Apples to Apples: A Simply Sweet Gameplay Guide

three apples to apples cards

Adapted from Getty Images

There are few party games as fun to play as Apples to Apples. It’s easy to learn, and its endless variety makes for memorable and often hilarious experiences. The game is also appropriate for most ages. If you’ve never played before and want to learn how to play Apples to Apples, keep reading. This guide covers every important detail you need to know before diving into the fun.

The Basics of Apples to Apples

The Apples to Apples game is a blast to play. It’s also inherently a simple game. You don’t use many game pieces. Players don’t have to memorize too many Apples to Apples rules. You don't have to unscramble letters or make words. In short, there isn’t much to master before you and your friends and family start having fun.

The process for how to play Apples to Apples is simple:

  1. To start, every player draws seven Red Apple cards from the deck.

  2. The judge reads a Green Apple card with a prompt on it. 

  3. Each player submits a Red Apple card in response to the prompt.

  4. The player with the “best” answer wins the round and collects the Green Apple card.

  5. At the start of each new round, every player draws a new Red Apple card to replace the one they played in the previous round.

  6. The first player to win a predetermined number of rounds wins the game.

Apples to Apples is for four to ten players, and is appropriate for ages 12 and up.

Green Apple Cards

Green Apple cards determine a player’s score. Each card has an adjective printed on it. These include words like “Amazing,” “Silly” and “Cute.” During each round, one player serves as the judge. The judge reveals a Green Apple card to all of the players, placing it in the middle. The players then submit a Red Apple card they believe best matches the Green Apple card.

Apples to Apples comes with 63 Green Apple cards.

Red Apple Cards

Red Apple cards are the player cards. Each card has a noun with a description of that noun printed on it. One example, which would pair well with the “Silly” adjective above, is the “Knock-Knock Jokes” Red Apple card. Its description simply states, “Who’s there?” 

Once the judge reveals a Green Apple card, the other players choose one of their Red Apple cards that best relates to the adjective on the Green Apple card. When they make their choice, they place the card face down next to the Green Apple card for the judge to collect.

Apples to Apples comes with 441 Red Apple cards.

Judging Apples Against Apples

After everyone submits their Red Apple card, the judge shuffles them to mix them up. The judge lays each Red Apple card face-up next to the Green Apple card and reads them aloud. Once they have read all of the cards, the judge selects their favorite one. Whoever played the selected Red Apple card wins the round and claims the Green Apple card.

When a round ends, the player to the left of the current judge becomes the new judge for the next round.

Scoring and Winning the Game

A player wins when they collect a certain number of Green Apple cards. This amount varies depending on the number of people playing Apples to Apples. The more players you have, the fewer cards you need to win the game.

  • 4 players: 8 cards to win

  • 5 players: 7 cards to win

  • 6 players: 6 cards to win

  • 7 players: 5 cards to win

  • 8-10 players: 4 cards to win

Choosing a Winning Card

Most of the game’s fun (and complexity) comes from the fact that the winning Red Apple card is determined only by the judge’s opinion. This means that while there is only one correct Wordle answer each day, there is no single "right" answer in Apples to Apples. The "best" answer is entirely subjective.

When choosing a card, it’s important not only to choose a card that matches the adjective on the Green Apple card, but also to choose a card the judge will like. Whether it’s their logic or sense of humor, you need to understand the judge and how they think. You need to understand their personality.

Playing to the Judge

Consider this example of when you might choose a card that appeals to the judge rather than one that accurately matches the Green Apple Card. 

Say the judge shows the “Irritating” Green Apple card. You might have a logical response, such as the “Flat Tire” Red Apple card. But, you know the judge has an odd sense of humor, and you have the “Daytime TV” card as well. You play the second card, hoping the judge will think it’s funny. They do, and they choose your card because of it. Thus, you win the round.

More Games to Play With Friends

Party games are a staple of any fun night. You don't always have the time you wish you did to spend with the people you like. So, it’s important to find activities that make the most of what time you have. If you’re looking for more games to play beyond Apples to Apples, this list of family word board games can lead to some entertaining choices.

Zac Pricener has been a content creator for the past eight years. He’s a bit of an all-around nerd, and he has a bad habit of working movie and TV show references into conversations whenever possible.