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Latest From ‘Exploding Kittens’ Creators Tosses Burritos, Players Into Mix

Throw Throw Burrito,” the latest creation from the team behind massively popular tabletop game “Exploding Kittens” is a little bit Uno, a little bit dodge ball. It’s also the next step in the duo’s efforts to get people away from their screens and enjoying more face-to-face time with friends and family.

“‘Exploding Kittens’ lets us all sit around the table and enjoy time with each other,” said Elan Lee, one of the creators of the game. “This is the next step. What happens if we stand up and add a little bit of physicality.”

In the game, players sit around a table drawing and discarding cards in a circle with up to four other players as they work to match three like cards. Every set of three earns a point, but match three burritos and the game quickly gets physical.

Players grab one of the two included plush burritos and attempt to hit the other one with it. The way in which that can happen and how many people are involved in the prescribed food fight depends on the sort of burrito cards matched.

The food fight wraps up once one person is hit with a plush, earning a negative point “burrito bruise” token. The game ends once the pile of those tokens is divvied out among the players.

It’s that movement when card game transitions into food fight that makes “Throw Throw Burrito” such an unusual offering for the tabletop gaming set.

Matthew Inman, who created the game with Brian Spence and long-time collaborator Lee, said those fights are where the real magic happens. The card players — typically used to sitting around a table drawing and discarding — are suddenly leaping for stuffed burrito, running for cover, stalking each other around the house.

“We played a match where a friend ran into the other room and built a couch fort to deflect shots,” Inman said. “That’s probably against the rules, but that’s not what matters. I got a 45-year-old man to build a couch fort.”

“Throw Throw Burrito” actually relatively few, straight-forward rules. It was designed so a 7-year-old could explain how to play in a few minutes, the two said. For the record, there is no couch fort rule.

“We don’t explicitly say ‘No pillow forts,’ because how terrible would it be to have a rule against pillow forts?” Inman said.

Kickstarting a Tabletop Renaissance
It was about four years ago that Lee, once a creative officer at Xbox, decided to move away from high tech video games and into the world of constructed tabletop games, teaming up with Inman — creator of comics website The Oatmeal — to create “Exploding Kittens.”

Lee said he was inspired to create that first game after seeing his nephews and nieces “glued” to a screen while playing video games and realizing how isolating that form of play could be.

“One of the big things that was really important to both of us,” Inman said, “ is that we are spending so much time staring at screens. Matt and I both love video games and spend a ton of time playing them. I was working on Xbox making those games that was taking up so much of my time and friends’ time and family’s time. We wanted to figure out how we could pull people away from their screens and toward each other. ‘Exploding Kittens’ lets us all sit around the table and enjoy time with each other.”

The decision to dip into tabletop games came at the right time. Over the past four years, tabletop gaming has been undergoing a renaissance of sorts. The global board games market size is expected to reach more than $12 billion by 2023.

In the years since, Exploding Kittens — now a company as well as a card game — has sold more than eight million copies of the game. For the past four years in a row, the game has also dominated the top five spots on the Amazon Prime Day Toys and Games Best Seller list.

“When we launched ‘Exploding Kittens’ most people thought of ‘Uno’ or ‘Monopoly,’ maybe ‘Cards Against Humanity’ when they thought of tabletop games. “

After seeing success with “Kittens,” the two found another Kickstarted tabletop game hit with “Bears vs. Babies.”

Then about six months ago friend Brian Spence came to the two with a new idea that combined a card game with dodge ball. Two group worked on the concept for about six months, creating art, rules, and refining the experience. On Tuesday, the launched a modest Kickstarter for “Throw Throw Burrito.”

“Throw Throw Burrito”
“Throw Throw Burrito” hit its $10,000 goal in 16 minutes, by 2 p.m. that pledge amount was up to more than $200,000. In the 30 minutes the two chatted with Variety,  the Kickstarter pulled in another $45,000. The pledged funds were up to $425,000 as of this writing.

A big part of the game’s success on Kickstarter is surely tied to the duo’s history and success with previous games, but there’s also something very inviting about a card game that includes zinging your friends with the hard toss of a smiley-faced burrito.

That element of the game also, Lee notes, makes a card game that is as fun to watch as it is to play.

“It’s something we’ve never seen before,” he said. “At game night you’re playing cards and then it’s no fun to watch if you are eliminated. It’s not a spectator sport. But this is just as fun to play as it is to watch.

“You’re watching people throwing, diving, hiding under tables.”

Gameplay can get so vigorous that Lee and Inman even came up with a “small room” rule, which forces players to pass the burrito behind their backs before the mayhem starts in hopes of preventing collateral damage.

While the basic game comes with two burritos, the two said that a lot of testers have been combining two sets, boosting the burrito count to four and the card count to 160 cards.

There’s another way players can expand the card count for the game. “Throw Throw Burrito” has a series of stretch goals, additional content added to the game if certain goals are meant.

But instead of tying these goals to a pledged dollar amount — currently it’s at $435,000 — the team decided to do something a bit more fun.

Starting Wednesday, “Throw Throw Burrito” will kick off what it’s calling a “Burrito Bowl.” The goal of the bowl is for fans to take pictures doing a bunch of crazy burrito-themed things. The more photos taken, the more stuff the team will add to the game, no extra spending needed.

The details will be revealed Wednesday, but some asks will include images or videos showing how far you can throw and catch a burrito, or how far up into space you can get a burrito, or dressing a baby or pet as a burrito. Tagging the entry with the hashtag throwthrowburrito will count it as an “entry.”

Once the community turns in enough entries, it unlocks a stretch goal.

The first stretch goal increases the number of cards in every game, bumping it up from 80 to 100.

The second stretch goal will upgrade all of the throwable burritos to a slow rise foam that is “crazy expensive.” The third stretch goal will up the game from a five-player to a six-player max with more cards, tokens, and change in the rules.

Then there is a final, secret upgrade that the two didn’t want to announce just yet.

The entry count to unlock the goals hasn’t been locked down yet, beyond the first goal which is 100.  The rest will be figured out later this week, they said.

It sounds like the two are fairly confident all of those goals will be met.

“This is a little bit faster than anything we have done before,” Lee said, of the day’s rocketing Kickstarter success.

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