Playing Apples to Apples
If you are a game player, then you have probably heard of Apples to Apples. The game started as an independent game published by Out of the Box Publishing and was quickly swept up by the folks at Mattel. Since then, it has become a party game staple, and most groups of game players go through a phase where all everyone wants to do is play Apples to Apples. This is mostly because the rules and winning conditions are so loose, you can play until someone reaches the allotted amount of points, create a new point level, or just play until you are bored.
How to Play Apples To Apples - Instructions and Rules
The premise is fantastically simple, which is the reason it has become such a best seller. Every player is dealt seven 'Red Apples,' which are cards that have various items, famous people, and events listed on them. The choices on these cards range from the obvious and sweet (family, love, candy), the specific (Margaret Thatcher, Michael Jackson, the World Series), and the odd or macabre (a black hole, Adolf Hitler, your mom).
The first player is declared the judge. It doesn't matter who plays the judge first, as everyone will get tons of chances to hold the position, so draw lots to see who starts or just wait until someone says that they'll do it. The judge then flips over the second deck of cards, also known as the 'Green Apples'. Green cards have descriptors on them, like scary, jealous, or honorable.
Each of the other players now tosses in the card that they feel best represents that word. They do this face down, and all of the cards are shuffled so that anonymity is preserved. When everyone is in, the judge takes all the cards and reads them aloud.
The real fun of the game begins here. The judge's job is to vote on which one of the other players' cards fits best with the adjective. Depending on how, and who, you are playing with, can make this be brutally short as they silently look through the list and just pick one, but a lot more laughs will be had if they read them aloud and make comments as they go.
Whomever's card is chosen gets the keep the green card, everybody draws back up to seven, and the next player becomes judge. When one player gets to a certain amount of green cards, the game is over and she is the winner.
Apples to Apples rules are simple, huh?
Apples To Apples Strategy Tips
Apples to Apples is much more about socializing than it is about winning. I've seen games go on for hours, with people having stacks of green cards in front of them. Then, the end of the game happens, and everybody cleans up without declaring a winner. The real fun comes from laughing about everybody's choices and playing to the judge. There is nothing wrong with a little coaxing, either.
This doesn't mean that you can't use a little bit of Apples to Apples strategy when playing. After a round or two, you should start to catch on which judges like which kind of answers. Some are going to go for the most clearly representative of the word. When the green is 'Patriotic' you know that unless you have 'American Flag' in your hand, you aren't going to win. Other folks are going to really love odd and silly answers. The more outrageous the better! Green cards like 'Delicious' might be responded to with 'Mother Teresa' or 'The Berlin Wall'. Once you know the judges a bit better, you can start playing to their strengths, giving the best answer for them, specifically.
The only other noted Apples to Apples strategy is the infamous throw away round. This is the round where multiple players have nothing that relates to the green card. A word like 'tantalizing' can really stump people, so they just throw whatever card they have that hasn't been useful at all. This can lead to an amusing time when you sit and try and piece together the answers, and a frustrating time for the judge.
Apples To Apples Game Variations & Variants
With a game as simple as Apples to Apples, you are bound to come up with unending variations all on your own, but here are a couple that have been favorites around my gaming table.
Drunken Apples - This version should only be played with responsible adults, or at least by irresponsible adults who aren't driving. Along with the judge picking the best card, they also pick the worst card. Whomever played the worst card has to take a shot of whatever the drink of the house is.
Bobbing for Apples - An interesting way to play is to let people bid on who they think is going to be the winner. This can make the game heated, as some people will want to play with real money, where others will just want to bid their green apple cards. Placing bids like, 'I think my card is going to be the best' and then having other players choose to bet against them can add a real level of intensity to the game.
2 for 1 Apples - This, and a few other variants, can be found inside the expansion box of cards. Instead of flipping one green card, the judge flips two. This makes the card selection even harder, especially when you are trying to fit together two different descriptors. The results of this game tend to be some of the strangest when you get two descriptor cards that are completely opposite of each other.
Sudden Death - This sounds a lot more dramatic than it is. When you have all decided to stop playing, instead of just packing it all up, don't draw anymore red cards. The game will last seven more rounds, and it will make the last few card plays that much more fun and strange. You'll see that many people have been holding onto some real great cards, waiting for their moment to shine.
Apples to Apples has become a true classic of boardgames, adding an interesting dynamic of seeing how you and your friends think, and guaranteeing a fun time. It is the type of game that you want to keep a copy of in your car to make sure that, no matter the time or place, you are never left with nothing to do.