Games We’re Playing: Happy Salmon

Happy SalmonHighlights

  • Quick
  • Loud
  • Very very simple
  • Kids 6+


  • 3-6 players
  • Ages 6+
  • 1-3 minutes
  • Designed by Ken Gruhl & Quentin Weir
  • Published by North Star Games

“You’re a nerd and the games you play look complicated.” That’s what I imagine my friends and family saying when they see me bust out my games. Sometimes, it’s not even my imagination. I realize, though, they’re missing out on the fun. I also realize they gotta be eased into the hobby. They’re board and card game virgins. They need a simple game to get them going. A gateway game.

Enter Happy Salmon, “The High-Fivin’ Fin-Flappin’ Card Game,” (it says so on the tag). It’s short and simple and can be played at a party. Each player grabs a stack of 12 color-coded cards. They then flip the stack over at the same time, shouting the action that’s on the card repeatedly until someone else is shouting the same word(s) back at them. Both players perform that action together, throw their card on the table, then move on to the next card. The first player to get rid of all their cards shouts, “FIN-ished!” and are stared at loathingly by everyone else because they are the winner.

“Actions? What kind of actions?” you ask. Simple ones! There’s only four of them!

  • High 5
  • Pound It!
  • Switcheroo (physically switch places with the other player)
  • Happy Salmon (lightly slap the other player’s forearm 3 or more times)


So yeah. The game gets loud. And messy. You need space to play. You can play the silent version variant. However, while I haven’t tried it, I can see that being more annoying to players because they can’t act a fool and annoy everyone else that isn’t playing. Guess we’ll have to try it sometime and find out.

I recommend this game as a good icebreaker and gateway game for those that don’t normally play card or board games. The higher the player count, the more fun it is. In fact, North Star now has Happy Salmon Blue. It’s the same exact game except there are different color cards, so you can get up to 12 people playing at the same time. Chaos!

Happy Salmon is great for kids. It’s great for drunk people. It’s not great for kids and drunk people at the same time. It’s not great for drunk kids, because kids getting drunk is not great at all, so don’t even think about it. Overall, it’s a quick, fun, silly game that can open up the world of gaming to those who think you’re a nerd that plays complicated games.



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