So you’re in a room full of gamers and you hear a bunch of nonsense coming from a small crowd in the corner circling a table. You walk over to investigate and suddenly you’re sucked in.  15 minutes later, you’ve played the game yourself 5 times.  The game is Happy Salmon.  It is fantastic.  It is stupid.  It is fantastic and stupid.  And it’s my new favorite party game.

Let me start over.  The game is not stupid.  It might make you look or feel stupid while you’re playing it, but this simple two-minute card game is very well designed.

Here’s how it works:

Each player takes a deck of twelve cards.  Everybody’s deck is the same, 3 cards each of 4 different types of cards: High 5, Pound It, Switcheroo, and Happy Salmon.  There are no turns, everybody plays at the same time as fast as they can.  Your goal is to match the card on the top of your deck with someone else and do what the card says.  If it’s a High 5 card, you high 5 each other. If it’s a Pound It! card you, give each other a fist bump.  If it’s a Switcheroo card, you change places.  The last and best card is the Happy Salmon card.  When this one is on the top of your deck you have to slap forearms with someone like a fish out of water. When you match up cards and perform the actions, you discard that card (throw it down on the table or floor).  First one to get rid of all their cards wins.  If no one has a matching card, you can put your current card on the bottom of your deck to move on to the next card, saving the other card for later.  The only way to know who has a matching card is to shout over the other people announcing which card you are trying to play.  So…it gets loud.  And ridiculous.

All in all, this takes about 2 minutes.  In fact, it takes longer to clean up for the next round than it does to actually play.

It is incredibly fun to play.  It is almost as much fun to watch.  It has a great fast-paced tension, and fantastic payoff if you win and get to triumphantly scream “Fin-ished!”

Who should play?

Everybody!  Come on, get up and come over here and try it.  It won’t hurt.  Sure, you’re gonna look pretty silly slapping your arms together like a flipping fish, but hey, so is everyone else.  I have now tried this game with adults and kids alike.  Forced both my family and friends to play.  There is not one person who actually tried it who didn’t come away giggling and ready to play again.  (And if you do encounter one of those people…well, think of this as a way to filter that person out of your life).

Seriously, try it.  I promise it will be your new favorite way to look absolutely ridiculous.