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Sell Outs! A party game of Crazy Sales Pitches (Any interest?)


#1

A group of friends and I have been working on a party card game called sell outs. Its been a long work in progress but we have created a self created alpha and a printed beta set. We’ve played it with friends and strangers with great results but we want to get more opinions. So you may be wondering, What is sell outs?

It’s a great prompt-response style game with tons of combinations. The best part about this game: it takes some creativity to win. Your cards will not speak for themselves, it is up to you, the merchant, to give the consumer (the judge) a reason to pick your card. Sell Outs is a game all about having fun, and while you can designate a winner at the end of the game, in our experience, winning this game does not matter as much as the journey.

While the game itself is very simple to play, and the rules are as easy to understand as they are brief, there’s a ton of variability. Play Lying Sell Outs, where you keep certain cards secret until the consumer buys a product. Play Two-Faced Sell Outs, where you and a friend join forces to give your pitch. Play Greedy Sell Outs where you introduce value to cards. Or, you can play Greedy, Lying, Two-Faced Sell Outs, where you combine all those variants.

A little example of what the cards look like and a battle that had been fought between myself and two others.

So please don’t be shy. Does this sound like a game that would interest any of you? Does anyone have any questions? please feel free to write!! We have a printable version for people who would like to play it with friends and we would like to do a kickstarter if the interest is there.


Basic Rules

The player who most recently bought something (out of game) is the first Consumer.

The Consumer draws a Problem card and reads it aloud.

Everyone else chooses one product card and one feature card to suit the Consumer’s problem and place them face down, and also draws a random card to go with it.

Starting with the player to the Consumer’s left, each player pitches their product to the Consumer. The features can apply to the product, or they can be an effect of using the product.

When everyone has finished their pitch, the Consumer must choose the product which solves their problem the best and gives them the Problem card.

The player to the Consumer’s left becomes the Consumer for the next round.

After each player has gotten to be the consumer three times, the game ends, and the player with the most Problem cards wins!


#2

Honestly I find that games like this (or what this sounds like) tend to sell the idea well on paper, but don’t deliver the promised fun. Quinns did a good job of identifying why Monikers stands out in the “creative party game” field, by pointing out that the game brings all the fun to you without forcing the players to inject it themselves. By comparison, Funemployed (which sounds spiritually very similar to this idea) requires friends who are inclined to ad lib, improvise, and generally bring all the fun to the game that the game lacks itself. Monikers shoves you into situations that are inherently fun, Funemployed says “here’s a description of some fun situations, please create fun as desired”. I have found the former is fantastic for any group, the latter really only works with friends who would be at home in a theatre troupe. While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, I think my point is, will an average player be able to get the most out of your game, or is it more ideally suited to the type of person who is already willing to be outrageous and creative?


#3

I was keen on Funemployed until I saw the video here, and then thought “that doesnt seem like as much fun as I thought”

I feel like Snake Oil is probably the only game I need that does this sort of thing, and I’ve only had one play of that.


#4

This type of game is slowly become its own genera and just by your description I’m not sure why I should play your game over funemployed.

And Im honestly not even sold on the idea of playing funemployed in the first place.

It might help to explain the key differences.


#5

After thinking long and hard about what you are saying, I do believe that the average player can get the most out of our game. I SUCK at thinking on my feet and being clever. I’m the type of person who thinks of comebacks 20 mins to an hour after dwelling on the situation. But I know that the most reserved person will find something to enjoy in this game. It could be the enjoyment of trying to come up with pitches or listening to someone elses. It does not matter how creative you are or how crazy your pitch is, it all depends on what the consumer (judge) deems as a suitable solution. There have been many situations where I thought I would not win because I was not creative enough in my pitch but the judge deemed my product as the most helpful.


#6

When I first heard of Funemployed I thought it wouldn’t be fun either but its a lot better to play with a group of your own friends rather than watch others play. When we were first coming up with ideas for Sell Outs, we hadn’t even heard of Snake Oil until we had all of our cards and rules figured out. I can understand where you are coming from. The difference between us and Snake Oil is that you aren’t just putting two words together and going, You will be selling products with certain features. Sometimes they might go well, sometimes they might not. The playing style is similar to Superfight. One product, two features.


#7

I agree. I will try to explain the best that I can. I believe the biggest difference is the theme of the game.

Funemployed is a card game where people are trying to apply for a job. They will be told what they are applying for and they will choose four cards as their qualifications and try to prove that they are the best applicant. So you wanna be a doctor? Well try convincing someone you are qualified to be a doctor with beads, a green card, A British accent and Every Problem ever.

Sell Outs is a card game where people are selling products to a “consumer” who has a problem. Everyone will have a hand of cards and from that hand they will pick a product and a feature that can to help them solve the consumers problems. Right before their pitch they will pick a random card and then try to incorporate it in their pitch. It can be wacky or it can be straight to the point.

