On the Tip of My Tongue: A Review of Anomia

Anomia

Have you ever noticed that easy tasks can become very difficult when you're under pressure? Anomia is a game that drives this pesky truth home, as it pits players against each other to come up with words in a particular category as quickly as possible. It is a card/party game we recently had the opportunity to play that left us, somewhat literally, speechless.

Gameplay

Anomia consists of a deck of cards, with each card containing both a symbol and a category (such as animals, cities, foods, or actors). Players take turns simply drawing a card and placing it on a discard pile in front of them. If the symbol on the card matches another player's card, those two players have a "face-off" — both players try to come up with a word in the category on the other player's card, and the first player to do so retrieves the other player's card and keeps it in his winning pile. If the players tie (i.e., finish a correct answer at the same time) a third player draws a new card from the deck to use for a tiebreaker.

After a card is won in a face-off, the next card in the player's discard pile becomes visible, which may initiate a new face-off. In this way, back-to-back face-offs can cascade until no more matching symbols are on the table, at which point players then continue to draw new cards.

Some of the cards in the deck are wild cards, which stir things up by causing face-offs between two different symbols. In addition, the game gets even more challenging if players choose to play by the "no repeats" rule, meaning that a word that was used earlier in the game may not be repeated, regardless of the category.

After the last card is drawn and all face-offs are resolved, players count the cards in their winning pile. The player with the most cards wins.

Review

Anomia is a very fun and highly challenging party game that proved to be a big success among our test group, with several back-to-back plays requested. It keeps players on their toes by requiring constant vigilance and quick wits — you never know when you'll suddenly be in a face-off, nor will you know exactly what the category is until the face-off begins. The challenge of coming up with a seemingly simple word or phrase on the spot often leaves players speechless or blabbering, which always spurs a lot of laughter.

Players who dislike the pressure of speed games or prefer planning over improvisation may not enjoy this game as much, but most casual gamers should appreciate the simple concept and fun gameplay. Plenty of skill is required to win, but if there is any strategy that can benefit a player, it is to take other players by surprise in a face-off — that is, rather than blabbering "uh...uh...uh" while thinking of an answer, which alerts your opponent, instead remain silent in case your opponent hasn't noticed that there is a face-off going on.

Anomia is a fun game that is unlike any other game I've played, and it is one that I won't hesitate to recommend.

Pros: challenging, fun, keeps players on their toes at all times

Cons: some players may dislike the pressure of quick thinking