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Subject: Anomia - A Surprising Game of Sweat and Quick Ejaculations rss

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Thomas Petty
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Ah, Anomia. You boring piece of "marketable" graphic design, sitting on the shelf of Barnes and Noble. For serious gamers, your generic Blue and un-engaging typography with a big "O" screams "lame, casual game from the throw-away card game section in Wal-Mart." For casual gamers, your annoyingly cryptic title says, "I'm a scary word game that just might ruin your next holiday party." You sit there, with your Mensa Select Award, unloved and confused. An enigma.

When I first spied you, Daniel Solis had you in his mitts and he praised you effusively, his hair all a-puff with excitement. Even then I wanted to kindly decline to play you. But, luckily, I accepted the invitation and I fell for your charms, quick and hard. You wooed me that evening like no other card game, with your immediate sense of involvement, simple rule-set, and slowly rising feeling of total paranoia. I remember how nervous I was that first time in February, palms sweaty, my heart racing in my chest. I wanted to explore you all night, under dimmed lamp light, on the dinner table.

And so it is that I, like Daniel, have shared you with many a new friend since then. And each time, you break my heart a little as they fondle your bits and smile with that same dreamy gaze I once had that first night; your decks both Fire and Ice. But, even though I look on with a jealous heart, I will never tire of your wily ways, my stranger in the little blue box. I will keep you hidden in the trunk of my Chevy Aveo and pull you out on special occasions. My goto party game. My lovely, little, Anomia.

AnOmia

This is a surprising review. I have no doubt that most people will say "oh, yeah, I think I saw that game somewhere," but the number of geek gamers that actually purchased it as a "game of note" is probably next to nil. The box is so utterly abstract and the tag-line tells the consumer nothing about what might be contained within. Is it a word game? Kinda. Why is there a big "O" in the center? Who knows. In my opinion, the "O" stands for constantly "Overlooked."

Which is a sad thing. Anomia is an excellent party game that shouldn't be dismissed so easily. It plays very quickly, revs up the tension, and makes even the most jaded gamer start to sweat and jump out of their seat with an answer. And since the game requires no "word" knowledge or "trivia" reciting, it's simply a battle of which player can spit it out the simplest ideas fastest. Anyone can play, it sets up in seconds, and fits easily inside a purse, man-purse, or pocket.

What Makes Me Party

Anomia is a good party game. Not simply because of "personal preference," but because of the way it is designed. There are no extraneous rules or thematic elements to contend with or extra pieces other than cards. There is no player elimination, no downtime, and players can set the pace of the game by how fast or slow they reveal new cards. And what's most excellent, every single turn is edge-of-your-seat, pit-staining tense.

On a player's turn they flip over one card from the central stack and place it in front of them; if they already have a card face-up from their last turn, they will place the new card on top of the old card. A card will have a symbol in the center and some words, for example, "Dog breed" or "Vegetable." Play moves to the next player.

Any time two cards have matching symbols, a "challenge" ensues. The players with matching card symbols will look at their opponent's card. If my opponent's card has the word "Vegetable" on it, I will have to say an example of a vegetable. It could be anything. Carrot, broccoli, green beans, etc. If I say an example of the category that is on my opponent's card before they say an example of the category on mine, I win their card. I take it and put it face down in a pile near me. Whoever has the most face-down cards at the end wins.

The cool thing is, by taking the top card of my opponent's stack, I reveal a new symbol, which could cause another "challenge" with myself or another player at the table, which could result in another and another and another. The chain reactions can become very intense. Very fun. Very involved. Very funny. Very fast. Which leads me to...

The Most Important Qualities (to me) of a Good Party Game

1. Fun!

The emphasis of a party game is the almost instant infusion of high levels of fun. The equation usually goes like this: "Alright, everyone so here are the rules." (one-minute later) "So, let's play." And almost instantly something crazy happens. In the case of Pit, grandmothers are screaming in the face of children. In Time's Up, someone is talking through their butt. And in Anomia two people suddenly recoil in terror, point wildly at the opponent's card and make vomiting noises until one player ejaculates some inane word like "Blue" and everyone chortles in response. Watching the five seconds of intensity is just as fun as being an active participant.

(An easy way to reduce the Fun level of a Party Game is to require too much creativity from game participants way too early. Party Games should either make it nearly impossible not to be fun, or slowly build up as players become more comfortable with the game and each other.)

2. Everyone is constantly involved.

Or, in other words, the "no bathroom break" design. I want to be invested in the action actively, not simply a bystander waiting for my turn. In The Resistance, negotiation and discussion is constant, and every action is decided by a vote. This way, no matter whether a player is "on a mission" or waiting for the outcome, they played an integral part and are invested in the round. Even Liar's Dice requires players to be aware of the bids of other players, and while you may not be the liar or the accuser every time, being aware of what players consistently lie or tell truths is a very important part of the game. In Anomia, the feeling of paranoia is palpable as every player is watching the next card flip, secretly dreading (and hoping) that the symbol on the card will match their own. And since the game has chain reactions, players rarely have an opportunity to take a breather.

