Anomia: Party Edition

Filed Under (Family Games, Party Games) by Will Bain on 06-03-2014

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PictureAnomia was awarded Major Fun early in 2012. You can check out that review here or keep reading for a brief recap. Anomia’s new Party Edition is the same game but with the addition of more decks of cards so you can play multiple rounds without repeating the same cue cards. Same Major Fun simplicity. Same Major Fun turmoil. Same Major Fun yelling and grabbing and laughing.

The game consists of cards that contain a clue and a symbol. In turn, each player turns over a card from a personal pile. If there are no matching symbols then nothing happens, and the next player turns over a card. If two cards have the same symbol then those two players race to shout an example of the other person’s clue. Winner gets the other card.

The wonder and joy of this game comes from the dysfunction of the human brain under surprising, stressful conditions. Some of the most ridiculous things will tumble out of your mouth when you have to name a kind of chewing gum under pressure. Or your brain will freeze when asked to give but one example of a soup.

awardAlthough only one player turns a card at any one time, any of the other players might have to leap into action at any moment. Once one face-off is resolved, another might appear when the top card of a pile is moved. The players are always engaged. Even when there are no matches there is never any down-time.

The addition of more decks allows for greater replay. Otherwise, Anomia has wisely left a good thing to be a good thing. It’s Major Fun no matter how tongue tied and brain dead it makes you look.

3 – 6 Players. Ages 10+

Anomia: Party Edition was designed by Andrew Innes and © 2013 by Anomia Press LLC.


Filed Under (Family Games, Party Games, Word Games) by Bernie DeKoven on 21-02-2011

Anomia is a game. According to, anomia is “a problem with word finding. Impaired recall of words with no impairment of comprehension or the capacity to repeat the words.” After 20 minutes of playing the game, I can personally confirm both definitions. It happened to me, my actual self.

I was playing, as I am wont to do. There came a time when all I had to do was name a guitarist. Any guitarist. Before another player was able to name a fashion designer. Spurred, thus, by spirit of competition, I said, with seemingly total assurance, “Jose Guitaro.” That’s what I said. Honestly. Jose Guitaro. Struck down by anomia while in the prime of playfulness.

Anomia is a party game (due to the unavoidably loud, enthusiastic vocalizations of the players), for 3-6 players. The recommended minimal age is 10. There are two decks, each with 92 cards and 8 wild cards. Each playing card has a noun of some sort, repeated on the top and bottom of the card. In the center of the card is one of 8 different symbols. The wild cards don’t have any words on them, but rather show two different symbols.

To begin the game, players choose one of the two decks, shuffle said deck, and then split it into two draw piles, placed face down on the table. The shuffler then takes the top card from one of the draw piles, places it in front of her, and turns it face up. The next player takes the next card from a draw pile and, in like manner, turns it face-up. And on and on. If it happens that two face up cards both have the same symbol on them, those two players enter into the face-off stage – racing to be the first to name correctly an example of the category on the opponent’s card. The player who succeeds gets the opponent’s card, and places it face down in her winning pile. If an entire round has been completed without a face-off, the game just continues, the next player placing his card on top of his face-up card.

After a few rounds, it is highly likely that a player will have several many cards in his face-up pile. As soon as a match is revealed, and the victor declared, and the card claimed, the card below it is revealed, thus precipitating what the designer calls the “cascade effect.” Which is another way to say mayhem. Mayhem is furthered by the revelation of a wild card, which calls for a match between two different symbols, meaning that if one player is showing one symbol on her face-up card, and a second player showing the other symbol on his face-up card, those two players have a face-off, the winning player taking that card and placing it on his face-down pile.

The game is very easy to learn, and after only a few minutes of play you’ll be completely, and intensely engaged. In a few minutes more, you’ll understand why you need to be even more focused on whose card has what symbol. And, in a few more minutes, you’ll probably have your first moment of anomia. The rules are easy to read, comprehensive, and sequenced so that they actually walk you through the game, one rule at a time.

Anomia is unexpectedly fun. It comes in a small, mild mannered box – exactly large enough to hold 200 cards and a rule sheet. There are no enticing graphics. No clever cartoons. Designed by Andrew Innes, it is the only game to be produced by Anomia Press. But the fun, my friends, the fun is Major!


Filed Under (Family Games, Kids Games, Party Games) by Will Bain on 13-08-2014

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BlurbleDeluxeBlurble is a game like Anomia that gets a lot of laughs and game-play-mileage out of making you sound stupid.

