Did you ever think what was missing from the children's card game Snap was trivia? Well obviously someone did because that's exactly what Anomia is.
2 decks of 100 category cards
The components of Anomia are pretty straight forward, it's literally two decks of cards with different coloured backs.
This refresh does improve the look of the cards from the original but it's still a very minimalistic look but that's probably to ensure the usability of the cards.
There's a good mix of categories in the decks, although some of them are harder than others, for example TV Show is probably easier than Palindrome. And then some are weird, like Noun… most of the cards want you to name a noun in a specific category this one feels almost too open.
The rules are clear and simple to follow and are written with a "Have fun and keep playing" ethos that I appreciate. Everything fits in a small box but you can easily just throw a deck in your pocket as you only need one deck to play.
In games with three players cards need to be removed from the deck before play can begin, otherwise the game is ready to play straight out of the box with only needing to shuffle the deck.
A Quick Overview
To play Anomia shuffle and cut the deck and place them so all players can reach at least one deck. On their turn a player draws a card adding it to any face up already in front of them.
If the symbol in the centre of the card matches a symbol already in front of another player a face off begins. The first player to shout out a word that fits the category of their opponents cards wins and takes their opponents card, adding it to their score pile.
This could reveal another card and another potential face off. Matches continue until no face up cards match at which point the next player draws.
If a player draws a wild this will cause two different symbols to be matches as well. This effect takes place immediately. Then the player who drew a wild draws again. The wild remains in effect until it is replaced by another wild.
When all the cards have been played from the face down decks players add up the cards in their score piles and the highest score wins.
I initially played Anomia with four players at a recent Game Night event and while the game was fine, I found it a bit disjointed. Each round you draw and look to see if you match, usually without effect, but then occasionally you do match and possibly more than once, creating a frenzy of activity that then settles back into draw, draw, draw.
More recently I got the game to the table with three, which, given the game doesn’t work directly out of the box with three, I figured would be less fun. But I actually enjoyed it more. Perhaps it’s simply the amount of involvement you get in a three player experience, you’re involved on average in two thirds of all matches.
At the end of the day, whether or not you’ll like Anomia is dependent on whether or not you like speed games. Anomia is Category Snap and the fastest player is going to win more than the smartest player. The categories themselves are pretty broad but players will need to decide amongst themselves what counts in any given category. For example in the category of Planet, Earth surely counts, but what about fictional planets like Mandalore? Or Pandora?
The Wild Cards add a nice twist to the game, allowing for more matches but also helping to add that little wrinkle to the matching part of the game, where players might not always spot a match straight away but in a satisfying way.
The game can be broken if players don’t engage with the spirit of the game. For example, players drawing the card and looking at it before showing it to the other players. Or, as I had, one player, looking at all the other players cards, getting an answer in their head and then drawing the card and immediately blurting out their prepared answer.
I initially worried if repeat plays with the same deck will hurt the game as it’s fairly easy to just blurt out the same answer for the same card every time. But then I think maybe that’s part of what makes Anomia fun, that in your group the answer to Film is “High School Musical” because that was the first thing that came to Bob’s mind the first time you all played together. You can also instigate the no repeats rule that says the same answer cannot be given during the same play, forcing players to think on their feet.
I wonder if the name of this one hurts it though. It’s a fairly apt name, the scientific word for being unable to recall a name, but it doesn’t roll off the tongue, on a shelf of party games it feels like a Latin professor in a sports bar.
Anomia is a simple game, literally anyone could sit down and play it, however if you don’t like speed games or category games then this one won't work for you. I still have to play the game more to see where I land on it and the replayability, but I’m enjoying it enough to keep bringing back to the table so far.
A copy of Anomia was provided for the purposes of this review by Coiledspring Games