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How to Play Anomia Card Game: Rules and Instructions

How to Play Anomia Card Game: Rules and Instructions

Objective for Anomia

The objective of Anomia is to acquire the most cards by quickly providing answers before the other players.

Setup for Anomia

  • The players will sit in a circle.
  • Choose one of the two decks to use for the game.
  • One of the players will act as the shuffler. Shuffle the cards thoroughly and then split them into two piles. These two piles will be the Draw Piles.
  • Place the piles where all of the players can reach them. Leave room between the two piles where you can play Wild cards.
  • The shuffler takes the first turn.

Playing Anomia

To start your turn you will take the top card from one of the two Draw Piles. You will flip it face-up and place it in front of yourself so all of the other players can see it. You should flip over the card quickly so all of the players can see it at the same time. If you fail to flip it quickly where everyone can see it, you will lose your turn. If there is already a card(s) face up in front of you, you will place your new card on top of any other cards. This pile of card is referred to as your Play Pile.

Drawing a card
The first player has drawn a card from one of the two Draw Piles. They will place the card face up in front of themself.

All of the cards in the game have a symbol on them. Once you flip over your card, all of the players will look at the symbols on all of the face up cards. If the top card on two players’ piles match, those two players will play a Face-Off. See the Face-Off section below for more details. If the players in the Face-Off don’t notice that their symbols match, the other players can let them know. The next player cannot draw their card until all potential Face-Offs have been completed.

Two matching symbols creating a Face Off.
These two players have matching symbols on their top card. This creates a Face Off.

After you have flipped over a card and any Face-Offs have been handled, play passes to the next player in a clockwise direction.

Wild Cards

Occasionally a player will draw a Wild card. When you draw a Wild card you will place it between the two Draw Piles. The Wild card may trigger a Face-Off. Check out the Wild Cards section below for more details.

Drawing a Wild card
The last player drew a Wild card so they placed it in the middle of the play area. The two symbols on the Wild card are not both present on a face up card. Therefore no Face Offs are triggered.


When the symbols from the top of two players’ Play Piles match, the corresponding players will compete in a Face-Off.

Once a Face-Off begins each competing players looks at the card in front of the other player. You need to come up with an answer that matches what is written on your opponent’s card. You should do this as quickly as possible as your opponent is trying to do the same thing.

The first player to give a correct answer for their opponent’s card wins the Face-Off. The winner of the Face-Off takes the top card from their opponent’s Play Pile. They will place this card face down in front of themselves in their own Winning Pile.

When giving answers you can give any answer that matches the category on the card. This can include things that are real, fictional, current, historical, and even things only the group are familiar with. If there is a disagreement about whether an answer should count, the group votes on whether the answer should count. While determining if an answer is correct, you can consult dictionaries, the internet, and other sources for more information.

Face Off in Anomia
The symbol on these two cards match which creates a Face Off. The player at the bottom needs to try and name a video game, while the player on the right needs to name an island. The bottom player says “Super Mario Bros.” Since they beat the other player, they will take the Video Game card from the other player’s pile and add it to their Winning Pile.

If two players give an answer at the same time, a third player flips over another card. The two tied players then try to give an answer to the new card. The first player to give a correct answer to the card, wins the Face-Off. The winner takes the top card from the loser’s Play Pile and adds it to their own Winning Pile. Shuffle the additional card used for the tie breaker back into one of the Draw Piles. If the card drawn for the tie breaker is a Wild, choose another card.

No Repeat Rule

Before the game starts the players can choose whether they want to implement a no repeat rule. If they choose to use the rule, no one may use an answer already given in the current game. This applies to the players playing a Face-Off or other answers players mention in conversation. The only exception to this is if a player can use the answer for a different card. For example you can use Orange as a fruit and as a color.

Additional Face-Offs

When a player removes the top card from their Play Pile, it reveals a new card. All of the players will check to make sure if there is a new symbol match triggering another Face-Off. Players will keep playing Face-Offs until none of the top cards match.

Triggering additional Face Offs
After the Video Game card was taken off the right player’s Play Pile, the Sea card was revealed. The symbol on the card matches the card on the left. Therefore another Face Off is triggered between the left and right players.

After all of the Face-Offs have been completed, the player clockwise/left to the last player to draw a card takes their turn.

Wild Cards

Wild cards are unique as you won’t add them to your Play Pile. Instead you will place them between the two Draw Piles.

Each Wild card features two symbols on it. When a Wild card is in play, players will look at the two symbols printed on the card. If both symbols appear on the top of a players’ Play Pile, the two players who have the symbol will play a Face-Off.

A Wild card creating a Face Off
These two players’ symbols match the symbols on the middle Wild card. This creates a Face Off between the two players.

A Wild card stays in play even after it triggers a Face-Off. You will only replace it when a new Wild card is drawn and played on top of it.

Whenever a player draws a Wild card and places it in the middle of the table, they get to draw another card. They will not draw another card until all of the triggered Face-Offs have been completed.

Winning Anomia

Anomia ends when all of the cards have been taken from both of the Draw Piles.

All of the players will count up the number of cards in their Winning Pile. The player that acquired the most cards wins the game.

Winning Anomia
At the end of the game the players have earned the following cards. The top player acquired the most cards so they win the game.

Anomia Player Variants

Three Players

If there are only three players you should slightly alter the game in order to create more Face-Offs.

You should pick two of the symbols. Remove all cards from the deck that match the two symbols you chose. This includes all Wild cards that feature the chosen symbols.

Two Players

The two player game of Anomia is similar to the main game.

Since there are only two players, each player has two Play Piles. You will alternate drawing cards for your two Play Piles.

When there is a match between any two Play Piles, both players try to come up with an answer. This even includes when the matching piles both belong to the same player.

The first player to provide a correct answer gets to take a card from the losing pile.

Anomia FAQ

If you have any questions about how to play Anomia, leave a comment below on this post. I will try to answer any questions asked as best and as quickly as possible.

Components for Anomia

Anomia Components

  • 100 Blue Cards
  • 100 Red Cards
  • Instructions

Year: 2010 | Publisher: Anomia Press, Coiledspring Games | Designer: Andrew Innes | Artist: Kinetic, Paul Laane, Cezary Szulc, Peter Wocken

Genres: Card, Family, Party, Speed, Trivia

Ages: 10+ | Number of Players: 3-6 | Length of Game: 20-30 minutes

Difficulty: Light | Strategy: Light | Luck: Light-Moderate

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For more board and card game how to plays/rules and reviews, check out our complete alphabetical list of board game posts.