What do “Closet Urge,” “Snow Napkin,” “Cheese Man,” “Danger Photo.” “Rainbow Future,” and “Fish Socks” have in common? These were all items that my family, posing as snake oil salesmen, attempted to sell to customers: Pregnant Lady, Prom Date, or Runaway among others while playing the game Snake Oil.
This hilarious game does not take long to learn, has no small parts to keep track of or lose, and encourages creativity. Snake Oil is produced by Out of the Box Games and is intended for 3-10 players ages 10+.
Setting Up the Game
Setting up the game is easy! There are two types of cards: Customer Cards and Word Cards. Customer Cards are blue on one side and green on the other. Each side lists a character such as Rock Star, Priest, or Dictator. These cards go in the center. The Word Cards are divided into 4 decks in the plastic tray. These are placed around the Customer Cards,in easy reach of the players. These Word Cards have nouns: goggles, belt, closet, toilet, knife, cup, socks, pony, pillow, freedom and many many more. There are 28 Customer Cards which give you 56 different Customers. There are 336 Word Cards. Each player draws a hand of 6 Words Cards. Select a player to be the Customer for the first round and you are ready to play!
Playing the Game
The Customer draws a Customer Card, makes a selection from either the blue or green side and becomes the persona on the card. In other words, I set aside my own personality and try to think like a Grave Robber, Spy, or Couch Potato. What products would make life easier if I was a Cheerleader or an Alien?
The other players select two cards from their hand to combine to create a product. Now the fun begins. Players become Snake Oil Salesmen, think of used car salesmen or door-to-do solicitors, and try to pitch their product. If the Customer chooses your product, you get to collect the customer card! The game ends when each player has been the Customer once. The player with the most Customer Cards wins! A full game takes 20-30 minutes to complete.
My husband remarked, “the more you play the game, the better your ability to pitch things.” He really seemed to love the game. He has a twisted sense of humor and this came through with his sales pitches. He pitched the now infamous “Cloud Belt” perfect for a Prom Date who wants to be light on her feet while she dances with her partner. He also said “using that used car salesman type of pitch is what makes the game so much fun!” It was a bit scary to see how much fun he had with that!
Turtlegirl is an introvert and though she found the game funny, she preferred to watch rather than play. She was uncomfortable giving pitches and even more uncomfortable receiving pitches but she laughed along with the rest of us when a parent or sibling gave a sales pitch. Her older sister though loved the game and said “Snake oil is fun and forces you to think creatively. I enjoy that there is a lot of freedom with the game as to how you want to play.”
I do want to add a note about ages. The game says ages 10+ but some of the Word Cards and Customer Cards may be either too mature or too complex for the under 12 crowd. I would list the ages as 12+ but in a family setting it may work with 10+. We only played with ages 15 to adult.
The game includes suggestions for variations and we came up with our own. Instead of taking one customer card, you take two. We made it a rule that you had to use one blue and one green to combine. Some of our crazy combos included Soldier Santa, Fashion Model Prison Guard, and Alien Teenager. This gave us more variety and allowed us to get even more creative with our product pitches.
We have all decided this game will be played on Thanksgiving. We plan to play the suggested variation “The More the Merrier” which allows each player to have more than six cards. The directions suggest “eight or even ten cards per hand instead of the standard six.” More Word Cards mean more choices and that means more laughter and fun!
The Summary of Details:
- The Vendor: Out of the Box Games
- The Product: Snake Oil
- Age Range: Ages 10 +
- Number of Players: 3-10 Players
- Contents: 336 Word Cards and 28 Customer Cards
- Price: $19.99
- Other Snake Oil Variations: Snake Oil – Party Potion (Ages 8 and up) And coming in 2015: Snake Oil Elixir for Ages 10 – Adult
- NOTE: Watch this video to learn how to play the game in 3 Easy Steps! And check out the FAQ tab to read about Snake Oil and how we get the phrase “Snake Oil Salesman.”
You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.