Point Salad Card Game Review
WBG Score: 8
Player Count: 2-6
You’ll like this if you like: Arboretum, Sushi Go, Circle The Wagons
Published by: Alderac Entertainment Group
Designed by: Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich
Rule book here
Pont Salad games are when there are multiple ways to get lots of points. They are very popular as people feel good it seems in games when they are getting lots of points and high scores. I know I do! The Castles of Burgundy is a great example of this. So, too are most Steffen Field games in truth. Well worth a look.
Point Salad the game takes this concept and simplifies it to its purist form. A deck of cards, and loads of fun ways to score points. Let's get it to the table and see how it plays.
The only bad bit about Point Salad is sorting the cards pre-game. You need to add or remove cards based on the number of players. I would be inclined to buy a few sets just to have each box set-up for different player counts. It only takes a moment, but always slows down the fun and frustrates me.
Once this is done, the grump is over, and the cards are sorted to your player count, shuffle the remaining cards. Then split them into three piles of roughly the same size, don't worry too much about how accurate the splits are, and then flip two cards from each pile underneath each pile so you are left with something that looks like this.
How to Play
Then in turns, each player can take one of two actions. Either, they can take one point-scoring card or two veggie cards. If you take a veggie card, you must then refill the spaces you have left empty, taking cards from the pile above the row you took from. If you ever run out of cards in one pile, roughly split the remaining cards in the other packs into three new piles. Keep doing this in turn until all cards are used. Players add cards they take into their collection.
As a free action at any time, all players can flip any score cards they had previously taken to veggie cards whenever they want. This may be because they desperately need one more veggie card, or because the scoring that this point card offered them does not work for them anymore. The veggie that is on the back of each card is shown in the corner of the other side, so you always know what options you have.
When all the cards are gone, players will score all their veggie cards based on the scoring options they took, with the points cards they picked during the game. Veggie cards can be used multiple times, meaning if you have more than one card that scores either positively or negatively for the same vegetable, and you have at least one of those veggie cards, then you will score that card each time for each point card that it is relevant for.
Will This Fill You Up?
There are a lot of very good small box card games on the market. The 90s classics like Bohnanza, 6 Nimmt, and Tichu. The more modern brilliance of Hanabi, Arboretum, and L.A.M.A. If you have some of these, or others, is there a place for more on your shelf? I would say yes. I own all of these, and many more. I love small box card games. The simplicity of them. The beauty of what can be done with a simple deck of cards. The fun you can have by introducing non or casual gamers so a new game that seems familiar to them, but brings something new to the table.
Point Salad is one of the best games for this. I have introduced this game to so many people and have had 100% success rate with it. I have gifted it to so many people as it is so accessible, but also so good. It is the perfect gateway card game. Players feel like they are making significant, meaningful, and complex decisions, but not ones that are confusing when it comes to rules or strategy. When it pays of, and you score well, it feels great. When you score poorly, you rack-em-up and go again. It's a quick game after all and is fun, win or loose.
I love how simple, but varied the scoring options are. Some can reward with you with points for having the fewest or most or a certain type of Veggie. Others give you points for having an even or odd number. A lot give points for collecting certain sets. Sometimes you can strike it lucky and get score cards that work well together such as the first two below. Other times, you can make bad choices or get unlucky and have cards that conflict each other, such as adding the third card below.
The game rewards multiple plays with the huge variety of score cards. Every card in this deck is a potential score card after all. So there really is a lot of choice! And as each game is so quick, you will regularly want to play multiple games in a row when getting Point Salad off the shelf.
Point Salad won numerous awards and rightly so. The games that designers Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, and Shawn Stankewich have since released have been instant successes. You can check out my thoughts on TEN, and also Abstract Academy here. This is all on the back of the brilliance of Point Salad. Their next game is Point City. A card-drafting engine-building game. I cannot wait for that. What this team does turns to gold. And that is down to one thing. Their games are good. Simple, easy to digest and get to the table, and a lot of fun to play. But most importantly, good. You can feel the quality as you play one of their games. Everything is well produced, well thought-out. The rules are clear. The iconography is brilliantly simple. The mechanics are smooth, not over-thought, and create enjoyable, strategic moments for all around the table.
There are a lot of dream teams in board gaming. I would say that Molly, Robert, and Shawn are on the fast track to becoming legends of the industry if they keep up this quality. It will be interesting if they keep with this level of game weight. Although to be fair, Public Market is more mid-weight. But the bulk of what they have done is about pure, simple rule-sets, within a clean, easy to consume package. I love what they have done with all of their games that I have played, and will watch their careers with great interest.