Everybody loves kittens. Game designer Elan Lee originally decided to combine the beloved animal with lasers, explosions, and goats two years ago when he launched Exploding Kittens, the board game. Exploding Kittens skyrocketed beyond its humble $10,000 Kickstarter goal to become one of the site’s biggest success stories, with over $8.5 million in funding. The Russian Roulette-like card game Exploding Kittens can now be found in hobbyist game stores around the world. Now, he’s turned his sights to building monsters.
When Lee enlisted comic book artist Matthew Inman to help him with Exploding Kittens back in 2015, Inman was already working on a creature building game. That game got put on hold during the run of Exploding Kittens. Now that the dust has settled, Inman and Lee are now teaming up to create the creature/deck-building game that Inman envisioned.
Building Monsters to Defeat Babies
For fans of Exploding Kittens, the premise of Bears vs Babies should come as no surprise. In Bears vs Babies, players take turns attempting to build monsters in order to defeat an army of horrible babies. Players ‘work together’ to defeat the army of babies at the center of the board, who simultaneously attack every player whenever they are provoked. The goal of the game is to eat more babies than your opponents. This can be achieved either by fighting your opponents or tricking them into fighting the babies before they are strong enough to defeat them. There are plenty of weapons, hats, and tools to strengthen your monsters and attack other players.
Exploding Kittens has been a massive success for Lee and Inman, with over 2.5 million decks being ordered, for an estimated $50 million in profits to date. One of their tricks has been their unconventional approach to marketing. After they started seeing the massive interest in Exploding Kittens, they created a point system with rewards for people who shared pictures and other things relating to the game. This year, they’re repeating their rewards program strategy with Bears vs Babies.
The premise is pretty simple, and the game is even accessible to kids. What made Exploding Kittens, and by extension Bears vs Babies, special is that the game walked a fine line between being competitive and being completely random and nonsensical. There are certainly elements of strategy and some planning involved when building monsters, but it’s largely dependent on which cards you draw. Most of the enjoyment of the game comes from reading the cards and interacting with them – a personal recommendation for your first game is reading out the text on each of the cards whenever you perform an action. For example:
I’m attacking the Great White Baby and Portuguese Man O’ Baby with A Shark, in Business Attire, Who Sucks at Dancing:
These moments make the game really special and entertaining – you never know what combinations will come up in each game session. By giving the cards such outlandish and silly titles, it’s hard to get too serious or competitive about the game. It’s about 50% skill and 50% chance every time. Building the monsters gives you a sense of customization. The mechanic brings to mind another satirical card-based game called Munchkins where you must equip your Munchkins to explore dungeons.
Exploding Kittens and Bears vs Babies are certainly not for everyone. They have had some minor push-back from cat lovers and advocates due to the violent title, despite Inman’s claim that the game is “pro-cat” and the true objective of the game is to save the cats. With Bears vs Babies, there is currently no such claim. The horrible babies are clearly designated as the enemy and they must be eaten.
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