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What’s the word? It’s on the tip of your tongue. You’ve known this word all your life. You try to calm yourself. Deep breaths. It’s not coming. You’ve forgotten it. How could you have forgotten it?
And then, finally, somehow, it snaps into focus. “Dog!” you shout triumphantly as you seize the card from the table. Victory! Just about snatched from the jaws of defeat! What was the task? Name an animal. Any animal. Tough stuff.
Welcome to Anomia, the deceivingly difficult word game that will have you scrambling for words you do know and shouting words you didn’t even know you knew. Read on as we review Anomia and Anomia Kids.
Brief Overview of Anomia and Anomia Kids
- Players: 3-6
- Playing time: 30 minutes
- Ages: 10+
Anomia is a fast-paced, competitive word game based on categories. It can also be hilarious and chaotic. Name a word associated with the category on your opponent’s card. Any word. Do it before they name a word from your card and you win their card. If they do it before you, they win your card.
It is a party game that is portable, quick to set up, and easy to learn. It takes about 30 minutes and 3 to 6 players can join. It’s best suited for people who love word games already or people who want to play a quick and easy card game.
- Players: 3-6
- Playing time: 30 minutes
- Ages: 5+
Anomia is basically suitable for anyone who can read, so it’s already a great family game. However, Anomia Kids introduces a new type of card: one with pictures instead of written categories.
So younger children can still play, even if they can’t read well, or find the written categories too obscure. Apart from that, the mechanics are the exact same.
Unboxing Anomia and Anomia Kids
Anomia is short and sweet. There is very little to unpack. The boxes for Anomia and Anomia Kids are very similar but do include a couple of differences.
- Rule Pamphlet
- 2 decks containing 100 cards each
- 92 Unique Playing Cards
- 8 Wild Cards
The first thing to notice is the overall size of the game. It comes in a very small, compact box. This makes it easy to store and easy to transport. If you’re on the move but want to bring a fun game with you, Anomia is perfect.
There are two decks of cards with different colored backs. They’re not thick but they don’t feel flimsy either. They are easy to differentiate and easy to deal. Categories are printed clearly on each one so every player can easily see all the cards in play at any one time.
- Rule Pamphlet
- 2 decks containing 54 cards each
- 48 Unique Playing Cards
- 6 Wild Cards
The overall presentation and quality of Anomia Kids is the same. The main difference is in the graphics on the cards. Instead of printing words as the category, the kids’ version prints pictures instead. Again, these are very easy to see and differentiate.
How to Play Anomia and Anomia Kids
The mechanics of Anomia are easy to understand, but hard to execute. And that is the beauty of the game.
Choose one of the two decks from the box and shuffle it. This deck includes the playing cards and the Wild Cards. Split this deck into two and place them face-down in the middle of the play area. These are the Draw Piles.
Once the game is set up, the shuffler goes first. Draw a card from either Draw Pile and place it face-up in front of you in a Play Pile. Make sure to flip the card quickly so everyone sees it at the same time. Move clockwise around the board.
Once it is your go again, draw a card from either Draw Pile, flip it, and place it on top of your Play Pile. Only the top card of your Play Pile is in play.
Time to Duel
Each card includes a category and a symbol. When the symbol on the top card of your Play Pile matches with another player, you enter a Face-Off. This is the centerpiece of Anomia.
Now it is just you against your opponent. Turn-taking comes to a halt until this is resolved. You need to name a word associated with the category on your opponent’s card. They are aiming to do the exact same thing, so speed is essential.
If you win the round, take the loser’s top card from their Play Pile and place it face down in your Win Pile.
The loser’s Play Pile now has a new top card. Check around the table to see if there are any new match-ups between the loser and the rest of the players. If there are, this starts a cascade of Face-Offs. Each one reveals new top cards and potential match-ups. Resolve all of them before moving on to the next player’s turn.
Another way to cause a Face-Off is through matching with a Wild Card. If you draw a one on your turn, play it face-up next to the Draw Piles. A Wild Card has two symbols and is in play for everyone. At any time, if two players’ top card symbols match with the Wild Card symbols, they enter a Face-Off.
Anomia Kids plays the exact same way as Anomia. The only difference is in the cards. Instead of written categories, the cards feature pictures.
Once a Face-Off is triggered, players say a word starting with the same sound as the picture on their opponent’s card. For example, if their card features a hat, you could say house to win the round.
Scoring, Winning, and House Rules
Play until the Draw Piles run out. Whoever has the most cards in their Win Pile wins. Every game will follow this format. However, you can choose different scoring rules for each game.
If you want to make it more interesting, the winner of the Face-Off could be the answer the group deems to be the best answer. This could be the funniest, smartest, or most obscure answer. It’s up to the group to decide the criteria.
Another cool twist is to increase the number of words needed per category. To win the Face-Off you need to name two or even three words associated with that category.
Versions & Expansions
Aside from the regular version of Anomia and the Kids version, there are a few other options to mix up the game.
Anomia: Party Edition
Pros & Cons
Anomia is an excellent party game. It is really quick to teach and learn. It’s also loud, energetic, and hilarious. People get excited while playing and there is a lot of interaction between players. There’s no downtime and you need to be on constant alert.
- Excellent Party Game
- Adapt your own house rules
- Kids can play
You can modify the game to the group you are playing with and their particular preferences. Play in teams, change the scoring criteria and adapt the game to your specific requirements. As long as everyone agrees with the house rules, the game works.
The rules and mechanics are great for younger players. Kids can play the original version but some of the categories might seem too obscure for them. Anomia Kids lets anyone play. They just need to understand the mechanics to enjoy a game of Anomia.
- Limited categories
- Very repetitive
- Kids’ version is less funny
You only get two decks in an Anomia box. If you play the game a lot, you will become very familiar with the decks. The spontaneity and frantic nature of the game can be lost, as you already have an answer for every card in the deck.
Anomia is very simple. As long as you love the mechanic of naming categories before your opponent you will love this game. But the moment that becomes a bit repetitive, the game loses its main appeal. It doesn’t work as the centerpiece of game night and is better used as a filler.
Though Anomia Kids does allow younger children to play, it just isn’t as funny. Anomia is hilarious. Answers can be ridiculous, obscure, and unexpected. Anomia Kids is fun, especially for younger kids, but it removes a lot of the comedic aspect that makes the original great.
I think Anomia really works as a party game. It seems easy — and it is. Except for the fact that you are under pressure and the most basic recall will somehow take on spectacular difficulty. Obvious words will drift just out of reach. Obscure words will randomly surface fully formed. It is hilarious, lively, and unexpected.
It is also very inclusive. Most kids over 10 years old can play the original version. But for younger kids that can’t read or find the categories too obscure, Anomia Kids allows them to join in. This can make it a great game that includes all the family.
Personally, I would only play Anomia Kids if the kids genuinely couldn’t play the original version. Anomia Kids is more inclusive and is still a fun game in its own right. But it just isn’t as spontaneous, energetic and funny as the original version.
We hope you enjoyed our Anomia review and Anomia Kids review! Have you tried this fun party card game or any of the other versions? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.