Apples To Apples Review: A Refreshing Party Game


Have you ever pondered the whimsical charm of wordplay and the joy of spontaneous humor? If you have, you’re in for a treat. Welcome to our Apples to Apples review, where we dig into the heart of a game that brilliantly encapsulates both. As a self-proclaimed board game aficionado, I’ve spent countless hours huddled around tables, exploring fantasy realms, building empires, and cracking codes. But there’s always been something special about Apples to Apples. This game doesn’t just create laughter; it crafts memories.

I first discovered Apples to Apples as a teenager, and it quickly became a staple at family gatherings and game nights with friends. There’s a certain magic to it, an intangible allure that has lured me back time and time again, even as my board game collection has grown and diversified.

Why this review, and why now? Amidst the grandeur of sprawling strategic board games, the charm and simplicity of Apples to Apples seems to have taken a back seat in recent conversations. It’s time we rediscovered the game that turned nouns and adjectives into a delightful playground of wit, laughter, and unexpected connections.

Apples To Apples Review

Our Apples to Apples review promises an in-depth exploration, a nibble into its engaging gameplay, a bite into its art and components, and a full crunch into its replayability, strategic depth, and unique player interaction. We’ll uncover how a game of nouns and adjectives manages to bring people together, spark laughter, and create an experience that’s as refreshingly delightful as biting into a juicy apple. Let’s get started.

Just The Facts

Here’s a quick snapshot of Apples to Apples:

Game TitleApples to Apples
DesignerMatthew Kirby and Mark Alan Osterhaus
PublisherOut of the Box Publishing (1999), now published by Mattel
ThemeParty Game
GenreCard Game, Word Game
Target AudienceFamilies, Parties, Social Events
Age Range12 and up
Number of Players4 to 10
Game Duration30 to 75 minutes
Complexity LevelLow
Game ObjectiveTo win the most rounds by playing the card that best matches the judge’s card
Difficulty LevelEasy
Similar GamesCards Against Humanity, Dixit
AwardsMensa Select (1999), Party Game of the Year by Games magazine (1999)
Release Date1999

Game Overview

Apples to Apples is an entertaining and straightforward card game that revolves around witty associations and whimsical comparisons. The game consists of two types of cards: Red Apple Cards, adorned with nouns or noun phrases, and Green Apple Cards, boasting an adjective or description. Each round, one player becomes the judge and plays a Green Apple Card from their hand, setting the stage for the round’s theme.

The game’s objective is simple: to win rounds by playing the Red Apple Card from your hand that you think the judge will select as the best match for their Green Apple Card. This, however, is where the fun begins. Whether it’s an absurd association, an unexpected connection, or even an inside joke among friends, the best card isn’t always the one that matches the word’s literal meaning. The target audience for this game is broad, spanning from teenagers to adults, and accommodating large groups, with a player count ranging from 4 to 10 players.

As we embark on this in-depth review of Apples to Apples, let’s ensure that we sink our teeth into every aspect of the game, from its components and artwork to its strategic depth and replayability. Prepare to savor the delightful, hilarious, and occasionally outrageous world of Apples to Apples.

Components and Artwork

Apples to Apples is a card game at heart, and its components reflect that. The game comes with two decks of sturdy cards — one of red cards (nouns) and one of green cards (adjectives). The cards are robust and have a satisfying feel to them, with a good thickness and gloss finish that can withstand repeated shuffling. Each card is clearly readable, with the noun or adjective printed boldly against a minimalistic background that reflects the color of the card type.

The game’s artwork is minimal, focusing more on readability than embellishment. That said, the design isn’t lacking charm or appeal. The aesthetic stays true to its simple theme, embracing a clean and clear presentation that allows players to focus on the text, which is the game’s main ingredient. The game’s box and cards are adorned with vibrant, playful illustrations of apples that match the overall fun and lively feel of the game.

From an artistic standpoint, Apples to Apples isn’t trying to dazzle with intricate art or detailed miniatures. Instead, it opts for a clean, functional design that aligns with the game’s nature. The game components are durable, and the design, though simple, adds to the overall experience by keeping the focus on the game’s main draw — playful comparison and jovial banter.

Gameplay Experience

Setting up a game of Apples to Apples is as easy as pie. Each player starts with a hand of seven Red Apple Cards, and one player is chosen as the first judge. The judge draws a Green Apple Card from the deck and reads the adjective aloud. Then, each player (except the judge) chooses a Red Apple Card from their hand that they think best matches or is most humorously associated with the adjective. Once all cards are submitted, the judge shuffles the responses, reads them aloud, and chooses the one they find most appropriate or amusing.

