This is Picklemoose's Blog. A small section of Pixelated Cardboard dedicated to topics outside of digital board game ports. Posts here will be less formal & cover a range of topics.
Point Salad is a game about collecting vegetables. If you need a more exciting introduction than that, you’ve come to the wrong place, friend, vegetables rock. Let’s dive in.
The game couldn’t be much simpler. You will see three stacks of cards with a scoring side face-up, and below each stack two cards are flipped to reveal those delicious vegetables. On your turn you either take two face up veggies or one of the three scoring cards. Flip over scoring cards to replace any removed veggies, and move onto the next player’s turn. Wash, rinse, repeat until all of the cards are gone.
At this point you score each scoring card you grabbed individually. Five points for each carrot + onion combo, for example, Then your next card gives you two points per carrot, two points per lettuce, and minus one point per pepper. Those carrots you used to score the first card? You can rescore them for this one! And the next! Whoever ends up with the most points wins.
That’s the entire game (okay, there is one more rule; on your turn you may flip one scoring card you've collected over to turn it into a veggie, losing any scoring it may have provided). Depending on the number of players, you may only use a certain subset of the deck during a game. If you have two players, for example, you can play three rounds before cycling through the entire deck turning it into a Sushi Go-like three game showdown.
The fun in the game is trying to collect some wacky combinations to score. If you play it right, you could be getting something like eight points per onion (that’s a lot). You could also be angling to end up with an odd number of them to get seven more points, versus only three if you end up with an even number. Then you’ll want to pair each onion with a lettuce for an additionally five points per pair. Oh yeah, if you finish with the most onions that’s another ten points. All of this, of course, is only true if you have the scoring cards which allow you to score those points. Unfortunately, your incredibly rude neighbor player will definitely make sure that doesn’t happen.
The other source of fun in the game comes from hate drafting to block opponents. A sneaky genius of Point Salad is that it frequently gives you the chance to block an opponent without sacrificing a turn. That is because much of the hate drafting will revolve around the scoring cards. In other games you would be forced to take the card that would score your opponent a slew of points in order to block them. Not here! You can take a veggie in that scoring card’s row and after your turn the scoring card gets flipped over never to be seen again. This also makes even peaceful Point Saladers come across as occasionally evil as they ruin your chance for huge points. The sneakiest, of course, will pretend to be helping themselves while ruining your plans, never trust someone who is playing innocent...
The game plays really well at two but is also fun all the way up to six. At the higher counts it is much more random as you are ultimately at the luck of the draw for what cards are showing when your turn comes around. At two every choice you make is a decision between helping yourself or blocking your opponent. Ideally you can do both, but the tension of helping yourself versus preventing a big scoring card from getting to your opponent makes this a wonderful two player game. This carries over a bit to higher counts, but then you are only concerned with the player to your left, it’s a bit less tense than a heads up situation, but still fun.
Point Salad is a great game. It has become a goto filler in my groups. It can play in about fifteen minutes. An easy comparison to make is Sushi Go which is another card game with a set collection focus that occasionally forces you to hate draft to block an opponent. Point Salad feels like a deeper game because of all of the scoring options. There are only six veggies to collect, but the way in which they score has a lot of variety. You can get points for having the least number of something, or certain sets of trios, and so on. That cards may provide negative scoring for some vegetables is a fantastic extra bit of strategy to consider that leads to some tense decisions, espetically late in the game.
Potential downsides? It’s very much a random game, but that should be expected given the weight and time. It can feel kind of same-y if you overdo it and play it a bunch of times in a short period, not that I have any experience there. Really, I don’t have anything specifically bad to say about this game because it does what it sets out to do so well. It’s a lightweight, drafting, filler that can be taught in about thirty seconds and learned by almost anybody. If you have room in your collection for a title that fits that description, Point Salad is a fantastic option.
I’ve mentioned Sushi Go a few times and a big reason for that is when I play it with new people, the most frequent response I get is “it’s Sushi Go, but ______” The blank can vary (“thinkier” was my personal favorite), but it is a connection a lot of people instantly make. So, with that in mind, does this replace Sushi Go? For me, it probably does just because I’ve been playing Sushi Go at every game night for the past 4+ years as the go to filler. It’s a fantastic game that I love, but if I can scratch a similar itch in roughly the same amount of time but in a completely different package, WITH VEGETABLES, I’m going to be pretty excited about that.