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Cottage Board Games
May 17, 2004 11:01 AM   Subscribe

What are some good board games to keep at a summer cottage?

[more inside, but you knew that]

Think of a game you'd want to play at a dinner party when the wine bottle is empty and the scotch is being poured, or perhaps on a rainy afternoon. Something to keep the conversation and laughter flowing. Maybe 4 - 8 people. Team games are fine.

We already have chess, checkers, Pictionary, Monopoly, Othello, Trivial Pursuit and decks of cards. I'm looking for games that are easy for adults to learn quickly, can be finished up in an hour or two, and played over and over again without getting stale. Batteries or electricity should not be required.
posted by bondcliff to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (55 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Games magazine online has award winners with some juicy stuff I've never heard of. I vote: Cranium.
posted by mecran01 at 11:06 AM on May 17, 2004


Settlers of Catan - you'll love it. It's easy to learn, elegant, and fosters lots of player interaction/conversation.
posted by aladfar at 11:07 AM on May 17, 2004


Just to name some more classics that aren't in your list - Scrabble and Risk.
posted by orange swan at 11:16 AM on May 17, 2004


Scrabble.
posted by theora55 at 11:18 AM on May 17, 2004


If you like Settlers of Catan, Puerto Rico is also lots of fun.
posted by Voivod at 11:21 AM on May 17, 2004


Come to think of it, I think we have scrabble. I've never really enjoyed it very much.

I *love* Risk but I'm not sure it meets my criteria. It's not the type of game where somebody can just jump in, learn the rules quickly, and enjoy it along with everyone else. Plus, it takes a few hours to play.

I should also mention I'm not interested in D&D type games.
posted by bondcliff at 11:21 AM on May 17, 2004


My family has had a lot of fun with Scattergories. It's easy to learn and appropriate for anyone who can read - the larger your vocabulary, the more fun it is to stump your opponents.
posted by dual_action at 11:23 AM on May 17, 2004


Falling.

Scrabble, Go, chess.
posted by azazello at 11:23 AM on May 17, 2004


How about a cribbage board and some poker chips to go along with the cards. I also second Cranium.
posted by karmaville at 11:26 AM on May 17, 2004


I second Settlers of Catan. Even my mom loves it. If you're a little adventurous, I can suggest a few more:

Acquire
BANG! (works best with 7, but you can play with as few as 4)
Bohnanza (Can't recommend this one enough! Haven't met anyone yet that dislikes it. Great player interaction.)
Carcassonne
Chrononauts
Citadels
Derivation
Dragon Delta
Gang of Four
Guillotine
Pirate's Cove
Savannah Cafe
Too Many Cooks

The links go to good descriptions and reviews of each game. You can probably find each of them at your local game store, or online here.

Oh, and if you're willing to shell out the money ($70), Pitch Car RULES!
posted by emptybowl at 11:29 AM on May 17, 2004


You're getting a lot of recommendations for really good games, but not ones that are especially appropriate for the scenario you envisioned. Settlers and Puerto Rico (it's disturbing use of colonialism aside) are both great games that you plan an event around. They require focus and don't lend themselves to relaxation.

I'd suggest checking out Apples to Apples for a fun game that lots of people can play without having to get too wound up in it. Great for after a nice dinner.

For a smaller group (4 or less), you might enjoy San Juan with some wine. It's a card game version of Puerto Rico. Plays faster and doesn't require as much futzing with bits or as intense a focus.
posted by ursus_comiter at 11:37 AM on May 17, 2004


Oh, and let me second a recommendation for Bohnanza. Great fun and the right kind of game for your needs.
posted by ursus_comiter at 11:39 AM on May 17, 2004


Cribbage and Cranium and an ancient copy of Trivial Pursuit are all good, and can be played by drunks. If you might have a larger group, try Apples to Apples. Small, fun to play with strangers or friends, laugh-inducing without being totally stupid, good for mixed-age groups of people. Matthew Baldwin [what is his damned mefi name again?] has called it "The game we played so much at Gamenight that I came to hate it. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't own it. And you should." Here are some more of his worthwhile recommendations.
posted by jessamyn at 11:41 AM on May 17, 2004