You aren’t stupid. I know this because you are reading this web post. You also demonstrate great taste and a fine appreciation for the playful side of life. And in that last regard, Blurble is the game for you.

Just be warned: the longer you play the game, the dumber you will sound.

The game consists of a big deck of cards. How many cards, you ask? I’m not quite sure, but at a guess I would say more than 11. Yep, the box lid confirms there are more than 11 cards (489 more to be exact). The cards have pictures on them—illustrations of objects that are easy to identify (although one card had a plate of nachos that I was SURE was a pizza).

The game starts with a person called the “Blurbler.” Say it out loud. GO on. Now say it more than five times in a row. That kind of silly stupid tongue tied feeling is something you are going to have to get used to a lot. The Blurbler turns to the first person clockwise and flips up a card. The two players then races to say a word that begins with the same letter as the object in the picture.

Blurble cardsBUT (and notice it is a big but…) there are legal words and there are illegal words. Words cannot be proper nouns, numbers, contractions, or contain fewer than 3 letters (when we played we misread the rules and so disallowed anything with less than 4 letters—harder but still tons of fun). Words may never be used more than once in a game. Finally, the word cannot name the image. For instance, if a picture of a cat comes up you cannot say cat nor can you say catatonic nor can you say vacation (va CAT ion). That last one you might be able to slip by the other players (who act as judges) but they could call you out for illegal Blurbling.

01 AwardAs the game goes on you do tend to get faster but you also tend to run into words that have already been used. You will find yourself tripping over some of the most basic words because you just can’t remember if the word has been used before.

One thing we really liked about Blurble is that you are not penalized for saying an illegal word. If you say an illegal word you just have to keep trying. Players just keep shouting out words (and a lot of gibberish) until they say a legal one.

Major Fun for lots of ages and big groups of people.

2-12 players. Ages 8+

Blurble was designed by Grant Bernard and is © 2011 by Bernard Games.


Filed Under (Party Games, Word Games) by Bernie DeKoven on 29-10-2012

And now, from the makers of the Major Fun award-winning Anomia, we have Duple, a party game, using game play that is similar in many significant aspects to the aforementioned Major Fun award-winning Anomia, but different in a non-categorized, word-finding, vocabulary-searching kid of way – a difference of profound enough significance to make Duple a game that deserves its own review, as if it were an unprecedented invitation to fun, which, as a matter of fact, it is.

There are many cards.

Sixty-four of them are letter cards. Letter cards have, as you probably already conjectured, letters on them. One letter each. They also have symbols on them – one of eight different kinds. After you’ve set everything up and started actually playing, taking turns picking and turning over cards from the draw decks, the moment you notice that your card bears the same symbol as someone else’s card, you find yourself in a head-to-head race to be the first to utter, mention, or shout out a word of five or more letters that has both your letter and the letter on your opponent’s card. Thus catalyzing great attention-paying and moments of death and transfiguration.

But wait, there’s more. In addition to the letter cards, there are the category cards. Categorically speaking, this impact of these cards is to excruciate the intellect by forcing you not only to race to find a word of five or more letters containing both of the letters on the cards of matching symbol, but also restricting acceptability to words of that particular category. Also note, there are two kinds of category cards: thirteen have categories on them, and four cards don’t. These four are known as “blank” cards. Should you draw a blank card, you get to assert your strategic creativity and make your own category for that particular nonce, until another category card appears. There is also a category card that says “no category,” in which event there is as you would assume, no category at all, at all.

Major Fun AwardBut wait again for the more: the wild cards. The wildness of these cards is indicated by each of them having a combination of two different symbols. No letters. No categories. No blankness. Just symbols. Two, as I said, different symbols. Thus, instead of looking for two letter cards with matching symbols, should you happen to notice that one of the symbols on a wild card is the same as that on your letter card, you must, with out further ado at all, seek out a player whose card bears the other symbol on the wild card – not the symbol that matches the symbol on your letter card, mind you. No, not at all that symbol.

And then there’s that particularly pernicious, and more than mildly exacerbating wild card bearing the words “All Play,” indicating that all players, not just those whose symbols match, must race to be the first to announce a word containing all the letters currently displayed.

There’s more. But the most more is the joyous intensity you will be experiencing, the constant engagement, the challenge, the, perhaps, yelling, the sheer Majorness of fun.

3-6 players, 10 or older. OK, maybe 7 if that guy absolutely has to play.


