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An overview of Explore & Draw

13th May 2021 0

Today I would like to give you a brief rules overview of The Isle of Cats Explore & Draw and let you know how it differs from the normal game.

Please keep in mind this is not a full explanation of the rules so you may have some questions at the end and I’m happy to answer them in the comments.

How it plays

Explore & Draw takes place over 7 days where you will be rescuing cats, finding treasures, and completing lessons while trying to fill your boat and dealing with a rat infestation.

There are 2 decks of cards, the green cat deck and the blue lesson deck, both decks also include treasure and Oshax cards.

On each day, you will place 12 cards (8 green, 4 blue) in a 4 x 3 grid, following a predefined pattern. This will present you with 4 combinations of cat, treasure, Oshax and lesson cards.

Next, players will choose a column of cards and resolve every card in their chosen column, they may choose the order they resolve them but must resolve them all.

Multiple players may choose the same column, and everyone does this at the same time. By the end of the game every player will have resolved 21 cards (7 rounds of choosing a column of 3 cards).

Lesson cards are marked off on your lesson sheet, giving you personal goals to score at the end of the game if you achieve them.

Cats, Oshax, and treasures are drawn onto your boat, the first can go anywhere, and the rest must touch a previously drawn shape.

Cats should be kept together as you will score points for cat families (3 or more cats of the same colour touching), treasures don’t score but help fill small gaps, and Oshax are special cats that can be drawn in any colour.

In addition to choosing a column, players have 5 specials of which they can choose to use 3 during the game, a maximum of 1 per round. Specials give you extra options such as selecting an extra card from another column, drawing a card twice, or choosing a row instead of a column.

Finally, you will find some cards have multiple things on them and will ask you to choose which of those things you would like, effectively giving you a 4th card within the column but only allowing you to take 3 of them.

The new experience

While your goals in Explore & Draw are very similar to those in The Isle of Cats, the journey is very different. You do not have fish to manage or cards to draft, but instead you get things in groups meaning you are more likely to get things you don’t want, alongside the things you do want.

You’ll need to manage your specials perfectly finding the exact time they give you the most benefit, and with everyone being able to choose the same cards, it will be completely up to you to play the best game possible if you want to win.

Explore & Draw can also be played with unlimited players if you print additional player sheets from the website, or merge multiple games together. Out of the box it has support for 6 players.

Solo mode

In the solo mode you will be battling your sister who is trying to claim credit for all your hard work. She will score points for the cats on your boat and has her own lesson cards which will score off your boat as well.

In the solo mode every decision you make will be a balance between what gives you points and what gives your sister points as you try and prove once and for all you are the better sibling!

What I love about the solo mode is you can win with a score of 1 or 100, it’s not about your points but whether you defeat your sister who comes with 5 difficulties. This makes it feel like a multiplayer game while playing solo.


The game comes with 6 player boats, 6 lesson sheets, 1 day tracker, 1 Vesh’s boat, 18 coloured pens, 108 cat deck cards, 47 lesson deck cards, 23 solo cards and 4 colour reference cards.

I have included a lot of extra cards, in a game you will only see 56 out of 108 cat deck cards, and 28 out of 47 lesson deck cards. This means you’ll have wildly different options each time you play keeping the game as fresh as possible for as long as possible.


I really enjoy Explore & Draw, I have played it hundreds of times over the last year and I’ve play tested it with over 1,000 people via Twitch and other streaming platforms. I am looking forward to playing it with you during the Kickstarter and will announce some stream dates soon.

Oh, and yes. Kittens are in the game too!

The Isle of Cats Explore & Draw will be on Kickstarter on May 25th and you can follow along here.

Frank West

Frank West is a gamer and designer based in Bristol, UK. He published his first board game, The City of Kings, in 2018 and now works on other games and organising events in the local area. His goal? To design and publish games focusing on immersive themes, fun mechanics and beautiful components. If you have any questions or would just like a chat, feel free to get in touch at any time!

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