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Sometimes I have a game that’s more a fun diversion or an activity rather than an actual game. I keep these games around, because they’re fun to pull out, but I really don’t need too many of them. Granny Apples (Gamewright, 2005 – Leviticus Williamson) is one of these diversions. It’s absolutely beautiful, can be used as a teaching tool, and is fun to play for a few minutes. But I don’t think I’ll ever pull it out, other than to show people a neat thing I have or to help teach children observation and addition.
Does that mean it’s worth buying or not? As a game, I’m not sure I’d ever recommend it, unless you have some young children who are learning to add fractions. As a neat diversion to pull out after a dinner party that can last for only five minutes, it’s fun and entertaining in that regard. Depending on how you plan to use it should determine whether you purchase it or not.
A pile of apple tokens (75 whole apples and ten half apples) are placed on the table, as well as a die cup filled with eight special apple dice. The apple dice are wooden half apples – with a sticker picture on one side and a painted apple on the other. One player is chosen to be the first “Orchard Keeper”, and the first round begins.
In each round, the “Orchard Keeper” rolls the apples on the table, and everyone quickly counts the apples shown.
- Each apple that lands on the apple-side up counts as one whole apple.
- Each apple that shows the inside of an apple counts as half an apple.
- If a worm is shown, he eats one apple (subtracts one from the total).
- If a bird is shown, he cancels the worm, otherwise does nothing.
- If a pie is shown, it uses two apples (subtracts two from the total).
- If Granny is shown, the Orchard Keeper moves an applet token into the basket (incidentally, I never do this – I throw them into the box. The basket makes such a great die cup!)
As soon as a player has calculated the correct number of apples, they shout it out. The Orchard Keeper, who is NOT playing this round, determines who this player is, and also determines whether they are correct or not. If the player is correct, then they receive that amount of apple tokens and place them in front of them. If they are erroneous, the player loses half of all their current apple tokens, rounding down. The winner becomes the next Orchard Keeper (or player to the left of the Orchard Keeper if someone was wrong) for the next round.
One note – if all eight apples show their sticker-side, then the first player to shout “Granny Apples!” wins two apple tokens from each other player. As soon as Granny’s basket has twelve apple tokens in it, or there are no apple tokens left, the game is over. Whichever player has the most apple tokens is the winner!
Some comments on the game…
1.) Components: The components for this game are absolutely superb. As I stated in the rules, I think that the apple basket makes for a superb apple (die) cup, and just throw the apple tokens in the box. The apple tokens are small double-sided cardboard tokens, but it’s the actual apple dice that take the case. They’re about the size of a typical die but are shaped like a half apple. I’ve rolled them myriads of times, and it seems like they’ll land on both sides equally. Sometimes they’ll even land standing on end – in which case the rules say to reroll them. Everything comes packaged in an attractive, square box. No matter what else one may say about the game, it sure is an attractive package.
2.) Rules: An eight page full-color foldout contains the rules, which are extremely simple. A couple of examples of scoring are included as well as some advanced play rules (changing what the stickers mean, etc.) I found that the game is fairly simple and can be taught to people in a matter of moments. The game can be taught to children, as long as they understand fractions. I tried to teach my five year old daughter, but she just couldn’t get past the half apples. So we played without them, but it still wasn’t simple enough for her – I would put the age limit at about eight or so.
3.) Activity or Game: People are usually impressed when I first pull out the game, explain how the apples are counted, and roll the dice. This lasts for about five or ten minutes, with people trying to count the apples. However, the game could get monotonous after several rounds, so I usually then put it away. I bring it out as a conversational piece, not a competitive game. Sure, it’s fun to see who counts faster, but that’s usually determined after only a couple rounds. Some people are just naturally better at counting the apples than others, so the game isn’t necessary to determine this.
4.) Educational: The game is an educational way to teach children to count quickly, and add halves. For this, I would play the entire game, as counting quickly is an extremely useful skill. With elementary kids, and even those in secondary, this game works well to help kids count quickly, so teachers or parents may want to consider it.
5.) Fun Factor: There’s no denying that the initial counting of the apples when I introduce it is always fun. People crowd around, and there’s laughter and shouting as people attempt to get the correct number. After several rolls, however, folks drift – both in attention span and physically. It’s fun, but fleeting fun.
Your decision to buy Granny Apples frankly depends on what you plan to do with it. If you’re looking for an attractive educational tool that you can bring out at parties for five to ten minutes of fun, then Granny Apples is an excellent candidate. If you’re looking for a good game, then you should probably go elsewhere. Would I get it – yes, because I can use it with my children (eventually), and I like having attention getters such as this. But my gaming group will never see it.
“Real men play board games.”