a peek inside the fishbowl

14 Nov, 2013

Something new for family game night

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|Oh! Things!

This is a game called Snake Oil. It arrived on my doorstep the other day. The eldest (who is very keen on board games) asked if we could play. And so we did.

Game niiiiight! This one is new. Quite fun too!

Happily for me, Snake Oil isn’t one of those games that requires an in-depth study of lengthy rules or “warm up” rounds (both of which are things I do not enjoy). The rules are brief. In fact, they’re printed right on the side of the box.

“In the Old West, sly snake oil salesmen had the special talent of getting even the most skeptical customer to buy the most dubious product. In Snake Oil, that’s exactly what the players get to do! One player draws a card and becomes the Customer while the other players each select two Word Cards from their hands to create a product to pitch to the Customer. Laughter erupts as each player attempts to persuade the Customer that their item is the best! The Customer picks their favorite item and that player is awarded the Customer Card. The player with the most Customer Cards wins!”

I don’t like it when games promise gales of laughter right on the box. It always seems suspect, if you know what I mean. It’s as if the marketing department is trying too hard; and what makes me laugh may not make someone else laugh. But you know what, we DID laugh.

This game is ultimately about selling skills. It’s about who’s got the best sales pitch for some really odd sounding products (this is where the word cards came in). And the kids dug deep into their imaginations with some very funny results.

Snake oil is very easy to play, and it’s fast too. There’s no score card and you play as many rounds as you want before bedtime rolls around.

My only beef with this game is that it comes unnecessarily overpackaged. It’s really just a bunch of cards, and it truly doesn’t need to come in a big box with a plastic insert. They could have packaged them like our other favourite card games: UNO and S’Quarrels.

That being said, I am happy about this new addition to our board game collection!

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3 Responses to "Something new for family game night"

1 | Kim

November 14th, 2013 at 10:09 pm


I always enjoy your game reviews as your family seems to have similar tastes to mine when it comes to board games. This latest game will definitely make it under our Christmas tree this year. Snake Oil will also be handy for travelling:-)

2 | Brenda A

November 15th, 2013 at 2:25 pm


Sounds fun! It reminds me a bit of Apples to Apples when we try to convince others why our word card is best. We love games here!

3 | Coffee with Julie

November 23rd, 2013 at 4:04 pm


Thanks for the game rec! I will check this one out now!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (14) and Sarah (12). I am the Editor of the Kitchissippi Times as well as Capital Parent Newspaper. I'm also a regular contributor to MediaSmarts.ca. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999 (which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which). The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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