The premise of Snake Oil is that you are a salesman, trying to create convincing sales pitches for unusual products. One player is the “customer,” and draws a customer card. Each card actually has a customer type on each side of the card and the player can choose which type of customer he would like to be for that round. The options are varied and fun, including a babysitter, a hunter, a super hero, a witch, caveman, and hostage.
The other players are all salesmen and choose 2 cards from their hands to create a unique product that might appeal to the target customer. Can you convince a teenager that she needs some “fashion glue—perfect for repairing those fashion emergencies such as torn hems or slipping straps?” Or a babysitter that she needs a “child cage” for those especially difficult children, or maybe for any lazy sitter?
The customer chooses the product (and presentation) that he likes the best and that salesman is awarded the customer card. We’ve really enjoyed playing this lively and imaginative game. We pulled it out when Katie, our resident “drama queen” was home for the weekend and had lots of laughs and for-fun arguments about our “valuable and unique” products. Emily even had a real-life lesson about how putting down another product or interrupting another salesman’s presentation did NOT help her sell her own item.
The game is supposed to end after each player has a turn to be customer, but that was much too short for our group of three players. We played until we’d each had three or four turns as customer. I do really like that the game time is open ended—you could play for a certain time period, until one player earns a specified number or cards, or just until you are tired of playing. It’s really nice to have a game that can be played in 15 minutes or stretched out to an hour, depending on the situation. It’s also great for spurring imaginative thinking and improving communication skills.
There are four decks of product cards. We haven’t even opened two of them and have used fewer than half of the cards in the opened decks in several game plays. Furthermore, the cards can be combined in thousands of ways, so this is not a game (like a few we have owned) where you will run through the cards in a few games and need to buy replacement decks, retire the game, or wait for a year until you’ve forgot what’s one the cards. There are fewer customer cards, but that’s no problem—there are LOTS of items that a particular customer might love to “buy.”
We’ve played the game several times with just three players, but I think it would be even more fun with 5 or 6 players. The competitions would be even livelier and we will be sure to pull the game out next time we have a bigger crowd here. I also plan to send it with Emily to youth group sometime.
I do wish the game had come in a standard game box with a top lid. Instead, it has a side-opening box with a pull-out plastic tray, which is awkward to use and just seems like the manufacturers sacrificed quality to save a few cents.
Other than this slight nuisance, we do love the game!