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Subject: What are the point salad games? Name the top contenders! rss

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CARL SKUTSCH
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I get the basic idea of point salad games, do lots of different things, accumulate points, win the game, however, a lot of games give you points for doing different things yet not all of them get called "point salad" games.

So, which are they? Tell us. Then explain why other people's picks are wrong.

Ready, set, go!
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suPUR DUEper
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The Castles of Burgundy is a prime example. Many of Stefan Feld's games qualify.

If you get points for passing, there is a good chance you are a point salad game...... whistle
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Chris
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I mentioned this in the other thread but, to me, The Castles of Burgundy isn't a points salad, whereas Trajan and Bora Bora are.

Whether something is a 'point salad' is a measure of the extent to which the disparate points-getting sub-mechanisms of a game are disconnected. They're not completely disconnected in most of the Feld games that get mentioned, but some are more disconnected than others. If something has the feel of "I could go over there and get three points, or go over there and get five", and the feedback, connection and 'synergy' between the branches is relative low or absent, then it's a 'point salad'; the direct analogy being of standing at a salad buffet and choosing between "going over there and getting potato salad or going over there and getting diced carrots". The potato salad doesn't synergize with the carrots, they're pretty much disconnected. Castles of Burgundy doesn't qualify by this metric, as the subsystems feedback and interconnect in ways that are too influential; some of the points combos are very powerful: it'd be like the coleslaw and the sliced tomatoes combining to make fissile uranium: i.e. not a feature of a salad bar.

To put it another way, a 'point salad' game tends to have what network engineers would call a 'star topology' where the separate branches of the star are relatively isolated.
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Joe Salamone
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Alexandre P.
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TedW wrote:
If you get points for passing, there is a good chance you are a point salad game...... whistle


It's almost my definition too: if you get points without doing something specific, you can say it's a "point salad game".
So I would add "if you get points for not being first [like in Russian Railroads] it's also a point-salad game".
 
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Todd Miller
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Five Tribes was the first one I thought of. At least what 8-9 different ways to score? (Im too lazy to go open the game to see). Only way I remember all of them is to refer to the score sheets they give you to tally the points at the end.
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MC Games
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Triboluminous wrote:
I mentioned this in the other thread but, to me, The Castles of Burgundy isn't a points salad, whereas Trajan and Bora Bora are.

Whether something is a 'point salad' is a measure of the extent to which the disparate points-getting sub-mechanisms of a game are disconnected. They're not completely disconnected in most of the Feld games that get mentioned, but some are more disconnected than others. If something has the feel of "I could go over there and get three points, or go over there and get five", and the feedback, connection and 'synergy' between the branches is relative low or absent, then it's a 'point salad'; the direct analogy being of standing at a salad buffet and choosing between "going over there and getting potato salad or going over there and getting diced carrots". The potato salad doesn't synergize with the carrots, they're pretty much disconnected. Castles of Burgundy doesn't qualify by this metric, as the subsystems feedback and interconnect in ways that are too influential; some of the points combos are very powerful: it'd be like the coleslaw and the sliced tomatoes combining to make fissile uranium: i.e. not a feature of a salad bar.

To put it another way, a 'point salad' game tends to have what network engineers would call a 'star topology' where the separate branches of the star are relatively isolated.
Your analogy is based off of only one type of salad - the salad bar. There are Caesar Salads, Cobb Salads, Taco Salads, etc...
 
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Josh
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Triboluminous wrote:
I mentioned this in the other thread but, to me, The Castles of Burgundy isn't a points salad, whereas Trajan and Bora Bora are.

Whether something is a 'point salad' is a measure of the extent to which the disparate points-getting sub-mechanisms of a game are disconnected. They're not completely disconnected in most of the Feld games that get mentioned, but some are more disconnected than others. If something has the feel of "I could go over there and get three points, or go over there and get five", and the feedback, connection and 'synergy' between the branches is relative low or absent, then it's a 'point salad'; the direct analogy being of standing at a salad buffet and choosing between "going over there and getting potato salad or going over there and getting diced carrots". The potato salad doesn't synergize with the carrots, they're pretty much disconnected. Castles of Burgundy doesn't qualify by this metric, as the subsystems feedback and interconnect in ways that are too influential; some of the points combos are very powerful: it'd be like the coleslaw and the sliced tomatoes combining to make fissile uranium: i.e. not a feature of a salad bar.

To put it another way, a 'point salad' game tends to have what network engineers would call a 'star topology' where the separate branches of the star are relatively isolated.


