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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Today At The Table ...

My family is a competitive bunch of misfits! If we can attempt to outdo one another at anything, we do. And this same trait has affected my choice of friends. Most of my closest comrades are fiercely competitive to the bitter end. We even brag about who found the best parking spot when we go out in a group.

Anyway, earlier today my family gathered for a late lunch celebrating the return of my oldest nephew from a short school trip. We ate … we talked … and then we got out the board games.

Since I was a tiny kid, the family has taken out some of its individual and collective aggressions at the dining room table … inflicting our pain through high rents in “Monopoly” or snarky comments when someone misses an “easy one” in “Trivial Pursuit.” To be honest, my sister has always enjoyed inflicting pain by ACTUALLY inflicting pain … I have the mended bones and faded scars to prove it.

I always scream for “Boggle” if the crowd is the right mix. My oldest brother is a “Risk” lover; my other brother has a passion for all things “Clue.” My sister enjoys the simplicity of “Bingo” and “Password.” But over the last few years, literally everyone in the extended family has grown to love a not-so-promoted game called “Apples to Apples.”

This fruity free-for-all was originally published in 1998 by Out of the Box Publishing, a Madison, Wisconsin company focused on innovative card and party games that are both easy to learn and relatively quick to play. In fact, of the 45 games marketed by Out of the Box, most require about five minutes to learn the basic rules and between 30 minutes and 40 minutes to play.

Basically, “Apples to Apples” is a card game. Each player is dealt seven “red apple” cards containing a noun or noun phrase. These cards are very specific … meatloaf, Richard Nixon, neighbors, kittens, etc. The judge (a rotating player) draws a “green apple” card containing an adjective … eerie, challenging, sexy, patriotic, etc. The judge displays and/or reads the green apple card aloud and the remaining players choose a card from their hand that best “matches” the noun. The judge mixes up the selected cards and usually reads them aloud. Then, in a completely subjective manner the judge awards the card (or point) to the person who creates the most humorous or interesting connection. The round concludes by everyone drawing another red apple card to maintain seven cards in their hand. The judging duties typically rotate to the player on the left. Once a player earns a predetermined number of green apple cards, he or she is declared the winner.

“Apples to Apples” can accommodate four to 10 players. Game instructions suggest the number of “points” needed for a win based on the number of players … the more players the lower the total needed to win to keep the play time manageable. In my family, we love the damn game so much we usually always play to 20. And having a little bit of wine going around the table for the adults never hurts.

Since more of the older nieces and nephews have joined in on the fun, we’ve even started playing some of the more complicated variations suggested by the manufacturers. One of our favorites is “Apple Turnovers.” In this type of play, each player is dealt a hand of “green apple” (adjective) cards and the judge provides a “red apple” (noun) card for the match. Another option to spice things up is playing “Crab Apples” where the object of the game is to provide a “red apple” card that is the most UNLIKE the “green apple” card. And in “2 for 1 Apples,” two “green apple” cards are used and players have to find a matching “red apple” card that makes the most sense for both.

All of my siblings and I own a copy of “Apples to Apples.” I have the “party crate version” that comes housed in a wooden box similar to a miniature apple crate. Besides slightly different packaging, there are four expansion card sets for the game as well as the following editions: Kids, Junior, Bible, Jewish, Spanish, German, UK, Disney, a travel “To Go” version, and an online game. (Not all versions are currently available.)

In 1999 … one year after its release … “Apples to Apples” was awarded the MENSA Select Prize (awarded to five outstanding games each year) and the National Parenting Center’s seal of approval, as well as being named “Party Game of the Year” by Games magazine. If there was a “Makes You Feel Like A Kid Cause You’re Having So Much Fun” award, “Apples to Apples” would have received it SEVERAL times!

In September of 2007, Mattel Inc. … the mega giant of the toy and game industry ,,, acquired the rights to “Apples to Apples.”

POINT OF RANT: Sorry UNO … we’ll dust you off one of these days!!

1 comment:

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