Snake oil was, once upon a time, a real product. It was a muscle linament that Chinese immigrants used after a hard day working on the railroad. They shared it with their co-laborers and word spread about this miracle ointment. Shysters would sell ointment labeled as snake oil that did not actually contain any snake oil. So, "snake oil salesman" became synonymous with huckster or a fraud.
Snake Oil Party Potion is a card game consisting of two decks. The first deck is made up of double-sided customer cards. You'll find customers like Artist, Chef, and Snowman. I kind of like the double-sided aspect because you can choose to play either side of the card. I'm torn about that though, because there is no way to draw the customer card without seeing one side of it in advance. The second deck is the product word bank. These are single-sided cards with words on them like Security, Bazooka, Sponge, Jewel, and Candle.
One player chooses a customer card and tells the other players which side of the card they are playing. The other players draw six cards and choose two from their hand to create a product. These players then have 30 seconds or so to present their product to the customer. The customer selects the most useful product and that snake oil salesman gets to keep the card. Used cards are discarded and two more are chosen. Everyone takes turns being the customer. The winner is the player with the most customer cards at the end.
Malachi (age 9) just cannot watch people he knows being different people and he doesn't like to pretend to be someone else either. He was excused from playing and left the room, but was drawn back by the laughter.
Xav was eager to play, but was a little hesitant with his ability at first. Micah or I (whoever was not the customer that round) helped him with his product or his pitch a couple of times, but he did great!
Micah is an amazingly animated person and he just made incredible pitches for his products. At one point, Xav (age 7) didn't feel ready to make his pitch, so he said, "Mom first." Micah was the customer, a treasure hunter, but he started joking about a product called MomFirst. You need MomFirst when you're doing something dangerous. Send in MomFirst, three for the price of one, you'll need them! It was hilarious.
One round, I chose Dog for my customer card and Xav sold me "smoke bubbles" that smelled like farts when they popped. I even acted like a dog during the whole sales pitch and asked dog-like questions. We laughed so unbelievably hard through this whole game. Xav was very disappointed when we had to stop. He would have gone on and on.
One night, just for fun, I sat playing Snake Oil by myself. I would pull a customer card off the top of the deck, randomly select two "product" cards, flip the customer card over and start my pitch. After a long, tiring day it was fun. I tried to sell the president a butt tub, a pop star needed some gorilla fur, and a clown was desperately lacking the ultimate parrot smile.
These cards would also make amazing writing prompts. Draw random cards and get a conversation going! Also a great product for building vocabulary and communication skills.
I know this is a game we will play many times, as a family, for Mom's Night Out, and at co-op. We'll be bringing up those products for a while, too. When we got a dusting of snow, Micah told Xav there would be too much snow for Santa this year, but not to worry. He has a purse curtain for him. I told Xav, "If you believe that, I have a security statue I'll sell you."
Snake Oil Party Potion has won a few awards, too, including being chosen as a Mensa Select game.
- Ages 8 to Adult
- 3-6 players (or one, or a crowd!)
- 20-30 minutes per game
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