Tacocat Game Print and Play

Tacocat Game – Print & Play Instructions

A Prototype by Elan Lee & Matthew Inman

Please feel free to post and share. All feedback and notes welcome: Twitter – @elanlee

For questions or help, please contact support@explodingkittens.com

Players: 2

Duration: 10 minutes

Materials Required:

  • Printer to print the gameboard

  • 7 Sticky Notes or scraps of paper (and scissors)

  • Deck of standard poker cards

  • Sharpie

  • Figurine (Tacocat backpack hanger, a penny, a small piece of cheese, etc.)


  • Print the gameboard

  • Put one sticky note on each of the seven tiles on the gameboard.  (Cut the sticky notes or scraps of paper to match the size of each tile (rough is fine).  Then move each of the sticky notes next to each of the seven tiles.)  The idea here is to have a sticky note or piece of paper that you can easily use to cover up each of the seven tiles that make up the board.

  • Create the deck:



1 (ace)



















  • Because a standard deck of cards will not have enough 3s, 4s, 5s, or 6s, use a sharpie to mark other cards in the deck to create the correct amount.


Move the figurine all the way towards you, onto your own Tacocat.


  1. Put the board in between the two players. (The board is made up of 7 tiles leading to two Tacocats – one for each player at opposite sides of the board.)

  2. Start with all of the tiles uncovered. Make sure none of the tiles are covered up by your sticky notes to start.

  3. Place the figurine on the center tile of the board.  (The spot marked with the double arrow)

  4. Shuffle cards and deal 7 to each player.

  5. You can look at your cards but keep them secret.

  6. Put the rest of the deck next to the board.  This is the draw pile.  Leave some room on the other side of the board for a discard pile.


The game is played in rounds. Each time a player wins a round, they get to move the figurine one tile closer to their tacocat. Each round consists of several matchups.  In the first matchup, both players start with a hand of 7 cards.  If it’s your turn to attack, you can play any card in your hand by playing it face up in front of you.  When your opponent is being attacked, they must do one of the following:

  • WIN the matchup by playing a card from their hand of equal value or higher.

  • LOSE the matchup by playing the LOWEST card in their hand.

The player that won the matchup gets to attack first in the next matchup, but first put the used cards face down in the Discard Pile.

Continue playing matchups until both players have only 1 card left.  Turn both of those cards face up at the same time.  Whoever has the lowest card wins the round and gets to move the figurine!  (This is why it’s bad to lose your lowest card each time you lose a matchup.)

NOTE: If you have a card that can be used to win, you do not have to play it. You can choose to lose the matchup if you think there is a strategic advantage to saving some of your better cards for later.

Group Attacks

If you have more than 1 of the same card in your hand, and it is your turn to attack, you can attack with the group of matching cards.  Your opponent must then individually Win or Lose against each of the cards as if they had been separate attacks. If your opponent loses against even one of the attacking cards, they lose the matchup and it is your turn to attack again.

Ex:You attack with 3 sevens.




Your opponent plays an 8 and a 7 to win against two of your sevens, but cannot win against the third 7, and must lose their lowest card – a 2.  It is now your turn to attack again because they lost against at least one of your attacks.




Attacking with groups of cards is a powerful strategy even when attacking with groups of weaker cards because you’re forcing your opponent to defend a bunch of cards in a row without getting to attack.  However, just because you have a group of cards does not mean you have to use them as a group.

NOTE: You cannot play your last card as part of a group.  You must keep 1 card at the end to determine who wins the round.


To start a round, (NOTE: a round is not the same as a matchup!) you must determine which player gets the advantage of attacking first. This is done via a Duel.  In a Duel, each player picks ONE CARD from their hand and places it face down in front of them.  Both players turn over these cards at the same time.  The player who played the highest card gets to attack first.

The tricky part is that the card you used in a Duel is no longer a part of your hand.  Collect both Duel cards and tuck them face down under the corner of the game board closest to the player who won (this will be used later for tie breaking).

If both players present the same card in the Duel, discard both cards and Duel again. 

(there is a chance you might continue to have tied Duels until each player only had one card left.  If this happens, just present your final card, and whoever has the lower card, wins the round.  If both final cards are the same, reshuffle and start the round again.)

Ties at the end of a Round

At the end of a round, if both players turn over cards with the same value, the player who has the Duel cards tucked under the corner of the playmat in front of them, wins the tie (and therefore wins the round.)

Card Swaps

Before each round begins, note the arrow on the tile the figurine is sitting on.  If the arrow is pointing at you, you get to discard any number of the cards dealt to you(anywhere from none to all of them) and replace them with new cards from the Draw Pile.  Your opponent can then swap UP TO the number of cards that you just swapped, but no more than you swapped. So if the arrow is pointing at you and you want to lock your opponent with the cards they were dealt, just announce that you don’t want to swap any of your cards.

For the very first round, the figurine sits on a tile with arrows pointing at both players.  This means that both players can swap as many cards as they would like.

NOTE: It’s usually a good idea to swap middle cards in the hopes that you can draw high cards (good for attacking) or low cards (good for winning at the end of the round.)

Moving the Figurine and Winning

At the end of a round, the winning player moves the figurine one tile closer to them.  So the figurine can move in either direction depending on which player wins the round. Any tile that the figurine moves off of should be covered with a sticky note and is no longer a part of the game.  (if the figurine ever moves to a tile that is covered, simply skip that tile and move to the next one instead.)  This means the board gets smaller and smaller as the game goes on.

At the end of a round, collect and shuffle all the cards so that you are always shuffling a completely full deck (36 cards) to start the next round.

When the figurine is moved to a new tile, the number on the tile indicates the number of cards to deal to each player for the next round.  The arrow on the tile indicates which player gets to decide how many cards can be swapped for that round.

When the figurine moves off the board and onto your tacocat, you win the game!

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