November is Games and Puzzles Month, dedicated to preserving the tradition of investing time with family and friends. In the U.S. it’s also a reminder to be thankful for all those relationships.
One game that fosters good family/friend fun is Apples to Apples from Out of the Box Games (www.otb-games.com). As readers of this blog know, I am partial to games that encourage imaginative associations, (See the October post on Who Would Win?) and this one is a vocabulary-builder to boot. The premise is simple: One person serves as a judge – players take turns in that role – and as many as 10 others can be the word association players.
The judge deals 7 red apple cards (from a total of an astounding 749) face down to each player and draws one of 249 green apple cards from the pile, which he or she reads aloud. Players look at their 7 cards and choose one that is best described by the word on the green apple card. They place that face down in front of them, and the judge picks them up and mixes them up to disguise whose card is whose. The judge chooses the card s/he feels is the best match and then gives that green card to the player who submitted it. In a 4-player game, a winner is the first person to win 8 green cards. With 8 – 10 players, only 4 green cards are needed for a winner to be declared. The instructions include half a dozen variations of this basic premise, and below is an idea of my own.
Because there are hundreds of cards and infinite combinations, another way to play is to limit the number of beginning letters of words to play. For example, if you played only with cards containing words that began with the letter “R” some of your choices would be:
Realistic Refined Refreshing Relaxing Repulsive Responsible Revolutionary Rich Ridiculous Risky
Ragweed Rain Rainbows Rappers Raspberries Reading a book Recreational vehicles Recycling Redwood forests Reggae music Regis Philbin Remote controls Road kill Rust Robert de Niro Robin Williams Rock concert Rocket scientists Rocky Mountains Running a marathon
You would not, of course, be likely to play the game using words that began with only one letter (even though there are a dozen other “R” words I didn’t include here), but you can see how some associations are easy (“Repulsive road kill” or “Refreshing Redwood forests”) and others might be more of a stretch. (Which red card word would fit with “Revolutionary”? Rappers and remote controls might have been once, but aren’t any more.) Some names and places may be unfamiliar to players and require explanations — a way to build new knowledge.
You could also play a more verbal version in which each player could explain the association when it isn’t obvious, and argue for his or her choice. A judge might award the green card to the person whose association is most creative or most humorous, for example. This is a game made for the flexibility and diplomacy required at any Thanksgiving gathering.
You can learn more or purchase Apples to Apples from Amazon here.