Unexploded Cow: Blow Them Sky High! | Casual Game Revolution

Unexploded Cow: Blow Them Sky High!

Unexploded Cow

The cows are mad and there are bombs to explode…so why not solve one problem with the other? Send your herd in to explode the bombs and earn money from the grateful citizens.

Unexploded Cow is published by Cheapass Games and designed by James Ernest and Paul Peterson. It's a blend of card and dice game full of lots and lots of very mad cows.


The city deck is shuffled and the top city card is revealed. The main deck is also shuffled and each player is dealt a starting hand of three cards. Each player is also given 5,000 francs. Each player has to start the game by adding 500 francs to the pot. If the pot ever runs out, everyone will have to add another 500.

On your turn you start by drawing two cards. You may then play as many cards as you wish and then make a bomb roll.

There are two types of cards: cows and events. When you play a cow, you can either add it to your herd or to another player’s herd. A herd is the line of cows that are face-up in front of you on the table. Each cow card says how much it costs to play and how much money it will earn you if it blows up while in your herd. The player whose herd a cow is played into must pay its cost into the pot. You may only rearrange the order of the cows in your herd on your turn during the playing card phase. When you add cows to an opponent’s herd you may only place them on either end.

Event cards often also cost money to play and have special abilities such as allowing you to draw more cards or move cows between herds.

When you make a bomb roll, you roll the die. If you roll a six, you pass the die onto the next player in turn order, who then rolls it. When one through five is rolled, the player who rolled it starts with the cow on the far right of his herd and moving left, counts up to the die’s result. If he reaches the end of his herd, he keeps counting into the next player’s herd. The final cow landed on explodes — it is discarded and earns the player whose herd it was in the amount shown on its card (the money is taken from the pot). There are also some bad cows that actually cost their owners money when they explode.

There are also a few special cows, such as the spy, who always belongs to the player that originally played it, regardless of whose herd it is in or who paid for it, or the mechanic who can disarm a bomb if it lands on it rather than exploding, earning you 200 francs and not getting discarded.

If a cow that you own blows up on your turn, you also get the current city card. These cards give you a special reward when you earn one, such as more cards or more money from the pot. A new city card will then be drawn at the start of the next turn.

Once all the city cards have been claimed, you move into the final sudden death round in which no more cards are played, and cow herds cannot be rearranged. You just take turns making bomb rolls, exploding cows, and earning money until there is no more money left in the pot or there are no more cows on the table. If there is still money in the pot when the final cow explodes, it takes all the remaining money. The player with the most money at the end of the game wins.

Unexploded Cow components


Unexploded Cow has a purposely silly theme and the gameplay is quite interesting and is an excellent blend of luck, strategy, and using the one to try to balance the other. You have to play cows to make money, but those very cows also cost money to play. Balancing that can be tricky, especially when other players can force you to pay for unwanted cows by playing them into your herd.

Cow abilities can be important — you can try to stop bombs from exploding with certain cows, control when certain cows explode to make you more money, or decide when to keep them around for less. The city card abilities can also be quite helpful if you can capture one on your turn.

Because you always count out bomb rolls from the right side of your herd and move towards the left, the order you arrange your cows has to be considered, as well. You can also take this order into account when playing spies or even when figuring out which of your own cows you want to have a more likely chance of exploding on an opponent’s turn.

There is still quite a bit of luck in this game, and certainly a fair amount of take-that through the event cards. The event cards keep things more unpredictable and allow for more shenanigans and manipulation of the herds. This can be both fun and frustrating depending on circumstances.

The theme is very silly and not meant to be taken seriously, but it is possible that some players might not like the idea of purposefully sending in their cows to their doom. It absolutely is portrayed as being ridiculous and silly and meant to be taken that way, but your cows are still going to die. The artwork in this game is so well done, however. The cows have so much character, and there’s quite a lot of variety in the artwork.

All of these factors come together into an enjoyable game that’s quite easy to learn and play, but with fun gameplay choices that are all about trying to minimize the luck of the roll and setting yourself up to optimize your money usage.

Pros: Artwork and characters, balancing when to save money and when to spend it, lots of player interaction

Cons: The event cards can be a little heavy on the take-that element, the theme may not land for everyone

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.