Balderdash is perfectly fun; up to 12 people make up fake definitions for words that no one's ever heard of. It's great to play with friends. Yahtzee is also very easy to learn, and makes a lazy afternoon fly by effortlessly. A family game that we play at every get-together is the Initial Game - pencil and paper and a thinking cap are all that's required. Someone recites some letters or reads the ingredients off of a box of cereal or something, and you write downwards in two colums like so:

FE
OS
RS
TE
IN
FT
II
EA
DL
WM
II
TN
HE
SR
EA
VL
ES
NA

And in the time frame agreed upon, simply come up with a "famous person" (as defined by your group) either living or dead, real or fictional, and write it down next to the initials. We accept most anything - politicians, cartoon characters, politicians, characters in books, celebrities, athletes... If the initials are AH, and two people come up with, say, Adolph Hitler and one person comes up with Alfred Hitchcock and one comes up with Andy Hardy, only those who came up with unique answers get awarded a point. If you are the only one who comes up with a name for any given set of initials, you're awarded 2 points. Easy, cheap, fun, very competitive, and disgustingly addicting. No one has ever beaten me at this game.

Jessamyn - shadowkeeper
posted by iconomy at 11:52 AM on May 17, 2004


[what is his damned mefi name again?]

Shadowkeeper.

My new favorite is Ticket To Ride. But for the situation you described ("at a dinner party when the wine bottle is empty and the scotch is being poured, or perhaps on a rainy afternoon. Something to keep the conversation and laughter flowing. Maybe 4 - 8 people. Team games are fine.") I'd shoot for Time's Up or Smarty Party.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 11:53 AM on May 17, 2004


I agree that Puerto Rico is a little too intense for what you're looking for, especially the first 2 -3 times you play it. It takes a while to sort all the rules out. But I still maintain Settlers is great. I'm telling you, if it's easy enough for my mom to pick up and consistently beat us at, it can't be that complicated or stress-inducing.

And I wholeheartedly agree with Apples to Apples.
posted by emptybowl at 11:53 AM on May 17, 2004


Definitely Apples to Apples (not only is it the one game we can always get my mother to play with us, who doesn't like playing most games, we even got my *grandmother* to play it a few weeks ago - and she really doesn't like playing games).

Taboo, Scattergories, and Milles Bournes also are all fun. A favorite from college is Loaded Questions (we just ignore the colors and pick the questions that will make everyone write the funniest answers). My best friend swears by Balderdash as a fun time when you're drinking and hanging out. And Cheapass Games makes some really good, offbeat stuff. We like Falling and Give Me the Brain and Kill Dr. Lucky.

I have had recommended to me Settlers of Catan and Lost Cities (that's a two-player card game I think) but haven't tried them yet. Soon, though!
posted by Melinika at 11:55 AM on May 17, 2004


Ravensburger's Pueblo can be learned in about ten minutes with the advanced rules, is strategically deep, and can be completed in under an hour. (At my occasional game night with friends, we usually play it to finish off the evening after a round of Puerto Rico, which is fun, but exhausting.)
posted by Prospero at 11:58 AM on May 17, 2004


Want an easy to learn card game that's fun and also really loud? Pit, the classic commodity trading game. Make sure you buy the one with the bell included.
posted by ALongDecember at 12:03 PM on May 17, 2004


You've got to order it from Germany, but Rage is maybe my all-time favorite sit-around-the-table game, so long as you're not playing with any sore losers.

And, yeah, you should have Apples to Apples.
posted by blueshammer at 12:13 PM on May 17, 2004


Okay, these aren't board games, so forgive me. But my favourite post-dinner party games are:

- Jenga (particularly the giant kind) - the rules are incredibly simple so it doesn't require too much commitment, but the tactile nature of the game is really good for bringing people closer together.

- Perudo - this is a dice game; the rules are slightly tricky but because it involves bluffing there can be many comic moments.

