The publisher gifted me a copy of this game; however, I always strive to provide fair, honest opinions.
Game at a Glance
- Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
- Players: 2-6
- Ages: 8+
- Length: 15-30
- Mechanics: Card Drafting, Set Collection
- Availability: Retail
The term “point salad” is used to describe games that offer many, often unrelated, ways to score points. Stefan Feld’s Castles of Burgundy is commonly used to illustrate this term. Some people love point salad games, and others use the term in a more derogatory fashion. Personally, I like them.
The game Point Salad is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to this term from the team at Flatout Games. This card drafting set-collection game is themed around salad ingredients, and with over 100 unique ways to score points it certainly lives up to its name.
The game consists of 108 double-sided, multi-use cards. And that’s it. Each card has one of six vegetables on one side and a scoring condition on the other. Setup consists of creating the deck (the number of cards is determined by the player count), and then using that deck to create a Veggie Market and draw piles in which players can collect their ingredients and point cards, respectively.
After setup players take turns drafting cards. A player can choose to take 1 point card from the draw piles above the market, or 2 vegetable cards from the market. Players then add the card(s) to their salad tableau in hopes of scoring the most points.
- Gameplay: Good. The rules are simple and straightforward, and the turns move quickly. The addition of the multi-use cards sets this game apart from many other light set collection/ drafting games. The shared draft pool makes the game fairly interactive – hate drafting can definitely come into play. There is an element of luck but there are always interesting decisions to be made. The game scales well as cards are removed for player counts less than 6.
- Art & Style: Adequate. I appreciate the clever theming built around a board game term. And building a salad with ingredients works very well for a set-collection game. The artwork is bright, simple and clean. It’s not my favorite aesthetic, but it is functional. The cards are legible and the symbology is intuitive.
- Accessibility: Excellent. The rules are straightforward and simple, and I have yet to run into a complication that slowed the game down for a rule check.This game can be taught to just about anybody in 2 minutes or less.
- Components: Good. The card quality is fine for the amount of handling the cards receive. The box is small but is still oversized for the contents. Maybe there will be an expansion someday that will fit in the box – there’s definitely room for some dressing or croutons.
- Replayability: Adequate. Despite having over 108 scoring conditions, many of them are very similar to each other and there aren’t many surprises.
Tabletop Mom’s Opinion
Point Salad is a pretty lightweight game. At the time of publication it was rated a 1.16 complexity on boardgamegeek.com. That’s not to say there aren’t interesting decisions to be made. The first choice players make is whether to commit to a point card or to start gathering ingredients and hope a good mix of scoring opportunities for them become available. And that is just the beginning – tough decisions pop up throughout the entire 20 minute play time. Because the cards are double-sided it’s very unlikely that the point card you want will stick around till your next turn without being flipped into the Veggie Market so you need to take what you want immediately. But it’s also possible to build a strategy around a vegetable that becomes nearly impossible to collect due to competition.
I can tell that care went into the balancing of Point Salad. No matter how many cards are removed there is always an equal number of vegetables at the start of each game. In addition there seems to be a loose connection between pairs of vegetables and scoring objectives. Vegetables seem partnered up, with specific ingredients favoring their partner vegetable for scoring conditions. For example, many of the peppers have victory point conditions that favor lettuce, and vice-versa. This helps to ensure that one vegetable is not more profitable than any others each game.
Although there are no direct take-that cards there is a lot of interactivity in this game. Players can and should pay attention to what their opponents are working towards and take any opportunity they can to ruin those plans. If your friend has a big collection of lettuce and the “most lettuce gets 10 points” card is revealed, it is wise to make sure that card is not available to them on their turn. This balance between building the best salad possible while also trying to ruin other salads often leads to tough decisions.
Point Salad has been in our collection for quite some time. It’s a game I really enjoy playing with my kids, and it’s also an easy game to introduce to people are not enthusiastic gamers. The play time is anywhere between 15-30 minutes and perfect for short attention spans, and the theme is about as inoffensive as they come.
That’s not to say experienced gamers won’t enjoy Point Salad. It’s a great choice for people looking for a light game with a decent dose of luck and some interactivity. It can be used as a filler, but it can also be played several times in a row in a salad-making marathon. The rulebook even suggests that several games can be played back-to-back while keeping running point tally.
As much as I enjoy Point Salad, I won’t say that it is without flaws. I don’t care for the artwork in the game; however, art is subjective and functionally the graphic design works well. It does seem to appeal to children, as mine think I’m crazy for criticizing it. As far as gameplay goes, I rarely feel like I have a lot of control over the outcome of the games I play. I can work to set myself up for a great strategy only to be derailed by unfortunate flips of the point cards, or high competition over the vegetables I need. Potential players should be aware that luck is a factor that comes into play. If you’re looking for a pure strategy game with perfect information, this is not that game. I don’t mind this as I don’t always want to have to think 4 turns ahead. Sometimes I want to have a quick, tactical experience and that is exactly what Point Salad offers.
If you’re on the hunt for a meaty entree of a game, Point Salad may be a letdown. This game is definitely more of an appetizer, good for children, new gamers, or for playing several rounds back-to-back with those who want a longer experience. It is accessible to many ages and skill levels and offers interesting decisions and interactivity. And for those reasons, Point Salad has a place in my collection for many more years!
Tabletop Mom Recommends this for fans of light card-drafting and set-collection games; people looking for a fresh new filler to add to their game night, and especially for families.