How to Play Anomia

Are you looking for a portable party game that will accommodate 3-6 people? Or perhaps you've heard of this unusually-named game and want to try it for yourself? Anomia may seem complicated at first, but once you learn the game the premise is quite simple. While Anomia is a game that is best learned as you go along, this article will give you the basics to get started.


  1. 1
    Know the basics of the game:
    • Number of players: 3-6
    • Object: Accumulate the most cards by competing head-to-head with other players.
    • Duration: 30 minutes
  2. 2
    Create the draw piles. Once you are seated in a circle, take one of the decks from the Anomia box and shuffle it 5-6 times. Divide the deck into two draw piles so players can easily reach them.
    • There are two different versions of Anomia, the regular edition with 2 decks (red and blue) and the party version with six decks (brown, pink, orange, purple, green and yellow). While game play is the same, each deck is a bit different.
    • Each Anomia deck is made up of 92 different cards (sharing 8 symbols) plus 8 wild cards.
  3. 3
    Begin playing Anomia. According to the game instructions, the the person who shuffles the cards should go first. When it's your turn, draw a card from one of the draw piles, then quickly flip it face-up so that everyone sees it at the same time. Put the card face-up in front of you -- this is the beginning of your play pile.
  4. 4
    Take turns in clockwise-order, drawing cards one-at-a-time and adding them to your play pile.
    • Each card has one of 8 symbols. Continue drawing cards until the symbols match.
  5. 5
    Face offs (aka what to do when the symbols match). If the symbol on your card matches that of another player, you have entered what's known in Anomia-speak as a "face-off round" -- this is the core of the game.
    • In order to win the face-off round, provide a correct example of the person, place or thing on your opponent's card.
    • If you finish blurting out a correct answer first, you win the card.
    • If you win, you take the other player's card and put it face-down into your winning pile (not to be confused with your play pile of face-up cards). Do not move or block the view of your top card.
  6. 6
    Cascades (what to do if the loser's pile reveals a new top card). Once a new top card is revealed, check to see if the loser's card matches that of another player. If so, immediately enter into face-off mode. Do not draw cards until all possible face-offs have been played.
    • After all the face-offs and cascades are over, resume normal game play.
  7. 7
    Wild cards. A card with two symbols is a wild card and should be placed face-up between the two draw piles. If the two wild card symbols appear on cards topping any two player's play piles, then it's time to go into another face-off round.
    • Once a wild card is in play, you must look for both cards matching you own card or matches that match the wild card.
  8. 8
    Ending the game. Anomia is over when all the draw piles are empty. Count the cards in your winning pile. Whoever has the most cards wins. You can resume playing Anomia either with your current deck or you can try another deck to change things up.


  • There should only be one card showing in in your play pile at any time.
  • Pay attention. The game can change at any moment, so make sure you are looking at the cards. If you are eating or drinking at the wrong moment, you could lose your chance to take your turn before your opponent is able to blurt out their answer.
  • Be careful not to obstruct the view of the cards with drinking glasses or other things, so as not to annoy fellow players.
  • Make sure you are playing in an area with good lighting. It's difficult to participate if you can't see the cards.
  • Don't look at the card before other players can see it.
  • If you have already played the game and are teaching it to a new group, it's best to start with a demo round so everyone can see how it is played.
  • If you are new to Anomia, read the directions aloud as you play the game. Example: Read step 1, then follow step 1. You can find a PDF version of the instructions on the Anomia website.
  • If you are playing at a large game night, the party edition is a good idea because several groups can play multiple decks simultaneously and exchange them when they are done.
  • The party edition has blank cards that allow you to make up your own categories, so be sure to fill them in before you play.
  • You can use a small object (like a coin) to keep track of whose turn it is.

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Categories: Party Games