Taboo + (grammar – skull-numbing boredom) = One Fine Game

I’ve been hearing for a while that the latest in party-game crazes is Apples to Apples, and I’m happy to report that after a single night’s shennanigans, I can declare myself a big fan.

See, my two favorite games so far have been Taboo and Drinking Jenga and Apples to Apples provides a combination of both those games. (I feel legally obligated to tell you that drinking apparently isn’t really a requirement– but, like I’ve been telling my writing students for years, there are just some things you shouldn’t try without being drunk.)


The premise of the game is fairly simple. There are two kinds of cards: green and red. Green cards have adjectives on them, and the red ones nouns. One person turns a green card over, and then the rest of the players pick a red card each from their hand that they feel best matches the adjective. If the judge, the person who flipped over the green card, agrees with your noun-adjective matching, then you win– which means that you get to keep the green card. Whoever gets to ten green cards first wins.

Wait, did I say simple? I meant painful to explain, but the game ends up being fun anyway.

The main thing is that Apples to Apples is a sly game– winning at it is sometimes about having an imaginative vocabulary, or being quick with pop-cultural references, and other times it really is about you making connections that are weird enough to get noticed, but popular enough to get you get picked a lot. (For example, I picked Thunder as the best noun for the adjective Cranky– but I couldn’t tell you why.) Then again, sometimes it’s about an affection for puns, and sometimes it’s about simple associations between concepts. Who knows? Not me, since I didn’t actually win.

What I do know is that a sure-fire way to make it fun is to play this game with five other loud, oustpoken people. Or, to be honest, with four loud, outspoken people and a petite, quiet woman. (Well, to be perfectly fair, with one petite and quiet woman, one outspoken stoned guy, two moderately enthusiastic people, one fairly enthusaistic player, and a partridge in a pear tree. Plus wine.)

Regardless, it’s an incredibly fun game, and I know that some reader/contributor of 12apostrophes recently got it as a birthday present so I’m waiting to get invited over, especially now that I hear you can buy a bible expansion pack.

$24.99 at

9 Responses to Taboo + (grammar – skull-numbing boredom) = One Fine Game

  1. Kris says:

    As the loser by several, several cards, I can recall my glorious 3 wins with ease. I picked up “frazzled” by playing “Jimmy Stewart”; “woebegone” by playing “lemons”; and, uh . . . some other funny, nonsensical pairing. I lied. I forgot already.

    For the longest time, I had no cards. The other folk, with their adjective piles in the double-digits (we played past the 10-cards-and-you-win), desperately tried to suss out which card was mine, and choose it through pity.

    If you ever felt like nobody understands you, play Apples to Apples, and have your fears confirmed, with cards (you know how little understood you are? 3. 3 cards little understood).

  2. Pulao says:

    In defense of the woebegone-lemon pairing: cars that are lemons are truly woebegone. It makes perfect sense.

  3. Jayashree says:

    As co-winner, I, petite quiet Woman (which sounds like my Indian name–no, the other Indian) laugh soundlessly.

  4. Matt says:

    This sounds like a game that I would be terrible at, but still love. Awesome!

  5. dbay says:

    Hey, you should have invited me too! I feel jealousy.

    Besides, the group probably needed a not-so-petite lush woman too.

  6. Pulao says:

    Hey, I think I have the “lush” covered in all possible sub-categories. In all situations.

  7. Jayashree says:

    I remembered the third card Kris won: shallow. He played the Grand Canyon. Brilliant. For those who don’t get it, Pulao calls those pairings Eye-Row-Nee.

  8. Kris says:

    No, no, NOW I remember — it was Shallow = Death Valley. Cause, you see, valleys are low lying. Not ironic!

    But, actually, Death Valley is probably pretty deep, compared sea-level wise. So it would be ironic . . . if we knew science. Or geography. Or definitions of words or something like that.

  9. Aakaash says:

    I want this game.
    But I have no friends to play it with…
    Is there an online version we can all play together? Help me feel wanted? Until I win no cards, of course.

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