Let's talk about a terrific game that I recommend often and yet personally hate playing. Apples to Apples has had huge success and spawned a number of expansions and add-ons. It's a popular group game and a good choice for playing in the car or with larger groups of children.
The rules of Apples to Apples are simple. All the players get a hand of cards and upon the cards are nouns- "my teacher," or "a banana," for example. Then the players take turns dealing a card with an adjective on it. For example it might say "grumpy." Everyone then chooses a card from their hand which best matches the word "grumpy." Finally the group decides whose suggestion is best and that person wins points.
As one can imagine the game gets quite lively as people throw out funny suggestions and then argue as to which is best. Is "my sister" the grumpiest? Or is "a whale" the grumpiest? Players can make their best case that a whale is actually quite grumpy and if everyone agrees then that person scores the points. Therein lies this games strength and it's weakness. The play is very interactive and everyone gets involved. There's lots of laughs as people argue who or what is grumpy or tall or funny. In my opinion this is also a sort of weakness. Many games require some decision making and risk taking- do you buy Park Place? Do you think Professor Plum used a candlestick? And after the game a person might say "OK, don't buy railroads," or "next time I'll play differently and win!" In Apples to Apples there's little room for risks or for improving between games. The game is very replayable but in a fashion similar to Trivial Pursuit- each time you play your experience is going to be about the same. I think at heart that Apples to Apples is a great game for non-gamers.
Apples to Apples has been reprinted numerous times. There are versions for younger players, party vesions, Bible history versions and supplements for everything from Yiddish to British Isles. You can find a copy at Hit and Run Games in Lexington.
Pros: Fun and lively game
Good group game, good party game, good social game
Easy for kids to play
Cons: No game strategy per se
Not a game you can play to win
Beyond the Basics: Difficult to say- the game is replayable and expansions are available but you're not going to become "better" at Apples to Apples.