For Example: “Your cat climbed up a tree and now it wont come down? Well, what do cats like more than being away from you? They like knocking things down and thats why I’m here to sell this mug. Now this mug is not just any mug, this mug weighs 40 pounds. SO if you put this mug at the end of your coffee table the cat is bound to come down to knock that shit over. Luckly, he wont be able to because its too heavy for him to push and he wont make a mess. The best part about this deal, these mugs are buy one, get one free!”

The product is the mug, the features are buy one, get one free and weighs 40 pounds. Its a great way to take a simple object and make it work for you.


#8

The game seems to have very similar mechanics to Red Flags (and probably Billionaire Banshee, but I haven’t played that one). And I think the theme lets it down in that comparison. There’s a lot more inherent humour in “would you date this weirdo?” than “would you buy this thing that’s a bit crap?”


#9

I feel that people play games like Black Flags and Cards Against Humanity Because of the humor of those who created the cards. The cards speak for themselves. Who would want to date a man who, yes is a doctor and loves children, but constantly is plotting to kill you? Obviously those “perks” do not outweigh the red flag and that card can hinder your chances of getting that round. Not saying that Red Flags is always like that but that was the issue we found with Cards Against Humanity. Certain cards trump others.

Sell Outs has creatively written cards that are enjoyable. You’re in a pickle, let me help you with this. How will that bizarre thing help me? This is how. There are some cards that look like they can make or break a product but can be seen in a new light because of the merchant who is giving the pitch. You can’t make a creative pitch? Maybe your product will just be more helpful in the situation. I feel like Sell Outs has more the offer than would you date this horrible guy/girl because they seem nice but the worship Satan.


#10

That description does a bit to convince me its worth a look, but I might have one final reservation. A favorite of some of my friends is Once Upon A Time. I was considering why we like that game which seems to be centered around creativity when others, such as Funemployed, are utter flops for a fair number of my friends. There is something more solid in the framework of OUAT that gives even somewhat less creative people enough structure to enjoy the game. I also feel the same is true of Monikers in that it gives more defined structure to allow players to build around the framework of what the game already offers. In loose metaphor, to me Monikers and OUAT give me a Chia Pet to smear some seeds and watch awesome plants grow on a guy with a beard, or a sheep, but Funemployed simply hands me a bag of seeds and a trowel and says “come up with somewhere to plant this”.

Loose metaphors aside, I wonder if part of it is the scoring. Monikers forces you to creatively get players to guess cards, OUAT forces you to creatively ditch cards by inserting them into an ongoing story, but other games force you to insert your own ad libs into the game based on criteria the game offers, then tells others to judge its merits. I don’t think selling wacky products to solve wacky problems is a bad idea actually, and your mug sales pitch actually makes me want a 40lb cat de-treeing mug, but I wonder about the structure of the game and the judging aspect which I tend to find is a recipe for less fun. Is there perhaps a more structure objective with less subjective elements that could be applied and still keep the heart of the game the same?


#11

Hi everyone. I’m the lead on this little brain-baby of ours that we affectionately call Sell Outs. I read over your posts and hoped I could alleviate a few concerns about the format of the game. But first, a link to the downloads page where you can find the instructions and the PDF with 240 cards for Sell Outs if you’re interested: Sell Outs Downloads (Don’t be intimidated by the Orangedox link. It’s just a way to track download and view numbers.)

Anyway…

One huge point of Sell Outs is that the cards are written in such a way that everything is open to interpretation. The problem cards themselves do not ask a question like, “How do I get my cat out of a tree?” The problems are much more open ended, like “My cat is stuck in a tree, and it’s way too high to reach.” Perhaps you have a product that can reach the cat. Perhaps you have something to destroy the tree so this won’t be a problem in the future. Maybe you think the problem is that they own a cat in the first place. The cards frequently lend themselves to unorthodox interpretations.

The features and products are also up to your own judgement. The rules encourage you to spin and morph them to work for you. You can get more specific than what the card says, and several of the cards are worded so that they can have multiple meanings. We have also seen features used to describe how the product would change the consumer’s life over instead of applying directly to the product itself.

Seemingly negative features can be spun really well, too, although it might take some extra creativity to sell it. I have seen really negative cards used to incredible effect.

To address the creativity ‘requirement’ and who the game is suited to, I find that Sell Outs has something for everyone. We’ve played with a varied mix of people, including those that don’t think they are very creative, and most of our testers would never consider themselves to be ‘actors’. You do not need to act out your cards. @ShayMonique once sold a regular multitool without really pitching it, simply because all the other options were too bizarre or excessive. We’ve seen a really shy person in a room full of people he did not know break out his Macho Man Randy Savage impression to sell an Unopened Can of Whoop Ass. It was really strange, but really so great!

