What is your go-to game for introducing people to games, if all they're used to is Monopoly? Maybe Ticket to Ride (Days of Wonder), Carcassonne (Rio Grande), Codenames (CGE) or Takenoko (Matagot)? For me, ever since I first played AEG's Point Salad, it has overtaken all of them.
Designed by Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin and Shawn Stankewich, and with art by Dylan Mangini, the game takes 10 seconds to introduce - the full rules need only a little bit longer - and it plays in about 20 minutes, even with beginners. There's no hidden information, so everyone can share advice with players struggling to make a decision. Young players don't need to have an advanced strategy; they can just take what cards they like and still have a chance. No-one is ever eliminated and you don't know who's won until the scores are added up at the end. It's swift to play, even with the maximum six players, and it's tactical and interesting even as a two-player game. No huge box, no sprawl, just 108 cards.
So, what actually happens in Point Salad? On your turn, you either take two vegetables (from the six face-up cards) or one recipe (from the three face-up cards), and you are trying to score as many points as possible by collecting veggies and recipes that complement each other. That's all there is to it, except for the one further rule whereby you can flip a recipe to its ingredient side once per turn if you want to. It is so simple, but with 108 vegetable cards each featuring unique recipe combinations on their reverse, you'll never play the same game twice.
The only minor drawbacks are the setup time (officially you should ensure that the deck contains three of each veggie type per person, tho' if you just shuffle and play few people will notice the difference), and sometimes the complexity of scoring, but so long as one person has pen and paper and is happy to add up the scores that's really not a problem.
I've introduced it to gamers and non-gamers, young and old, mathematically adept and those who just want to collect as many onions as they can. I don't think anyone has ever had a bad time with it, and after a year's extensive use it's still by far the most popular choice at my church games days. Like the potato - which doesn't feature in the game - Point Salad should be an absolute staple for anyone who likes introducing games to people.
(Review by Matt Young)
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