Point Salad

Point Salad

AEG |  BGG | Buy

Designer: Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankwich
Publisher: AEG   Art: Dylan Mangini
2-6 players 15-30 minutes ages 8+
MSRP $20

Time to teach & learn: 3 minutes

text-the concept

It’s dinnertime! What do we have to eat?

Let’s see…. lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onion, carrots, and cabbage.

Salad. We have salad.

Salad? What’s the point? That’s it! Let’s have a Point Salad!

There are all kinds of veggie cards available to you. Who can assemble them into the tastiest meal?

text-the components

Point Salad has 108 cards, depicting one of the six salad ingredients on one side: lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, carrots, and cabbage. On the back side of each card is a unique scoring ability, which you will use to make your salad stand out from the rest. The corners of the point scoring side also show which salad ingredient is on its reverse.

text-the mechanics

Point Salad is a card drafting game in which players assemble salad ingredients and point cards  to score as much as possible, in as many ways as possible.

Shuffle the deck, and divide the cards into three piles, points side up. From the three piles, flip out two cards each, veggie side up. This will form the six card Veggie Market.

On your turn you will take cards and place them in front of you. You will either:

Take two cards from the Veggie Market  OR

Take one point card from the top of one of the three decks

Additionally, once per turn, you may take a free action. You may flip over any point card to its veggie side. Note that you may never flip a card from its veggie side to its point side.

Why flip? Well, maybe that point card isn’t working out for you. Maybe the card is more valuable as a veggie. Or perhaps, by flipping the card you can keep an opponent from scoring a point card of his own.

After you’ve taken your turn, turn over cards from the decks to fill any holes in the Veggie Market. If a deck runs out of cards, cut the biggest remaining deck in half, and slide the bottom half over to fill in.

The game continues, each player collecting salad cards or point cards, until all the cards have been drafted.

You’ll  consider all the veggies you’ve collected in your salad to see how many different ways they might help you score. Each salad card is used to score each point card.

Point cards present a huge variety of scoring opportunities. Some will award points for a specific veggies. Some ask you to collect one type of veggie, but penalize for others. Some ask you to compare with other players. Do you have the most or least of a veggie?

Here’s an example!

If the veggie and point cards above make up your salad at the game end, you would score:

  • 6 points (3 cabbage x 2 points)
  • 15 points (3 sets of lettuce + cabbage).
  • 4 points  (3 lettuce x 3, minus 5 points for onions)
  • 8 points (One set of 3 onions).
  • 15 points  (5 onions x 3, no peppers)
  • 10 points if you had the most lettuce, or tied for the most.

Your salad would score 48 points!

text-apart

Most games start with a clear cut goal for all players. Be the first across the finish line, or the first to score 100 points. The players all share the same goal from the beginning. This is true of Point Salad: to win, you must outscore your opponents.

Some games alter this formula by adding a slight twist in the form of variable scoring goals. Player A might score more points than anyone for his donkeys, while Player B will profit if they concentrate on cows.  Whether a player chooses these goals, or has them assigned, the goals are just variations on a theme.

Point Salad blows all this up from the start. You know you need to build a salad. And you know you need to score points. How you accomplish this is all up to you.

Need direction? Grab a promising looking point card, and start taking veggies which fit that goal. Later in the game, maybe you’ll find a complementary point card which works with what you’ve already assembled.

Or maybe, you just start taking salad cards. After all, you get twice as many cards per turn than point cards. Why not pick some veggies, and wait to see what point cards fit? There’s no hurry. You might not even take a point card until the game is half over.

The point is, in Point Salad there is no scripted play. The choices are all up to the players from Turn One. Although you’re all using the same ingredients (the cards), each player’s salad will be unique . The 108 different scoring cards provide an almost infinite variety, ensuring that no two games are ever likely to feature the same paths to victory.

text-final

The term Point Salad is a nerdy joke among gamers. Any game which offers a large variety of ways in which to score points is dubbed a “point salad” game. Think of a point salad game like a giant salad bar. You load your plate with whatever you need to score points.

Here, the designers have run amok with this idea, and produced a game with a previously unfathomable number of ways to score. Point Salad invites us to the biggest salad bar ever. All the salad basics are represented by the veggie cards.The point cards represent every conceivable garnish and dressing you could ever ask for.

When everything you do scores points, playing a run of the mill point salad style game could seem a mechanical exercise, robbed of all joy.  It could even be overwhelming . Too much of a good thing is just too much.  And this could lead to paralysis.

But Point Salad makes this trick work.

How? Simplicity.

Point Salad concentrates on the basics. Take two salad cards or take a point card. That’s the game! Play so simple, kids can compete, and have fun. Yet within this simple structure a world of possibilities opens up, presenting even hardcore gamers with engaging challenges.  We think that Point Salad proves that playing with your food can be Major Fun.

Written by: Doug Richardson

About Stephen Conway

Currently serving as Major Fun. I'm also a writer, filmmaker, game designer, podcaster, and host of The Spiel (http://www.thespiel.net)

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