The world of hobby gaming has a fun term: “Point Salad”. It refers to games which have many different ways to score points. Sell some goods, earn points. Play some cards or roll a certain dice combination, earn points. Plan 5 turns ahead and execute a clever sequence of moves, earn lots of points. So imagine my delight when someone made a game centered around the term “Point Salad”. Color me even more delighted when I discovered that Point Salad is good, real good. Before we jump into the review let me first point out that “Mom” was right this whole time: veggies are good for you.
Point Salad Overview
On one side of the Point Salad cards you’ll find one of 6 different veggies (carrot, onion, tomato, lettuce, pepper, cabbage).
The other side of the cards all feature some means of scoring those veggie cards. Possibilities include scoring for sets of veggies (2 veggies gets you 5 points, 3 veggies get you 8 points), points for one veggie (but negative points for another), points for even or odd numbers of veggies, and the classic “most veggies of a type”. Like any salad, variety is what keeps you coming back bite after bite.
Setting up the game is quite simple: arrange the deck based on player count and lay everything out according to the rules. Here’s a handy example.
On your turn you have one of three choices:
Select any two veggie cards
Pick any two face up veggie cards from the 6 cards shown (that number might be less near the end of the game). Place those veggie cards in your personal play area, then deal out replacements from the stack at the top of that column.
Take one scoring card as a veggie card
The top left and bottom right corners of every card display icons revealing which veggie appears on the other side. If you’re desperate for an onion card, then take the top card from one of the stacks, flip it over, and place it in your play area as a veggie card. Not as efficient, but it’s a good option when Barb to your right keeps hogging the onion cards.
Take one scoring card as a scoring card
All the veggies in the world won’t be any good to you if you don’t have a reason for taking them. In real life you get veggies because they’re delicious, but in Point Salad you have…ulterior motives. At the end of the game, each scoring card can apply to every veggie you have in your play area. That gives you incentive to double up on some cards. If you’ve already got lots of peppers, then picking up that pepper and tomato scoring card means you just need a tomato card. Take a moment to give Barb the evil eye right now so that she’ll leave you a tomato.
Play continues until all the cards are gone, then scoring occurs. The player with the best salad (most points) is the happy winner and by definition the healthiest person at the table.
Point Salad Final Thoughts
Point Salad is a fun thing to say – “Point Salad, Point Salad, Point Salad” – but it’s even more fun to play. This is a simple game, offering only three choices for a player on their turn. But it’s the way you string those choices together that will help you harvest a victory. And in a game this simple the choices are surprisingly hard to make, especially in games with the max player count of 6. In fact at 6 players there’s very little planning you can do ahead of time because the available cards will almost certainly change before your turn.
Do you take the carrot scoring card, or the carrots you need to earn the points? Do you collect lots of veggies early in the game in hopes of landing some great points later? Or do you jump on lucrative scoring cards first and plan to get the cards you need later on? Usually it will wind up being a combination of the two. Point Salad has a lot of luck but still rewards players for planning ahead. That said there might be scoring cards that net you nothing simply because the cards never fall your way.
“Take that” style games (games where your moves or actions intentionally affect the other players negatively) aren’t usually my thing, but in Point Salad players are advised to be observant. That lettuce card might only be worth one point for you (or even nothing), but if Steve gets it, he might complete a 12 point set.
The artwork and graphic design by Dylan Mangini is modern and vibrant. Bright colors, simple shapes, and large text make this easy to read from across the table, which is great because Point Salad has cards for up to six players. I haven’t personally tested the cards for color blindness, but I did take some time to run it through a color blindness tester. The colors are definitely samey in some cases, but the shapes should be clear enough to players, making Point Salad accessible to anyone.
My only negative comment here relates to the cards themselves: they’re a bit thin. The upside is that they’re easy to shuffle; the downside is that they can be quite difficult to pick up from a hard surface. If you have dexterity issues, then I suggest sleeving your cards, or playing on a game mat.
AEG plans to coincide the release of Point Salad with their yearly Big Game Night party at Gen Con. Attendees of this paid event will receive Point Salad, Curios, and Walking in Burano, so if you’ve already got your tickets, lucky you! The rest of you will just have to pick up Point Salad in retail stores starting on Friday, August 2nd.
Is Point Salad right for you? Only your game group and your dietician can tell you that. But if you’re a fan of clever choices, short gameplay, and wonderful artwork, then you should definitely consider this one. Point Salad might not be long enough for the main course, but it’s certainly a great filler game; and a strong appetizer, and one I can definitely recommend.