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Subject: Apples to Apples Dice: The Bad Apple in the Barrel rss

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Bruce Nettleton
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Richmond
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For those of you who have not played the original Apples to Apples, you're missing a great party game that generates a lot of fun and laughter.

Players take turns being the judge for a round. The judge draws a random adjective from a deck of cards and places it face up on the table. The remaining players select a card from their hand with a noun on it and submit it face down to the judge. The judge mixes the submissions, then reads them off one by one and selects one as the winner. The player who submitted the winning card gets to keep it face down in front of them, and the first player to collect five face down cards wins the game.

What makes the game fun is that players always have a fairly limited number of choices in their hand, and so some pretty bizarre word combinations turn up. Somebody may turn in the word "pizza" in response to the adjective "important," or identify "Marlyn Monroe" as "alien." The judge often needs to choose between a straight ahead really good match between noun and adjective or a hilarious mismatch of form and substance.

The Apples to Apples line has spawned a number of spin-offs and expansions, most of which preserve the basic mechanics and quirky humor of the original. recently, though, Mattel tried to port Apples to Apples to a dice driven system and... well...

The can is cool. The game comes packaged in an aluminum can that looks like a soda or beer can, but with a top that pops off so you can get at the components. Inside the can you'll find a set of instructions, six red six-sided dice showing different letters on each face, and a twenty-sided green die, also with letters on each face.

The idea of the game, at first glance, is similar to the more traditional card-driven version. The judge will throw the green die and call out an adjective beginning with the letter shown on the die. Next, the judge throws a set of red dice equal to the number of remaining players. As these dice come to rest, players snatch one and provide a noun starting with the letter shown on their red die. The judge selects the best answer and rewards a green chip to the winning player. The first player to gain five chips wins the game.

Someone didn't think this through, however. Because the judge knows who submitted each answer, he would be a fool to award the chip to somebody who already has four chips in hand (assuming that players are playing to win...) Do the math. What you'll discover is that (with players playing optimally) the game will last for exactly four times around the table, with the player who went first becoming the judge who will get to decide which of the other players will win the game.

Granted, winning isn't everything. Heck, sometimes we play Apples to Apples without keeping score to start with. But the dice version also fails to deliver on the "fun quotient" of the original. The hilarity of the original was usually driven by having to select a noun from a very limited pool. Which of these lousy matches will I choose?

In the dice version, though, the pool of nouns is only limited by the number of words you can think of that start with the letter "D." The humor is always forced, at best, and the game just isn't fun.

I love Apples to Apples. I knew a dice version would not be as good, but I'd be hard pressed to come up with an adjective starting with any letter to describe how disappointing this really bad re-hash turned out to be.
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Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
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Sunnyvale
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Thanks for taking the time to review a game you didn't love.
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David Boeren
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Marietta
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If anything is worse than judges picking some dumb clod's answer over your brilliant satire that went right over their uneducated head it's probably judges deliberately favoring specific players no matter what their answers were. This sounds absolutely awful.
 
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Chris Wood
United States
Darien
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It just goes to show you how these large corporations care more about the profit than quality. If they had just playtested this game ONCE, they would have caught this design flaw.
 
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Daniel Kearns
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Bloomington
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Grim.
 
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Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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Just imagine the red offboard up here. I'll create it Real Soon Now...
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Myoman wrote:
It just goes to show you how these large corporations care more about the profit than quality. If they had just playtested this game ONCE, they would have caught this design flaw.


It depends -- *gamers* will catch the optimal "strategy", but my family, for example, wouldn't.

Also this brings to mind my comment about Dixit, which probably holds true here as well: "If you care that much about keeping score, you should be playing something else."
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