Mostly when I play games I want to relax, and beat the snot out of my stupid friends through the cardboard medium. This is a serious business. Thought goes into such an evening, set-up is done well in advance, some is assigned the task of snack bringer. Short lists of games are compiled in advance. One friend even arranges the most suitable soundtrack to accompany a game!! Sometimes though I want to run around like an idiot and shout silly phrases while striking people (sort of), on these days I turn to Happy Salmon.
Happy Salmon is not a hard game to learn. It contains six decks of 12 cards each. Each deck of 12 has four different types of card - Happy Salmon, Pound It, High 5, and Switcheroo! Up to six players each take a deck and turn it over at the same time. They shout out the words on the card looking for someone who has the same card. Upon finding said person you perform your action and ditch the card on the floor and keep doing this until someone runs out of cards. If you can't find anyone to High 5 with you can put that card to bottom and work from the new card instead.
If it's not immediately apparent this is not a game for everybody, but it is a game for anybody. And that would be an excellent line for the end of a Batman film. Happy Salmon plays almost as quickly as it is learnt and is always followed by one of two more plays if not more. Although I'm usually knackered after a couple of play-throughs. Perfect for families, youth groups, conventions and other gatherings, it's a game that knows it's niche and fills it well.
The recently release of the Blue Happy Salmon effectively ups the player count to 12 and these games are a delightful manic medley of mayhem. There's no reason to expect that this won't see the same success as the green 'core' set, and later this year it will be followed by 'Funky Chicken', which is the same game except with dance moves and a case shaped like a chicken. Funky.
Happy Salmon - Like a Battered Mars Bar
Just like the deeply unhealthy but otherworldly delicious gourmet treat of a battered mars bar, I enjoy Happy Salmon much more than I should. During the initial wave of hype I wrote the game off as a gimmick way below my serious game collection, and then I started needing lighter games for more players.
Happy Salmon elicits fun in a way most games find hard to do, and that is fine, other games don't need to. I don't want to chuckle in the same way while playing Le Harve, there is room for all types of games.
That's it. The cards are thick and plasticity enough to survive being thrown on the floor and have different coloured backs so decks can be reset easily. The game comes in a hilarious but impractical fish shaped neoprene case.