Monday, November 17, 2014

Snake Oil Party Potion {a Schoolhouse Review Crew review}

The Schoolhouse Review Crew had the chance to review a couple different games from Out of the Box Games.  Snake Oil (for ages 10 to adult) stayed in my house.  I gave the other to a friend, and she was sweet enough to write a guest review for me.


First, I’d like to thank Debra for letting my family have this fabulous game from Out of the Box Games. It’s called Snake Oil – Party Potion and in addition to being hilariously fun to play, it’s great for creative learning too.  It’s for 3-6 players ages 8 to adult but can be played with children as young as 6 if they are reading independently (or in our case with a partner).

Have you heard of Snake Oil?  It really did exist! It was first introduced in the United States in the 1860’s by Chinese laborers. There really was an ointment made with snake oil that these hard working men would rub into their muscles. Snake oil is still used by some herbalists in the United States. Eventually Snake Oil was commercialized.  In 1917 the U.S. Government did a study on a particular brand of snake oil and found that it contained no actual snake oil. The phrase “Snake Oil Salesman” came from the swindlers who made preposterous claims about this ointment that contained no actual snake oil. Snake Oil Salesmen came to have the reputation of selling something dubious and that’s exactly what you do in this game: attempt to sell an outrageous product to the customer. 

The game takes very little time to set up and and a game can be played in 20 to 30 minutes. Just slide the card tray out.  There are two Word Card decks.  Place these within easy reach of all the players. You can leave the Customer cards in the tray. Each player draws 6 Word cards. Choose a player to be the customer for the first round and that’s it.  For the next round the player to the left gets to be the customer. Continue until all players have had a chance to be the Customer.
Out of the Box Games Review
The Customer draws a special Customer Card and becomes that character for the round.  The other players choose two cards from their hand to put together to create a product to sell to the Customer. Some hilarious combos we came up include the “bubble chair” for the Dog. Perfect for a dog who wants to play with bubbles but just doesn’t want to move, or the “stress kitten” for the Toddler. Toddlers often can’t handle the stress of not getting her own way. The Toddler can pet the kitten and all stress just disappears. The Treasure Hunter chose to purchase the “trophy test”, a device uniquely designed to test potential treasure to make sure it was really a trophy to collect.  

Ready to Play!

The Party Potion version is a smaller version for younger players of their original Snake Oil game. The Party Potion version includes 14 Customer cards (28 Customer personas) and 112 Word Cards. Sample Word Cards include Sugar, Mug, Bus, Jewel, Smile, Nap, Spray, Bacon, Fur, and Rescue. Sample Customer Cards include Artist, School Bus Driver, Toddler, Dog, Camper, and Janitor.   Both the Word Cards and the Customer Cards are simpler vocabulary than the cards in the original version of Snake Oil. The Party Potion version also notes that younger players can switch out words from their hand that they do not know.
In additional to being fun to play Snake Oil Party Potion is perfect for creative learning. We’ve been using this with Erin to help her develop story telling ideas. She chooses her two words and then we ask her questions to encourage her to expand on the product.  Who is it for?  Why would they want it?  What does the product do? For more classroom lesson plan ideas visit the Educational Tab at

Snake Oil – Party Potion retails for $14.99.

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