lockdown card games

The pandemic has forced many of us to stay at home, whether we work at home or shelter in place. And there’s only so many Netflix shows you can watch before going stir crazy – or you’re forced to watch the chick flix. Now is the time to break out some fun and funny card games and grab a few friends or family members.

Some of the following card games can be played solo while others are fun for the whole family. So, turn that lockdown upside down with the best card games to play while stuck at home. The friendly art of competition will result in fun, laughter, and a satisfying social experience during these times of social distancing.

Exploding Kittens

Have you seen enough social media kitty memes to make you cough up a hairball on your keyboard? Would you like to channel some of that pent up pandemic rage into a harmless* card game? Then Exploding Kittens is the game for you.

Brought to you by the makers of the bizarre comic strip The Oatmeal, Exploding Kittens is like Russian Roulette – with playing cards. The rules are simple: if you draw an exploding kitten card: you explode, you die, you’re out of the game, and all your friends will laugh at you.

Unless you happen to draw one of several special cards which allow you to put the pin back in the feline grenade, like special ‘defuse cards’ or skip-a-turn cards. Defuse the exploding kitten card with a laser pointer defuse card, which naturally distracts the kitten, so it doesn’t explode. There are also catnip cards, kitty yoga cards, tacocat (a palindrome!), and hairy cat potatoes.

Brought to you by the wise sages at The Oatmeal, who predicted the lockdown long ago with the brilliant comic about the pros and cons of working at home.

(*No actual kittens are harmed during the playing of this game.)

Cards Against Humanity

If you remember the game called Mad Libs, where you fill in the blanks with awkward and hilarious nouns and verbs, Cards Against Humanity ups the ante. Billed as “A party game for horrible people,” CAH promises to be as despicable and awkward as you and your friends.

Simultaneously described as ‘uproarious,’ ‘absurd,’ ‘snarky,’ ‘unforgiveable,’ ‘horrible,’ and ‘stupid,’ Cards Against Humanity brings out our most politically incorrect urges. Laughter, groans, and madcap high jinks ensues.

One player reads a sentence from a black card, and everyone reads the most awkward, hilarious, or stupid answer from one of their white cards. A fairly innocuous question like ‘The only things for certain in life are death and ___’ takes on a wild twist when someone answers ‘A greased-up Matthew McConnaughey’ or ‘The way white people is.’

This card game is not for the politically correct crowd or children. Plenty of F-bombs will be dropped, insulting taboos laid bare, and your scruples may not survive unscathed. But it might just release all that pent-up tension resulting from lockdown.

One of the best parts of CAH is that you can download a pdf version of the game and print it for free at home. All you need is a printer, paper, toner, and scissors. And Bob’s your ____. Uncle, fetus, powdered man-baby.

The Big Lockdown

It was only a matter of time before somebody made a card game that was about the lockdown itself. A British couple grew tired of the usual Netflix and baking marathons and came up with a unique way to pass the time: The Big Lockdown card game.

Billed as celebrating hoarding and hygiene, The Big Lockdown is fun for the whole family. Like Exploding Kittens, this game started off as a Kickstarter campaign and spread (ahem) virally from there.

The game features risk-based choices: staying in vs. going out, and each one has a built-in risk vs. reward balance. Avoid the nasty virus cards while stockpiling toilet paper, working from home, and/or home schooling your chilluns. Build the most valuable stockpile while avoiding the evil virus to win.

The creators designed the game as a creative way to deal with the stress of lockdown by exposing the dark humor behind human behavior. Why do we think toilet paper is the most important resource on the planet for lockdown? Um…without food, there’s no need for t.p.

The card artwork features plenty of awkward and humorous situations, from using a laptop on the loo to being stuck outside and forced to pee in a bush. Maybe this is where the obsession with the mighty bog roll came from.


Okay, so maybe you’re not stuck indoors with friends and family. If you’re on your own, you can always grab a standard deck of cards and play solitaire.

There are many versions of solitaire you can play these days, so there’s always a way to shake things up a bit if the original game gets a little boring.

For the ultimate re-branding of this card classic, why not order up a deluxe set of cards with quirky designs? You can find hundreds of different takes on the classic card backs.

For photography enthusiasts, you can order a card set where the face cards are holding cameras or shooting the perfect nature shot. One deck of photography cards even has helpful photo tips on each card. Think of it as a 52-card cheat sheet for taking better photos.

The number of specialty-themed cards is too exhaustive to list here, so a quick Google search of your favorite theme or hobby is bound to yield results. And if you can’t find exactly the kind of card theme you want, many card printing companies offer a custom order option; just supply the photos and ideas for the cards. They’ll do the rest.

Let’s Play!

The last year has been very stressful for all of us. We are not used to being cooped up in isolation with no social contact. Even a comfortable prison is a prison, so why not make the most of the lockdown and have some fun with these card games?

We’re social animals, and we need greater amounts of real personal contact than Zoom or Skype can give us. Fortunately, these lockdown card games are the perfect way to relieve stress, have a laugh with your friends and family, and chase away the isolation blues.

Shuffle the cards!


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Jean Carter is from Oakland, California and studied jewelry design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco, California. After graduation, and pining for a warmer climate, Jean relocated to the Tule Springs suburb of Las Vegas, where she owns and operates her own online jewelry boutique incorporating traditional native American styles with her own unique designs. A true fan of the sophistication and glamor of Las Vegas casino life, Jean is also a freelance blogger specializing in all things suave and fashionable surrounding the casino lifestyle.