Zorba the Hutt (zorbathut) wrote,
Zorba the Hutt

apples to apples variations

So. During the Snow Jam, there was a game area set up (where set up is defined as "we took over the hotel lobby".) And I brought Apples to Apples, and we played it. A lot.

And since we're all geeks, we started playing with it.

So here are a few variations we came up with.


The basic game as normally played by me, and for the sake of people who haven't played this game:

The game is broken up into green cards and red cards. Red cards are nouns ("Mud", "Charging Rhinos", "Saturn", "George W Bush", "Inside The Sun", "A Morgue", etc). Green cards are adjectives ("Fuzzy", "Boring", "Hot", "Sexy", "Awesome", "Dangerous"). Everyone takes seven red cards to start with. A random person is designated the cardmaster and chooses a random green card. Everyone puts a red card of their choice down then the cardmaster looks through them all and chooses the one they like the best.

Note that "like the best" is purely subjective. In theory it's "the one that best fits the green card". In reality there's a lot of psychology here. I know someone who will choose "Canadians" in any situation where the played adjective is even remotely positive. (In response to this, I will choose "Canadians" in any situation where the played adjective is especially ironic and funny.)

I tend to pick the surreal, bizarre, or disturbing. If my adjective was "Sexy", and the played cards were "Women", "Lingerie", "A Morgue", or "Handcuffs", I'd have a hard choice. "A Morgue" and "Handcuffs" are both really good answers, you see.

Of course there are "better" cards than others. "Charging Rhinos" and "Festering Wounds" both tend to win, as do "Ninjas" or "Pirates", but I've never seen "Grand Canyon" win anything. (In the few cases where it's appropriate, it's inevitably trumped with "Saturn" or "The Universe".) One of my best hands was one where I started with both "James T Kirk" and "Superman". You can't beat that.

The person who played the card that's deemed best gets a point. You play until some predetermined number of points, usually between 3 and 20.

Now for some variations.

Important Overreaching Metarule

First off, we decided that the Cardmaster gets to choose which variation they're in the mood for. This is important. It gives the cardmaster more to do. In fact, we decided to go a step further and leave the Cardmaster as total dictator. We literally put no restrictions on this at all. We figure anyone we're likely to be playing with won't mangle the game *too* much. Nobody's changed the card-in-hand count, and while one person did vary the points you got for winning, he only did it once and we all agreed it was a bad idea afterwards.

Rules That Don't Modify The Actual Cards

One variation, that's actually supposed to be in the base rules, is speed. I forget how the base rules work (they're weird, and seem somewhat degenerate towards just throwing random stuff down), but the way we do it is that the last person to play doesn't get to play. They just pass. This makes the game faster but often leads to less amusing (or more random) results. I highly don't recommend this if you're doing any of the more complicated variations, but it's fine for the simpler ones.

Personally, I always throw in a random red card for each hand. It's just fun. And once in a while random wins, and everyone laughs.

Adjective Rules

Sometimes you want things more fun than "match this card". Here's some playtested options.

Logical Conjunction: Cardmaster plays two green cards. Played cards must match both of them. If the green cards are "Cold" and "Awesome", glaciers would probably win.

Logical Disjunction: Cardmaster plays two green cards. Played cards must match either of them. Matching both of them is a bonus, but you'd probably do better off to match one of them really really well (whereas that wouldn't fly with a conjunction.) "Hot"and "Sexy" might be a win for Cindy Crawford, but if someone played "A Supernova" they might trump the "Hot" part quite nicely.

Logical Exclusion: Cardmaster plays two green cards. Played cards must match exactly one of them. "Fuzzy" and "Boring" would be a good time to play "Mud" or "Infomercials", but probably not "A Tribble". (Unless you think tribbles are really exciting.)

Logical Negation: Cardmaster plays one green card. Played cards must match the opposite of it. Note that this isn't just "does not possess this feature whatsoever", this is "possesses the opposite of this feature". "Sexy", for example, would likely not give you a win with "Jupiter". It likely would with "Janet Reno".

Logical Absurdity: Cardmaster plays one green card. Played card must be completely unrelated to that card. The most meaningless match wins. (Oooh baby, that's a nice red spot you've got there. How about those rings?)

Combination: You can, of course, mix and match these as you like. "You must match this card but not this card", for example. Or "All or Nothing" - match them both, or match neither.

Intelligent Choice: Some of these setups really kind of suck. It's possible for the cardmaster to proclaim "Logical Conjunction!" and then play "Cold" and "Hot". Well damn, now what? To fix this, we allowed the cardmaster to pick two cards and *then* decide what logical operators to apply to them.

Noun Rules

Multiple Play: Play two cards. Or three cards. Or somewhere within a bounds. The cards aren't related in any way, you just get more chances. And get to discard more cards, which might be useful.

Combination Play: Play two cards that are considered a "single play" and related in some way. The players are welcome to shout out relations between those two cards that the cardmaster hasn't thought of. Example: win "dangerous" with "AIDS" and "My Love Life". One problem with this - generally play occurs by people just throwing the cards into the center of the table. If cards have to be kept in pairs, you've got to place them down next to each other, and an observant cardmaster might know whose play is whose. Luckily most of the people I play with are more oblivious than observant, so this hasn't been a problem, but suggestions are welcome. (Note: this mode works REALLY WELL.)

Antipode Play: Like Combination Play in that you play two cards. However, one of the cards should fill the requirement, the other should be the opposite. "Value" is based on how well the cards fill the requirement and how well they play off each other.


Most of these go more slowly than the basic game. That's okay, most of them are also more fun.

Most of these also require a bit more thought.

The random player tends to do very very badly in games with multiple cards played. This isn't really fixable.

If you've got any good variations you know of, let me know!

A final comment

Some of these modes can cause horrible jokes, the likes of which you cannot imagine.

"Okay. Play something that's both 'Colorful' and 'Chewy'."
*cards played*
"What the? How does 'Beauty and the Beast' work?"
"One of them's colorful, the other one's Chewie!"
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.