Out Of The Box Games: T. O. S. Review

As my final crew review for this year, I really could not have asked for a better one. 🙂 Never fear, I will be returning to the crew after the new year, with more great products to tell you about. Meanwhile, I’ll still be around, letting you in on “My Journeys”!

Up until recently, I had never even heard of Out Of The Box Games.

However, since we got rid of all of our board games when we left Michigan, I had promised to rebuild our collection here in New Mexico. My goal has been to rebuild as much as possible with educational games, so when given the chance to review the game Snake Oil, from Out Of The box Games, I really wanted to do this one, and I am very glad I did, too!

I want to tell you something we learned from this game . . . Snake Oil, and Snake Oil salesmen really existed! During the 1860’s, Chinese laborers working on the Transcontinental Railroad would, after hard, physical labor, rub sore muscles with an ointment made from water snake oil. They shared the ancient Chinese remedy with their American workers. Products containing water snake oil are still in use today by some herbalists. Eventually, snake oil was commercialized, and in the early 1900’s, a sample of Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil Liniment was tested by the U.S. government, at which time it was discovered to contain no snake oil at all. Because swindlers had been using it and making false claims, the phrase “snake oil salesman” was born. Today, we might refer to politicians, used car salesmen, etc . . . as “snake oil salesmen”.

The Snake Oil game was developed by Jeff Ochs, who came up with the concept for Snake Oil in 2008 while on an airplane flight. He and his colleagues were reading a catalog to pass the time, and noticed a recurring theme, that many of the product names consisted of two random nouns. They began playing with random noun combinations to create new products, and entertained themselves for the rest of the flight. You can find out more about the creation of the Snake Oil Game by reading here.

I like to have games that are easy and quick to learn. Snake Oil definitely fits the bill. It is truly a right out of the box game! I also like to have games that we can all play together, and this one fits that bill, as well. It is recommended for age 10 and up, but even my boys who actually function at much lower than age ten were able to play right along with the rest of us, although the smaller of our twins, who does function much younger, needed a little help. The Game Snake Oil sells for $19.99

Everything needed comes right in the box. There is no need for score keeping, there are no dice, or anything like that. The contents of the box are a plastic tray which holds 336 word cards, and 28 double-sided customer cards, which allows for 56 different customers. Playing is quick and easy. Each player takes six word cards, and the players select one person to begin by being the first customer. That person draws a customer card, looks at both sides, and decides which customer he or she wants to be, for example, the card I just randomly took from the box has Prison Guard on one side, and Fashion Model on the other. Once the customer chooses who to be, the other players quickly choose two noun cards from their hands to create a product, and take turns “pitching” their products to the customer. It can get fairly hilarious, especially when a player has to go with word cards (nouns) that really have nothing to do with the customer’s chosen persona. 🙂 The customer chooses which product he or she likes best, and that “salesman” gets the customer card. At the end of the game, the player with the most customer cards is the winner.

One small warning, we did come across a few noun cards that we preferred not to use. You can easily remove them and still have a ton, or, if the reverse side is something you are OK with, maybe use double-sided tape to put them together with other nouns you don’t want to use. I didn’t think of that, until I took a look at my scrapbooking stuff, lol!

Here is a quick little video showing how Snake Oil is played:

There are variations on the game, as well, such as Snake Oil Tournament Play (12 – 24 players) and Snake Oil Live, with which a large group (can we say teen game night, anyone?) can be entertained.

My family is really enjoying this game, and our kids are learning without even being aware, which my regular readers know is something I love!

Please check in with Out Of The Box Games on their various social media:


To see what other crew members thought of this and another version of the game, please click the banner below:

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As always, I would love it if you were to join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just go to the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog and enter your email, then you will never miss another update! I’d also love it if you go to our Facebook page and give it a “like”, it would sure be great to have you aboard! 🙂

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Filed under educational games, Out Of The Box Games, Snake Oil Game, Snake Oil Salesman

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