Top Ten for Eleven

Filed Under (Tops for 2011) by Bernie DeKoven on 18-12-2011

Turns out to have been another great year for great games. Here’s our favorites:

Reverse Charades plays like the traditional game of charades but instead of one person acting and the rest of the team guessing, one person is guessing while the rest of the team is performing. That’s it. Team act. Individual guess. Reverse Charades.  In Reverse Charades, no one is embarrassed, because everyone is acting silly together. And yes, there isa certain chaos. And yes, it’s the very kind of chaos [that] makes the fun major.

Party Gras is loud and fast and frustrating and MAJOR FUN!! Everyone is talking at the same time. You never know if you are being tricked into something or asked a legitimate question. You can’t lie (otherwise Talk it Out doesn’t work) and you can’t refuse to do an action but refusing to do silly things in a party game means that someone is unclear on the concept of a party game!!

Trigger is Major Fun in a tiny round can. The referee asks a question. The other players race to slap the target with the correct hand. In order to answer these outrageously obtuse questions, players race to be the first to slap a foam target (think of a round drink coaster) with their left or right hand. Left hand for False and right hand for True. Right is right. Left is false. How hard can it be? Trouble is, when everyone is watching everyone else, it is really easy to mimic what someone else is about to do.

Befuzzled gleefully directs players to perform the silliest actions in a split second. Your adrenaline is pumping, the decibels of laughter are crowding out all rational thought, and when the card is flipped, you know that you are supposed to flap your arms like a chicken but instead you moo like a cow and make binoculars with your fingers.

Shake-n-Take you have a card with 70 aliens. You must be the first to circle them all. You roll a die to find out which shape to circle and all the while your neighbor is frantically shaking another die until an alien head pops up. When the alien appears, your neighbor snatches the marker from your hand without so much as a “Thanks for the probe!” and starts to circle his or her aliens. For all the adrenaline junkies in my social cadre, there is no better fix than a game that boils down to circling pictures on a dry-erase board.

Anomia is a game. According to, anomia is “a problem with word finding. Impaired recall of words with no impairment of comprehension or the capacity to repeat the words.” After 20 minutes of playing the game, I can personally confirm both definitions. It happened to me, my actual self.  There came a time when all I had to do was name a guitarist. Any guitarist. Before another player was able to name a fashion designer. Spurred, thus, by spirit of competition, I said, with seemingly total assurance, “Jose Guitaro.” That’s what I said. Honestly. Jose Guitaro. Struck down by anomia while in the prime of playfulness.

Ligretto and Dutch Blitz are both variations of Spit, and/or Speed, and perhaps even of Nertz, and in both cases the dedicated decks of cards make for an evening of deep, multi-player engagement. You place 4 cards in a row, face-up, next to the stack. The rest of your cards remain in your hand. If any of the cards in your row is a One, you can immediately play it to the table, and use one card from your stock to replace it. If any player has already played a One, and you have a Two of the same suit, you can play your two onto that player’s One. And so on, and so on, with evermore passionate intensity, until someone, having exhausted all her stock, screams “Ligretto” (best when the “r” of Ligrrrretto is rolled victoriously) or “Blitz” (with a blitzfully Germanic emphasis).

Dragon Face is an elegant, robust strategy game, and although it is not laugh-a-nano-second fun like many of our Major Fun party games, it is deeply engaging in the way that only the best strategy games can be. This is fun for the chess set, and for those of you who have not succumbed to that particular addiction, Dragon Face may be your gateway drug.

Pajaggle – is a precision made, laser-cut, acrylic puzzle/game. The pieces look a little like gears – very fine-toothed gears, some round-toothed, some very, very pointy. Some larger, some smaller, some with other pieces inside. There are a total of 61 pieces, no two of which are alike. The challenge – fit the pieces into their corresponding sockets. Which reminds you, correctly but vaguely, of that round-peg, square-hole thing.

Fastrack looks as attractive as it plays. The race-flag checkerboard and red colors accentuate the experience of speed. The elastic bands have enough elasticity so that you can shoot your disks with significant twang, and, if you shoot a disk just right, it can bounce back and forth across the board several many, delightworthy times. The board and disks are scaled perfectly so that you get the same delightful action you might get from a larger version, yet the game itself is just the right size to carry with you effortlessly everywhere. The twang often leads to many satisfying bangs as the disks carom off the wooden divider and the wooden sides of the wooden board. It is a skill game. And you can get better. And that’s all you need to know.