Yesterday I talked about games that would work well for that just slightly too competitive person in your life. You still want to get them board games, but which ones, today I’m looking at smaller games. These are the games that are going to be …
Tag: Point Salad
We’re getting down to it, getting close to the Top 10 games, only a few more of these lists. It’s been a blast as always putting these out and I’m glad that people are enjoying them. I’d be very curious to know what your top …
We’re back for more of my Top 100 games, this is the fourth part of it, and second year that I’ve been doing a Top 100 list. You can find links to the previous parts below:
Plus a few notes on how I’ve put together the list:
- These are my favorite, you want what people consider best, see the Board Game Geek Top 100
- If a game you love isn’t on the list, it might be be coming, I might not have played it, and if I have, it’s 101
- If a game looks cool, I have links to buy it from CoolStuffInc or Amazon, or you can grab most at your FLGS
- There are a few games, Destiny 2 Player versus regular Destiny where if they are basically the same thing, I only do one of them
Hanabi is an interesting game, because it’s a twist on a fairly simple board game concept. There are a lot of games where you are trying to put out numbers in ascending order, in this case 1 through 5. In this one, you can’t see your cards, so you have a hand of cards and they are all facing away from you. So you can give clues to your fellow players, such as what cards in their hand are a given color or what cards in their hand are a given number, but you can’t give both. And you have a limited number of clues but you can get more, you just have to discard a card to get one back. The game is an interesting push and pull of how much you know and how much you don’t. It is also a game that works well at all player counts, so that is fun as well. Cool concept, good execution and just good fun.
Last Year: 44
We go from one kind of tricky game to wrap your head around to another with Gravwell. In this game you are trying to escape from a black hole and get to a wormhole before it closes. To do that, you are racing against your fellow players using whatever you can find as fuel to power your ship. Now, I make that sound fairly thematic, it is quite abstract. But what makes this game is the playing of fuels, they are all elements, so you go in alphabetical order of the element as everyone plays their fuel for the round all at once. And most of the fuel, it causes you to go towards the nearest object, whether that is in front of or behind you. There are some fuels that repel you from the nearest object and others that draw the other ships towards you, so it’s a guessing game of what you think other people might have and how quickly they might be going, because maybe the person behind you will go fast and get too close so if you go towards the object you’ll get pulled towards them, or maybe they want to go a ways and will go with one later in the alphabet, so you’ll want to be pulled by the person in front of you. It’s really a game about reading and guessing what your opponents will do.
Last Year: 66
This is a mean game about growing trees. Which, that sounds kind of odd, but it’s mean because you can block your opponents trees from getting sunlight. Now, that doesn’t seem all that mean, except that is how you get your action points to grow trees, harvest trees for points, and plant more trees. So if the sun is positioned right and your tree is tall enough, you can cast a shadow on shorter or like height trees. It’s an interesting thing as you plan out where the trees are going to go so you’re not only going to be set-up for your next turn but will be set-up for futures ones as well. And you have to ask, is it worth it to maybe have a really bad turn if you can set-up a great turn down the line. You can plan this because the sun moves each turn around the board, and you have a certain number of times around the board for the game, so you know where it’s going to be all of the following turns as you plan. And I say that this game is mean, it’s more that it can be mean, most of the time you aren’t thinking about blocking as much as you are planning out your turn.
Last Year: 28
57. Five Tribes
A gateway style game that has just a bit more going on, this is also a point salad game as well. By that I mean that everything gives you points. You place a camel, you’ll get points for that tile, there’s a palm tree or a palace on it, points, viziers, points, collections of spices, points, and so on and so forth. This game uses a fun mancala style meeple movement. Whatever meeple color you decide to end up with is what you end up doing, it can be shopping, buying a Djinn, or a few more options such as just getting money. I like this game because you can set-up some great turns, and in two player, you could even find a couple of great turns in a row if you wanted or you could move stuff to set-up yourself for a good turn. You can do this because turn order is bid upon. If you find a great turn, you can bid higher for it, and while it’d have to be a really great turn to bid too high, you can go for something or block someone from getting something if you see what they are after. This game works well because you can score points in so many ways, so most of the time you can focus in on one or two of them as well, so someone learning the game doesn’t have to have a whole grasp on the strategy for everything. And for gamers, it feels like there is more going on to be paid attention to than your standard gateway game.
