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I must admit that had never even heard of Spoons, let alone played it, until just a few years ago. And even then, I wasn't really intrigued by a game that could be played with a deck of cards and some spoons - bring me nice components, man! But apparently I do own the game; for when I brought out Sneaks (SimplyFun, 2006 - No designer credited), several people at the table identified it as Spoons. I told them that no, the game was called Sneaks and explained the rules. They then notified me that the game was Spoons.
And, after some research, I guess it is. Sneaks is the game of Spoons that simply uses plastic sneakers instead of spoons and has a customized deck. It's a simple game, typical for SimplyFun, and I had a group of teens play it for almost an hour straight. Yet I found it to be a little too simplistic for my tastes, and I'm not sure that the components make it better enough to justify buying a whole new game.
Players sit in a circle, and sneakers equal to one less than the number of players are placed within reach of everyone. A deck of cards (four colors - brown, red, blue, and green), numbered from one to twelve, with two wilds, is shuffled; and four are dealt to each player. The dealer places the draw pile near themselves, and the game is ready to begin.
Each player simultaneously passes a card to the player on their left, taking one from the player on their right. The dealer takes a card from the deck, and the player to his right discards their card. This process is repeated over and over and over until one player has four cards in their hand that are the same number (wilds can count as any number). As soon as one player has gotten four of a kind, they quickly and quietly grab a sneaker from the middle of the table. All other players must then grab a sneaker, with one player getting nothing. The player who gets nothing is given a letter from the word "SNEAKS". A new round is begun, and play continues until one player completes the word "sneaks", at which point they are eliminated. A sneaker is removed from the table, and the game continues until only one person is left in the game. That player is the winner!
Some comments on the game…
1.) Components: As with all SimplyFun stuff, the components are top of the line, with very nice soft plastic sneakers for players to grab and super high quality cards. The cards are rather plain, although they are easy to read, and color is basically meaningless (maybe you could play another game with the cards?). Everything fits snugly in a small square red box.
2.) Rules: The rules are very easily explained in a four page rulebook with nice formatting and multiple illustrations. The game can be explained to people in only a few minutes, and I was not only able to teach the game to teenagers with ease but was able to show my six year old daughter, who grasped the concept in minutes.
3.) Strategy: Well, there really isn't any, other than to try to watch others as they grab for sneakers. It never really matters if you get four of a kind, as long as you can be the second one to grab a sneaker. The wilds were actually a bit of a disappointment in this regard, as it's a lot easier for the person drawing from the deck to get them, since no one is ever going to pass one. Small complaint in a game that's not really anything other than a way to pass time.
4.) Fun Factor: The game is ALL about grabbing the sneakers, and don't let anyone tell you differently. It's important to snag them quickly, and you'll probably want to avoid playing this with someone with sharp, long nails, as I found out to my chagrin. Grabbing stuff quickly is fun, and I'll grant that this might make an excellent filler for teenagers. For me, the novelty wore off quickly, and playing to six letters is entirely too long, especially when playing with the maximum of eight players! There is a rule variant to shorten the game, but even then it feels too long for me.
There are two good reasons not to buy Sneaks. For one, it's simply a much nicer reworking of a public domain game. Secondly, it can be long and tedious unless played under an umbrella of silliness and gaiety. If neither of those reasons bother you, then perhaps you are the target audience for this game. I'll still bring it to youth functions, as they enjoyed the mindless play; but I'll avoid it in the future.
"Real men play board games"