Recently my family got really into a card game: Anomia. And I got kind of evangelical about it. It’s easy to carry, so I brought it in my bag whenever we were invited somewhere, just in case I might find players.
I have played this game with adults, schoolchildren, and college students. Everyone* loves this game. Adults can play their hardest and lose to kids, and it only takes a few minutes to play an entire round. The only required skill is a tiny bit of reading. [*That is not true. Some people are naturally bad at this game (my husband), and people like that do not love it.]
To win at Anomia, all you need is the ability to name (kind of bagel) things, and fast. Why is this fun? We do not know. There is something about being put on the spot that makes it very, very difficult to name (three letter word) a thing quickly, and it is somehow giddy fun to feel your brain stutter while you try to come up with (book title) a thing before your opponent does. Anomia repeatedly forces you into what is commonly known as a brain fart, and this is somehow amusing to people of all ages. SESAME, DOG, PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY.
To play, you’ll need at least three players, and the more you add (the box recommends up to 8!), the faster and more fun it gets, and there’s never any boring waiting-for-your-turn part because you have to be ready to blurt the whole time. Anomia is easy to learn, and the instructions are written in a way that invites you to learn to play while you are reading the instructions, so you don’t have to suffer through any boring learning-to-play time.
One caveat might be that Anomia can get loud. People who can’t think of a word to say usually wind up going oh, oh, oh at increasing volumes as they try to churn something up. For us this was part of the fun. But being neither quiet nor subdued, a round of Anomia might not be a good choice for the Amtrack quiet car or strict old-fashioned library.
I’m still carrying Anomia around with me, in case I find myself in a situation with a table, some people, and some time. The basic set comes with two decks of cards. You need only one deck to play, but it’s nice to alternate decks so your answers soak back into the depths of your brain before they’re required again. Otherwise, whenever your opportunity to name some specific thing (article of clothing) comes up, you’ll be screaming SOCKS before you have the chance to fall back into the thrilling, mysterious, wordless part of your brain.