Originally created back in 1963 Mouse Trap has remained popular to this day. The Rube Goldberg game of trapping the other players mice is a game that most people are familiar with and yet it is a game that generally is not thought of that highly. The problem with Mouse Trap is that most of the game’s fun comes from setting up the contraption and setting it off. There is very little actual gameplay that goes along with the contraption. When Hasbro was developing their U-Build line of games they decided to revamp Mouse Trap to spice up the gameplay. After my experience with U-Build Sorry, I can’t say I had high expectations for U-Build Mouse Trap. U-Build Mouse Trap has some interesting ideas that ultimately don’t work, which leads to a broken game that has nothing to do with the original Mouse Trap.
How to Play U-Build Mouse Trap
- Assemble the different pieces used in the game. Setup the gameboard placing each piece in the corresponding spot and placing the extra bricks in the corresponding spaces around the gameboard.
- Each player chooses a color and sits near the corner with that colored cheese plate. Each player takes the same colored mouse marble and spaceship. You can place the spaceship on one of the two landing circles in your section of the gameboard. Place your marble on top of your spaceship.
- Place the space boot and trap to the side of the gameboard.
- The youngest player starts the game.
Playing the Game
A player begins their turn by rolling the die and taking a special action based on what was rolled on the die.
Cheese: Choose one cheese brick from the gameboard and move it onto another space on the gameboard. You can use this action to place a cheese brick on top of another cheese brick.
Spaceship: You may move your spaceship to another landing circle on the gameboard.
Trap: Place the trap over another players spaceship. If the trap is already over a spaceship you can either leave it there or move it over another spaceship. If you begin your turn under the trap you roll the die like normal. If you roll the trap symbol you can move it over another player and continue your turn. If you don’t roll the trap symbol,, you use the rest of your turn to remove the trap from your spaceship and place it to the side of the gameboard.
Cheese Mountain: Rolling the Cheese Mountain symbol gives a player more options while launching their marble. Instead of shooting the marble from the nearest cheese hill, a player can either shoot it from the top of Cheese Mountain or roll the marble down the slide. Before rolling a marble down the slide the player can tilt cheese mountain in any direction they choose.
After taking your special action you will get to launch your mouse (unless you still have a trap on top of your spaceship). Unless you rolled Cheese Mountain you will place your marble on the nearest cheese hill. You will then use the space boot to launch your marble towards the cheese bricks. You can hit your marble with the boot however you prefer.
The player then collects all of the cheese bricks that they knocked out of their holes and places them on their cheese plate. Even if a cheese brick is only partially knocked out of its hole, the player takes the cheese brick. The player then puts their marble back on their spaceship and the next player takes their turn.
If a player is able to knock another player’s marble off their spaceship, they take all of the cheese that player has collected.
End of Game
When a player collects ten or more pieces of cheese they will win the game.
Here are the variant rules suggested by the instructions.
- Play until all of the cheese has been collected. The player with the most cheese wins the game.
- The first player to clear all of the cheese bricks from their section of the gameboard wins.
- You can launch your marble from any orange brick in your section of the gameboard.
- Take half of the cheese bricks from the gameboard and connect them onto another cheese brick so each cheese brick consists of two pieces of cheese.
- Combine the cheese bricks into unique shapes and assign points to each shape. The player to score the most points after all of the shapes have been tipped over wins the game.
My Thoughts on U-Build Mouse Trap
Generally when a company decides to create a spinoff game of a classic board game they usually just tweak a few mechanics while keeping the basic gameplay from the original game. Well Hasbro didn’t keep to the tradition with U-Build Mouse Trap. Outside of the name and the fact that the game involves cheese and mice, U-Build Mouse Trap shares nothing in common with the original Mouse Trap. The setting is not even the same since for some reason U-Build Mouse Trap takes place on the moon. While the original Mouse Trap is a roll and move game that mostly involves building the contraption and setting it off, U-Build Mouse Trap actually plays somewhat like golf. Basically the goal is to hit your mouse/marble with the boot and try to knock down as many bricks as you can. I really don’t think the designers could have deviated much further from the original game.
After getting over how much different the game is from the original Mouse Trap, I was intrigued by U-Build Mouse Trap. The original Mouse Trap is one of those games that is quite popular but is generally not regarded as a very good game. The problem with the game is that there isn’t much to the actual game and most of the game’s enjoyment comes from setting up and activating the contraption. Meanwhile I actually thought the “golfing” mechanic in U-Build Mouse Trap had some potential. The idea of creating a dexterity game where you use a marble to knock over things could make for a good dexterity game.