3. Humorous.

Many times the "humor" of a party game comes from the sheer ridiculousness of the situation or the fumbling ineptitude of the parties involved in the game. In the case of Cards Against Humanity, the "humor" is almost guaranteed simply from the card combinations that are meant to be humorous. In Wits and Wagers, a significantly high or low response can immediately cause bouts of laughter. And in Anomia, humor comes from the wild gesticulations of a stressed out "normal" person when attempting to say a "doughnut flavor" and inevitably saying "DONUT" by accident.

4. Fast and Simple!

I have a certain level of tolerance for Party games and if the game is overstaying it's welcome, it will surely find itself rotting under a copy of Scruples at the Goodwill Store. Time's Up! stretches this definition by a tiny bit, but it is very necessary for the full enjoyment of the experience. However, Scattergories, Liar's Dice, Pit!, Wits and Wagers, No Thanks!, Igloo Pop, and The Resistance all play extremely quickly and are better, more focused experiences because of it. Anomia plays in about twenty minutes, and simply begs to played more than one time in a night.


Notice that I didn't include "strategic" or "unique." Do I care that Cluzzle is basically a rip-off of Barbarossa, or that Reverse Charades is Charades in reverse, or that Cards Against Humanity is Apples to Apples with 90% more cum-guzzling? Maybe I should, but I really don't. Party games have a long history of stealing directly and blatantly from each other. Cranium is just 5 other party games in one. Linguini is Baulderdash and Apples to Apples smashed together for smart people. And if the strategy is deeper than "bluffing," I'm not going to break it out at a party with casual gamers. (Sure, I will play Dominant Species while unable to walk a straight line, but the majority of peoples will refuse)

Also, I didn't mention that I think Party games should be used as "ice-breakers." Some can be, some should probably be saved for later. Because, if I'm expecting to be playing Party games that night, then I'm expecting to have alcohol involved, and I'll break the ice while standing around the bar with a White Russian in my hand. I play Party games to "get a little bit crazy" or to relax after an epic gaming session.

Some of my least favorite Party Games:
Apples to Apples, Cranium, Reverse Charades, Battle of the Sexes, Trivial Pursuit, Would You Rather?, Munchkin, Things...


The Verdict

Anomia does have some downsides as well and it is dependent mainly on the personality type of the players involved. If you aren't observant, are easily distracted, or are afraid to be competitive you will find that you consistently lose challenges. While the game is not necessarily about winning, it is important and part of the entertainment to TRY.

Timidness is painfully punished and some players may find that they have zero cards face-up in front of them, thereby removing all tension. This is combated by the game having enough symbols that challenges will not always occur each time around the table, but if you don't snap your fingers, say "uh, uh, uh", or grunt loudly and pound the table while trying to spit out a word, then I'd recommend a game that would be more your pace, like Hi Ho! Cherry-O.

Also, for those that find winning all-important, there is no guarantee that you will be given the same amount of "challenges" as other players. This means that there is a chance that you could win every single challenge that you are involved in and still lose the game. If this makes your steel-heart bleed and you can't bear it, may I suggest a game that would more your pace, like Russian Roullette (with all chambers loaded).

And before playing, make sure everyone defines what constitutes saying a word "first." The players outside of the challenge will be judging which player said the other player's category first, so a good rule of thumb we use is "whoever finishes saying their word first." It's not made "clear" in the rules, but we adopted this method. So, just because you started to say "Abraham Lincoln", if someone interjects quickly with "purple," they still win the challenge. Like I said though, just make a rule and stick by it.

Anomia is one of my favorite party games, and a deceptively awesome filler-length game that does it's best to keep all players gritting their teeth every single turn. For about $10 (which includes a Red & Blue deck), there is a lot of game within this little package. In fact, as players become more familiar with the game, I recommend playing with the variant that no answer can EVER be repeated. This can make for some real agonizing moments.

But, with holiday parties and family get-togethers aplenty this month, I can't recommend Anomia enough. String up the lights, stoke that wood-stove, spike the eggnog and enjoy an intense party game with those whom you barely tolerate this Christmas. You will be surprised.
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Luke Winters
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By things, I can only assume you mean "The Game of Things." Maybe you'd like it better if you played with people that liked playing games by the actual rules.
 
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Thomas Petty
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briskwinterspiss wrote:
By things, I can only assume you mean "The Game of Things." Maybe you'd like it better if you played with people that liked playing games by the actual rules.

While you were downstairs singing Depeche Mode tunes this weekend, guess what I got to play? Awkward Family Photos: The Board Game! Remember how I showed you those AWKWARD FAMILY PHOTOS and how you LAUGHED!?! It was SO AWKWARD!

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Luke Winters
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TheCrippledWerewolf wrote:
briskwinterspiss wrote:
By things, I can only assume you mean "The Game of Things." Maybe you'd like it better if you played with people that liked playing games by the actual rules.

While you were downstairs singing Depeche Mode tunes this weekend, guess what I got to play? Awkward Family Photos: The Board Game! Remember how I showed you those AWKWARD FAMILY PHOTOS and how you LAUGHED!?! It was SO AWKWARD!



I do indeed remember you showing me awkward family photos. Two of them to be exact. I'm not sure I understood how the game was supposed to be played though. But boy those photos sure were awkward.
 
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Andrew Garttmeyer
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'Pit-staining tense.'

Very good, this tensity and the chain reaction type mechanism kind of reminds of Jungle Speed.

Will have to try this one out, thanks for the review!
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