Also it seems no-one has mentioned Boggle, or...erm... Twister.
posted by skylar at 12:48 PM on May 17, 2004


Another vote for Apples to Apples in this kind of situation. Also Villa Paleti, which would be great fun with relaxed, mildly inebriated friends. (It's similar to Jenga.) Puerto Rico is *definitely* not suited to the situations you describe.
posted by jdroth at 12:53 PM on May 17, 2004


BTW, I play a lot of games with a lot of people, and the real trick is finding a game where no one is disadvantaged vs. everyone else. Because I know a lot of trivia and have a pretty good level of drawing ability, I'm loathe to get involved with such games if I know there's a large differential in those abilities among the players, because I don't have fun and they don't have fun.

Here's a great sitting-around game. You need five dice, a scorepad and a writing stick.

Player 1 rolls the dice. If three-of-a-kind (trips) come up, players get 100x that value (e.g. trip 3s is 300 pts), unless 1s come up, in which case it's 1000 pts. A bottom straight (1-5) is worth 1500 pts and a top straight (2-6) is worth 750 pts. Failing trips or straights, a 1 is worth 100 pts and a 5 is worth 50 pts. Nothing else counts. After the first roll, players can risk whatever points they have accumulated thus far by rolling all of the non-scoring dice, but trips and straights have to be accomplished in the same roll. (i.e. Rolling two 1s on roll 1 and another 1 on roll 2 nets you 300 pts, not 1000 pts.) Players can keep rolling as long as they keep scoring, but lose any points from a turn if they roll and get nothing (bust). Conversely, players can stop rolling at any time, with the cumulative scores from previous rolls ... unless they have scored on all five dice, in which case they must re-roll all five and score on at least one. (e.g., You can't roll a straight and stop there.)

Players must meld 650 pts -- that is, score 650 pts in one turn before they're allowed to have their score kept whatsoever. If you have melded and the player preceding you has melded, and the player preceding you did not bust, then you may choose to roll any of their remaining dice. This can continue indefinitely so long as a player down the line has melded. These chains can go all the way around the table, with ever-escalating stakes. First player to 10,000 wins.
posted by blueshammer at 1:02 PM on May 17, 2004


I emphatically second Balderdash as perfect for the situation described. The best games end with everyone abandoning the dice and the pieces on the board, and concentrating on reading aloud everyone's outlandish definitions. Almost every time I've played it, the entire group ends up laughing to tears.
posted by samh23 at 1:04 PM on May 17, 2004


Seconds to Scattergories and Balderdash, which are favorites when my extended family gets together. Half the fun of Scattergories is the arguments over whether particularly "creative" answers are valid or not for the given category.

(And thanks to everyone for the A2A recommendations; I hadn't heard of it before, and it sounds like fun.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:05 PM on May 17, 2004


The Farming Game. It's suprisingly fun and easy to learn, even for drunk people.
posted by nathan_teske at 1:06 PM on May 17, 2004


I can't believe I forgot the two best games to play when you're with a bunch people in a drunk/goofy mood: 1000 Blank White Cards and Eat Poop You Cat.
posted by emptybowl at 1:15 PM on May 17, 2004


Great thread - I looove boardgames. We just played Clue this weekend, but that is probably more attention-demanding than what you're looking for. You already have the basics (I'd add Scattergories), so I'd focus on more games that didn't require too many props. I have a book called 'After Dinner Games' or something like that (I'm at work and can't look it up) that contains lots of simple games that require nothing but the simplest of props and are quite fun when you're in the mood.

One of my favorite games for that time of the evening when everyone is feeling pleasantly giggly is a cardgame simply called 'Game'. It seems to be more popular in Europe than in the US, so if you don't know how to play, here goes:

Set up:
- Sort players into teams of two (you need even number of players for this game). Teammembers will go to another room and pick a secret signal among themselves before sitting down for the game. Seat teammembers opposite each other.
- The goal of the game is for one player to obtain all 4 cards of a number (all 4 threes or jacks or aces or whatever - called a set), at which point he gives his teammember their secret signal and the teammember says 'GAME' out loud, thus giving their team one point.

