Snake Oil Review
Okay, what is the real definition of Snake Oil? 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. So how it’s named Snake Oil in the first place? Now that’s when the story comes in. In the past (I mean, long time ago), Real Snake Oil did exist. It was introduced to the US in the 1860’s by Chinese laborers working on the Transcontinental Railroad. After hard physical labor, they would rub some muscles with an ointment made from water snake oil and they shared this ancient remedy with their American co-workers. As the years went by snake oil was commercialized. In 1917, a sample of Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil Liniment was tested by the US government and found to contain no actual snake oil. As a result of swindlers making false product claim and using misleading labels, the phrase “Snake Oil Salesman” was born! Until today, the term usually refers to used-car salesman, politicians, or anyone who likes to stretch the truth just a little bit to sell something.
Judging from the appearance, with more than 350 cards, can be played with 3-10 players and also within 20-30 minutes it’s safe to say that this game is a party game. It’s published by Out of The Box Publishing, designed by someone not mentioned in the box or even the rules, oh wait they listed the designer’s names on the end of the rules, Jeff Ochs and Patricia Hayes Kaufman. I picked this game during my trip to Singapore last October (when I visited Paradigm Infinitum on Midpoint Orchard), mostly because there were nothing of interest aside this game and its price is quite reachable for me at that moment, though I must say I already interested on the game before (it’s on my wishlist). So I made a blind buy with this game. I wondered this as a party game that might be fun for my gaming group.
The game only contains cards, 336 word cards and 28 customer cards (so yes, it’s a card game). There is a plastic tray to hold the cards inside the box and I think it’s good, they made some kind of holder from card board to hold up the cards inside the tray so they wouldn’t scatter around when the box was moved around. It really works well. The box is a bit of a let down, not a standard box for board games, but it’s made from thin corrugated carton that easily worn off. But other than that, it’s very good.
The Game Play
Okay, anyone can play this game, seriously. When I read the game description on the back of the box, I was immediately understand how to play the game. So, you can jump right in after reading the back of the box without consulting the rules (either way, the rules are only in a sheet of paper). In this game, each player will get 6 cards from the draw pile. The first player will be a customer in one round, draw a random customer card and decide which side of the customers he would like to be. Once he decide, the other players will need to combine two words from their word cards as a product they want to sell to the customer. In a brief of time (estimate 30 seconds, give or take) players turn by turn will try to convince the customer that the product he’s trying to sell is the most perfect choice for the customer to choose. After the customer gives chance to all other players, he needs to decide which product is the best for him. Once he decided, he gives his customer card to the player who sell the product of his choice.
The game ends when each player has been the customer once, the winner is the player with the most customer cards. In case of a tie, play another turn.
My Thought About The Game
This is a game that winning does not matter, the experience is what it really counts. What I mean is, no matter who win the game, as long as players were having fun the game hit the jackpot. Every player will find his two-words combination is not really-really perfect for what the customer wants in reality but with that obscurity players need to find a way to convince the customer, and by this, we often find hilarious things to be laughed at from player’s imagination and creativity. While others find it weird, queer and such, others might find it hilarious, surprising, refreshing and unnaturally perfect. This led to a very memorable experience with friends. How they react to such ideas and how you can outwit those ideas, the product does not matter, what really matter is how you can convince the customer with your words and reasons.
I’ve played the game several times and those plays have been hilarious, lots of laughter and fun moments, exhausting indeed, but worth playing every time. I can understand this game is not for some people, people that cannot tell stories, people that cannot make ideas in a blitz or who doesn’t like to play roles, so if you don’t like Dixit, this might not be a good game for you.
It’s a party game, so you can pack up to 10 players with this game. Never played with 10 players though.
It also plays very quick, 15-30 minutes, and you can easily adjust the challenge, for example how many rounds and such.
It plays very simple and easy to teach, just read the back of the box.
It gives you better knowledge on English vocabulary.
It also fun and hilarious game to play with friends or even family.
There are thousands combinations of words you can find.
It’s easy to setup and clean up.
It’s just consists of cards (not sure if this is bad).
It requires good vocabulary skills, because for the wide range of words, some people with low vocabulary skill would find it difficult to understand the definition, but of course it’s easy to mitigate, they can ask to others what the word means, hence new vocabulary to learn.
It exhausts your voice for consecutive plays, I only managed to play twice in a row, after that I’m exhausted and almost lost my voice.
*Images are taken from BGG, all credits are belong to owners.