Games People Play: Apples to Apples

7 Jan

Games People Play was one of the write-in votes on my poll from last week about what I should name my new game review feature. I assume everyone would have voted for it if I’d been clever enough to think of it in the first place, so I’m going with it. For the first installment, I’ve reviewed Apples to Apples, a game often described by its creators as “hilarious” and “outrageous.” Demonstrable fact or obvious overstatement? Read on to find out!

Apples to Apples

Game play: Players draw seven red cards, each with a noun on it. Nouns range from “Hillary Clinton” to “My Bedroom.” For each round, one player serves as the judge. The judge draws a green card, which has an adjective on it – maybe “spicy” or “elegant.” Each player throws down one red noun card from their hand to “match” the adjective. The judge decides which noun fits best and awards a point to the person who chose it. It’s completely subjective, so part of the game is figuring out what the judge is going to like best. Some judges are literal, others go for abstract connections, some go for cheap jokes.

Variations: Only, like, a million. Try having the judge select two green adjectives, and challenge players to find the noun that goes with both. Let players attempt to sway the judge by advocating for their card. Or, use the cards for an entirely different game. Select a group of adjectives and nouns that describe a mutual friend or a celebrity, and have players guess who you’re thinking of.

Fussiness: Minimal. You need a giant stack of cards, and you need to keep the red ones separated from the green ones. I suppose this game is not good for color blind people.

This game is fun for: People who like nouns, adjectives, patterns, non sequiturs, silliness, dissonance, and historical and contemporary cultural references. It’s also fun for those who enjoy matchmaking, categorizing, making connections, armchair psychology, and laughing.

Risk of making someone feel bad: Low. There are no “right answers” in Apples to Apples, and no one is ever put on the spot. In fact, no skill is involved whatsoever. I suppose if the judge drew the “Tragic” card, and you threw down “My Haircut” because the judge had recently been involved in a terrible salon experience, that might make them feel embarrassed (in Apples to Apples, whenever the noun begins with “My,” it refers to the judge). Otherwise, though, this is a safe bet for sensitive game players.

How to cheat: Bribery. Reverse psychology. Mind control.

Benefits of playing: This is a great game for getting to know people better, so try it with colleagues or new friends. I think it probably stimulates creativity, and it certainly sparks good conversation. It will also help you understand the difference between a noun and an adjective, if that’s an issue for you. You’re on your own with verbs.

Upgrades: Check out the fancy party crate edition for your more sophisticated soirees.

Verdict: Red card = Apples to Apples. Green card = Hilarious.


One Response to “Games People Play: Apples to Apples”


  1. Game On: An Interview with James Brady of Cloud Cap Games « Everybody’s Invited! - June 26, 2011

    […] some party games (like Apples to Apples [Editor's note: I previously reviewed Apples to Apples here], Dixit, or Telestrations) or some short card games, especially ones with a sense of humor (like […]

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