- Salad Master
- Designer: Yu Miyazaki
- Publisher: Homosapiens Lab
- Players: 1-5
- Age: 8+
- Time: 15 minutes
- Played with review copy provided by Homosapiens Lab at SPIEL 2022
Salad Master is a competitive game where players try to use their knowledge of the nutritional properties of different types of vegetables. It is a companion game to Meat Master, which we looked at last week – which has players working with meat sources instead of plant sources.
There are two decks of cards in the game, a 60 card deck of different types of meat, and a 12 card deck of objectives. To start the game, shuffle both decks. Each player takes a card holder, and 3 food cards are dealt to each player. Players are only allowed to look at the ingredient side – this tells them the name of the food, a picture of said food, and then the weight of the food being examined.
The reverse side (which can never be seen by the owning player) has statistics about that food on it – Carbohydrates, Calories, Protein, and Fiber. If you can’t remember what the icons are for, there are reminder cards which should be kept close by.
The objective cards are shuffled, and three are laid out face up on the table. The start player chooses one of the three Objective cards to play for the round, and then he chooses one of his cards to play – with the goal to win the chosen objective card. Going clockwise around the table, each player chooses a card to play. Then, they are all revealed at the same time.
The rules say that it is definitely OK to try to examine the backs of the cards of your opponents, and discussion is also allowed – even if you are trying to mislead one of your opponents with faulty advice!
It should be noted that the game appears to be Japanese in Origins – well at least the nutritional stats are provided by the Council for Science and Technology, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan from 2020. As it uses vegetables more common to the Japanese diet, you should be prepared to get some cards in your hand which you have no idea what the food is!
Players compare the necessary nutrient numbers on the cards, and the card which best fits the criteria on the objective card wins the round and takes the Objective card as the reward. All food cards which were played this round are discarded, and each player draws a new food card to replenish their hands to 3. Additionally, if possible, draw a new Objective card to bring that display back to 3 as well.
The game continues until one player has one 3 Objective cards – at which point, he/she will be known for the rest of the night as the Salad Master. (Yeah, it’s not as catchy as the term “Meat Master”, but work with me here)
This game is essentially a food variant of Top Trumps, and it plays just as quick as you would expect. For each of the four criteria, there is an objective for most, least, and 2nd most. The 2nd most ones make the game a bit more exciting as this puts a bit of tactical play into the contest. Unfortunately, as the player who chooses the card always goes first – the real advantage with these 2nd most cards turns out to go to the player last in turn order that round – and this tends to mean that people rarely choose this more interesting card.
This game also comes with some expansion cards which provide another interesting concept. Here, players will play two cards from their hand at a time, and they are going for the least difference – that is, players are tasked with finding cards that are most alike in the desired criteria. I really like these cards, and I have found that those rounds are more interesting.
We have found that some of the more exotic vegetables make it super hard to predict some of the attributes of a food – because you know nothing about it and have never eaten it! The art helps a bit as you can at least picture what it is – to a degree. Some of the vegetables are shown in plastic bags – and the parsley appears to be only a dried herb?
In any event, like Meat Master, Salad Master is a quick ten to fifteen minute game, and I must say that I’ve managed to even learn a few new types of vegetables that I might try on my next trip to the local Japanese restaurant.
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor