Anaxi is a party game. Anaxi is a word game. In fact, it’s both. Because Anaxi lives in the overlapping area between these two types of games.
In practice, Anaxi celebrates the venerable Venn diagram by making the diagrams into engines for fun. Using circular see-through word cards, players construct a mini-Venn diagram and then each player races to write down words that fit within each overlapping area of the cards. The player with the highest score after five rounds wins the game.
Anaxi is a card game but the cards are not typical in any way. There are 75 word cards in the deck.
They are circular (3.5” in diameter), made of flexible plastic and half of each card is transparent.
The deck is split into three colors: 25 blue, 25 red and 25 orange cards.
Within the colored section of each card is a single word – an adjective. These adjectives run the gamut from square to spicy or fluffy to damp.
There are also two base cards (an extra in case you lose one). You’ll build the Venn diagram on top of this base card when each game round begins.
There’s a 1-minute sand timer included and an answer pad.
Setup for the game is really simple. Separate the deck into three 25 card decks by color. Place the base card centrally located where everyone can see it and make sure everyone has a sheet from the answer pad and a pen or pencil. Now you’re ready to play Anaxi!
There are five rounds in the game. Each round a dealer selects one card from each of the three decks and places them around the base card. The base card has colored and numbered areas so you can see how and where to line up the three cards. The basic idea is that the see through area of the card will face inward toward the base card, allowing players to see how the three word cards overlap. There are four overlapping areas. One area between each word and one combined area where all three words overlap together in the middle.
Here’s an example layout: Round – Cold – Sweet
Once the cards are in place, the dealer will turn over the sand timer and the round begins!
Each player looks at the four overlapping areas on the base card. Can you think of something that is round and sweet? Then write those words in column 3 on your sheet. Can you think of things that are cold and round? Write those in column 1. How about cold sweet? Column 2 for those. Last of all, what about things that are all three: round, cold and sweet? All those answers go in column 4.
Once the timer runs out, players score points for each answer on their sheets that is unique and fits the words. Columns 1-3 score 1 point for each unique answer. Column 4, the answer that combines all three word, scores 3 points per unique answer.
After round one, it’s lather, rinse and repeat. Three new words, flip the timer and go! The player with the highest score after five rounds wins the game.
Sometimes games that rely on creativity can fall flat because they don’t offer enough inspiration or choices. Especially when placed under time pressure, players can freeze up or just give up because they feel frustrated.
That’s pretty much the opposite of fun.
Not so with Anaxi. There are four different ways you can see the words each round and that means you have lots of fuel for inspiration and imagination each round.
The timer does go fast, so you shouldn’t expect to write a novel’s worth of answers under each column but you’ll be surprised how some words connect immediately and others leave you scratching your head. Try it. Set a timer and give the three words from the example above a go. Don’t peek below at my answers! (listed at the bottom of the review)
How did you do?
Anaxi also encourages and awards creativity and imaginative answers. You are not limited to one word or simple answers to fit the words. For Column 4 in the earlier example (things that are cold, round and sweet) I could have written: a frozen ice cream cake for my cat’s 9th birthday. Major Fun games can and should put you in this playful mindset and Anaxi excels in this regard.
Major Fun games are also flexible enough to allow variants or adjustments. We found it fun to let the dealer select the word cards rather than from a random draw from each deck. Chance can produce some fun results, but it was equally fun to see what crazy combinations each player came up with.
Even though Anaxi is a light hearted game suitable for parties and word-nerds alike, the inspiration for the game comes from several philosophers.
The most obvious is John Venn whose diagrams gave visual form to overlapping ideas.
The less obvious connection reaches back to ancient Greece. Anaxi owes its name to the Greek philosopher Anaximander, the father of Cosmology. He wrote about the boundless material of the universe being transformed into all the aspects of the world around us and then returning to this primordial form. How does this relate? Each round, players take basic words and combine them into new forms. The cards return to the decks and can take totally new definitions each round of the game.
You certainly don’t need to know any of these details to have fun with Anaxi but I am glad they took the time to include it.
My one and only quibble with the game is the lack of credit for the game design. Every game has a designer even if the game was developed in-house by the fine folks at Funnybone Toys. Credit should be given where it is due and it is a shame this information is still not standard among all publishers.
But let’s not stray too far from the mark here.
Anaxi is a fast fun mash-up of word and party game genres. It’s enjoyable by players young and old and certainly overlaps with the two words that matter most to us: Major Fun.
Here’s what I came up with for the example listed above:
Column 1 (round & cold): curling stone, hailstone, snowball, snow tire
Column 2: (cold & sweet): ice cream, frozen yogurt
Column 3: (round & sweet): gumball, bon bon, mint, hard candy
Column 4: (round, sweet, and cold): a single scoop of ice cream