Snakesss is the brand new party game from Big Potato Games, featuring hidden roles and trivia! Designed by Phil Walker-Harding, the game sees 4 – 8 players answering trivia, but not always wanting the group to get the correct answer! Playing in 20 minutes, players will be ordinary humans trying to determine the right answers, alongside the Mongoose of Truth. At the same time the hidden snakes will be throwing the players off the scent. However, does the mixture of trivia and sssneakiness work? Let’s find out!
Setting up the game is as easy as taking the question cards carefully out of the box, making sure not to see the reverse. Depending on the player count a selection of role tokens are shuffled, with each player grabbing answering chips. The game is then ready to go! Each round the role tokens are dealt out. The players secretly check if they are an ordinary human, the Mongoose of Truth or a dastardly snake.
One player takes up the additional role of moderator, taking the first question card from the stack and reading it aloud. The moderator then runs through a few steps to give the snakes the correct answer, whilst maintaining the secrecy of the hidden roles. This is achieved by everyone closing their eyes, the question card being flipped over to reveal A, B or C with the snakes quickly opening their eyes to see the answer.
With 2 minutes on the clock, the players then discuss the question and the choice of A, B or C. The questions are weird and wonderful facts that most will not know, but everyone can have an educated guess. The Mongoose of Truth reveals themselves, so everyone knows they can be trusted. The Mongoose of Truth and the ordinary humans will be trying to guess the right answer, while the snakes will try to hint and persuade them into believing an incorrect one. At the end of the 2 minutes everyone plays an answer chip facedown, revealing it when everyone is ready. Snakes must play their snake answer chip, while the ordinary humans and the Mongoose of Truth will attempt to play the answer chip of the correct letter.
Why are the snakes doing this? Points of course! Played out across 6 rounds whoever gets the most points wins. Snakes gain a point per person that guessed the wrong answer, while ordinary humans and the Mongoose gain a point per person who correctly guessed the answer. After the inevitable shouting at the pesky snakes, the game moves onto the next round. All of the role tiles are returned to the middle, shuffled and handed back out for the next round – so you could be a snake again… but what are the chances of that.
With 6 questions used each game the 120 questions included will go a fair way, 20 games to be precise. This is before players shuffle them up and reuse them, though you do run into the risk of remembering the quirky answers to some of the questions. It would be nice to see some kind of expansion pack released, or perhaps an app with additional questions, to give the game longevity. 20 plays feels like a good number, but as a party game this number can be reached quite quickly.
Skewing these figures slightly is the fact that players won’t always play by the rules written. As with many party games with fast rounds players can want to just keep playing, throwing the point scoring out of the window, or just playing for say 10 rounds instead of 6. With nothing more than leaving out a role token or adding another one into the shuffling, players can join in part way through the game or drop out, as long as the player count wouldn’t drop below 4.
With 4 players there is an interesting dynamic created, which doesn’t work with most hidden role games. With 4 players, once the Mongoose of Truth is revealed, the ordinary human player knows who the snakes are – with everyone’s roles easily determined. For most hidden role games this would be game over. In Snakesss it’s not. The snakes can try to bluff or double bluff which is the correct answer to the trivia. It’s unusual to have this dynamic and as soon as another player joins in the perfect knowledge of roles is lost. It’ll work with some groups that like to fully get into the mind games, though others will prefer the game from 5 players up, when it’s not possible to 100% know who is a snake.
The way the cards are designed with the answers on one side and the questions and choices on the other makes the initial round setup, closing eyes and flipping the card phase, a breeze. The tokens for character roles are easy to shuffle, and the answer chips are of good quality. With rounds lasting 2 minutes you would expect a sand timer to be included, however players are required to use a timer on their phone. As the time limit drives some of the urgency to talk, discuss and nudge people into the wrong answers, it would be good for such a vital component to have been included.
Snakesss is not just an interesting mixture of trivia and hidden roles, it’s a thoroughly entertaining one. The questions are weird and some of the correct answers are even more peculiar – often leading to a spot of baffled googling. This is therefore a hidden traitor game, with the fun of tripping others up, where you learn something. They are of course the most random of facts but still you learn something. There is a concern with the amount of cards, as I can see some groups burning through the 120 card deck. As per the rules that’s 20 full games before reusing cards, though some will find it hard not to remember the answers. For those 20 games though, Snakesss is a huge amount of fun, whether that’s at the start of a game night or at a family gathering.
(Editor’s Note: Snakesss was provided to us for the review by Big Potato Games.)