- Designers: Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich
- Publisher: AEG
- Players: 2-6
- Age: 14+
- Time: 20-30 minutes
- Times played: 3, with review copy provided by AEG
Point Salad is part of the 2019 Big Game Night project from AEG. In previous years, AEG has kept the games a secret until the big reveal at the Big Game Night event at GenCon. This year, AEG has chosen to take a different approach to the promotion of the new games, and they have given preview copies to the press and retailers will be able to start showing them on the Thursday of GenCon week. The three games from this year are Curios, Point Salad and Walking in Burano.
The description from the publisher: “Point Salad is a fast and fun card drafting game for the whole family. There are over 100 ways to score points. Players may use a variety of strategies and every game of Point Salad is unique! Cards come in six different types of veggies, and the back of each card has a different scoring method. So for instance, one scoring method may award 2 points for every carrot you have, but deduct a point for every onion. By drafting combinations of veggies and point cards that work for your strategy, you can amass the most points and win.”
The game is comprised of a single deck of 108 cards. Each card has a veggie on one side (18 copies of six different veggies) and a unique scoring condition on the back of each card. Depending on the number of players in the game, you will discard some cards of each type of veggie at random. Once the deck is assembled, shuffle the cards together and split the deck into three roughly equal piles with the point condition sides face up. Now, flip up two cards from each stack and place them veggie side up in a column below their respective draw piles. The nine cards which are visible, the three point cards on the top of the three draw piles and the six veggie cards face up underneath, form the Market.
A start player is randomly chosen and then the quick turns begin. On a turn, the active player takes one of two choices: draft one point card from the top of a draw pile OR draft two of the face up veggie cards. The chosen cards are placed into a face up tableau of cards in front of the player (so that everyone can see what each player has chosen). Then, optionally, the player can turn one collected point card over to its veggie side. There is an icon in the corner of the point side to show you what veggie is on the reverse. Note that you can never turn the veggie cards over to the point side. Then, if needed, replenish the veggie cards in the market with the top cards from the draw piles.
The game continues until all cards have been drafted from the point card piles and the veggie market. Then, all the players calculate their scores. It is easiest to group your collected veggie cards by type so that it is easy to count how many of each type of veggie you have. Then simply evaluate each of your scoring cards separately (i.e. using all of your veggie cards for each scoring card). The player with the most points wins. If there is a tie, the player who went later in turn order breaks the tie.
My thoughts on the game
When reading the rules, similar to Curios, I was struck by how simple the rules were. Sometimes, simple rules lead to a straightforward game. Here, Point Salad finds a nice balance of strategy and depth while remaining simple in its rules and play.
I like the challenge of having all the different scoring cards to consider in each game, and then trying to match up your scoring cards with the veggies that you draw. I have seen some players try to get scoring cards early to then guide them towards specific veggies, and I have also seen some players simply try to get large numbers of veggies first and then wait for scoring cards to come up that match the collected cards.
If you draw scoring cards early, there is a nice flexibility in being able to flip the card over to the veggie side if it turns out that you don’t have the right veggies to score it. Of course, you lose the opportunity to draw an extra card because you only take one card when you draft a scoring card as opposed to taking two when you go for the veggies.
I suppose that there is a little bit of possibly defensive strategy here – you could watch what your LHO is collecting, or which scoring cards he has, and then try to deny him those cards in the market when you have the opportunity – but man, that’s a lot of work for a ten minute game. I have chosen to just focus on my own stuff, and just draft for what I need/want.
The game plays quickly, and the short length of the game often leads to multiple games being played in a row. Sure, the game could slow down if you played with someone who was really trying to analyze the defensive options, etc – but you could eliminate that issue by either playing with a face down tableau of collected cards OR simply not play games with people that suck the fun out of games.
Point Salad has been a pleasantly surprising game for me. I have enjoyed it far more than I thought I would from reading the rules. The components are simple – just a deck of cards – and I think that I will repackage the cards into an old double deck box to make this eminently portable. This is clearly a game that will be added to my Restaurant game collection once it is in a smaller box (small enough to carry in my pocket, easy enough to teach and play in the time between ordering and eating, and not requiring more space than a restaurant table provides). This is definitely the game from Big Game Night 2019 which will stick around in my permanent collection.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Dale Y, Eric M, Craig V
- Not for me…