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.
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Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.