Games Gazette Logo



Well HAPPY SALMON from NORTH STAR GAMES is the game you have been waiting for.

Designed by: Ken Gruhl & Quentin Weir

To begin with you need at least 4 players (there are cards for up to 6 but 4 is the optimum number; any more and the chaos gets over-chaotic) and if possible a small round table with room to move around it.
If you don't have a round table any small table will do; the main thing is to be able to move freely around it.

Each player has their own set of plastic coated, heavy duty, wildly colourful cards which they shuffle (the cards don't shuffle that well but it really doesn't matter) and hold face down in the palm of one hand.
When everyone is ready someone shouts "Happy Salmon" (or "Go Fish" or "Be-Fin" or something equally silly, funny or inane) and the players flip the stack of cards they hold over in their hand so they are now a face-up stack.

Everyone plays at the same time and thus all players shout out the name of the card they are looking at, at the same time. You are looking to match cards with another player but to do so you not only shout out the name of the card you also have to - this is a MUST - both perform the action associated with the card. In a variant you perform the actions but in silence - this isn't as much fun to be honest because it is the chaos of the market-style shouting that makes the game so flipping (pun intended) amusing.

There are only four different card types and thus only four different actions; these are:
HIGH 5 - Both players slap their hands together in the universal high five move.  
POUND IT - Both players bump fists. It isn't in the rules but adding the "Big Hero 6" finger waggle afterwards just adds to the fun.
SWITCHEROO - This is why you need room around the table because the matching players have to swap places, but not cards.
HAPPY SALMON - Both players hold their right arm against each other's right arm from fingers to elbow and wiggle them in a Happy Salmon motion.

If there is more than one other player showing the same card or action as you, you must quickly choose the person to share with.
If no one matches your card quickly move it to the bottom of your deck, keeping it face-up, and call out the next card.

When you match cards with another player and complete the actions you drop your card on the table and begin again with the next card in your deck.
The idea of the game is to have fun, plain and simple fun. Oh yes, you are the winner if you are the first player to discard your last card legally and of course you have to shout "FIN - ished" 

This is an absolutely crazy fun game for young players and families and one that should be in every household where there are children who play games with loving, fun parents and/or siblings.
You may feel foolish at first, shouting and wiggling your arms against each other or spontaneously High-Fiving, but it's so much fun you soon lose any inhibitions and then you can't escape the wild enthusiasm that takes over; it's as if the atmosphere is just filling with laughter.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015