I would actually argue Bora Bora isn't a point salad. I know it looks like one on the surface, but by my reconning a point salad gives you points for whatever you do, without requiring anything of you. (Ala Trajan, Castles, Caverna) Bira Bora on the other hand *demands* you do lots of things (more Agricola style) you get bonuses for 'all X' in categories and those bonuses are not trivial. So thwt while points come from lots of places you need to balanace and perform in all/most categories to be a contender. I see points salad as something where you can ignore swaths of the game and still win in your own little sandbox/engine.
 
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Steven Metzger
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Hansa Teutonica has eight ways to score VP:

Roads claimed where you control one (or both) cities
Building a network from Arnheim to Stendal
Building an office in a marked corner of the board
Plates (endgame)
Network size times multiplier (endgame)
Maxing out abilities (endgame)
Barrels (endgame)
Cities controlled (endgame)
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Chris
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McGames wrote:
Your analogy is based off of only one type of salad - the salad bar. There are Caesar Salads, Cobb Salads, Taco Salads, etc...

Shadrach wrote:
... by my reconning a point salad gives you points for whatever you do ...


The problem with these is that it stretches the definition to the point where it allows too much. It's not that this isn't in some sense a valid definition; it's that it's not useful. I can't tell anything about a game from the description if the church of 'point salad' is going to be this broad. It seems to me that at least half the games that use VPs would qualify if some of the proposed definitions stood.

(BTW, I actually like Bora Bora, but its mechs are disparate enough for me to count it, although, as I mentioned in the post you quoted, I concede these things aren't binary and exist on a spectrum; even the mechs in Trajan aren't completely isolated from the rest of the game).
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Bryan Thunkd
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Triboluminous wrote:
I mentioned this in the other thread but, to me, The Castles of Burgundy isn't a points salad, whereas Trajan and Bora Bora are.

Whether something is a 'point salad' is a measure of the extent to which the disparate points-getting sub-mechanisms of a game are disconnected. They're not completely disconnected in most of the Feld games that get mentioned, but some are more disconnected than others. If something has the feel of "I could go over there and get three points, or go over there and get five", and the feedback, connection and 'synergy' between the branches is relative low or absent, then it's a 'point salad'; the direct analogy being of standing at a salad buffet and choosing between "going over there and getting potato salad or going over there and getting diced carrots". The potato salad doesn't synergize with the carrots, they're pretty much disconnected. Castles of Burgundy doesn't qualify by this metric, as the subsystems feedback and interconnect in ways that are too influential; some of the points combos are very powerful: it'd be like the coleslaw and the sliced tomatoes combining to make fissile uranium: i.e. not a feature of a salad bar.
There seems to be an idea that a point salad is a game where you can switch back and forth between different areas getting some points no matter what area you go to. So in Trajan you could dabble in military, getting some points there, but switch over to construction and get some points there, etc. And while that's true, you won't win by dabbling in different areas.

In order to do well you need to hit a few areas hard. Due to the nature of the mancala and the game, you'll always do a little bit of everything, but you'll only be competitive if you try to max out a couple of different paths. If you never concentrate on anything you'll fail to win.

I think the people who look down on the game fail to realize that you can't just wander around halfway doing everything and still expect to be competitive. You need to pick a path and strategy, usually focusing on a few key areas in order to do well. So it's not really a game where it's okay to "do anything". Sure, doing anything will get you a few points here and there, but the player who concentrates in specific areas will be getting more than just a fee points.
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John Burt
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La Granja is totally a point salad game. You literally sprinkle points all over the game board at setup like croutons and just about anything you do gives points. Great game though.
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Chris
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Thunkd wrote:
There seems to be an idea that a point salad is a game where you can switch back and forth between different areas getting some points no matter what area you go to. So in Trajan you could dabble in military, getting some points there, but switch over to construction and get some points there, etc. And while that's true, you won't win by dabbling in different areas.

In order to do well you need to hit a few areas hard. Due to the nature of the mancala and the game, you'll always do a little bit of everything, but you'll only be competitive if you try to max out a couple of different paths. If you never concentrate on anything you'll fail to win.

I think the people who look down on the game fail to realize that you can't just wander around halfway doing everything and still expect to be competitive. You need to pick a path and strategy, usually focusing on a few key areas in order to do well. So it's not really a game where it's okay to "do anything". Sure, doing anything will get you a few points here and there, but the player who concentrates in specific areas will be getting more than just a fee points.


As best I can tell, you've basically created a bit of a Straw Man there. Your first two sentences (the actual parts which are relevant to the analogy) are, by your own admission, true. The last sentence of your first paragraph then starts a rebuttal of a viewpoint nobody has advanced. Or maybe someone has advanced it but, if so, you should go and take it with them instead of me.

