Anomia - a fun way to freak out your kid

Carla and I freaked out our 9-year-old daughter Jane when we sat down to play Anomia the other night. That's because we were laughing hysterically. "I've never seen you guys like this before," she said, her eyes wide.

The reason we were laughing was because of the ridiculous answers we were blurting out during Anomia's "face-offs." A face-off occurs when one of the cards you draw from the deck has a symbol that matches the symbol on another player's upturned card. When that happens, you have to shout out an example of the category listed on the opponent's card. Example categories: comic book character, department store, fast food restaurant, occupation, European country, plumber's tool, zoo animal, mobster. If you call out a correct example before the other player, you score a point.

The definition of anomia is "a problem with word finding or recall," and, as you might guess, trying to think of a word when you are under pressure isn't easy. Often, we will say words that have nothing to do with the categories, because our brains have short-circuited. Players tend to scream the answers, which adds to the merriment. The game gets really fun when one or more "cascade" rounds follow a face-off.

Anomia's rules are simple, and we were playing like champs five minutes after tearing the shrink wrap off the box. The instructions say that a round lasts about 30 minutes, but when we play, our rounds last only 15 minutes, so we usually play two rounds. We also observe the optional "no repeat" rule (which means you can't repeat any answer that has already been used).

I'm looking forward to playing this with a larger group.



    1. I’ve played Anomia. It’s a really fun and well-thought-out game, put out by a small press. Beats Milton Bradley crap hands down, and is also pretty stellar if you don’t want an iPhone in your face while playing a game.

      1. Totally agree, extremely well conceived, put out by a real mom&pop shop.

        I play tested this game before release; it’s totally addictive and is almost always one of the first things I like to pull out when hanging out with a friend who throw out a comment like “yeah, I wasn’t really ever that into games, let’s maybe just play some tunes.” Then we play, a lot, and that friend goes and buys it.
        People who don’t play games, love playing this game.

  1. I’m always playing when our group pulls out Anomia, but I think the next time I’ll take photos of the facial expressions this game evokes. Especially if you play several rounds with the “no repeats” rule in place. 

  2. Sounds like great practice for getting older.  I think the frequency with which I say “what’s the word for __________” is doubling annually.  Maybe playing this will slow things down.  Or  …  mmm …  oh yeah, accelerate (!) the decline.  ordered the game.

  3. wow – we have one of the first run printings of this game because the guy who invented it lives in our neighborhood.  I didn’t think it would ever really leave the area, though.  great to see it catching on!

  4. Hey, this reminds me of a similar game, “Alzheimer’s”, but the word-finding fun is combined with emotional lability and incontinence. Then there’s “Parkinson’s”, where everyone gets so befuddled we all just rock back and forth and drool.

    Next up: “Traumatic Brain Injury”, where players guess the origin of their massive head wounds on the basis of their crazy discombobulated utterances! Fun for the whole family!

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