Apples to Apples: Rules of the Exciting Card Game

Updated November 8, 2019
Four friends playing Apples to Apples card game

Apples to Apples can be a fun and exciting card game with lots of different variations. Keep the boredom at bay by switching up the rules, instructions and directions. You can even try out different versions of Apples to Apples like the drinking game or junior and Bible editions.

Instructions for Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples (less than $15) is all about picking the best card and designed for 4-10 players. The object of the game is for the players to select the best red apple card from their hand to match the word on the green apple card selected by the judge. The game is very easy to learn and moves quickly. It only takes about 20-30 minutes to play. So, it's a great game to play when you're bored.

Apples to Apples Game
Apples to Apples Game

Getting Started

After shuffling and placing the cards in their respective trays, the game starts by the players choosing a player to be the starting judge.

The judge:

  • Deals seven red apple cards face down on the table to each player
  • Gives themselves a card face down on the table

Each player:

  • Can look at their cards
  • Holds their cards with the words facing them

Basic Apples to Apples Rules and Directions

Now that you have the game set up and are ready to play, it's time to check out the rules of engagement.

  1. The judge will pick a green apple card from the top of the stack, read the word to players and place the green apple card face up on the table.
  2. Each player will choose the red apple card in their hand that is best described by the word on the green apple card and place the chosen red apple card face down on the table.
  3. After the judge mixes them up, the judge will individually turn over the red cards and read them. The judge then selects the red card that matched the green card. The official rules encourage the judge to look for matches that are creative, humorous or interesting.
  4. The green card is then awarded to the winning red card holder.
  5. The player to the left becomes the new judge.
  6. The new judge deals enough red apple cards to each player so that each player has seven red apple cards in their hand.
  7. The game ends when a player has earned enough green apple cards to win the game.

Green Apple Cards Needed to Win
Number of Payers Cards Needed
4 8
5 7
6 6
7 5
8 - 10 4

Variations on the Basic Rules

When it comes to a fun and silly word card game, as you can imagine, there are a lot of variations on the standard rules. This can make the game more interesting and just add to the overall excitement.

Apples to Apples Drinking Game

Just add alcohol to make this hilarious game into a drinking game for adults-only. The rules are basically the same, with the exception that if you aren't the round winner or the judge, it's shot time. It's easy to see how this game could get tipsy fast.

2 for 1

In this variation, two green apple cards are flipped, and you need to pick the best red apple card in your hand to describe them both. Trying to find one card that fits both the best can be quite the challenge.

Apple Turnovers

This version is all around going in reverse. Players use the green "adjective" cards to describe the red apple "noun" card. That rowdy rhino is definitely fierce.

Big Apples

Do you think your cards are the best? Confidence is key in Big Apples where you can wager your green apple cards against others. The winner gets all the green apple cards in the pot.

Other Game Variations

Some other ways to play include:

  • Roll a die to decide how many cards you get for three rounds.
  • Play two cards per round to see which one the judge likes the best.

The Apples to Apples fan website, Munching Apples, provides variations and rules to more than two dozen games including the following:

  • Crab Apples: The judge picks their least favorite card as the winner.
  • Apple Turnovers: Players only use five cards instead of seven and judge uses the adjective deck as well.
  • Big Apples: Players can bet their winning cards for a chance to win more cards.
  • Apple Pot-pourri: Players put down their card before the judge reveals their own.
  • Apples and Oranges: Play until all green cards are gone.
  • Daily Harvest: All players refresh their cards each round.
  • Rotten Apples: The judge can replace their card once within the round.

Apples to Apples Game in the Classroom

The Apples to Apples game is also an excellent learning tool used in many classrooms. Although the recommended playing age is 12 and up, most children as young as 10 can easily grasp the concept of the game and enjoy playing it.

Learning Components

As a learning tool, the game helps to:

  • Develop general knowledge
  • Develop vocabulary skills
  • Develops reading skills
  • Develop language arts skills
  • Develop verbal skills as children explain their decision making and reasoning
  • Develop critical thinking skills
  • Promote positive relationships between students

Different Game Editions

Apples to Apples is a fun and loud game that can get pretty interesting. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that it can come in several editions. Check out a few of these winners that range in price from about $15 to about $50.

Apples to Apples Junior

Designed for kids ages 9 and up, Apples to Apples Junior works to simplify the game while building a child's budding vocabulary. They get to make crazy comparisons and learn a little too. Now, will you pick monkey or pickle to go with that crunchy green apple card?

Apples to Apples Jewish Edition

The Jewish edition of Apples to Apples is based on religious themes like family, culture and history. Jewish players will push their religious knowledge while trying to make meaningful and sometimes hilarious comparisons.

Apples to Apples Bible Edition

Following the original rules set, the bible edition puts a religious spin on the cards. Don't be surprised if you find a David and Goliath word war.

An Award Winning Game

Originally published in 1999 by Out of the Box Publishing, Mattel acquired the manufacturing, marketing and distribution rights to Apples to Apples in 2007. Since its introduction, the game has won many awards including:

  • Mensa Select Award for Games - 1999
  • National Parenting Center's seal of approval in May - 1999
  • Party Game of the Year chosen by Games Magazine - 1999
  • Party Game of the Year chosen by Games Magazine - 2000
  • Best American Game Tiger Award - 2000
  • Canadian Toy Testing Council - Three Star Award

Playing Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples is a fun and fast paced word comparison game that can lead to all kinds of hilarity. With several variations and editions, it's truly a game that any family can enjoy.

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Apples to Apples: Rules of the Exciting Card Game