SNAP Review – Smug Owls

Smug Owls

[Anitra] Andrew, what shrinks as soon as it is fragile?

[Andrew] That’s a really good – I have an answer.

[Anitra] What do you think out there? What shrinks as soon as it is fragile? Why are we asking profound questions like this in a SNAP review?

[Andrew] That’s because those are the kinds of questions you’ll be asking in Smug Owls.

[Anitra] This is a SNAP review for Smug Owls.

[Andrew] I’ll give you my answer after the credits at the end of this video.


Smug Owls is a party game of answering riddles for 3-15 players, and it plays in 15-20 minutes. It was created by Grace Kendall and Mike Belsole, and it’s published by Runaway Parade Games.


Let’s talk about the art.

There’s not a ton here, but aren’t these owls cute? All of them were illustrated by Kevin Ruelle. There’s an owl standee and every card has some kind of a picture of an owl with a question mark.

[Andrew] They all kind of remind me of the Tootsie Pop owl. That really brings me back.

[Anitra] It’s also really easy to tell apart the conjunction cards and the riddle cards, which is the most important thing about this art.

Smug Owls laid out with cards. Riddle reads: What can be worn unless it is good?


[Andrew] So Anitra what do we do with these cards? Let’s talk about the mechanics of this programmatic question-asking game.

[Anitra] No matter how many players you have, make a deck of exactly eight conjunction cards. Split the riddle cards into two stacks of at least eight cards each, and put them on either side of the conjunction deck.

Each round, you’ll flip two riddle cards and a conjunction card, placing them in between the “what” card and the question mark card, kind of like we did at the top of the review:

What shrinks as soon as it is fragile?

Everyone around the table tries to come up with an answer to the riddle. When you’ve got an answer, slap the table.

The last person, or the one who doesn’t have an answer, becomes the “Smug Owl” – the judge for the round. They can take that cute owl standee and put it in front of themselves.

Everyone else goes around the table and says their solution. Then the Smug Owl takes the three cards that formed the riddle and distributes them to the players whose answers they liked best. They can give each card to a different player, all three to the same player, or give two to one person and one to another.

After the cards are awarded, it’s time for another round. Flip over the cards on the table again and come up with new answers to the next riddle!

When all eight riddles have been played out, the game ends, and the player with the most cards wins the game.

There are a few variants to allow players to make this game as competitive or as cooperative as they’re comfortable with. We’ll leave you to find those out on your own.


[Andrew] Anitra, you have been waiting for this for a long time. What did you expect from Smug Owls?

[Anitra] It’s true: I have been looking forward to this game since I first saw it, almost two years ago. Having the cards generate riddles is incredibly clever, and I wanted to see how far that could go. I wasn’t sure how our kids would like it, because party games can be a tough sell with them.

[Andrew] I knew you were super excited for this game, and Runaway Parade games are always really smart, so I was excited to play it. The concept seemed neat, but I couldn’t really put together how it would actually work.

But of course, there are always surprises when we try a new game. So with Smug Owls, what surprised us?


[Anitra] I am surprised that Smug Owls always makes me feel kind of clever, whether I come up with a great answer, or I just appreciate what other people come up with. Like a lot of party games, it’s not really about “winning”. And the design reinforces that by letting the judge distribute three points to up to three players.

[Andrew] I really love the game design here. I think it’s absolutely brilliant. And because the questions are programmatically generated, they always feel like they’re really profound… or maybe they’re just awkward enough that you really need to think about your answers.

[Anitra] “What is quick when it runs?”

[Andrew] The distribution of points from the judge makes for a nicer balance than a game like Apples to Apples, where you might be really convinced you’ve got the best card, but you don’t win; because there’s only one absolute winner in that game. And I don’t like that very much about that [kind of game].


[Anitra] We recommend Smug Owls for families and friends. I wouldn’t play it with very young children, who don’t quite get the concept of a riddle, but anyone else can play. This is a game that encourages outside-the-box thinking, and also allows multiple players to be recognized for their answers and insight.

[Andrew] Also, sometimes the answers are just plain weird. And that’s okay! It totally adds to the charm of the experience.

Our only caution here is if you do have players at your table who don’t tend to come up with clever things quickly, or never feels like their answer are clever enough. They might get frustrated at not churning out “quality” answers, or always being the judge.

[Anitra] So Andrew, what are we going to rate this game?

[Andrew] I think we’re going to give Smug Owls 4½ riddles out of 5.

And that’s Smug Owls, in a SNAP!

Smug Owls game

Get Smug Owls from Runaway Parade Games, on Amazon, or at your local game store.

[Andrew] Anitra asked me at the beginning, “What shrinks as soon as it is fragile?” My answer was “self-confidence”. What was yours? Leave it in the comments below.

The Family Gamers received a copy of Smug Owls from Runaway Parade Games for this review.

This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.

SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?

Smug Owls
  • Riddles


Age Range: 8+
Number of Players: 3-15
Playtime: 15-20 minutes