To address the other game comparisons:

Funemployed: You are what your cards say. It’s too personal for me. I don’t want to act it out. I’d rather watch friends play it, who are not afraid to go nuts to win a card. Sell Outs is about the products. No one is asking you to bust out a character impersonation or silly accent. You’re just talking about how you solve the person’s problem.

Snake Oil: I haven’t played it, but it seemed like it didn’t go far enough with it’s own concept. Seemed like Compound Words: The Game. Sell Outs is probably a little closer to CAH in terms of card content. While our base set is written to be family friendly, nothing at all is stopping you from taking it to NC-17 or snuff film levels. And even though they are cleanly written, a bunch of the cards lend themselves to that interpretation. (The current version features drug references, but those will be moved out of the main set eventually.)

Superfight: Superfight allows you to pander. Like a lot. If you’re in a room full of Marvel fans, and try to convince them that Edward Cullen could totes in in a fight with flying telekinetic Wolverine cuz like omg he a shiny vampire guys, you’re gonna have a bad time. I think Sell Outs allows pandering to an extent, but it has not been an issue 95% of the time, since people are less likely to be attached to their favorite thing than their favorite fandom.

Red Flags: I haven’t played this either, but like @ShayMonique said earlier, it seems like there are cards in the game that would outright determine the decision subjectively.

@sdfostj85 We were considering a value system, where products would have a ‘value’ applied to them between 1 and 5. The features would then have a value modifier between -3 and 3. The problems would have a value of 5. When the consumer ‘buys’ a product, they give the problem to the other player, and the player gives the consumer that product. At the end, you would just add all your values and modifiers. I thought this would be interesting because as a consumer, you need to consider if giving that player 5 points is worth getting whatever they had. As the merchant, you might even intentionally mess up your pitch to try and dissuade the consumer from picking you if you accidently created a product worth a lot of points.

Our other idea is that of salary. You would need some kind of tokens, like poker chips or something similar. Every time you are the consumer, you would collect 3 chips plus 1 chip for every product you sold so far. This would allow the players to set their own prices, and could try to price gouge a player who is doing very well.

We are still sussing out a lot of details on variant play. We have a lot of variants on our site right now that might intrigue you. We also would encourage you to come up with your own variations. I think Sell Outs is open ended enough that it can be tailored to your playing group

As an aside, there’s two main things I love about this game. I love the way every pitch after the first always starts off with the playful trashtalk, with players saying something like, “Here’s why my competitors are wrong, crazy, and missing the point.” And I love the reveal of the cards. “I think we should go a different route to solve your problem. Let me tell you why you should cut off your legs so you can wear these prosthetics.”

I hope I addressed good number of concerns. This is all great feedback, and I appreciate you all taking the time to read about our game.


#12

Honestly, I love improvisational games like Funemployed (fewer people here haven’t mentioned comparison to Funemployed than have, I think), Story Wars, Snake Oil, Apples-to-Apples, and many others. I do know a lot of people who just can’t get into this kind of thing, if not outright detesting it. But it’s a genre of games, and many gamers don’t get exposed to that genre, so naturally the comparisons are going to be focused on one of the few successful ones within that genre, rather than critiquing it on it’s own in terms of that genre.

I believe the genre of pitching an idea will always have fans. Fair warning though, most of the ones that have come out over the years had pretty short life spans in terms of sales. There are a lot of corpses on that battlefield.

The improvisational game has an automatic strike against its succeeding commercially as well: it’s improvisational. A lot of improvisational games are, well, improvised. They often need no components that must be purchased, just an understanding of the rules, and often those types of component-less, scrap paper or common household item games satisfy the hunger for the genre just as much as games that must be purchased, or even freely available to print and play.

Honestly, though, the one thing that’s absolutely turning me off right now is the graphic design. It’s too much like CAH and it’s legion of clones. Maybe dead-center problem text? And rotating the product/feature text for horizontal card placement, justified to top, using different fonts and font colors instead of the black on white/white on black would help keep the bad memories of CAH away.


#13

Adding to what @MinuteWalt said, I think the game could be improved with some artwork. It doesn’t have to require much effort or skill – I think the theme would work well with some bizarre reinterpretations of public domain art (like what Wondermark does).


#14

(automatic “Like” for Wondermark reference :heart:)


#15

I don’t disagree. A lot of what you mentioned were actually things that I’ve been concerned with during this whole development process. There’s still a lot of questions I need answered for myself.

As for the design, we don’t have a finalized design right now. @bruitist, I like that idea, so I’ll add that to the ideas pile. Another idea that had been rattling around in my head was to make a character in a small body big head style in various situations. Tough to explain, because I don’t know if there is a specific art style for me to reference.