How to Play Apples to Apples

If you’re Planning A Game Night Party For Family & Friends or just looking for a new game to play, why not check out and learn how to play Apples to Apples? Apples to Apples is a family friendly game that is great for ages 12 and up. It builds on social and language skills. But, you’ll be having so much fun that you’ll forget you’re building skills too! Overall, Apples to Apples is a really easy game to learn how to play. And, we’ll help you learn the basics so you can get your game on.

What Kind of Game is Apples for Apples?

Apples to Apples is a party card game that uses card matching and community judging to come up with the winners of the game. It’s similar to games like Cards Against Humanity but is much more family friendly. With this in mind, the game is geared towards ages 12 and up. And, it’s good for a small group of 4 or a large group of 10 players. So, you can play this just about anywhere and anytime.

The basic premise of the game is to match red object cards with green descriptive cards. Whoever has the best answer or most clever answer is the winner. Since Apples to Apples game is a card based game, you won’t have any game board. But, you’ll have those red and green colored cards to play with.

There are over 700 red cards that are object based. This means that they are a person, place, thing, or event. So, it could be a place like, “Los Angeles,” or a person such as, “Bob Dylan.” Green cards are descriptive. This means they describe a characteristic of a person, place, thing, or event. There are over 200 descriptions like, “rudely,” or “bored,” to get you started. For even more fun, the game also includes 7 red cards and 3 green cards that are blank, so you can personalize them for your group of players.

Overall, the combinations can be hilarious and really fun as you start playing. Let’s break down the gameplay for Apples to Apples and learn how to get started.  

Photo by ishane

Getting Started

Now that we know a bit about Apples to Apples, let’s learn how to get started playing this game. Here are some of the basic things you need to do first.

  • Decide on how many players: Apples to Apples is best for 4-10 players. But, the fewer players you have, the faster the gameplay will be. So, deciding how many players you’ll have is the first step to playing the game.
  • Decide on how many wins you need before the game is officially ended: The game is based on wins per round. If you want to make sure the gameplay doesn’t go on forever, decide how many wins you need in order for the game to be officially completed.
  • Shuffle two decks of cards: Shuffle up your cards well. And, be sure to keep the red and green cards separated at all times, since these cards affect the gameplay.
  • Decide on the judge for the first round: As a group, decide who will be the first judge. Everyone gets a chance to be a judge during the Apples to Apples gameplay. So, don’t worry too much about choosing who will be judge first.
  • Deal seven red cards to each player: Each player will always begin a new round with seven red object cards. The judge in each round is also the dealer. So, the dealer will hand out seven cards to each player before the gameplay begins.


Now that we have the basics, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to play Apples to Apples. We’ll cover general gameplay. And, we’ll take a look at some ways you can change up the game too.

General Gameplay

  1. Judge turns over the green card. This is your descriptive card. You want to make sure that you match one of the seven red object cards you have to the green descriptive card. Go through your red cards and really think about the funniest or best combinations that you think might help you win.
  2. Lay down a red card of your choice to match the green card. Once you decide on the red card that you want to play during this round, place it face down next to the green card. Gameplay works best if this is done quickly.
  3. Judge shuffles up red face down cards. To make sure that you don’t know whose card is who’s, the judge will take all of the face down red cards and shuffle them up.
  4. Judge reads out red and green card combinations and chooses a winner. Each judge can decide a winner based on their own preferences. There are no official rules that will make one person’s choice a winner or not. We find that winners are usually chosen if they are clever or really funny.
  5. Winner takes green descriptive card and places it by their deck of red cards. Determining the overall game winner is based on how many wins or green cards you have.
  6. Winner takes all. Once you predetermined goal of maximum winning rounds has been met, the overall winner will be chosen and the gameplay will end.

Alternative Gameplay

Playing Apples to Apples is relatively easy. But, if you want to switch up the gameplay, there are several variations that you can play to make the game more interesting. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Apple Turnover: The roles are reversed when you play the game using green descriptive cards to match to your red card. In this case, the judge deals five green cards to every player. Then, they turn over a red card. Players must then decide what descriptive card best describes the object card, and the judge chooses a winner.
  • Crab Apples: Opposites attract when you play this version. The goal is to choose an object card that is least like the descriptive card turned over. For example, “Scary” might be your descriptive word. Place words like, “Puppy” or “Love,” to match the opposite of the word scary.

There are many more alternative gameplay options for players to learn too. We recommend mastering the basics and learning some of the fun variations to keep the game interesting and exciting.

Gaming Made Easy: Learning How to Play Apples to Apples

As we’ve learned, Apples to Apples is a fairly easy card game to play. With its simple gameplay and fun variations, it’s a game that you’ll want to play with your friends and family. Looking for other great games to play like Apples to Apples? Check out our Best Board Games You Can Play in 2016 Buying Guide for even more fun games that you’ll love to play again and again.

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