning! I would buy it. Recommendation: BUY IT!

Elijah with his boat filled with the glory of his winnings.
HABA has made a game worthy of your table and money. This filler game is great and will keep your younger ones entertained.
Also, I had the pleasure of meeting some of their staff at PAX Unplugged, and the energy and enthusiasm are amazing.

Lift-Off! Get me off this Planet!

These aliens are adorable, even though their planet is about to explode with whoever is left.

Game: Lift Off! Get me off this Planet!

  • Publisher: Pencil First Games, LLC
  • Designed by: Eduardo Baraf
  • Illustrated by: Dustin Foust, Sebastian Koziner, Keith Matejka and Helen Zhu
  • Ages 13+
  • 1-6 players
  • 45 minutes

“The planet is getting hot, like totally critical. It was 62 degrees in Winter… yeah that is not winter. It’s getting hotter…”

“How many rotations of the moon do we have left?”

“Not many. If the moon is full we have a chance of evacuation…”

You have the ability to get on some timey-wimey police box to lift off.
Each move you make is a race against the destruction of your world.

There is something magical when the moon aligns with your path. It leads to getting off a planet that is doomed to destruction. This is what Lift Off! Get me off this Planet! is all about.

Pink Team, Day 5: The kids have kept me from lifting off this planet. My looks to me to help them off, but I think we may not make it off in time. Our only hope is some extra move cards and a Garglore…

The game plays over so many solar days where the moon’s rotation around the planet triggers effects that can help the aliens find their way off before meeting their end. The game originally came out in 2015, and is coming out with an Expanded Deluxe Edition which adds a solo mode and a new player count. Some of the things that I will talk about may not be in the final copy as they will be stretch goals, but I want to cover how it plays, some new features and what our family thought of this one.

You can tell there is some sci-fi love here. Does this take us to P4-3687? Will we meet the Ancients? Probably not, but the game references some fun pop culture.

In the game your goal is to get your ten alien meeples off the planet before the solar days come to an end. The game ends when either a player is able to get all of their alien meeples off the planet or the planet explodes. Rounds of the game are dependent of the number of players for solar days and a round is a full rotation of the moon.

The board has different pieces that can be put together to create an entirely different experience and replayability.
The cards you are dealt can help you get extra moves, resources, cause havoc or move the moon to your will and more.

Each player can play can move twice along the path, either twice with one alien or once with another. The other action they can take is playing cards in hopes to enter a launch location or Lift Off. Some conditions may require a Screw or Fuel Card to enter a launch zone. They also may require certain payments based on where the moon is on the board. The moon can be a full moon (above your location), new moon (opposite of your location), and half moon (the other moon locations). Lifting off may also cost resources and moon location as well. One launch pad may not lift off unless the moon is full, while another may need the Garglore and maybe an alien of a different color along for the ride.

Lifting off cost resources and may depend on where the moon is located, but beware! The Garglore is out to get you and stop you from getting off the planet.

Garglore? What is that? It is an alien bent on keeping your meeples on the planet for destruction. I think he just wants some attention. There are cards you can play that let you put the Garglore on someone’s launchpad, causing them to not be able to lift off. This is the trick-taking nature that is part of the game. There also are cards that make it possible to move the moon during your turn rather than at the end.

The Gurglore just wants some hugs. What’s so wrong with that…other than the impending doom that lies ahead?

One neat feature that Ed has added is the Gurglore. The Garglore must have been lonely, so the Gurglore was created. Instead of moving the alien, you can use one of your move actions to move the Gurglore and give some meeples some hugs and attention, acting similarly to the Garglore.

Components
Climbing a ladder seems like a fun way to get off the planet.

The alien meeples are beautiful and the board has a great deal of variety. Let’s say you get a terraform card. This card allows you to change a lift off point of the game. The lift-offs have opposite sides so there is plenty of variety.

The dice in the game can help you get off the planet or terraform into another lift-off location, causing you to go back to the planet’s core.

The dice are nicely made with great detail and the rulebook has plenty on information to help along the way.

The tokens and cards are also a nice touch. What has me excited are what could be a possible stretch goal, the little space ships for each color. Each has their own personality and style.

These little ships can be a stretch goal worth having. I love the detail and work that went into these.

One other thing to note is that the rules also have variations in play. Some could be more cooperative in nature and others quicker to play or family-friendly. This is a nice touch for our family as it can help eliminate some of the competitive nature.

Let’s get off this planet together. This will help prevent an all out attack on Daddy…
Our Family’s Thoughts

Abigail, 13: “I like how they put a lot of thought and how the board has different ways that you can get off the planet. I like the characters. I like how each individual way to get off, that the surface has its own little cost or rule.”


Beth: “The obviously themed exit points add a little bit of fun and the fact that you can change which ones are used will always keep the game different. The game is cute and fun, but at the same time includes strategy and a challenge. There is something for everyone in the family. That’s what I like about it.”

The art and detail makes this game one I recommend for families. Elijah, age 8 was able to grasp it and won. I was close with my eight pink aliens.


Chris: “This game has a great family feel to it with beautiful colors and the meeples are adorable. I love that feeling of seeing science fiction references on the board and moving the Garglore over to stop my opponents. Relying on the location of the moon also is a fun factor to how one will place their aliens. I find the game to have a solid experience worth bringing to the table.”


Daniel, 11: “I like how the little figures look. I like the little thing that you put them on when they are off the planet. My favorite thing to use to get them off is the slingshot, and you can basically keep using the slingshot to get your guys off.”


Elijah, 8: “The blue one is my favorite, or orange, or both. I like getting on the slingshot so that other people will slingshot me. One time Daddy slingshot me.”

Elijah in his Superman Pajamas, ready to fly off the planet.

Overall we loved this game and hope you will love it too. Lift Off! Get me off this Planet! hits Kickstarter January 7th, 2020.