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Official Cat in The Box Rules

Cat in the Box is a fun and lighthearted trick taking card game with a touch of chaos, perfect for 2-5 players. Here's how to play:

Objective

  • Be the first player to collect a specific number of cats (usually 7) in your stable (your designated area in front of you). You'll achieve this by acquiring cat cards and strategically using magic cards to your advantage, while hindering your opponents' progress.


Components:

  • Deck of Cat Cards: These cards depict different colored cats with varying point values.

  • Deck of Magic Cards: These contain instant-use, upgrade, and downgrade cards that affect gameplay.

  • Player boards (optional): These boards help keep track of collected cats and used tokens.

  • Player tokens (optional): Used to mark collected cat colors/numbers on your player board.

Setup

1. Gather players: "Cat in the Box" is typically played with three to five players.


2. Each player receives a set of cards representing cats and a set of cards representing empty boxes. Each player should have the same number of cat cards and empty box cards.

Gameplay

1. Beginning of Turn (Optional): You can play a special card with a "beginning of turn" effect if you have one in your stable.

  • Draw Phase: Draw one card from the cat deck and add it to your hand.

  • Action Phase: This is the core part of your turn where you can take one of these actions:

    • Play a Cat Card: Play a cat card from your hand face up to your stable. Each cat has a point value.

    • Play a Magic Card: Play a magic card from your hand. These can be:

      • Instant: These have immediate effects and are discarded after use (e.g., steal a cat from another player's stable).

      • Upgrade: Place this card on a cat in your stable to enhance its abilities (e.g., double its point value).

      • Downgrade: Place this card on a cat in another player's stable to weaken it (e.g., reduce its point value).

2. End of Turn Phase: Discard one card from your hand face down to the discard pile.

Special Rules:

  • Player Tokens (Optional): If using player boards and tokens, whenever you play a cat card, place a token on the corresponding color and number on your board to track your collection.

  • Neigh Cards (Optional): Some variations include optional "Neigh" cards. If a player is targeted by a negative magic card (downgrade or steal), other players can play Neigh cards to negate that effect. Neigh cards can sometimes lead to mini-bidding wars to determine if the magic card takes effect.

  • Unstable! Rule: If a player reaches the required number of cats in their stable at any point (including through magic card effects), they win the game immediately, regardless of whose turn it is.

  • Deck Runs Out: If the cat deck runs out before a player reaches the required number of cats, the player with the most cats (or the highest total point value of cats) in their stable wins. If there's a tie, compare the total point value of all cats in the tied stables. The higher point value wins. If still tied, everyone loses (bummer!).

Winning the Game

  • Be the first player to have the required number of cats (usually 7) in your stable.

  • Alternatively, win by having the most cats (or the highest total point value of cats) in your stable if the deck runs out.

Notes/Variations

  • There are many expansion packs available for Cat in the Box, introducing new cat and magic cards with unique abilities and themes.

  • The game can be lighthearted and silly or quite strategic depending on the playgroup.

  • Cat in the Box is a fun and chaotic game that can provide hours of entertainment for friends and family.

"Cat in the Box" by Bezier Games is a game of deduction and bluffing, where players must try to read their opponents' intentions while keeping their own hidden information secret. Enjoy the challenge of outsmarting your opponents and collecting the most valuable cats!

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