I discovered Apples to Apples like we all do – at a dinner party, post dinner, with the wine a-flowin freely! Initially Apples to Apples sounded more like a 4th-grade grammar lesson than a game to me, but judge not lest ye be left out on your too-cool-for-school ass! Laura the Spendthrift Scribe recently wrote about Apples to Apples, but with Holiday Season coming upon us, I feel that this gem of a party game deserves a second and in depth shout out in our Broke Ass community.
Here’s how you play. There is a box of cards on the table â€“ red and green â€“ and each player is initially dealt seven red apple cards. The red apple cards each have a noun or noun phrase (like Waterfall, The CIA, Harriet Tubman, or Mad Cow Disease) on them. A judge (one chosen person) then picks up a green apple card (which each have an adjective like Fluffy, Sticky, Scintillating, or Chubby on them) and places it face up for everyone to see. Each player then looks at their hand of red-noun-cards and has to choose the â€œbest matchâ€ for the green-adjective-card the judge just put down on the table. And here’s where the fun kicks in! The judge is encouraged to be completely subjective, creative, funny, or interesting in choosing the best match. Insider knowledge of the judge’s personality, sense of humor, political beliefs, and preferences all go into helping a player win each round. The player who submits the chosen red apple card, then wins the round and takes the green apple card to signify the win. All players draw another red apple card, and the role of judge moves to the next player. The first player to accumulate a pre-designated number of green apple cards wins!
Sounds pretty simple, right? It is. Which is why so many variations have cropped up to complicate and enhance the game. For example, I’ve heard of people playing this game silently, but for my taste, that ruins the fun. The way I learned it, players are allowed to â€œanonymouslyâ€ defend or diss the red cards that were put down on the table as the judge reads them out to the group. This leads to riotous debates and ridiculous defense arguments that not only let you know more about the people you are playing with, but can get so heated and absurd, the entire table is dying with laughter! I’ve also heard of a time limit set for players choosing their red apple card to submit â€“ causing the last person to put down a card to be eliminated from that round. Frenzied game playing ensues. And I’m sure by now you have already thought of a hundred ways to turn this into a drinking game. Drink when a word starting with S is put on the tableâ€¦ Drink when a player says BUT! (or another chosen word or phrase)… Drink if you win the roundâ€¦ Drink if a historical figure is playedâ€¦ and on and on and on.
â€œOfficialâ€ Variations are also out there. If you are a frequent Apples to Apples player, these variations might add some well-needed spice to your next party. Here goes:
Apple Potpourri: Each player selects a red apple card from his or her hand before the judge turns over the green apple card. After the red apple cards are played, the judge turns over a green apple card. As usual, the judge then selects the winning red apple card.
Apple Traders: To stir things up, on each turn, each player selects one red apple card from his or her hand to pass on to the player on his or her left. Players pass the cards after drawing their seventh card but before the judge selects a green apple card.
Apple Turnovers: The roles of red and green cards are reversed, with players using adjectives to describe the given noun. This can be stymied by the relatively low number of green cards in the box (a third as many as reds).
Apples Eye View: The Judge must pick a red apple card based upon the point of view of somebody, or something else (a house cat, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Clinton, a speck of dust, etc). The player to the left of the Judge determines which point of view the Judge must use for that round.
Baked Apples: After each player plays one card, the judge lays them face up and, instead of announcing the winner, identifies the non-winning cards first, each time explaining why it was not selected. The role of judge passes on to the winner of each round.
Big Apples: Two or more players boasting that the judge will pick their card can agree to each wager one of their green apple cards. If the judge selects one of their red apple cards, that player wins the green apple card and all of the wagered green apple cards. If the judge does not pick one of their red apple cards, the wagered cards are forfeited to the bottom of the card stack.
Crab Apples: The red apple cards are judged on how unlike they are to the green apple card. The card least like the green apple card wins.
2 for 1 Apples: The judge turns over two green apple cards to start the round. Each player selects the red apple card from his or her hand that is best described by both green apple cards. After the judge selects a red apple card, both of the green apple cards are awarded to the winner.
Infinite Apples: Rather than playing to a set number of green apple cards, play stops whenever the players feel like stopping. The winner is the one with the greatest quantity of green apple cards.
Apple Timers: Rather than playing to a set number of green apple cards, play stops when a certain time limit has been reached. This is sometimes coupled with time limits on each round, for both submissions and judging of red apple cards. The winner is the player with the most green apple cards.
Along with being able to buy Party Crate Expansions #1 and #2, Apples to Apples comes in variations for Kids, Juniors, British Fanatics, Bible Lovers, Jewish Gamers, Junior Jewish Gamers, Yiddish Speakers, German Folks, and those On The Go.
PLUS here are links for the compulsive, potty-mouthed, or DIY types:
Template for making Custom Cards
This is a Photoshop PSD for making custom Apples to Apples cards (or translated cards). All text is editable. Font required is Myriad (or substitute with your favorite font). This template makes both Red and Green cards.
Yellow Apple Cards
Yellows Apples are dealt into the Green Deck. When they come up, they create a Global parameter that all players must follow (then flip over a Green card normally). Yellow cards can be played for one turn only, or until a new Yellow card comes up.
Three New Types of Green Cards
This file contains 7 pages of Green cards, ready to print and cut out. Included are 3 new types of Green Cards (Green Apple Turnovers, Most or Leasts, and Draw a new Hand Green cards)
In the madness of family dysfunction and holiday gloom, I recommend picking up a crate of this game to lighten the load. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself having a great time in spite of even your best efforts. Plus, this game will make a great gift for that one person you love but don’t know what to get them. Pair it with a bottle of Jack, and you’re golden!