The game’s mechanics are uncomplicated and easy to grasp, allowing players to focus more on the fun of the game rather than getting tangled in complex rules. The blend of strategy and luck is well-balanced — players must choose a card they believe the judge will select, which involves some strategy in guessing the judge’s preferences, but there’s also an element of luck in the draw of the cards.

What truly sets Apples to Apples apart are the hilarious scenarios and connections that emerge organically from gameplay. This game rewards creativity, humor, and sometimes even the most absurd or ridiculous associations. It’s a game that, much like a good joke, can be enjoyed again and again, each play bringing new laughs and memorable moments.

Theme and Immersion

Apples to Apples is not a game where theme and immersion come into play in the traditional sense. Unlike other board games where you might find yourself embarking on epic quests or building ancient civilizations, Apples to Apples is all about social interaction and linguistic creativity.

That being said, the game does create a thematic immersion of its own kind. It plunges players into a world of words, where they are given the opportunity to explore the fun and quirky relationships between different concepts and ideas. Each round, the game provokes players to delve into their imagination and wit to make the most appealing or amusing match.

Moreover, the immersive quality of Apples to Apples comes not from intricate storytelling or complex world-building, but from the engaging social dynamics it fosters. It’s not about immersing yourself in a fictional world, but about immersing yourself in the company of others, in the laughter and discussions that the game incites.

The beauty of Apples to Apples is that the ‘theme’ is largely defined by the group you’re playing with – their humor, their thought processes, and their reactions. The theme could swing from hilarious absurdity to thought-provoking connections, depending on the group’s interpretation of the adjective-noun pairs. In this way, the game offers an experience that is dynamic and engaging, immersing players in a shared social experience that is unique to each gaming session.


Apples to Apples has high replayability, thanks to its simple yet dynamic gameplay. No two games will ever be exactly the same due to the vast array of Red and Green Apple Cards in the deck. Add to this the constantly shifting judging preferences of different players, and you’ve got a game that keeps on giving, keeping players on their toes and ensuring a fresh and enjoyable experience every time.

The game’s inherent variability — the random draw of cards, the changeable judging criteria based on individual preferences, and the different group dynamics when playing with different sets of people — all contribute to the game’s replayability. Each round is a surprise, with unpredictable and often hilarious results. And while Apples to Apples doesn’t have expansions in the traditional sense, there are numerous versions and editions available, like the Junior, Bible, and Disney editions, each offering a unique spin on the classic game, enhancing its replayability even more.

Player Interaction and Engagement

Player interaction is at the very heart of Apples to Apples. It’s not a game where you can sit quietly and plot your moves. Instead, it encourages boisterous debate, hilarious arguments, and enthusiastic persuasion, all in the hope of convincing the judge that your card is the best match. Whether it’s the jovial lobbying for your card, the friendly ribbing when a judge makes an unexpected choice, or the collective laughter when an outrageous card wins the round, Apples to Apples thrives on the social dynamics it creates.

The game also manages to maintain a high level of engagement from start to finish. There are no downtime or lulls as players are always involved in the game, either as the judge or as players trying to pick the most fitting or amusing card. Additionally, the game fosters a sense of anticipation, keeping everyone invested as they eagerly await the judge’s verdict for each round.

Learning Curve and Accessibility

Apples to Apples shines brightly in terms of accessibility and ease of learning. The rules are straightforward and can be explained in just a few minutes, making it an ideal game for beginners or non-gamers. The learning curve is almost flat, meaning that players of all experience levels can jump right in and start having fun.

The game is suitable for a wide age range, from kids (with the Junior version) to adults, and the gameplay doesn’t discriminate between veteran gamers and those new to board games. The game also comes with a well-written rulebook that clearly explains the gameplay, along with examples to ensure that the rules are understood. All these aspects make Apples to Apples an easily accessible game, perfect for parties or family gatherings where the player group might have a diverse range of gaming experience.

Strategies and Depth

While Apples to Apples might seem like a light-hearted party game at first glance, it harbors surprising depth and strategic nuance. The game isn’t just about laying down a card that matches the given adjective; it’s about reading the judge, understanding their humor, their likes and dislikes, and playing a card that caters to them. It’s a blend of deductive reasoning, psychological understanding, and a healthy dose of humor.

