Designed by Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich
Release Year: 2019 Complexity: Low
👥 2-6 Players ⏰ 15-30 min 💸 ~$20 🔗 Buy
In Point Salad, players are competing by collecting cards to score the most points. Every card is double-sided with a vegetable on one side and a scoring card on the other. On your turn, you can either take two vegetables or select one of the three available scoring cards. Scoring cards will flip to fill in the missing vegetables, and the game will continue until every card has been claimed. Whoever can create the best combination of vegetables and scoring cards will win the game.
One of the primary tensions in Point Salad is how to balance taking vegetables versus taking scoring cards. Take too many scoring cards and you won’t have enough vegetables to actually score them, but take too many vegetables and you may not have enough scoring potential.
Additionally, many of the scoring cards come with negative side effects. For example, you may now score points for peppers and cabbage, but actually lose points for each of your tomatoes. As the game progresses, each player has their own customized preferences that affect how they evaluate the available options.
And since all of the cards you gain are visible to all players, part of the strategy comes in understanding what other players are going for and reacting to it. The player right before you gets negative points for onions? Maybe it’s time to pick up some onion scoring cards since they are likely to be left behind for you to take.
Another interesting wrinkle is that, once per turn, a scoring card can be flipped, turning into its corresponding vegetable. This means that you can pivot later if a scoring card isn’t working out, or potentially take a scoring card to acquire an important vegetable that isn’t available in the market.
You also don’t want to let a perfect scoring card go to the next player, but, fortunately, blocking them doesn’t mean you have to take the scoring card yourself. Rather, since the scoring card will flip into a vegetable if one of the two vegetables below it is taken, you only need to take a single vegetable from that column to strategically keep your opponent in check.
Player Counts - There are a lot of games that claim a player count range like “2-6 players,” but many, in reality, only play well at a small subset of that range. Point Salad is a game that truly lives up to its advertised player counts, working great from 2-6 players, and that flexibility keeps it as a strong option in a lot of different gaming situations.
Abstract vs. Thematic - The vegetable theme is fun and cute, but functionally could have been anything as the set collection gameplay is more abstract.
Luck vs. Skill - There are plenty of interesting decisions and opportunities to strategically react to the other players in Point Salad, but the randomness of the cards still swings this more to the lucky side. Sometimes the perfect scoring card will be revealed right at the beginning of a player’s turn, and there is nothing anyone else could have done to prevent it.
Multiplayer Solitaire vs. Highly Interactive - On first glance, Point Salad doesn’t feel particularly interactive as you build up your own card tableau, but you quickly realize the importance in preventing amazing cards from going to the next player, while also building your strategy to account for which vegetables the players before you are less likely to take.
Short Setup vs. Long Setup - It is pretty quick to set up and play, but you are required to remove a certain amount of every vegetable depending on the player count. Not a huge thing, but usually requires you to check the rulebook to remember the right amount, and then trying to find, for example, 9 copies of each of the 6 vegetables, keeps you from getting going as quickly as some card games where you just deal and play.
Easy to Teach vs. Hard to Teach - Point Salad is an extremely easy game to teach. The basic set collection mechanisms are something people naturally understand, and there are only two main options on any given turn. Even though all of the scoring cards are technically unique, they are largely repeats of the same concepts, and you can just explain any new ones as they come up during the game.
Low Setup Variability vs. High Setup Variability - Every game, the deck is shuffled and the initial display of scoring cards and vegetables will be different. While this adds some nice variability, it also doesn’t feel as meaningfully different as you might think. You may get different scoring cards this game, but overall it is going to feel pretty similar to previous games. The fun comes more from making tactical decisions to improve your score rather than the variability making the session feel unique.
Things to Like
✅ Vegetable vs. Scoring Card Tension - The gameplay in Point Salad really revolves around the core decision of taking vegetable or scoring cards on your turn, and that is a decision that remains fresh and interesting simply because of all the variables in play. Your own cards, your opponents’ cards, and the cards available in the market all combine into a unique puzzle of what the best option is situationally.
✅ Quick to Teach and Play - Every game collection needs games that you can pull out with a casual group and not get bogged down with a long rules teach. Point Salad fills this niche perfectly. It is very approachable for new players, and it isn’t uncommon for a group to play multiple games in a row since it is so quick.
✅ Fun Group Dynamic Around the Table - For a casual card game, Point Salad also finds a nice balance between being non-confrontational while still being interactive. You care enough about what other players are doing that there is a nice energy around the table and often facilitates casual conversation while you play.
✅ Works Well with Young Kids - Since the options on your turn are so simple, Point Salad is actually a game that can work well with very young children. They may not do particularly well or understand the strategy, but they can still pick cards and have a good time. We have enjoyed playing it with our 5-year-old nephew, even if he is usually just determined to become “the King of the Cabbage.”
Things to Dislike
❌ Can Get Stuck with a Bad Vegetable - Since the game only ends once every card is taken, this means that the final players are going to be forced to take the only vegetables that are left in the market. So you might lose 4 points for every pepper, and be forced to take one or two on your final turn, which definitely doesn’t feel great. That said, it adds a little bit of push-your-luck with negative scoring cards and can be funny when it happens, so it may depend on the player how much it bothers them.
❌ Each Play Feels Fairly Similar - While every game is going to play out differently with the scoring cards and vegetables you collect, the overall feel of the game is pretty consistent. It is really going to come down to how compelling you find those core decisions, but if you tire of those mechanisms, there aren’t really other variables that are going to excite you to come back.
Ryan (29 Plays) - 7.5 Daniel (7 Plays) - 8
Is It For You?
If you want a little more meat (pun intended) out of your filler games or get frustrated when players block you from getting good cards, maybe Point Salad isn’t for you. 👎
But if you enjoy easy-to-learn, quick-to-play card games, want one that plays well from 2-6 players, and like the idea of a set collection game where your goals change depending on which scoring cards you select, Point Salad is a fantastically versatile filler to have in your collection. 👍