Full disclosure: A review copy of Kitty Cataclysm was provided by Bez.
Alright, we’re back with another game from Bez! Bez has been sending games for about as long as I’ve been reviewing, with In a Bind (now Yogi) still occupying a soft spot in my Game Library for Incredibly Silly Party Games. It’s a good niche. Now she’s back with a new game and I gotta take a look, honestly. Let’s talk about Kitty Cataclysm, her latest title.
In Kitty Cataclysm, you’re going to mess with your opponents, a lot. It’s a funny game with a pretty choice selection of cat puns, but it’s certainly not kitten around. It may give you paws as the game passes by without much of a cat-chup mechanism, but it’s quick enough that a mew game will likely start immediately after the furst one ends. Will you be able to claw your way to a purrfect finish? Or will you end up at the tail end of the group, points-wise?
None. Shuffle the cards; deal each player 5:
You’re ready to start!
There’s not much to say here, either. On your turn, play a card from your hand and resolve its effect. It will usually be one (or more) of several things:
- Draw: Take additional cards from the deck.
- Steal: Take cards from other players. If you are Stealing more than one card, you may steal from multiple players.
- Donate: Give cards to other players. Like Steal, may be broken up.
- Discard: Discard cards from your hand.
Cards have point values on them, as well. Generally, there’s no hand limit, but some cards will punish players for having too many cards in their hands, so choose your move carefully!
The game ends when any player attempts to draw from the deck and it’s empty, or when any player cannot play any cards from their hand.
Total the values of the cards in your hand and your played cards in front of you (your “kitty”), and the player with the most wins!
Player Count Differences
Not much changes at higher player counts beyond having additional targets. I actually prefer that, if I’m being honest, since it’s easier to have players that will help keep other players in the game (and you have more, as I said, targets for your cat-based aggression). At lower player counts you just may not have anyone who can give out more cards, so once you’re out you’re out. That’s fine, too; makes for a quick game. If you like the high-chaos aspect of the game (which I would assume is why you picked up the game in the first place), I’d recommend playing at the higher end of the scale. At the lower end, it’s a bit easier to control what happens. Or, at least, it’s a bit easier to anticipate what’s going to happen.
- Set your opponents up. A major component of the game is giving other players cards, especially cards from your hand. One awesome combination you can do in this game is pass one opponent 3 cards and then pass your next opponent a Catastrophe or Cataclysm card (which will force opponents with too many cards in hand to lose all their cards). Usually, your opponent should take the hint. They might not if they think you’re in the lead, though!
- Always take the shot, if you can. It’s a short enough game that I think it’s worth it. Also, it’s just very fun to clown on a friend aggressively in short games. That’s part of why I liked the Lost Legacy series so much. I mean, worst case, they hold a grudge against you for a couple games, but that’s the nature of the beast when you’re playing short card games with a major emphasis on take-that and negative player interaction.
- Be careful about holding too many valuable cards. That’s putting a really appealing target on your back. They may come after your hand, which would cause you to lose your cards, or they may come after your kitty, which would put you in a really bad place, score-wise. Players may honestly just steal them, as well, and if you have too many then you’re essentially a golden goose for players to exploit. That’s, as you might surmise, not a particularly awesome outcome, so try to play your high-value cards every now and then.
- Make sure you always have some kind of plan. Even though it’s a very short, quick card game, you shouldn’t be playing essentially randomly. Try to keep a sense of who you want to go after and how you want to accomplish that goal; it’ll keep you grounded and help you a fair bit beyond the obvious “now I know what I want to do on my turn”. Just make sure your plan isn’t so rigid that disruptions will really mess with you.
- Try not to run out of cards. This isn’t necessarily the worst thing, if you’re in the lead and ending the game on your terms will result in your victory. If you’re not in the lead, you’ve now created a weird incentive system; the player in the lead will want you to stay at 0 cards so that they can end the game, and the player(s) not in the lead will want to keep giving you cards so that the game can continue. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to maintain the status quo like that, so unless you’re both very lucky and playing with a fairly large number of players, the game will still likely end soon after you run out of cards.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- It’s cats! I like cats a lot, so, naturally, a game about cats with art from Bez is usually enough to catch my eye. I also don’t own that many cat games. Just Kitty Paw, Cat Rescue, and Cat Cafe. Oh, and Cat Tower. And Fireworks. And Bubble Tea. Alright, a decent number of cat games.
- It’s fast! A game might take 30 seconds, but I’d be surprised if one took longer than 10 minutes. It’s very quick. It’s the kind of game you can play when someone else goes to the bathroom during game, if you … can’t wait, or something. It’s just a very fast game.
- Cat puns! So many cat puns. Some of the cat puns are even linked across cards, so it’s a rich thematic experience end-to-end.
- Whimsical art! Bez does a great job on art in general, and she does not disappoint, here. It’s exactly the art that it should be, for the game, in my opinion, and it’s generally a delight.
- Very portable! Just a stack of cards. Fits perfectly in a Quiver, or use the included box to take it in a bag or backpack.
- Easy to learn. You literally just play a card every turn, and the game ends when you can’t.
- Low-setup games are always nice. They’re much easier to get to the table every time, which I appreciate.
- Not always a ton to do on your turn. Sometimes you just don’t have particularly interesting cards. That’s not the worst, though, since it means your turns also tend to take less time, which is always nice.
- Dogpiling can happen a lot. It’s almost encouraged by the game, honestly. There’s a very good strategy around giving one player a lot of cards and giving another player your Cataclysm card so that they can just, clown that player. It’s not my favorite thing in the world, but it is really effective if you can pull it off successfully, which is nice.
- If you don’t like take-that, you’re going to hate this game. I mean, it’s basically the core of the game. You’re going to be stealing cards, filling up other players’ hands, and then forcing them to discard everything that they have. That’s just … the core cycle of the game. If that doesn’t sound like something you’re super excited about, then I’d recommend probably picking a different game to try. For me, it’s fine because it’s super short.
Overall: 7.25 / 10
Overall, Kitty Cataclysm is a very cute little game! I think it retain’s Bez’s well-known quirky style and makes for a quick little game that usually ends up with everyone laughing, which is always good. Bez has a solid eye for those style of games, and I definitely saw that when I played In A Bind (now Yogi). This is actually a good in-between point for Yogi and Wibbell; it showcases the humor and silliness that a lot of Bez’s work captures, but it’s simple and dynamic in a way that’s been well-informed by Wibbell. It’s a nice little game. I’m not the biggest fan of take-that in games and even I’m enjoying this when I play it, but I think that’s in part due to the fact that, well, that’s the game, right? It sets expectations and doesn’t violate them, which I appreciate. It also does a good job of making sure every player is on the same page. This isn’t a game that surprises you with take-that or messes up your engine; it’s a game where you’re supposed to clown on your friends with extreme prejudice. And it does that well. Add in some really lively and silly puns and art and you’ve got yourself a nifty little indie game! If that sort of thing sounds like it will be up your alley, honestly, it probably is, but I’d recommend trying out Kitty Cataclysm!