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!

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