Anomaly – Starling Games – Review

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The bottom line to me in all games is if I had fun and if I will play the game again and I can answer both with a, “yes”.

Mary Crabtree

MeepleGamers

7.5/10

Publisher: Starling Games


Designer: Thomas Dagenais-Lespérance


Artist: Steven Hamilton


Artist: Dann May


Artist: Greg May


Game Type: Deduction


Game Type: Hidden Movement


Game Type: Science Fiction


Game Type: Horror


Initial Year of Release: 2019


Age Range: 14+


Expected Playtime: 60 minutes


Number of Players: 2-4

Anomaly - Starling Games - Review 1

Theme and What is it?


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8/10

 

Left for dead, three young students fight for their lives against an unknown entity. The creature, if that is what it is, seems to learn and evolve to counter their every move. They must hunt it down and destroy it, before it finds them first.

Anomaly, is a hidden movement, deduction, and combat game for 2-4 players. Players in this game are divided into 2 teams. One player is the Anomaly, while the other players are the Students.

Anomaly - Starling Games - Review 2

Gameplay Mechanics


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7/10

This is a hidden movement game where no player, including those on the same side know where each player is. This is a different take because most hidden movement games I have played involve hunting down one player who has hidden movements. OR multiple players are hidden with one person controlling figures on the board trying to find them. I have never played where everyone is hidden.

In Anomaly, each side is trying to get the other to zero health points. This is all tracked on one board and I can best describe it as a tug of war. The Anomaly player has one advantage on the students. They have small clues on where the students are. At the start of the game, each student chooses a starting point on the mini board behind their screen. Each location on the space station has three symbols. The student players have tracking cards for each of these 9 symbols. Once they have chosen a starting place, they have to place one tracking card down in front of them that matches one of these three symbols.

On their turns, the students are mostly moving around trying to stay hidden (at least that is how it was in our game). They have two basic actions: Move or Track. When they move, they have to continue laying down tracking cards. They only keep two out at a time. When they do the Track action, they can choose one of their two tracking cards and the Anomaly has to reveal if they are in a zone with that symbol.

But, this gives the Anomaly player clues on how to locate them, because the Anomaly’s goal is to “feed” each round. The Anomaly has two basic actions: Move or Food. They can feed on students (if they find them) or the different batteries around the space station. The key is if they do not feed by the end of the round, then they lose one HP. Feeding on the batteries allows the Anomaly player to heal. Although, the Anomaly starts with a small advantage, this is eliminated when they feed because the Anomaly has to reveal themselves.

All the players can also perform a special action. The student players have action cards. They use the top portion of the card. These actions are great but come with a cost. Once played, the card is not discarded but given to the Anomaly player who can now use the bottom action. These actions cards allow the students to blow up the batteries and attempt to attack the Anomaly. But, then it gives the Anomaly a chance to evolve or gives them deduction tricks to locate the students.

The student players start but after each student turn, the Anomaly has the opportunity to perform an action. They only have three actions in the whole round, and the students have seven.

At the end of the round, the Anomaly take damage if they did not feed. And, radiation spreads. There are radiation tokens in the center of the space station that start spreading everywhere. This moves all players around closer and closer to each other because at the end of the round, anyone in a zone with radiation also takes damage.

This continues until one side has depleted the health of the other.

Anomaly - Starling Games - Review 3

Initial Impressions


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8/10

My group loves hidden movement games. As my friend was reading the summary of this game on the back of the box, you could hear all the excitement in his voice. He loves to be the evil mastermind and have us running all over the place looking for him.

Anomaly - Starling Games - Review 4

Game Build Quality


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6/10

They went a more economical route to avoid a potentially high cost game. I am just so used to seeing miniatures in every game, that I am shocked when I see a standee. This is not really a complaint. Everything needed to play the game is there and the components are sturdy cardboard. 

Anomaly - Starling Games - Review 5

Artistic Direction


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7.5/10

I really enjoyed the artwork in Anomaly. It is very dark and brooding with some obscurity.

Anomaly - Starling Games - Review 6

Fun Factor


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7.5/10

We all had a good time with this game. The students ended up winning. The Anomaly player never wanted us to know where he was located so he never took the chance on feeding unless he knew exactly where we were. Eventually, that caught up with him when we tracked him and then shoved him into radiation at the end of his turn. He did not survive too long after that.

Anomaly - Starling Games - Review 7

Age Range & Weight


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10/10

The box suggests 14+. I think this is pretty fair. There are not a lot of choices of actions but the depth of thought and deduction is quite high.

Anomaly - Starling Games - Review 8

Conclusions


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7.5/10

Overall, this is a solid game. If you enjoy hidden movement games, this is an interesting one. What I enjoyed about it, is that it did not take HOURS to play. The main two I have played can take a hefty amount of time to play and it drags on some and can get frustrating. The added element of the radiation almost forces the game to end quicker.

The component quality is not what I would have expected. That is simply because of the quality of what I have seen in one of their top-sellers. However, this is not a huge complaint because there is still quality there in what is needed to play. Just don’t expect wooden or “squishy” components.

The bottom line to me in all games is if I had fun and if I will play the game again and I can answer both with a, “yes”.

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