Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
No. of players: 2-4
Amount of time to play: 20 min
Age requirements: 10+
Set-up time: 5 minutes
Salmon Run is a deck-building, race game. You must jump waterfalls, avoid bears and get your fish to the spawning pond first to win.
You start Salmon Run with a deck of eleven cards. You draw four cards and are ready to swim.
The board is made up of hexes and there are symbols on some of them. Swimming or jumping over these symbols lets you add one card from the corresponding pile to your discard pile. There is also an icon that lets you draw a card.
Each turn you play three of the cards in your hand resolving them one at a time. Your cards let you swim left, forward or right. One lets you move the bears in the stream and others you can gain will make everyone move back with the current or discard cards. If the three cards you play on your turn are all swim cards you gain a fatigue. Fatigue cards do nothing when played, but if you play three of them on your turn you can remove one from the game. If a bear lands on your fish you get a fatigue.
Salmon are known for jumping up waterfalls and there are waterfalls on the board. In order to jump over a waterfall you must play two swim cards next to each other. Jumping takes a lot of effort so you gain a fatigue card each time you jump a waterfall.
If another player lays an attack card you can counter it by playing a copy from your hand. This is true of all attacks but the bear cards.
There are couple other icons on the board of note. Reed spaces let you remove a fatigue card from your deck. And there are double swim icons that let you take a double swim card. These let you swim two spaces left, forward or right.
After the first fish gets to the spawning pool you finish out that turn so all players get the same number of turns. If more than one fish is in the spawning pool end the end of the game the player with the least amount of fatigue wins the game.
Salmon Run is easy and quick to play. The game is simple to teach especially to players familiar with deck-builders. The theme is unique and will definitely draw some interesting comments.
The components for this game are excellent. The art looks great and the chits and cards are high quality. There are different board so you can set up different streams. You can even in increase the difficulty. The rules are easy to read and understand for the most part. If you get this game be sure to go to BGG to read the correct rules for jumping. The ones in the rulebook are confusing and wrong. Once explained though they are straightforward and make sense.
I like deck builders and this one is kind of unique. You must swim to the icons to get the cards you want which is a nice twist.
I also like that you hold onto at least one card from round to round. It creates more hand management in this game when compared to other deck-builders.
The theme for this game is unique and though some can’t get into it, I think it is fun. The way you gain fatigue by swimming too fast which clogs your deck is really smart and thematic.
Salmon Run is a fun deck-builder that most will enjoy. I am surprised when people think the theme is so unusual. Not only does it add to the game, but makes sense with how you play. This game is fun for gamers and non-gamers and can be taught to most anyone in minutes. If you are looking for a fun introductory deck-builder with a unique and well-designed theme, try out Salmon Run.
Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 4 out of 6
Luck 5 out of 6
Player Interaction 4 out of 6
Replay Value 4 out of 6
Complexity 3 out of 6
Fun 4 out of 6
Overall 4 out of 6