The problem is that it just doesn’t work that well. While I think it can be attributed to a couple factors (which I will get to shortly), U-Build Mouse Trap doesn’t work quite right. You can have a little fun with the game since it kind of feels like golf turned into a board game. If this concept sounds interesting to you, you might get some enjoyment out of U-Build Mouse Trap but it is unlikely to last since the game gets repetitive pretty quickly. The game was designed as a children’s game and for the most part I think children will enjoy the game more than adults.
I think the biggest reason why U-Build Mouse Trap doesn’t work as well as it should is the fact that the component quality leaves a lot to be desired. Just like with U-Build Sorry! the component quality is sub-standard. The game looks like it comes with Legos but the quality of the bricks are considerably inferior to Legos. The cardboard pieces are made of pretty thin cardboard and don’t like to stay together. The gameboard is slightly better but the bricks don’t like to stay in position. The space boot, marbles and trap are of a decent quality. Component quality is usually not my biggest issue with games but in the case of U-Build Mouse Trap they impact the gameplay which makes them a pretty big problem.
The second problem with U-Build Mouse Trap is that the dice roll mechanic doesn’t really add much to the game. The problem is that the abilities vary so much. Some of them can be quite helpful while others are pretty pointless. The spaceship ability is usually pointless as the only real reason to use it is if most of the bricks have already been taken from your section of the gameboard. The trap can help slow down the player in first but doesn’t really give much of a benefit to the player who rolls it. The cheese brick ability can be helpful as we mostly used it to build larger stacks making them easier to hit and getting more bricks when we knocked them over. Finally the Cheese Mountain ability can be quite valuable since rolling your marble down the slide usually guarantees you at least one brick as it is much easier to aim than hitting your marble with the space boot. With some of the powers being much stronger than others I would probably recommend ditching the dice roll in its entirety.
While I liked the concept behind U-Build Mouse Trap, when you actually play the game it doesn’t feel like there is much to it. You roll the dice which gives you a special ability and then you shoot your marble. That is really all there is to the game. It just feels like there is something missing as there is next to no strategy in the game. U-Build Mouse Trap has some skill with regard to aiming correctly and hitting the ball with enough power. The game also relies on a lot of luck though. The marbles seem to move around the gameboard pretty randomly so a lucky player’s marble will knock over several bricks while an unlucky player’s marble will miss all of the bricks.
U-Build Mouse Trap may also have a potentially broken mechanic. A small rule in the game is that if you knock another player’s marble off their spaceship, you get to take all of the cheese they have collected. This can be huge in the game. If you are ever able to successfully take another player’s cheese you are almost guaranteed to win the game while that player has no chance of winning. This is potentially so powerful that players started aiming at one another towards the middle/end of the game in order to get a quick victory. The only good thing is that it appears to be really hard to knock another player’s marble off their spaceship so this shouldn’t impact the game that often.
The final problem I had with U-Build Mouse Trap is that just like U-Build Sorry! the game doesn’t really do a lot with the “change your game” aspect of the U-Build line. While it offers a few more options than Sorry!, none of the proposed alternative rules change much about the game. Most of the rules that the designer(s) came up with just alter how you set up the bricks on the gameboard. I would be curious to see some good house rules since they might help the game utilize some of the potential present in the game’s concept.
In general I would consider U-Build Mouse Trap to be a below average game. Despite this fact it is still better than U-Build Sorry! because it actually tries to do something new. Now whether it is better than the original Mouse Trap is a little more debatable. The original Mouse Trap is really not that much of a game as it feels more like a toy/activity than a game. From a gameplay standpoint I actually think U-Build Mouse Trap is better than the original game. When you factor in the Rube Goldberg machine though and player’s fond memories of the original game, I would say that it is kind of a tossup on which of the two games is better.
Should You Buy U-Build Mouse Trap?
I didn’t have high expectations for U-Build Mouse Trap due to my prior experiences with the U-Build line of games. I mostly thought it was going to just be a streamlined version of the original game with some tacked on mechanics allowing you to customize the game. It turns out that U-Build Mouse Trap has next to nothing in common with the original game since instead of a roll and move game it plays like a dexterity golf game. It might look cheesy but I actually thought the game’s concept had some potential. You can have some fun with the game but it doesn’t last because the game never lives up to its potential. The component quality is substandard. The dice rolling adds little more than luck to the game. There is some reliance on skill but luck seems to play just as big of role. Finally the game doesn’t really give you a lot of options for the “change your game” aspect of the U-Build line. In the end you are left with a below average game that wasted the game’s potential.
If you are looking for a game more like the original, I would recommend staying far away from U-Build Mouse Trap. If the golfing mechanics intrigue you though, you may be able to get a little fun out of the game. I wouldn’t pay too much though because you are going to have to come up with some house rules to fix the many problems with the game.