If you're trying to build a chicken salad, you're going to want to emphasise that and do things that force-multiply it (Trajan permits and rewards this). Given a strategic choice between 5oz of chicken and 3oz of chicken over equivalent timeframes, you'd take the former. You'd also make decisions that would maximise chicken down the road. Similarly, avoiding the anchovies would probably be a good idea. Likewise, if your neighbour is hogging all the chicken, you might be better off working the tuna angle instead.

Your answer doesn't really denude the metaphor; if anything it reinforces it.
 
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Jason
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It's about there being multiple paths to accumulate points, but the paths are mostly isolated from each other. And, an individual player will be accumulating points from (nearly) every path over the course of the game.

The only game that I've played, which I'd classify as a point salad is Five Tribes.
Points with multipliers for blue meeples.
Points at the end of the game for the gold meeples with a bonus for the most.
Points at the end of the game for unused white meeples.
Points at the end of the game for the tiles you control.
Points at the end of the game for the oasis you control.
Points at the end of the game for the palaces you control.
Points at the end of the game for the djinns you control.
Points based on the size of your sets of bazaar cards.

The only meeple mechanism that does not score points directly is the red meeple. However, this meeple can be used to kill other peoples meeples (like the gold ones) or to kill a meeple on the board and pick up an extra tile.

Djinn powers can skew players paths to the best points. They're about the only engine building the game offers. Otherwise plays are mostly about making the move that gives you the best points for the turn without opening a move that gives your opponent better points.

In a game, you're probably going to score points using every method. And, your scoring method each turn is going to be decided by the move that appears to give you the most immediate return on points. There's little-to-no strategic planning for your own future turns.

The only time I've seen there be any future turn planning is in a two player game. The reason for this is because you'll often have 2 turns in a row, and can create a situation where you get 4 in a row. Although, if you've set yourself up so well on a turn 3, it might end up costing you more to get that 3rd turn than the turn is worth.
 
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CARL SKUTSCH
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So only Trajan, La Granja and Five Tribes are point salad games?
 
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Drew
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Most of the Uwe Rosenberg games I have played are point salads.
 
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Michael McKibbin
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VaultBoy wrote:
It's about there being multiple paths to accumulate points, but the paths are mostly isolated from each other. And, an individual player will be accumulating points from (nearly) every path over the course of the game.

The only game that I've played, which I'd classify as a point salad is Five Tribes.
Points with multipliers for blue meeples.
Points at the end of the game for the gold meeples with a bonus for the most.
Points at the end of the game for unused white meeples.
Points at the end of the game for the tiles you control.
Points at the end of the game for the oasis you control.
Points at the end of the game for the palaces you control.
Points at the end of the game for the djinns you control.
Points based on the size of your sets of bazaar cards.

The only meeple mechanism that does not score points directly is the red meeple. However, this meeple can be used to kill other peoples meeples (like the gold ones) or to kill a meeple on the board and pick up an extra tile.

Djinn powers can skew players paths to the best points. They're about the only engine building the game offers. Otherwise plays are mostly about making the move that gives you the best points for the turn without opening a move that gives your opponent better points.

In a game, you're probably going to score points using every method. And, your scoring method each turn is going to be decided by the move that appears to give you the most immediate return on points. There's little-to-no strategic planning for your own future turns.

The only time I've seen there be any future turn planning is in a two player game. The reason for this is because you'll often have 2 turns in a row, and can create a situation where you get 4 in a row. Although, if you've set yourself up so well on a turn 3, it might end up costing you more to get that 3rd turn than the turn is worth.


I have to disagree that there is no strategy to Five Tribes other than the short-term maximization of points. I GM the Five Tribes tournament at the WBC, and most of the game winners (31 of them in 2016) chose to maximize their points in two scoring categories rather than try to score points in every category. A player might chose to collect market cards (green meeples) and builders (blue meeples), but in doing so, give up point opportunities with djinns and viziers. Alternately, another player might collect viziers and camels, but ignore djinns and builders. In breaking down the game, this makes perfect sense. The typical 4 player game is not very long - typically 8 or 9 turns at most, and there are opportunity costs associated with every move. If a player is collecting yellow, they will have to do so at least 2 or 3 times during the game to guarantee the majority at the end of the game. Likewise, a player collecting djinns will need to collect white meeples on several occasions in order to buy the djinns and/or activate their powers. The same is true of green meeples (sets of trade goods provide a greater number of marginal points the more cards a player collects), blue meeples (which can be set up over the course of two or three turns if no one else is collecting builders), and camels (which can also be set up with red meeples). So, while it is true most players will have a handful of points in most categories, the bulk (70%+) of the winners points will be in two scoring categories.
 
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