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Monday, January 6, 2014

PCB Game Night: Snake Oil

Like Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity, but want a slightly different challenge? Perhaps you should give Out Of The Box's Snake Oil a try!

Snake oil. You probably know the term from the phrase "Snake Oil Salesman." Some guy stops into town, selling a tonic or ointment that will solve all of your problems, aches and pains. What, then, could that mean in terms of a card game? I'm glad you asked!

In Snake Oil, from Out Of The Box Games, makers of Word on the Street, you and your card game playing friends take on the personas of various types of people who are being sold who knows what random products. When we played, some highlight products were: Fluid Shadow; Cream Shield; Whip Tongue; Snake Tent.

The way the game works is, on each turn, the current player chooses a Customer Card. These cards have types of people on them: grandmothers, police officers, baby sitters, etc. Each card has an adorable drawing of that type of person being played by a snake. Once the Customer is chosen, the other players choose two cards from their hand of 5, each of which has a noun on it. Combine the two words together, and a product is born! But that's not all. Each player who isn't the Customer becomes a salesperson, whose job it is to pitch this brand new product to the customer. As they try and sell it, hilarity ensues.

For me, I happen to have friends who are great at improvising and voices, which makes for, I think, an especially entertaining round. But that's only part of the fun. Because it's just as possible that while you are pitching your product, your brain will realize just how ridiculous you're being, and will force you to stutter and stammer, trying not to make yourself laugh, which can be hilarious as well. And, as may only happen if you're a moron like me, you may also find yourself pitching the wrong product because you misread one of your cards. Because, after all, why would a superhero need a Phone Tooth to change clothes in? Hmm?

This game is very fun, and although, like Apples to Apples, there is a "winner," winning really isn't the point. The point of the game is to be ridiculous and sincere at the same time. One particular turn made me laugh exceedingly, because I was a prom date, and one of my friends assumed I was a teenage girl, while the other assumed I was a nerdy teenage boy. When I did my impression of a cracked voiced teen boy, I got a good laugh from them, and my choice was obvious. The Whip Tongue, which apparently helps you know exactly what to say. Didn't help my reading ability any, though.

As the Customer, there are a few ways to play, one of which is to pretend like you'll believe anything. Another is to be skeptical of the plausibility of any of the pitches. Or, you can just be yourself as you would react if you were that Customer. In any case, I think most people will find this entirely amusing.

The only drawbacks I can see are that the game really wants more than 3 players, although it says you can play with just 3, which we did. It's all too easy to end up with a tie, and it's definitely possible (although I can't imagine the intrinsic benefit) to decide who wins based on who they are rather than their pitch. If you do play with 3 players, I recommend also doing say 3 rounds instead of the recommended 1 round, and switching directions between each round, so that everybody gets a chance to pitch first to each person. Oh, and invest in some rubber bands; there are quite a few cards (a good thing), but the organizer really only works if the box is kept flat. Keep it on its side, and you'll have a mess of cards in the box. One last item: cleverly, the rules are printed on the box. That way, you won't lose them. Just don't forget that and spend five minutes trying to find the rule book that doesn't exist. Of, course, I didn't do that. not even a little bit.

The game plays fast, is easy to learn, and scratches that "how well do you know your friends?" itch in a fresh way that will keep Snake Oil in rotation with the Apples, Dixits, and Cards, in your arsenal of games!

Snake Oil
Out Of The Box Games
8 out of 10 Tonic Bottles

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