Last Year: 47
One of the earlier cooperative games, this game is all about getting the Fellowship to Mordor and tossing the ring into the fire. But you’re doing this by playing through the whole trilogy of The Lord of the Rings. You get gifts and cards along the way as you advance all while trying to keep Sauron’s eye off of you. There are a lot of boards in this game as you play out cards to advance upon different tracks and play through different things, it might be the mines of Moria or Helms Deep, but you are playing through the story and you can potentially get stuff along the way such as at Rivendell or from Galadriel. The game is really hard as you push your way through all of the story and the different maps. You need to balance card use so that you can make it down the main path, but some of the other paths do offer good things as well and you want to try and do them also. Overall, a fun and hard cooperative game that is really expensive in that link, but there’s a new printing coming out soon, so wait for that.
Last Year: 85
55. Small World
I’ve talked about Small World Underground already, this is just basic Small World and I like it better. I think that the game, while being slightly simpler, is easier to play and grasp onto and since I have an expansion for that, it adds in some additional fun that way as well. This game is all about rushing in with one group of fantasy creatures, beating up and getting beat up, going into decline, picking a new group of fantasy creatures, and doing it all over again. I always call this Risk but fun, and that’s because Risk can gang up and knock one person out quickly, whereas in this game, you can always come back in again so you’re never truly out of the game. And the game plays faster as well in comparison to Risk. This game works because it doesn’t take itself seriously, so you get your fun combos and even when you get beat down, who knows, maybe the flying halflings will come in and save the day for you.
Last Year: 24
54. Cat Cafe
An interesting roll and write, this one is all about attracting the most cats to you in the cat cafe. You do this carefully curating a creative collection of cat toys, beds, and food. They all score in different ways, the toy mouse will score more points for the largest group of them that you have, while the cat bed wants different things around it on all sides to score you more points. Plus, you’re also working on filling up cat trees so that they score you the most possible points for having them completed. The end game is trigger when one person completes their third cat tree. What works nicely in this game is that everyone is doing things at the same time. You draft dice, and then you, using the final dice, place something on a cat tree at the level of the number on either your drafted dice or the group die, and then an item with the other one. You have ways to adjust the numbers which works well, and you can score the cats at times as well to get you more points in game. Overall, a fun and cute roll and write that has a fair amount going on all things considered.
Last Year: 54
53. Titan Race
If you’ve ever wanted to race on the back of monsters this is the game for you. A light dice drafting, take that, monster racing game, this is all about completing three laps or the grand circuit of three maps, faster than anyone else. But while you’re doing that you’re trying to stay out of lava on some maps, make a sweet jump to move faster on other maps, or sliding across ice. All of this while jostling for position. You roll dice for the number of players and then players take turns drafting dice and making their move, and so the last player doesn’t get stuck with one die, come their turn, they pick them all up and roll them again. This game is somewhat random because of the dice rolling, but you can plan as bumping into someone deals them damage, and pushes them further forward, but might be what you need to push them into lava which will knock them out for a round, which might get you past them. The game is silly fun and a very good time for a light racing style game.
Last Year: 48
52. Potion Explosion
People are pretty familiar with app games where you try and get like colors touching, and if they do, they disappear, and if those make a like match, they disappear and so on and so forth. Potion Explosion is like that with marbles. In this game you are trying to complete potions, use their powers, and score points from them. You do this by collecting ingredients. You pull out one marble, if the marbles that hit are the same color, you get all of those color that are touching, and if that causes more to hit, you do it again. Then you can store a few ingredients for later, but you’re mainly trying to put them into potions and get as many of those done as possible. The game is nice because it has a great toy affect. It also works well because as you get more potions done, you can really start to combo stuff using the powers of the potions to have big turns. This is a game that’ll attract people to it because of how it looks on the table, and it’s basically gateway level.
Last Year: Not Ranked
51. Skulk Hollow
Generally I don’t have a ton of two player games. My wife and I do play a few two player games sometimes, but this one caught my eye when it was on Kickstarter. The company is one that I am familiar with and they always make beautiful projects, and this one seems like an interesting balance of strategy and cuteness on the board. In this game one person takes on the foxes of the forest who have built up a settlement in this town. Another is an ancient guardian that has awoken. The guardians are all trying to do something different to win the game it might just be take out a lot of foxes, or it could be placing tentacles on the board or something like that. The foxes on the other hand are all about getting to the guardian, hopping on it, and chopping away at their health, doing that can take out different actions for the guardian. The game has a good and different feel as you play it because of how the guardians change and how the different leaders can affect play for the fox player as well. It’s one that I think works well for people because it is pretty simple and it offers some good choices with how the game play works.
