Party games can be frustrating...
Now I don't consider myself a games snob. But tonight I realized a little more why I don't like party games - or more specifically Apples to Apples.
My wife and I were invited to play Settlers - Cities and Knights with a few other couples. Well, it turns out that an additional couple was invited, so we were stuck with eight people. When we showed up, I saw Balderdash on the table. Now I almost walked out because that is one of my least favorite party games. But instead, someone had brought Apples to Apples. I had played once before and had an enjoyable time so I lobbied for that one and was successful.
If you haven't played, it's basically played like this: everyone has a handful of cards. Someone, who is considered the judge, lays down a card with an adjective and everyone picks a card from their hand that best matches the adjective. The judge then chooses the card he feels should win from the submissions.
The first hand, I knew I really disliked the game. The adjective was unscrupulous. Now my group was mostly conservative Republicans so I played Bill Clinton. When the seven cards were read, I knew I had a sure winner. No other card even matched the adjective. Everyone seemed to agree, but the judge picked Academy Awards instead. Tell me how in the heck Academy Awards is unscrupulous?! The justification for picking it didn't even make sense. So I leaned to my wife and whispered something derogatory about the game and how I was going to pick whatever made me laugh. When it was my turn the word was industrious. I got words like teacher, Ghandi and some other pretty good answers. But my wife played Charging Rhinos, which of course I picked because it didn't have anything to do with industriousness.
And so the game went. I played whatever I thought would either make people laugh or whatever card I was tired of having in my hand. My submission was actually picked once - the word was glitzy and I threw out The 1980s and someone thought it was the best answer. It wasn't. Which basically proved my own point - that Apples to Apples isn't really a game. It's more of a social activity. I think if you treat it as such it can be fun. Play for the enjoyment and social interaction and you will probably have an entertaining evening. Treat it as a game and play to win and it really is frustrating. It's too arbitrary. Many times throughout the evening, there was a clear-cut winner (in my opinion) that didn't win.
These are my thoughts. I think I would have rather played Shadows Over Camelot with Rob, which is at least a game with some strategy and goals (so I've heard). I will pass on Apples to Apples from now on. If it hits the table, I will go along for the ride and play to have fun, make people laugh and have some social interaction. But I hope it doesn't come to that...