WBG Score: 7/10
Player Count: 4-8
Published by Big Potato
Designed by Phil Walker-Harding
I went to Australia a couple of times, and you know what I saw everywhere? Snakes. They were in the bush. In the garden. In the sea! Even serving at the local pub one time, although that was Nimbin?? Since then, snakes have been seen on a plane, rakes and once on the canal near where I live! (That last one is the only one with any truth). But now, they are entering the wonderful world of board games.
The lovely folks over at Big Potato Games have decided to grow their ever expanding collection of fantastic family-friendly party games with 2021 release Snakesss. A new contender for the throne of Top Dog… err, I mean, Snake!
The idea is simple. Every player is given a character tile. They will either be a ordinary human, a snake, or the Mongoose of Truth. Identities are kept secret unless you are the Mongoose, or Mongo as my daughter calls it. In which case you claim the Mongoose character piece and place it in front of you so everyone knows that at least you, amongst all the other potential snakes, can be trusted.
Question cards are then revealed and everyone closes their eyes. One player then asks for the snakes and only the snakes to open their eyes as they rotate the card to reveal the answer to the snake players. All questions are multiple choice with three potential answers. None are questions anyone would usually know off the top of their head, but are more good fun things to debate.
The snakes will now know the answer but no one else will. Everyone then closes their eyes, the card is flipped back over before everyone then opens their eyes. You then have two minutes to debate the answer. The snakes are looking to influence the other players to guess the wrong one. But they don't want to be too obvious as otherwise no one will trust them! The other players are all trying to identify the snakes so they know who not to trust and of course, determine the right answer.
Once everyone is ready or the time is up, players then use their voting tiles to reveal their answer. Either A, B, or C. If you are the snake you must chose the snake tile to reveal their identify. Snakes don't get to guess becasue of course they know the answer. Players reveal their tiles simultaneously and the card is flipped to show the correct answer. If you were a human or the mongoose you get a point for every correct answer on the table, not just your own. If you are the snake, you score a point for everyone who got it wrong.
The idea is to play six rounds and see who gets the most points. But like most party games, you can play for as long as you like or however you like. The tools are here to have a lot of fun. It's up to you how you want to police that! Or not, as the case may be. We found the fun is in the debate and that can sometimes last a lot longer than two minutes! Just make sure everyone is still enjoying themselves!
This game works in a four up to an eight. The rules give you the recommended number of snakes and humans to have for each player count. There is always one Mongoose. In a four player they recommend two snakes and one human. This does make it easy for everyone to work out who is what though as one is obviously the mongoose and if you are not the snake you know the other two non-identifed players are. And if you are the snake, you know who the other one is from when you open your eyes, and therefore, who the ordinary human is. This is still fun, but sometimes a little difficult to play the game. I reccomend to shuffle in an extra human tile before you deal one out to each player, and always have one unidentified tile not used. This may be a bit of an oversite in the rules. But it is easy to fix.
But this game shines with more players. I found it best in an eight. Which I only got to try on a few occasions, but on both of those times, we played for hours! It was with people who don’t play many games and I tentatively suggested a game... well, left a brightly covered box in plain site and waited for someone to ask about it! But that seemed to do the trick, and the game was a huge hit each time.
This game has similar vibes to The Chameleon but has less pressure if you are a specific character. Being the Chameleon can be hard for younger players. But I have played Snakesss with people from six to mid-seventies, and everyone was equally happy no matter what character they were. Obviously, some people are better at playing the snake than others. But it is not always about hard-line arguments or lies. Sometimes it’s the quiet ones you have to be careful of!
If this sounds fun to you, this game is sure to be a hit at your next game night and is the perfect party game for families. It perhaps doesn’t have quite the same highs as games like The Chameleon, but it also doesn’t have the potential flat rounds. And is also a lot more accessible. This is not a general knowledge party game. This is not a performance based party game. This is a game of bluffing and deduction and fun. But maybe I’m the snake. Perhaps you cannot trussst a word I am saying!