Last Year: Not Ranked
What’s your favorite from this section? Any that stand out, any based off of my taste that you think I should try or you think will be higher on the list?
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We’re almost to the holidays, and if you are looking for a light little game that you can play with most people, Point Salad might be the game for you. It’s a little game and easy to take with you for the holidays, but let’s see how it plays and if it might be good for you.
In Point Salad you are going to take turns either drafting vegetables to make your salad or taking cards that are going to tell you how to score. The trick is that you need to take the best scoring cards for you, but when you take a card for scoring, you only take a single card, but if you take vegetables, you take two on the turn. So can you figure what is the best scoring option for you and draft cards so that you can out score your opponents. The game is really that simple, once all the cards have been drafted, then each person scores their salad based off of the scoring cards that they have. The person with the most points wins.
There are a few things that I really enjoy about this game. The first being that the play is really simple. You’re either taking two vegetables or you’re taking a card that is going to allow you to score. People who have played games like Ticket to Ride will have some idea as to how this works because you can either take two normal train cars or a wild train car. So it’s a common concept which is good, because how the scoring works is a bit more unique.
The thing about scoring cards is that it’s the base side of the vegetable cards. So if you don’t take a scoring card from the top of the stack, there’s a chance that it’ll flip down and become a vegetable before you can take it on your next turn. It’s a really nice way to give interesting decisions. In fact, sometimes you have to make the tough decision to take a vegetable instead of a scoring card causing that scoring card to turn into a vegetable. But, even with that decision point, it’s not that hard to make it and turns still move by pretty quickly. For me, this is a really clever way to do the scoring, because everyone is going to have different scoring so you might not overlap on what vegetables that you want, but everyone might want different vegetables.
Another thing is that when you are drafting cards, you put them on the table in front of you creating a tableau. That means that I can see what the person to my left is wanting, and the person to my right can see what I want. Maybe on a turn there’s only one vegetable that I want and no scoring that I want. I can then draft that one vegetable and possibly draft something that the person to my left might want. Now, that’s not always the best strategy, but you can get an idea of what people might want. In fact, the better reason to draft a card might be that taking a certain vegetable will cause a scoring card the person to your left might want to turn into a vegetable, and once it’s a vegetable, it can’t be used for scoring again. So if there are three tomatoes and I want to take two of them, I might take the ones that will get rid of scoring that the person to the left of me wants. So it’s a simple, subtle little thing that can add more into the game. But it’s not a massive part of the game being mean to people, because if you do that, you won’t score as well.
I do have one negative about the game. The cards a little bit flimsy, thankfully the game is cheap so you can play it a couple dozen times and replace it if you want. The other solution would be to get card sleeves, which I might, but because you need to see both sides of the cards, that means that the sleeves have to be clear, which you can find, but those sleeves are often a bit flimsier as well. The box is also about twice as big as it needs to be, but I don’t mind that, because I have space for it. But if space is at a premium for your gaming collection, I could see it being annoying.
Finally, let’s talk about the name. Probably something that I could have lead off with, I’ve been talking about how you are drafting vegetables, and it’s all vegetables that you’d live in a salad, so you get points for your vegetables and they are a salad vegetables, hence point salad. While that is true, point salad is something that is used in board gaming. In board gaming it describes a game that you can get points in a ton of different ways. So point, and how does salad fit in, think about a buffet. At a buffet, you can make a salad and you have 20 different toppings, 8 different dressings, and a few different types of lettuce. So like you can get points in a ton of ways, you can make your salad at a buffet in a ton of different ways. So the name, Point Salad, plays off of this idea of basically everything you do gives you points. And while it doesn’t score you as many points as some point salad games do, if you draft well, basically every card should give you some points.
So, is this a good game? I definitely have more positive things about it then negative. For me, Point Salad is a great filler game, even with a higher player count, the game plays quite fast, and you can play a two player game in 15 minutes. I like the tongue in cheek nature of the game as well with the naming and the vegetables. I also like this game for newer gamers because it’s introduces tableau building and drafting, two things that show up in a lot of games. I think for a gaming group of very seasoned gamers who like heavy games, this won’t be a hit, but for most groups it’ll be good fun.
Overall Score: B+
Gamer Grade: C
Casual Grade: A
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