- Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
- Publisher: Big Potato Games / Spin Master
- Players: 4-8
- Age: 12+
- Time: 10-20 minutes
- Played with review copy provided by Spin Master
Snakesss is a party game from the clever people at Big Potato Games – you know – the people who also did The Chameleon and Blockbuster The Game. Sure, not the sorts of games that are going to win the Spiel des Jahres; but the sort of thing that will get pulled out at your next party, picnic, or whatnot. The company tends towards accessible, usually hilarious, party games – and this game is definitely in a similar vein.
In Snakesss, players try to score the most points in six trivia rounds. The questions are actually pretty hard, so I wouldn’t think that even the biggest Jeopardy geek would know them all in each game. In each round, you’ll be given a random role: human, snake or the Mongoose of Truth. If you are a human or the Mongoose, you score points by guessing the correct answer. If you are a snake, you score points by getting players to guess an incorrect answer.
Someone is chosen to be the moderator. It can be the same person for the whole game or you can rotate the responsibility. The role cards are shuffled each round and distributed face down. If you get the Mongoose, immediately show it and take the Mongoose wooden token. All players will know that you’re not a snake (because you’re a Mongoose, duh) – and therefore, your answer is the only one which can be trusted.
The moderator then puts a Question card on the table (without looking or showing the back), and reads it aloud. Then all players close their eyes, and the moderator asks all Snakes to open their eyes. The Question card is flipped over and all players can see the answer on the back, and they can also see who the other snakes are… Then the card is flipped back over and the snakes close their eyes. Finally, everyone is asked to open their eyes together.
Now, there is a two minute debate about the answer. Try to talk up the answers amongst the group. It helps to try to figure out who you think are Snakes, as this will help you evaluate what they are saying. At the end of the debate, players choose one of their answer chips (A, B, C or snake) and puts it face down on the table. (Snakes must choose the chip with a Snake on it as they saw the answer when the round started!) The answer chips and the card are all flipped over at the same time.
Based on your role – calculate your score
IF you were a human or a Mongoose AND you answered correctly – score one point for each player this round who answered correctly
IF you were a Snake, score one point for each player who guessed wrong.
Repeat for 6 rounds, and the player with the most points wins.
My thoughts on the game
It’s probably a telling statement that Snakesss is currently my least favorite Phil Walker-Harding game that I currently own. Of course, it is being compared to Cacao, Imhotep, Gizmos, Sushi Go and Barenpark. It is also NOT being compared to the Adventure games which were sold as soon as I finished playing them. The earlier list of games are right in my wheelhouse – solid Eurogames with complex gameplay and easy rules. This game is a completely different animal…
For a party game, this has a nice mix of trivia and social deduction. Though, a lot of the game revolves around the low likelihood that players don’t actually know the answers. I’d say that most of these questions are well researched/constructed and it is unlikely that the answers are generally known.
The debate portion of the round can be interesting, but this is dependent on both your group and your abilities to bluff. Also, knowing who is likely to know completely random facts is helpful. In our group, unsurprisingly, the game which involved alcohol intake was a lot more boisterous than the sober one. That statement may actually be a truism that I would be willing to apply to almost every Big Potato Game that I’ve played so far…
As far as the art goes, I don’t know if it really matters here. The answer letter on the back of the card is nice and large and easy to see from across the room. Otherwise, I could comment on how cute the Mongoose is on the token (though I think it kinda looks like a fox…) Oh, and the box cover really could possibly induce seizures, or a serious migraine at the minimum.
There is a pretty decent replay potential in this box; you only use 6 cards in each game, and there are 120 cards in the box, so you won’t see any repeats for 20 games; and then if your group gets that far, then you’ll have the added metagame of trying to decide whether the players know the correct answer or not from the previous games and then try to decipher what they mean when they are convincing you of the answer…
If you’re looking for a fun time for a party night where the more is merrier, this one is likely a good choice. The game is a bit flat at 4, but pretty boisterous at 7 or 8. I’d probably recommend only playing it at a higher player count for that reason. This game will probably never get played at my regular game night at this point, but I would consider saving this for 2am gaming at a convention in the future (assuming i’m able to go to a convention anytime in the near future).
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor