Apples to Apples Game Rules: Learn How to play this fun card game

Make no mistake about it, the basic Apples to Apples game rules make this one of the silliest games we’ve played in a long time, and that’s all part of the appeal! 

The game uses two sets of cards – red apple cards and green apple cards. Green cards contain an adjective while the red cards contain the name of a person, place, thing or event that could be anything from a famous movie to the concept of nirvana. 

As a player, your job is to choose one of your red cards that best matches the description on the green card. If there isn’t an obvious match, you’ll need to use your imagination, a process which often leads to many laugh-out-loud moments.

What is Apples to Apples?

A combination of a traditional card game like 5 Crowns and the board games you know and love, Apples to Apples has been a big hit at parties, family gatherings and grown-up game nights since it first burst onto the scene at the end of the 90s. 

If you like the idea of similar ‘matching’ games such as Cards Against Humanity but are looking for something a little less risque, this might be just your thing. After all, while it’s not exactly as PG as say, HedBanz, it certainly proves popular among families with teenagers and older children.

Here’s how it’s played:

Number of Players Required: 4 – 10.

Who Can Play It: Ages 12+. Apples to Apples Junior is more suitable for younger children.

Difficulty: Easy.

Main Objective: Earn enough green apple cards to win the game by getting the judges to pick your red apple cards more than any other. 

Why We Love It: It’s super creative and often hilarious. Often there’s no obvious match between the green apple card and what’s on a player’s red apple card, meaning that player really has to think outside the box. The results can range from hysterical to bizarre. 

Playing Apples to Apples: What You’ll Need 

Everything that you need to play comes in the official Apples to Apples game from Mattel.

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This contains:

  • 749 x Red Apple Cards
  • 249 x Green Apple Cards
  • 10 x Blank Cards (3 Green and 7 Red) that you can write on to make your game more personal
  • 2 x Deluxe Card Trays.

You’ll also get a full copy of the Apples to Apples rules. 

Setting Up Your Game

  • First, shuffle all the red cards and set them down into one of the card trays
  • Repeat this step for the green cards.
  • Next, choose one player to be the first judge. Don’t worry, every player will take a turn at being the judge.
  • The judge deals 7 red cards to each player, including themselves. 
  • Red cards must be dealt face down but players can look at them. 

Apples to Apples Rules and Gameplay

To start, the judge selects one green apple card from the top of the pile. The judge then reads that name out loud then places the card face-up on the table. 

The players’ job is to look at their red apple cards and pick one card they think best matches whatever is on the green card. 

The official Apples to apple game rules encourage players not to take too long on this part of the game. Half the fun is in seeing how quickly you can come up with a creative match.

Once a player has chosen their red card, they place it face down on the table, ensuring that none of the other players can see it. 

The judge then collects all of the red cards and shuffles them before turning them over. This ensures that they have no idea who played which card and thus they can’t be biased when picking their favorite. 

The judge will then read all of the red cards out loud and select the one they think best matches their chosen green apple card.

Though the judge can pick the one red card that matches the green card in the most obvious way, they can choose any card they like, rewarding creative answers or even those that simply appeal to them the most.

Whoever played the red card selected by the judge in that round is awarded 1 green card which equals 1 point. All the red cards are then reshuffled and added to the bottom of the pile.

The player to the judge’s left becomes the new judge and a new round begins. Play continues in this way until one player collects the pre-agreed number of cards. 

Scoring and How to Win at Apples To Apples

Each time a player earns a green card, that counts as 1 point. 

As in other board games such as Azul or Klask, the main objective of Apples and Apples is to score more points than your opponent and win the game.

In this game, however, the actual number of points you need to win is pre-determined by the official Apples to Apples rules, and depends on how many people are in your game. 

The following table outlines how many points you need to win:

Number of PlayersNumber of Points (green cards ) Needed to Win
48
57
66
75
8-104

Frequently Asked Questions About Apples to Apples

What is the Quick Pick Rule in Apples to Apples?

To discourage players from taking too long to select their cards, the game has an optional “Quick Pick” rule which states that the last player to play their red card is out of the round. Their red card is returned to them and won’t be judged. In other words, it pays to hurry!

Is Apples to Apples Really Not Suitable For Children?

Though it’s mostly a family-friendly game, some of the cards in Apples to Apples contain words that small children either won’t understand or perhaps shouldn’t be exposed to at a young age. For example, some of the red cards mention notorious names like Jack the Ripper or certain PG13 concepts.

If you didn’t want to rush out and buy the junior version or the game, you could adapt by sorting through the cards to remove anything you wouldn’t want your kids to see, or at the very least be willing to explain certain names and concepts to them.

Different Ways to Play Apples to Apples

Looking to liven things up? One of the things we love most about Apples to Apples is that there’s many different ways to play the game. 

For example, you could play the topsy-turvy game of Apple Turnovers in which the rules are reversed: Green apple cards are dealt to players which they have to match a red apple card flipped over by the judge.

Or how about adding a sense of unpredictability to your game by playing Apple Potpourri. In this version, players have to pick their red card *before* the judge selects a green card at random. Though this does make the judge’s job more difficult, it can often make this already hilarious game even funnier.

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