How to play:
- Play starts after the dealer deals 4 cards face down to each player (which they pick up) and then 4 cards face up on the middle of the table.
- At the dealer's signal (1..2..3 go), the cards on the table are free for anyone to grab. As a player takes a card from the table, he has to immediately replace it with a discard from his hand. A player should only have 4 cards on hand (except for a few seconds between picking up and discarding). A player can repeat this picking up and discarding as many times as he wants during the round.
- When nobody wants the 4 cards left on the table, the dealer clears the table (puts the 4 cards face down off to the side). These cards are now out of play.
- Dealer deals 4 new cards on the table and this continues until someone calls 'GAME'. Keep in person that the player who has managed to collect the set can not call 'GAME', only his teammate can after receiving the secret signal.
- The other team(s) get one attempt per team to guess the winning team's signal. If they get it right, the winning team loses the point and it goes to the 'guessers' instead.
- We usually play until one team has 5 points.

Rules:
- Each player on the team has to use the same signal (ie, player A can't use tugging on the ear while player B uses coughing for the signal).
- Signals can't be verbal (ie, no special words or using the teammember's name etc).
- Signals must be performed where others can see it (ie, no footsie under the table etc).
- No decoy signals (ie, blatantly tugging your ear just before using your real signal).
- If a player calls 'GAME' and his teammate does not have a set (all 4 of one number), the team loses a point.
- If another team's guess is pretty close to, but not exactly, what the winning team's signal is, then the winners have to ask the guessers to be more specific (ie, if the guess is 'something do with the hands' and your signal is to gather all the cards into one hand, then ask the guessers to be more specific). The guess has to be exactly right.
- A team can not change signals unless their sign has been correctly guessed by another team.

Hints and tips:
- Try to remember what cards your partner and the other teams are picking up and seem to be collecting. If you think your partner is collecting fours and you have one in your hand, pick up a random card so you can discard your four and your partner can pick it up. Conversely, if you think a player on another team is collecting nines, don't discard yours until absolutely necessary.
- Keep your eyes open for secret signals between the other teammembers so that you can guess it after they call 'GAME'. All this watching makes everyone veeery paranoid, btw!
- Also try to remember which cards are out of play so that you don't get stuck waiting for your last five when it was put out of play at the end of the first round...
- Subtle signs are usually better (ie, harder to guess) than blatant ones. Good signals include tapping the top of your cards with your finger, switching cards from one hand to the other, fanning cards vs. closing them etc. Make sure your signal isn't something you'll do unconsciously (like put your hair behind your ear) or your partner might call 'GAME' before you have a set.
- Make sure you watch your partner for the signal! Many times another team will win because a teammember was too busy watching the other teams for signals while his own partner was desperately trying to get his attention with the signal. Don't forget that in order to win the round, your partner has to actually call 'GAME' - so even if you've had a set for ages, if another team gets a set and calls 'GAME' first, you get nothing.


It is definitely silly, and some people like more intellectually challenging games, so it might not be for everyone. But it's perfect for when you've had a few glasses of wine and are ready to laugh and have a good time. All ages can play, too, as long as they're able to understand the rules and give the signal unobtrusively and at the appropriate time.

Have fun!
posted by widdershins at 1:23 PM on May 17, 2004


D'oh -- I forgot to mention the perfect game for this situation: Werewolf.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 1:48 PM on May 17, 2004


Ok, I now officially hate Metafilter. Here I am thinking I am all nerdy and indie-rock with my cheapass games and my settlers/seafarers/kinghts of Catan, and they're both mentioned in the first few comments.

Blast!

Ah well, my group has recently been enjoying Tichu.
posted by Capn at 1:53 PM on May 17, 2004


Cranium Conga (which I just played this past weekend) is also fun, it's like stripped down Cranium, no board, no dice, just a box of cards and an answer pad. It does require batteries, unfortunately.

