Review of Discount Salmon

Posted: February 12, 2015 in Board Games, Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

Discount Salmon 1

Discount Salmon is one of my favorite random discoveries from Gen Con. The booth for Water Bear Games was stashed toward a back corner of the vendor floor far from the area inhabited by the big names in gaming. I didn’t find them until I was wandering around the vendor floor on the last day of the con and wouldn’t have noticed them except for the fact that the game designer was there dressed in a giant, inflatable salmon costume. Yes, you read that correctly–he was wearing a giant, inflatable salmon costume! If you read the whole review I may even be nice enough to show you said suit of fishy awesomeness…


Clearly the commitment to wear a giant, inflatable salmon costume to promote your game warrants me taking the time to stop and at least check out what they had to offer, and boy am I glad I did! This game has become a staple for us at game night when we want to get in a few rounds of a quick, lighthearted game after playing some of our heavier fare.

Discount Salmon from Water Bear Games was the winner of the Gen Con “Tabletop Deathmatch” which is a competition where aspiring game designers pit their games against one another and the winner gets to publish and sell their game at Gen Con. This is a fast-paced, light-hearted game that has enough complexity and strategy to it to be fun without getting in the way of what is at its heart a delightfully silly game.

The story behind the game is that all of the players are salmon fishermen in the world’s most polluted lake, Lake Miasma. All of the salmon in this lake clearly have problems with them which would prevent you from selling them to consumers, but since your livelihood depends upon it you’re not going to let little things like sanitation or food safety get in your way, you’ll just slap some make-up on that ugly salmon and rub that dry salmon down with some lotion and they’ll be good to go!

The gameplay for this game is very simple–each player has a hand of cards with remedies to the various problems that the salmon might have. When a salmon card is flipped over, the fishermen all throw down cards to try to fix the problems that the fish has. Lotion fixes a dry salmon, the antidote fixes a toxic salmon, make-up fixes an ugly salmon, perfume fixes a stinky salmon, and a fish costume fixes the problem of when you fish up something that isn’t a fish at all. The salmon can have any combination of defects and the person who plays the card which fixes the last of these problems gets to keep the fish; when all of the fish have been fished up out of the lake the game is over and the fisherman with the most salmon wins!

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Where things get really interesting is that in their hand of fish fixes, the fishermen also have cards that can give the fish even more problems to prevent other fishermen from collecting the salmon in play. A popular strategy in our group is to add a problem for which you have the card to fix onto a fish that you can’t fix, wait for everyone else to fix the other problems and then swoop in to fix the problem you created. There is also the added wrinkle of the hungry cat card, who runs in and steals the fish so that no one gets it. And if there is a lull in play where no one seems to be able to fix the fish, you can throw the deep fryer cart (a little standee that gets passed from player to player once used) because deep-frying fixes everything!

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This game can handle two to five players and is listed as appropriate for ages eight and up (but it could honestly work with even younger if they are able to read or understand the illustrations on the cards). It takes about a minute to teach and a round takes 10 minutes or less to play. Super easy to learn, lots of silliness, a good time for all. I would definitely describe this as a salmon sorbet course to play between heavier games. When all is said and done, this game is ridiculously fun and I am very glad the game designer decided that wearing a giant, inflatable salmon costume was the way to promote this great game.

I give Discount Salmon 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Oh, and as promised here is my buddy Nick and I at Gen Con with the game designer in his giant, inflatable salmon costume!


Also, If you’re interested in scoring yourself a copy of Discount Salmon (which you totally should), check out the Water Bear Games website. Support independent game publishers!

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  1. shinyhat says:

    I’m the guy in the suit (it’s hot in there). We just found this on a whim googling today and trying to collect our mentions in the press/blogs/etc. Thanks for the review! We’re glad you enjoy the game.

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