Snake Oil

Personal Ranking: #45 (2017 Ranking)

Time to Play (in my experience): 30 minutes

Age Level: Probably as low as 7 or 8 could play this.

Difficulty Level: 0 (less than 2 minutes to teach, less than 45 minutes to play.)

Type of Game: Party. Party games are games to play in very casual settings often with larger groups of people. Often the goal is less about the winning and more about the laughing.

Game Setting: None really. Although, it’s kind of like watching late night infomercials.

Brief overview of how to play: Each round one person is the customer who is given a card with an “identity” on it. These identities could be a cheerleader, an alien, a cowboy, a priest, etc. Every other player has 6 cards in hand, each with a single word on it. One by one, each player combines two of their cards which forms a product, on which they have 30 seconds to pitch to the customer. After all pitches have been made, the customer chooses which product they will buy. That “snake oil salesman” wins the round and takes the identity card. Once you have gone around the table one time, the person with the most collected customers is the winner. Or until you’ve simply played enough. This game really isn’t much about winning.


A couple of examples of the hands that you might have to work with. A variant in the rules says that you can have as many cards in your hands as you mutually agree upon. Try pitching a "Leg Shovel" to a priest, or a "Pocket Wig" to a nurse...

How many people can play?: 4-12 or so.

Ideal number?: Probably 8 or 10 is the best.

Why do I love/recommend this game?

Do you want to laugh? Play this game. Some of the funniest moments of my life have come, I think, from playing Snake Oil. My stomach has often hurt from laughing so hard while playing this game.

People are better salesmen/women than we might think. It never ceases to amaze me how much people can get into “sales” mode. Obviously our society has seen a lot of commercials that for most people it is pretty easy to slip into sales mode.

Better than Apples to Apples. Apples to Apples was pretty fun the first couple times, however I have found that it gets a little tedious after a few plays. This game has a just that extra layer that makes it far more enjoyable than Apples to Apples.

Variable length. Although the rules say you let everyone be the customer once, you could go around twice, three times, or set a number of cards to win. Or just stop when you are done with it. 

Some examples of the customers in the game.

Is there anything offensive in this game? Anything at all? There are a few words that could be a little questionable, especially when combined. Words like “bra” and “underwear” might be best simply removed from the game. One pass through the collection of words and characters, removing anything that any family felt was remotely inappropriate should do the trick. 

Final Word. This game, hands down, has caused more uproarious laughter than any other game in my collection. If you are looking for some hilarious fun that will almost undoubtedly bring out aspects that you didn't know existed in people, I highly recommend “Snake Oil.” price at the time of this posting: $19.44


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