APPLES TO APPLES
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
The game “Apples to Apples,” published by Out of the Box Games, has been available for a couple of years. In additional to the basic set, the company has produced four expansions, a set aimed at children and a set aimed at children aged 9 and up. The company has now boxed up the basic set and the first two expansions to create the Apples to Apples Crate set.
“Apples to Apples” is a card game playable by four or more people. Each person holds a hand of red cards, representing, for the most part, nouns. Taking turns, each player takes a turn as judge, selecting a green card (with an adjective on it) and reads off the word. The other players hand the judge the red card in their hand which most closely matches the adjective and the judge then decides the winner, handing the green card to the person who played the winning card. The first person to collect seven cards (it varies depending on the number of people playing) wins.
What makes “Apples to Apples” so much fun, as well as infuriating, is when a player does not have a red card that fits and must decide what they effectively want to discard. However, since the winner of the round is based entirely on the opinion of one person (the judge), which can vary wildly from person to person, it is completely possible for a “throw-away” card to win.
With a thousand cards in the Crate edition, players will have no trouble finding cards they are familiar with, however there is always the chance that someone will find a red card in his/her hand which is unfamiliar to the player. Fortunately, the minds at Out of the Box Games have provided short descriptive text on the bottom of each card, often of an humorous nature, to help define the card. In the case of the red cards, this is a short sentence or two. For the green cards, the text is a listing of three synonyms. Part of the fun of the game is reading this text.
The game comes with numerous variants. Perhaps the most common is to ignore one of the standard rules. According to the rules, the last person to submit a card to the judge does not have their card considered. While this helps speed up play, especially for large groups, with smaller groups it is detrimental to the game. Similarly, it makes for a slightly less friendly game, especially if one or two of the players are consistently the slowest. However, the game rules are dynamic enough that this difficulty can be easily overcome.
Game playing times can vary dramatically depending on the number of players, the manner of play, and the number of cards needed to win. Explaining the reasons for discarding the non-winning cards adds to both the pleasure of the game, as well as the length of time to play the game. While the game can be played by as few as four people, the larger the group (within reason) the more fun and I’ve played enjoyable games with as many as twelve players.
For people who don’t feel comfortable playing trivia games, “Apples to Apples” offers a game in which opinion, rather than esoteric knowledge, is the required skill. Furthermore, players who know the other plays in the game, and therefore can “play to the judge” are more likely to be able to win than those who don’t. “Apples to Apples” is a game which can provide fun for numerous people repeatedly.
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