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POINT SALAD

A 2-6 Player Game for 14 year olds and up. Plays in 15-30 minutes
From Flatout Games  Published by AEG    Designed by Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin & Shawn Stankewich   No One is credited with the Art

The 108 cards are double-sided cards with one of 6 different Vegetables on one side and a 'recipe for scoring points' on the other. This means there are 18 cards for each vegetable (aka 'Veggies') and 108 unique Point Scoring possibilities.

This is a game about making different salads (not named) by using cards collected from a six card-display (aka the Veggie Market - I prefer to think of it as a Market Stall not a store) or from the Point Card (Salad Recipe) Draw Piles, it is a straightforward collecting game with two likeable twists.

The number of cards used from the 108 card deck depends on the number of players, only with six players are all 108 cards required. Before beginning a new game make sure you give the cards a good, very good, shuffle. The best way to do this is to create several small decks, cards dealt one at a time randomly to these and then collect the cards up intyo a single deck taking each small stack in no particular order. Be careful, as the cards will stick together and do not shuffle (using the regular non-card sharp shuffle) very well at all. No cards are dealt to the players but cards removed from the Market are always replaced immediately from the associated piles.

Once you have mixed all the cards thoroughly you have to create three roughly equal piles which are placed side by side to form a row with the Point Card (not the Veggie side) face up. Below each of these piles place two cards flipped over to show the Veggies, thus creating a 3 x 3 Grid with the top three showing the recipes for different Salads and the six below these showing the Veggies you need to collect.

 

As you will have guessed by now, you are going to collect face up Veggie cards to create a hand from which you can build salads and eventually score points. When I say you create a 'hand' you don't actually hold the cards, you leave them face up in front of you. When collecting cards from the Market you may take either one of the Recipe cards or two of the vegetables. At any point during your Turn you may flip a Point Card (recipe card) over to show its vegetable (you will already know what this will be as the corner of the Point cards illustrate this) but you may never flip over a Veggie card to its Point card side. That is one of the twists!

The second twist is when yopu come to scoring, for unlike almost any other game, the cards you have collected may be used more than once. Thus for instance if you have a garden in front of you containg 2 Carrots, 3 Peppers, 4 Tomatoes, 5 Lettuces, 3 Onions and 1 Cabbage (there is no limit on the number of cards you can collect) and Point (recipe) cards that give: 2 points for every Lettuce, 4 points for every combination of Lettuce, Tomato, Pepper and Cabbage and 2 points for every pair of Tomatoes and Lettuces you have you would score (I hope I count this out right as the amounts are not from a played game nor from a rules example):
A.  2 points for every Lettuce: you have 5 Lettuces so you score 10 points  
B. 4 points for every combination of Lettuce, Tomato, Pepper and Cabbage: you have 3 Peppers, 4 Tomatoes, 5 Lettuces, and 1 Cabbage, therefore you score only 4 points (you only have 1 cabbage so you only have one full combination set).
C. 2 points for every pair of Tomatoes and Lettuces. You have 4 Tomatoes, 5 Lettuces thus you have 4 pairs (not pears) and score 8 points
D. Other possibilities are having the most of any individual veggie. You score an additional 10 points for each veggie you have more of than any other player. In our case above let's say our 4 Tomatoes and 5 Lettuces are more than any one else has thus giving us 20 Bonus points 
D1. 5 Points extra for each veggie you have at least three cards of. We have 3 Peppers, 4 Tomatoes, 5 Lettuces, 3 Onions so that's 4 sets (if we had 6 Lettuces it wouldn't count as two sets of three, only individual veggie types are counted) so we have 4 x 5pts = 20 points
Our Final total is: 10+4+8+20+20 = a nice healthy 62 - and we have had our five required veggies for the day, though unfortunately we don't get any points for that - we do supposedly get a little healthier though.

As a collecting game for young'ish players, say 6 or 7 upwards, it is a nice way of learning what veggies look like and what colour they normally are. The 14 and 17 year olds in our games were on their phones within seconds of understanding the rules (remember: take 2 veggie or one Point card/s) the non-gamers were happy that the 6 & 7 years olds could play and the regular gamers were left perplexed and wondering why it is for 14 years and older. Board games players of 14+ can easily (mostly) handle GMT games and Euro games aplenty. This had the effect that telling them to turn whatever device they are using, off; moody sulks. Definitely not for any young teenager I know.

Having played this with three different groups of all ages, 7 through to 80, the comments received were not particularly impressive towards it. I will mention a few here but not credit the players who made them by name.

"What's the Point Salad?"     "Pointless Salad!"       "No Point Salad"        "Why the F Did AEG Publish this?"     "Well that's 20 minutes of my life I won't get back!"

As you can see, the compliments weren't actually flying.

Good points of POINT SALAD are:
It is a very short game.
The Rules are so easy to learn
Cards are simple to understand
The game is so easy to play (so why the age recommendation of 14+)
RRP is £10.99 so it isn't expensive to buy.

Not So Good Points:
Artwork is basic. Very much like the Flash Cards used to teach infants simple colours and items.
Gameplay is Flat. No Player Interaction.
The card's finish makes it very difficult to successfuly shuffle them.

It's not really a case of whether I like POINT SALAD or not, it's more a case of whether I would wish to play it again? The answer to this would be yes, but only with my grand-children, and possibly with someone who has never played a boardgame other than the regular UK style boardgame - Monopoly, Cluedo, Game of Life etc. I, personally, wouldn't suggest it to anyone who regularly plays Euro-Style boardgames, though I do know a few hard core players who would consider this an occasional flippancy.

Can it be used to entice new players into the wonderful world of boardgames? This I am not sure of. I don't think there is enough substance or depth to create that special feeling that screams out "I want to know more about these new type of games" and there isn't the playability factor where you want to play it again immediately after playing it.

I did learn something about board games that I didn't know and hadn't heard before. Apparently board gamers use the meta-joke term 'Point Salad' to refer to games where whatever you do, points will be scored. This is supposedly due to the Stefan Feld games: Castles of Burgundy and Trajan.  As I said, I have now learned that is what the title of this game means (I had wondered) but whether it is a term I would ever use remains to be seen.

My opinion is that there are so many good 2- plenty (6 or 8) player games available if you look round your local game store which are just as easy to learn but are much more fun and definitely more replayable. Look out for any of the Codenames™ games for example or BANG!™  (2 just off the top of my head). These are games that do not take too long to play, have lots of replayabilityand are around a similar price to POINT SALAD. 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015