Snake Oil

Filed Under (Party Games, Tops for 2012) by Bernie DeKoven on Feb 26, 2012

Ever hear the expression “snake oil salesman?” Ever think about what it’d be like to be that guy, driving through the untamed wilds of the West with a wagon load of magic elixer chock-full of medical marvels of pleantifully purported properties?

You know how, in your heart of hearts, you always thought it might be fun to be that guy, pitching dubious delights to the half-believing  - especially if you were the one who made it out of town without getting both tarred and feathered?

Well, step right up and let me tell you about Snake Oil, the party game that’s sure to cure the direst of doldrums. Just look at this box full of colorful cards – 285 of them, just counting the Word Cards, and another 72 if you add the Customer Cards.

The Colorful and Clever Customer Cards? That’s how you find out the kind of person to whom you are making your pitch: a pirate, maybe, or a sports fan, or maybe a dumpster diver or dumped lover. The Word Cards? The only thing you get to figure out exactly what you’re pitching.

Six word cards for each player. You say you got: wig, whistle, lace, closet, safety and paint? Go ahead. Choose any two. You say the customer on the Customer Card is a sports fan? You say for some reason, not perfectly clear to you at the moment, you pick “whistle” and “wig?” And it’s your turn? And you have 30 seconds to explain why every sport fan in the world, and especially the customer in question, needs a wig whistle? Hey, what can possible be more fun, more practical, more exciting than a wig whistle? Wear it. Blow it. Want it? You know it!

Everybody gets a turn playing the customer. After a sale is made, that player wins a Customer Card. Everybody (except the last customer who didn’t get to sell anything) then takes two more Word Cards, and someone else gets to play Customer. After everyone has had a chance to play Customer, the salesperson who makes the most sales wins.

Snake Oil is crazy fun. It’s fun to play the salesperson, enthusing your little heart out pitching a truly absurd product to a whimsical, and often genuinely silly customer. The intensely purposeless creativity, the sheer passion of the pitch, the remarkably consumer-like arbitrariness of the customer. Hilarious fun of major proportions.

The manufacturer recommends Snake Oil for 4-9 players, age 13 and over. Snake Oil was created by Jeff Ochs, design by the design company, available from S-s-nakeoil.

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One Response to “Snake Oil”


  1. Having played the game, I can say this is an ADDICTING game to play with the family, and we have played with 10-year-olds and 80-year-olds in the same sitting! Nice job, Snake Oil team!

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