Monday, September 28, 2015

Tabletop Games - Discount Salmon

Greetings, my fellow geeks! Some of you may know that I used to write board game reviews for a fantastic online magazine known as Paper Droids. I thought it might be fun to start writing about board games I have played and enjoyed here on my very own blog, to get back into writing about one of my favorite past-times and to gush about some of my favorite games with other fellow tabletop enthusiasts. Plus I'm much better at playing board games & card games than I am at playing video games XD

One of my favorite board game cafes to frequent is Snakes and Lattes in Toronto. Me and my friend Blair that I met during my days at Brock University occasionally make the trip to the big city to enjoy an evening of trying out new board games, for the memories and for finding games to add to our wish lists. We're also big fan of the Italian sodas, and we always get them with mixed strawberry and peach flavors. To wrap up our last visit, we sought out a simple game that would be easy to learn and wouldn't take us hours to complete while we chowed down on the gummi worms in the candy bowl we ordered, and we found that in a speed-based card game titled Discount Salmon.

Here's the premise: You're fishing in a body of water that has been highly contaminated, and because of this, a lot of the fix are flawed in a number of ways - they could be Stinky, Nuclear, or just plain Ugly. Your job is to use the cards in your hand to try to "fix" the flaws of these fix - a little Perfume for stinks fish, an Antidote to rid your catch of harmful chemicals, or some Makeup to give your fish a little more self-confidence :P

This is one of those fast-paced, crazy games where quick reflexes are definitely a requirement. Each player (2-5 people can play this game) holds cards that either fix a fish's problems or adds on whole new ones that need to be fixed before the fish can be claimed. Yep, you have cards that can affect a fish that's already stinky and can make it ugly, which gives you and the people you're playing with more problems you have to solve. It can help if you don't have the proper card to solve the original problem, and it can just slow down progress for the other people you're playing with. When a fish's problems are all fixed, whoever put down the card that cured the fish's final problem, that player gets that fish card - they also get all of the cards that players put down to try to cure the fish, which get added to their hand.
There are a couple of specialty cards as well. One is a Cat (the cat has a name but I can't currently remember it XP) that will take the current fish out of play so that nobody can have it, and the person who used the cat card gets to flip over the next fish card. It sounds like it's sole purpose is to provide players with a dick move to play, but believe me, there are even bigger dick moves available in this game. The name of the most annoying - but effective - card in the game is called the Blender.

The Blender is a sort of cure-all card; it's rare, there's only 2 or so of them in the deck. Basically how it works is if you put down the Blender card, any problems that the fish had are instantly remedied, and you get that fish card. Because this game is speed based, if you have both lightening-fast reflexes and the Blender card, this game is surely in the bag. When I played this game with my friend Blair at Snakes and Lattes, it was our 2nd or 3rd game when he got his hands on the blender card. He then proceeded to put it down to cure basically every fish that got flipped over, and I could never think and put down cards fast enough to compete. I'm not typically a sore loser, but this technique was royally pissing me off XP Even with the game's built-in rule that you can only place down cards with one hand (this rule prevents people from putting down two cards at once, and also just generally helps to make things a bit more fair), I was still getting my butt kicked.
* Gummi Worms Not Included :P

After the devious "Blender Round", as it was then dubbed, I took the blender cards out of the deck, hoping for a better chance of winning. It didn't work XP It came to a point in the game where I had no make-up cards in my hand to remedy any fish that might have the problem of being ugly. Seeing this, Blair took advantage of this and, with the same quickness he used when placing the blender card, he kept putting down the Ugly problem card so that I would have no chance of fixing the fish and getting the points. It was brutal XP I should also add that whenever Blair decided to use the word "Blender" in our conversation from this point onward, I just got more frustrated with him, and he greatly enjoyed being able to tease me XP When it came time for the waitress to bring over the cheque, Blair offered to pay (he likes to do that for whatever reason), and normally I would insist on us splitting the bill, but after that game I was frustrated enough to let him pay for the whole evening, including an additional batch of candy that we got to-go for the ride home.

You really need to be playing with a group that is equally matched in their quick reflexes for this game to be fun. And it's true that there are certain card combinations that can give players a chain of victories one right after the next, but even so, I enjoyed playing this game, and I would highly recommend it as an easy and fun way to pass the time with a partner or with a group of friends.

Have any tabletop recommendations that I should check out the next time I'm at Snakes and Lattes? Post in the comments below for other games that I should try next :)

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