Chip Rummy (if you can find it, either my googlefu is weak or it's nonexistant these days) can be mildly complex if the players don't know rummy, but it's a great way to kill a rainy afternoon
posted by cCranium at 3:58 PM on May 17, 2004


The best vanilla card deck variant game would be Bartok, as the rules change everytime, there's always something new. Don't play it with stubborn argumentative types though, it can end in high blood pressure.
posted by elphTeq at 4:14 PM on May 17, 2004


aladfar! emptybowl! my comrades in cataan! I'll trade you each a wheat for a rock!
posted by bingo at 4:16 PM on May 17, 2004


Woo. Lots of German game recomendations. In addition to those suggested, Ra, Samurai, Web of Power, Attila and Kingdoms are all pretty easy and play in less than an hour. For card games, I like Zirkus Flohcati, Mamma Mia, 6 Nimmt and Bohnanza.

But really, Settlers of Catan is perfect for what you described. I've tought it to literally dozens of people, gamers and non-gamers, and they all loved it.
posted by salmacis at 4:23 PM on May 17, 2004


Rummikub.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:24 PM on May 17, 2004


I don't understand how the thread got to 17 responses before anyone mentioned Taboo. Because that is clearly the One Game to Rule Them All. Or its near cousin, Catch Phrase.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 4:29 PM on May 17, 2004


I love Formula De.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:43 PM on May 17, 2004


there is only one:
uno
posted by the aloha at 6:30 PM on May 17, 2004


I heartily second the previously mentioned Apples to Apples (EVERYONE loves this game, it's very easy to learn) and Bohnanza (this is my absolute favorite, a bit more complicated but incredibly more fun than it could ever sound from just the description). Both of them can be relatively short games and you can change limits to shorten/extend gameplay.

And I love Uno too.
posted by katieinshoes at 6:41 PM on May 17, 2004


I'll second Werewolf/Mafia, if you at the upper end of your number of people. It's great fun and addictively replayable, but requires 8-10 people.

If you are interested in a card game, try Fluxx.
posted by sad_otter at 6:56 PM on May 17, 2004


What, you may ask, are the rules for Dirty Uno? Well, it's like this: You want at least two Uno decks. Shuffle up and deal out seven cards to each player. Play proceeds just like Uno, except:

1. If a person at any point in the play sequence has the exact same card as was just played (say, a red 4), then he may play that card out of sequence so long as he does it before another card is played (a la Slapjack). All players between the person who first played, in this case, the red 4 and the person who played the second red 4 are effectively skipped. (This makes Reverse card all the more confusing.)

2. When an action card (Skip, Draw Two, Wild Draw Four) is played, the person on whom the card is played can play the same card (in value, not necessarily color) instead of completing the action. Also, if a drawing action is required, the drawing becomes cumulative. So, in a five-player game, if Player 1 plays a green Draw Two, then Player 2 can play a red Draw Two, and then (skipping Player 3 a la rule 1 above) Player 4 plays a red Draw Two, and Player 5 has to draw six.

3. If someone can't play, they draw until they can. (This may already be how you play Uno.)

4. When a yellow 7 is played, each player's hand is passed ahead in the direction of play.

At least twice as much fun as Uno.
posted by blueshammer at 7:04 PM on May 17, 2004


Scrabble and Boggle. Everyone has played Scrabble, but Boggle is great because it only takes three minutes to play.

Has anyone heard of a card game called "Fool?"
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:20 PM on May 17, 2004


Nobody has mentioned Chinese checkers? Okay, so it has the potential to destroy friendships, but man is it fun! Also very simple and (I think) inexpensive.
posted by Hypharse at 9:59 PM on May 17, 2004


I'm a fan of Scrutineyes.

You have several gorgeous paintings (such as this one with 360 As -- "airplane," "angel," "aerosol can," "ant," "ape," "architect," "anger" -- or this one for G). Cover up half of the painting (top, bottom, right, left) and then scramble to jot down as many of the letter-words as you can. Then, trade paintings and repeat. Afterwards, compare answers; duplicates are dropped, one point for unique answers.

Tons of fun. The paintings have endless detail, and nearly every detail is a possibility (If only you knew the obscure name of that very specific bird in the lower right corner! Argh!)
posted by rafter at 11:11 PM on May 17, 2004


bingo: Wheat for a rock? You've got to be kidding, but tell you what, if you give me three rock and a wheat, then you can use my wheat port and I might even throw a sheep in...

