The 3 Slightly-Irreverent-Yet-Totally-Entertaining Card Games I Play with My Teens

published Apr 18, 2023
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Mother and teenage kids playing large board game on the table.
Shot with Canon R5
Credit: Imgorthand/Getty Images

My family loves a good game, and the wacky, goofy card games from The Oatmeal cartoonist Matthew Inman have become favorites, especially with my 11- and 14-year-old boys.

For those who don’t know Inman or The Oatmeal, it’s a webcomic he’s written since 2009, mostly using an infographic style to tell stories that range from wildly absurd to serious. He first launched into games with Exploding Kittens, for which he and his partners raised almost $9 million through Kickstarter. 

Since then they’ve created more games, some with multiple expansions, under the Exploding Kittens brand — all illustrated colorfully by Inman. The games are generally easy to learn, light and compact for easy travel, and just slightly irreverent (without being inappropriate), which makes for easy buy-in from kids who may drag their feet to play games with their parents. They’re also quick-playing, silly and often get you on your feet — perfect for teens who don’t want to sit still throughout the whole game.

Before I share my family’s three favorites, I should note that, while the board games are all rated as 7 years and up, some of Inman’s webcomics aren’t great for kids. Personally, I find them amusing and often insightful, but parents of younger ones should keep that in mind if they venture online!

 1. Exploding Kittens

The original game that kicked off the whole series, Exploding Kittens is a colorfully drawn card game described as “Russian roulette-style.” Players take turns drawing cards from the pile, hoping they don’t draw one of the exploding kittens. Meanwhile, they’re trying to build pairs of different kitten cards like Tacocat, Cattermelon, or Rainbow-Ralphing Cat. On top of that, they’re playing key cards that force others to take extra turns and saving diffuse cards (in case you draw an exploding kitten). One game only takes about 15 minutes to play.

Exploding Kittens is geared for ages 7 and up, and can be played by 2-5 people. It packs in up a small box for easy storage; it typically retails at $19.99.

2. Throw Throw Burrito

Throw Throw Burrito (and its companion Throw Throw Avocado) are fast-paced card games that involve getting up on your feet and tossing squishy soft characters at other players. Players draw cards from multiple piles simultaneously, trying to earn points by building trios of goofy animal cards with names like Floaty Goaty (a goat in little floaties), Barky Sharky (a four-legged shark) and Meow Cow (a feline-headed cow). Occasionally players will stumble upon Burrito Brawl or Burrito Duel cards, which spark races to grab the squishy burritos and toss them at other players.

The game is fast, a little frenetic and perfect for getting out some extra energy. It’s good for 2-6 players aged 7 and up, and retails at $24.99.

3. Poetry for Neanderthals

Poetry for Neanderthals is a word-guessing game in which players can only speak in single syllables. Teams take turns trying to get their partner to guess the word. And if they mess up? An opposing player will bop them over the head with an inflatable club. Think of it like Taboo, but with a club.

It’s a sure-fire win for kids who may be looking for an excuse to (hopefully kindly) bonk their siblings on the head with the club. And we’ve found that it has taught both of our boys creative ways to describe objects in monosyllabic terms. Just think of trying to describe a cow like that: “Big. Moo. Spots. Milk.”

Poetry for Neanderthals is good for players aged 7 and up, and can be played with 2-3 players, but it’s better with more people. It retails for $19.99.

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