Every turn presents a set of tactical decisions to be made. Should you play a card that you think is a perfect match for the adjective, or one that you believe the judge would find amusing? There’s also a long-term strategic element involved in managing your hand of cards. Do you use your best cards early or save them for a decisive moment? These tactical and strategic choices give the game an unexpected depth that can be explored and mastered over time.

A common pitfall for new players is to forget that the aim of the game is not to find the best match for the adjective, but to choose the card that the current judge is most likely to pick. Recognizing this, and adapting your play style to each different judge, is a skill that can be honed over multiple game sessions.

As for house rules, Apples to Apples is a game that invites creativity and flexibility. One popular house rule is the ‘Ghost Player’ rule, where an extra card is drawn from the deck each round and played for an imaginary player. This adds an extra layer of unpredictability and fun to the game.


As previously mentioned, while Apples to Apples doesn’t have expansions in the traditional sense, there are numerous versions and editions that add their own unique twist to the game. Here are a few notable ones:

  • Apples to Apples Junior: This version is designed for younger players, featuring simpler words that are easier for kids to understand, making the game more accessible and enjoyable for them.
  • Apples to Apples Bible Edition: This version focuses on biblical themes, with words and phrases that are associated with the Bible, making it a great choice for church groups or families who want to integrate their faith into their gaming sessions.
  • Apples to Apples Disney Edition: In this version, the cards feature characters, places, and events from beloved Disney movies. A fantastic choice for Disney fans or families with kids.

Each of these versions maintains the core gameplay of Apples to Apples but offers a different theme or focus, providing fresh and exciting experiences for players of all ages and interests.

Comparison to Similar Games

In the realm of party games, Apples to Apples stands among giants like Cards Against Humanity and Dixit. Each of these games revolves around similar mechanics of matching cards and judging, but they each have their own unique flavor.

Cards Against Humanity, like Apples to Apples, involves players trying to match their card to a judge’s card, but it’s known for its adult humor and can be much more provocative and controversial.

Dixit, on the other hand, has a more artistic and imaginative bent. Players must use beautifully illustrated cards to tell a story, and others must guess which card was the storyteller’s.

While Apples to Apples shares similarities with these games, it stands out with its simplicity, its family-friendly humor, and its focus on fun social interactions. It caters to a wider audience, is more accessible to younger players, and offers a perfect balance of light-hearted fun and engaging gameplay that makes it a staple in any board game collection.

Pros and Cons


  • Accessible and Easy to Learn: The rules of Apples to Apples are simple and intuitive, making it a great choice for non-gamers, families, and large parties. The ease of understanding facilitates quick starts and accommodates drop-in players. The simplicity of gameplay allows the focus to be more on social interaction and less on rules and strategy.
  • Highly Social and Interactive: Apples to Apples promotes lively discussion, laughter, and plenty of player interaction.This isn’t a game that will have players silently contemplating their next move. Instead, it encourages conversation, negotiation, and a lot of laughter, enhancing the social dynamic of any gathering.
  • Versatile and Adaptable: The game’s flexible player count, quick play time, and adaptable gameplay make it suitable for a variety of situations, from casual family game nights to large social gatherings. The game scales well, and the fun doesn’t diminish with the increase of players.


  • Subjectivity Can Lead to Frustration: Since the judge has the final say, there may be times when players don’t agree with the choices made. Players must accept that winning or losing may often be dependent on the judge’s subjective interpretation rather than the objective ‘best’ match.
  • Might Become Repetitive Over Time: While Apples to Apples is certainly replayable, it might lose some of its appeal after numerous playthroughs with the same group, as players become familiar with the cards and each other’s judging styles. The predictability can be mitigated by adding house rules or mixing different editions of the game.

Apples To Apples Review: Final Thoughts and Verdict

Apples to Apples is more than just a board game; it’s a social catalyst that sparks laughter, fosters friendships, and creates unforgettable moments. It takes the simplicity of matching adjectives and nouns and turns it into a rich, engaging, and hilariously unpredictable game that players of all ages can enjoy.

In terms of its strengths, the game shines in its simplicity, accessibility, and social interaction. The ability to cater to a wide range of ages and player counts further boosts its appeal. The subjective nature of judging and the potential for repetitiveness are minor downsides that do little to detract from the overall enjoyment of the game.

On a scale of 1 to 10, Apples to Apples confidently scores an 8.5. It is an excellent choice for families, parties, and anyone looking for a game that encourages socialization and laughter. Whether you’re a board game veteran or a newcomer, Apples to Apples is an indispensable addition to your game collection. The memories you’ll create around the table with this game are, without doubt, the ripest apples of them all.

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