Settlers of Catan rocks. It can be intimidating to new players but after just one game, it hooked my friends and we played for about 12 hours in two weeks. I do think I'm going to try out widdershin's 'Game' though.

While I haven't played it myself, I've heard very good things about Carcassonne, which is a quick and enjoyable game.
posted by adrianhon at 2:41 AM on May 18, 2004


Carcassonne is certainly a good fit for the original question. Many people like it a lot, but I'm a bit cold on it. I prefer playing The New Entdecker or El Caballero, which are similar, but a bit deeper.
posted by salmacis at 3:17 AM on May 18, 2004


I can't believe no one has mentioned Cosmic Wimpout. A great post-wine, but pre-scotch game.
posted by TurkishGolds at 8:24 AM on May 18, 2004


I know it's not very "hip", but Taboo is absolutely HILARIOUS late night game (especially if everyone is a bit tipsy or silly). It works great for two (or more) teams of at least 4 (where one person gives the clues and the other three guess the word).
posted by grum@work at 1:11 PM on May 18, 2004


I've always enjoyed Werewolf. Great fun and inexpensive.
posted by evilelf at 1:47 PM on May 18, 2004


One of my favorites is Torres.
posted by john at 2:24 PM on May 18, 2004


Shop around at funagain.com. Adel Verpflichted, Bohnanza, Settlers, Carcassonne, Knatsch, and the fiendish Citadels are some of my favorites.
posted by muckster at 5:08 PM on May 18, 2004


Interesting how the responses to this question have basically divided into "those who have heard of German games" and "those who have not".
posted by salmacis at 5:12 PM on May 18, 2004


(I'd like to state, for the record, that I own Adel Verpflichtet, and am an avid Settlers fan. Still think Taboo is the One Game for any raucous fun group setting.)
posted by grrarrgh00 at 7:56 PM on May 18, 2004


Jesus, no one's mentioned Diplomacy yet.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 8:13 PM on May 18, 2004


Never having heard of Apples To Apples, I couldn't believe how many recommendations it was getting. Must get! Coincidentally, I just discovered a great post on rec.games.board which explains it rather nicely, which I'll share here, in the unlikely event that there's someone else besides me who's never played this game.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I love teaching people to play games; and many times, after a game session, people tell me how much fun they've had. One of the biggest compliments is how easy it is to play the games that I teach; and for this reason, I'm always on the lookout for "German" games that have simplistic rules. Whenever I go to any event, like a picnic, or some such get-together, I always bring a box of games, with several simplistic games, for everyone to play. But I also always bring several party games, because nothing can generate more fun and excitement than a good party game at a fellowship. I have dozens of party games, with my personal favorites being Time's Up and Talking Tango. However, the most popular party game I own, with NO exception; and one that I take to almost every event, is Apples to Apples (Out ofthe Box Publishing, 1999 - Matthew Kirby).

If you read about Apples to Apples on the internet, you will find a wide range of opinions about it. Some people love it, and think that it's the greatest party game ever. Others find that it falls flat for them, and recommend other party games over it. But one simple truth cannot be denied. Every time, without exception, that I have introduced the game to a new group of people, they have loved it on the spot, and wanted to continue playing. People who insisted that they would "just watch" ended up joining the game enthusiastically, and wanted to play another game immediately after. Yes, Virginia, there are better party games; but no other game is so easy to learn and is so easy to play, giving Apples to Apples the kingship of party
games.

The rules for the game are incredibly simple. There are two stacks of cards - "Green" apples (which are adjectives, such as "Fresh", "Moronic", etc.), and "Red" apples (which are nouns, such as "Mel Brooks", "festering wounds", "My Past", and "Japan"). The stack of green cards is shuffled and placed in the middle of the table, along with the red cards with each player being dealt a hand of nine Red cards. One player is chosen to start, and then play passes clockwise around the table.

