Snake Oil: The Imaginative Card Game ~ Out Of The Box Games #Review
Oh boy… you know those card games where everyone submits their suggested “answer” card, and the “judge” chooses the winner of each round? I think we’ve discovered the best one of the bunch! It’s gotten more laughter than I think I’ve ever seen from a game, *without* distracting from gameplay.
Snake oil is an expression that originally referred to fraudulent health products or unproven medicine but has come to refer to any product with questionable or unverifiable quality or benefit. By extension, a snake oil salesman is someone who knowingly sells fraudulent goods or who is himself or herself a fraud, quack, charlatan, or the like. (- Wikipedia)
Now, YOU are the Snake Oil saleman. During each round, one person is the judge – and all the others players attempt to convince him or her to buy *their* fictional product. Will you succeed?
Rules are incredibly simple. There are two types of cards – 28 double-sided Customer cards and 336 single-sided Word cards. Shuffle the cards, and place the Customer cards in a single stack, either way up, and the Word cards face down in multiple stacks. (Four recommended – but it doesn’t really seem to matter.)
To begin the game, all players draw six cards for their hand. One person is chosen to go first as judge. The judge takes the top character card, reads both sides, chooses which character they wish to be, and reads it aloud. The other players then use two of their cards to combine and create a product that would be perfect for that character – and an explanation as to why. Whenever someone is ready, they can make their “pitch” – and when they’re done, whoever wishes to just jumps in next. It’s all very relaxed and mellow.
If you have some younger and some older players and need to set a “rating” on sales pitches, please do so before you start. The cards aren’t geared for adult humor, but you get the right combination and anything is possible.
The judge chooses whomever they felt gave the best answer, gives them the Customer card to show that they won the round, and players discard used Word cards and restock from whichever pile they wish. (Told you it was relaxed!)
Judgeship then moves to the left, and the process repeats. The official rules state that a “game” is when everyone has played ones, but we tend to do multiple rounds, either setting a number beforehand, or just suggesting whenever we feel like being done playing, and then stopping at the appropriate hand to make the turns even.
Snake Oil ($19.99) is intended for 3-10 players age 10+. We actually beg to differ slightly – my kids are adamant that if someone can read, they can play this game, there are just a handful of words that are too hard. And there *is * one with easier words available (Party Potion, mentioned below), though we still think the 8+ may be too high an age. Just go by “If they can read, they can play, but because these are vocabulary games, they might run into a word they don’t know. It really won’t hurt – and probably won’t even disturb – gameplay to ask what the word means.
There’s a printable rule sheet available (click on Rules) fromthe Out of the Box website, and there’s ahelpful video that also explains:
There are also rules included for “live” or tournament play with larger groups, which my teen boys may betrying next month. They didn’t think tournament play had much of a point, but the game show “live” concept definitely had them thinking about the potential.
What Did The Kids Think Of Snake Oil?
When boiled down to the pure essence, it was “Why didn’t you pick MINE?!?”, “Snake Oil is hilarious!”, and “We want more”. I suspect we’ll be purchasing expansions. (Described below.)
There are several variations out there of this type of game, most of which my kids have and/or have played. The unique two-card structure of Snake Oil, plus the creativity (and humor) required, put Snake Oil at the head of the pack.
What Did I Think Of Snake Oil?
It’s different. I’m SO not salesman material in real-life; I hate trying to sell stuff. But, I’m pretty good at coming up with some nonsense for this. Let’s face it, it’s possible to rationalize WHY a Teenager needs a Pizza Closet, or a Kindergartener needs a Snow Cape… but why, oh why, does any need Beard Handcuffs? I’ll just leave that to your imagination. [grin]
One observation, though: if your kids are anything like mine, it won’t take very long at all before you need to implement a house rule of:
NO infinite wishes! (Wishing that allows wishing for more wishes.)
And if your kids are like this, please have them come play with mine, so they can ALL get a taste of their own medicine! Oh, excuse me. Their own snake oil.
I Want More Snake Oil!
Some Review Crew members with younger children received the Snake Oil – Party Potion edition. Specially “formulated” for younger players, if a child can read, they can play! My understanding is that the play style is the same, it’s just the content that has changed – so, words that are more easily read and understood by newer readers. Cards can be mixed and matched with other versions for extended gameplay.
A third expansion, Snake Oil – Elixer, is coming in 2015. My kids want it NOW.
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Click below for more reviews of Snake Oil and Snake Oil – Party Potion from other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew!
And, one more little funny for those of you that are still reading… Even though we live a couple of miles away now, we’re from Hood River, OR, we’re there most days, and we still live in pretty much the same community. So… I saw a “river” word card previously when we played. But this last time, Michael found “hood”.
And so we made this… it was the closest we could come to a Windsurfer customer card:
And then, since it’s Oregon, y’know, we made this: