You may have heard the phrase 'Point Salad' chucked around on Zatu blogs before. In board game lingo, it means opponents aim to score the most points, with many ways to achieve this. You score points for doing X. You score them for doing Y (and Z, and often A-W, as well!). The challenge is that often, point scoring methods X and Y are not connected. Should you spread yourself thinner to score less across multiple categories? Or should you go all-in and put all your X in one basket?
It's to board game geeks' global delight, then, that Point Salad - by AEG - pokes fun at this board game mechanism. It's meta to the nth degree. Point Salad is a game where the scoring method is a point salad of you scoring points, by collecting types of salad. There's lots of ways to score points here - 108, in fact! Each card in the game offers a unique method of racking up VPs. Usually you'd refer to them as victory points… But here, let's call them veggie points! So: knife and chopping board at the ready? French Dressing poised to drizzle? Let's make ourselves a tasty Point Salad!
How To Become A Salad Supremo
The aim of Point Salad is, to no surprise: score the most points. 2-6 players attempt to achieve this with the end-game in mind - once the last card's drafted. Cards are all doubled-sided. On one side, they'll be one of six different veggies: carrots, peppers, tomatoes, lettuces, onions, or cabbage. There's an even distribution of each, so 18 of each (108 in total).
On each cardbacks, there's a unique point-scoring condition. Stated on them is what combinations of veggies you need to to colltor to trigger that card's scoring. In Point Salad, cards sit either Veggie side-up or Point-Scoring side-up. Because of this, there's a near-infinite range of modular set-ups for this one! Talking of which…
How To Prep The Perfect Point Salad
Setting up Point Salad takes less than 60 seconds. (It's best, when packing the game away, to separate the cards into their Veggie types. That way, when coming to set up the game for next time, you can get started pretty much straight out of the gate.)
Depending on player count, you need to count out a set number of cards for each of the six vegetable types. You do this by selecting the cards at random, so you cannot see the Point-Scoring sides. In a 2-player game, you need six of each Veggie Card (so 36 cards in total). Any excess cards go back in the box; they're not needed for this game. For 3P, you need nine of each card. For 4P, you need 12 of each card (or, you can simply remove six veggies of each type, whichever's easiest for you). For 5P, it's 15 of each card (or remove 3/18 cards from each type). For a 6-player game, you use the entire deck.
Once you've got the correct number of cards, give them a good shuffle together. Then split them into three piles, and sit them so they're Point-Scoring side-up. Have them sitting in a row, then flip the top two cards from each deck, so the two cards are Veggie side-up. Situate these below their corresponding decks. You should now have three decks, and six Veggie cards in a Public Market. Pick a start player (who last ate salad?) and you're ready to play!
Super-Simple And Speedy Turns
Turns in Point Salad are super-simple, and speedy. On your turn, you get to draft cards, in one of two ways. Option one is you can draft one Point-Scoring card from the top of one of the three decks. If you do this, you place it in front of you, Point-Scoring side-up.
Your alternate option is to draft two Veggies from the six cards in the Market. If you go for this option, then you also place them in front of you, Veggie side-up. It's worthwhile keeping your veg
cards in matching sets. That way you can see, at-a-glance, how many of them you have at any one time.
As a bonus action, if you like, you can opt to flip over one of your Point-Scoring cards to its Veggie side. There's a Veggie symbol in the corners of the Point-Scoring card, so you know what Veggie sits on its reverse. You can't do this vice-versa, though: you can't flip a Veggie card into a Point-Scoring card. So once it's flipped, it's flipped for good!
Pick Up A Pepper, Or Choose A Cabbage
Why pick one option over another, then? Well, that all boils down to the requirements on the Point-Scoring cards. You might have a Point-Scoring card that rewards you with 8VPs for every three tomatoes you own. If you see two tomatoes in the Market, you might feel inclined to grab both of them. That's two-thirds of the way to another 8 points, after all!
Alternatively, you might have grabbed a Point-Scoring card early in the game. Have you struggled to gain any Veggies for it? No problemo! Check the Veggie symbol on the card's corner. It might be a candidate for flipping. (Especially if you could use it as a Veggie to score towards a different Point-Scoring card!)
But it's also worth noting: beware! Some of the Point-Scoring cards come with penalties! Some, for example, reward you 2VP per pepper you hold, 2VP per cabbage, but -4VP per tomato you have. If you've got lots of peppers and cabbage, but also lots of tomatoes (because you grabbed that '3x tomatoes = 8VP' card), they don't sync up! Should you consider flipping one of those Point-Scoring cards? Only you can make that decision…
Grab Them Before They're Gone
At the end of a player's turn, it moves to the next player, clockwise. Did the previous player draft cards from the six-card Veggie Market? If so, those cards get replaced from the Point-Scoring deck sitting above the empty spaces in the Market. The Point-Scoring card(s) in those decks flip, becoming new Veggies that the next player(s) could draft.
This is fantastic with regards to decision-making. Your opportunity window to grab those Point-Scoring cards is so slim! If you don't draft it now, chances are it won't be there by your next turn… Can you take that chance? The other neat thing is you know what kind of Veggie card those Point-Scoring cards will become. Meaning, you might be able to manipulate the Market, to an extent.
There will become a time in the game when one of the three decks runs out of cards. This is inevitable, due to copious drafting and re-filling of the Market. When this happens, it's a simple case of splitting the largest of the two remaining decks. You place the bottom half of that deck into place of the depleted one, and continue. Gameplay continues in this fashion, turn order going clockwise. The game end trigger is once all cards from the Point-Scoring decks and the Veggie Market have been drafted.
Add Them Up To Pluck The Point Salad Prize
Then it's time to add up your points. Most points gets the Point Salad crown! It's worth noting, though, that for scoring, you calculate each Point-Scoring card at an individual rate. And when you do this, you considering all your collected Veggies. This means that Veggie cards can - and will - get used to score towards numerous Point-Scoring cards.
However, as I stated earlier, this can be both good, or bad, depending on the requirements for your Point-Scoring cards! Did you double down on collecting carrots for points? If you did, and you've gone carrot-crazy with the drafting, then it's all good. But if you also have three cards with carrot penalties, they'll also cost you! If you don't at least break even there, then you've made a Pointless Salad!
Games of Point Salad can be rather snappy once you get going, especially in a two- or three-player game. If you like, during set-up for, say, a three-player game, you can split the Veggie cards in half. (As in, you'd one set of 9x6 Veggies for one game, which would leave a second set of 9x6 Veggies that you'd put back in the box. You can then use that second set to play a second game of Point Salad, straight away! Or, in a two-player game, you can split the 108-card deck into three lots of 6x6 Veggie Cards, to play three rounds. Doing this saves you even more time during set-up!) If you do this, you can keep an accumulative score to find out the ultimate salad supremo…