The player whose turn it is (the "judge") flips over the top green card. Each other player tosses a red apple card onto the table (face-down) that they think most matches that card. The last player to play a card must return it to their hand. The judge shuffles all the red cards, then lays them out, reading them out loud. The judge then, at his own discretion and whims, picks the red card that he
thinks best matches the green card. Players are allowed to lobby for their card (or any card), but the judge's word is final. The player whose card he picks receives the green card. All red cards are discarded, and a new card dealt to each player whose hand has only eight cards. Play continues until one person has reached a set number
of green cards (determined by how many players are in the game). Thisplayer is the winner!

Some comments on the game.

1.) Components: The game comes in a small but long box, similar to a baseball card box. The box, like all OOTB games, is extremely sturdy, and a pleasant design scheme helps make the game friendly and inviting. The cards are of decent quality - I would like better quality cards, but that would probably drive the price of the game up
quite a bit. The cards themselves are well designed, with three synonyms on each green card to better clarify the adjective (to help with the selection of the red cards), and humorous quotes or explanations about the subjects of the red cards.

2.) Rules: The rules come on a durable cardboard insert in the box - and are extremely well formatted. They are precise and are easy to learn - a trademark of all OOTB games. The rules can be taught in about 10 seconds, the time it takes to play one turn. People nowadays have an irrational fear of rules, and this is certainly not a problem
here.

3.) Whims: There is only one strategy in Apples to Apples - cater to the whims and desires of the judge. The better one learns how to do this - the better that person will play the game. I know, for example, that if I throw down "Mel Gibson" for some gals, that they will pick it, irregardless of the adjective. Other people (myself included) will pick the combination that makes them laugh the most. Some people throw out any cards that they dislike - others may pick a card that has some kind of personal meaning to them. Husbands and wives do well, having an intuitive knowledge of what their spouse will pick. Of course, sometimes one will get a hand full of "junk", with
no cards that match the adjective in the middle. Often the best response is to throw in a random card; it just might get picked! One time, we played with a "computer", where we drew a random card from the deck and threw it in the mix; and it came in second place. This proves that strategy isn't that great in Apples to Apples with the hilarity of answers bringing most of the fun to the game.

4.) Variants: Unless I'm playing in a very competitive group, I throw out the rule about "last card down goes back to the hand". Rather, we accept cards from everyone, unless someone takes forever to decide. I've had almost unanimous approval from people about accepting this rule; although the rules, as written can cause some frenzied games! Another variant plays the game backwards, dealing out green cards, and flipping over one red card at a time. While fun, that variant doesn't
seem to catch on, so I rarely play it.

5.) Expansions: There are four expansions for the game currently in print, and two full-sized versions of the game for younger folk. I bought one of the younger sets, two of the expansions, and even made some custom cards (the website, along with a pack of ink-jet printable cards - makes some really nice additions.) All of this gives me a
HUGE selection, and rarely do we run into the same combos twice. (And I play a lot!) If you have the game, I highly recommend getting one of the expansions and expansion 4, which has pairs (i.e. Black & White, Sick & Tired, Pepper & Salt, Lois & Clark, etc.) is by far my
favorite. I have to admit though that the custom cards I seeded my game with usually bring about the biggest laughs (although I'm not always pleased to see the adjectives my name is paired off with!)

6.) Fun Factor: The thing that makes Apples to Apples such a big hit is that it is easy fun. It's not hard to select a card from your hand and throw it down, and nothing you do is really "stupid". The game is just plain, easy fun, and the laughs that occur at some of the combinations can cause the whole group to go into hysterics. Time's Up makes me laugh more, but also brings stress - as you are trying frantically to win. Apples to Apples is easy going fun.

If you don't have Apples to Apples, shame on you! I don't expect that "gaming groups" will play this one often, as there's not much of a challenge in it. But Apples to Apples goes so well with so many different groups and people, that it should be on all shelves; because eventually you'll run into a situation where it is the perfect game.
I always have people request this game, and kids and adults can play in perfect harmony (and laughter). Apples to Apples is destined to become a classic game, and one that should be on every shelf.

Tom Vasel
posted by iconomy at 8:05 AM on May 19, 2004


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