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From Apples to Sheep


If there has been a breakout game in the U.S. market since Trivial Pursuit, it is probably Apples to Apples, "the frantic game of hilarious comparisons." The party card game of picking words that match has gone from only being sold in humble game shops to being available in many "big box" stores like Target and Toys R Us.

I understand the appeal and the fun that is had by many, but I must admit enough game snobbery that I put Apples to Apples more in the category of "activity" than "game."

If you like Apples to Apples, but wish there was more "there" there, I'm happy to recommend Attribute, "the creative word game about associations." This clever card word game was designed by Marcel-André Casasola Merkle and published in 2002 in Germany by Lookout Games. It is published in North America from Z-Man Games.

Each player is dealt a hand of four attribute cards and one sheep card. The attribute cards each have a word that could be used to describe something. It might describe a quality such as "sexy" or "delicious," or physical attribute like "curvy" or "striped," or some other kind of description such as "stinky" or "can swim." The back of each attribute cards has a gold coin.

Instead of having a deck of cards with topics as in Apples to Apples, Attribute allows players to make up the topic. This makes the game more personal and fun. Each turn, a player names the topic, which can be anything at all. It could be a person, a color, or something like "funny," "charity" or "gravity." Once named, each player must select from the four attribute cards and select either one that best describes the topic if they were dealt a green sheep, or one that does not, if they have a red sheep card. When the attribute cards are all revealed, players want to place their hand on what they think is a green card.

Instead of the arbitrary rulings of a judge, Attribute has a structured scoring system. A point is gained if the player selected a green sheep card or if their card didn't get selected and it had a red sheep. A player loses a point if they selected a set with a red sheep or if their set didn't get grabbed and it had a green sheep. There is still plenty of room for bluffing, especially if you have a red card, and the attributes the players select still generate the same sorts of laughs and fun as in Apples to Apples.