How to Play
The objective of Gift Trap is to be the first player to get both of your markers to the Gifted space by giving and receiving the best presents.
Each player picks a gift bag and empties it of it’s contents of the same color. Players place their closed present on the give starting space and their opened present on the get starting space.
Playing A Round
To start a round the current dealer picks which deck of cards will be used for the current round. The dealer places enough cards onto the game board equal to the number of players plus one. The first card is placed on the first space and so on.
Once all of the presents are put out, each player needs to give one gift to every other player that they think the person would like. Each player gives a gift to every other player (not themselves) by giving the tile with the number corresponding to the gift they want to give that player (give the tiles face down so the players can’t see them). Since a player only has one tile of each number they can only give each gift once.
After everyone has given out their gifts, players choose which gifts they would like to receive. Each player has four get tiles. Players place their +3 tile (face down) on the gift they would like most. They place their +2, and +1 tile on the gifts they would want second and third. Finally they put the -4 tile on the one gift they don’t want or least want.
After everyone has played all their get tiles, players take turns revealing the gifts they received and the gifts they placed their get tiles on. Points are scored based on the get tile that was placed on the gift that was received. The player who received the gift will move their opened gift forward or backwards based on the points scored while the player who gave the gift moves their closed present the same number of spaces.
Points earned for gifts are as follows:
- Great +3: move both players forward three spaces.
- Good +2: move both players forward two spaces.
- OK +1: move both players forward one space.
- No Way -4: move both players back four spaces.
- No Match (no get chip of the receiver on the present received): move both players back one space.
When scoring points players can’t move past the finish space but they can move back from the finish space if they get a negative score.
End of Game
If at the end of a round both of a player’s pawns are on the Gifted space, that player will win the game.
The game includes three strategy cards for each player. If players choose to use the cards the three cards have the following abilities.
A player can play this card with one of their gift tokens each round. You gift the card along with the gift token to the desired player. By using this card you will double the number of points you earn for the gift you gave. The player who received the gift would receive the normal number of points for the gift.
A player can play the Get More card on one gift token they received each round. A player can place this card under one of the give tiles that they received in order to double their score received from that gift.
No Longer Up For Grabs
At any point during a round a player can yell out “GiftTrap” and choose one of the gifts on the board to play the card on top of. After this point no one else can score points this round from that gift. Any points already scored for the gift still count but any person who receives the gift after the card is played receives no points for it (for giver or receiver). Each player can only play the card once during the entire game so it is discarded after it is used.
If I hadn’t heard anything about Gift Trap before I saw the game at the thrift store, I probably wouldn’t have even given the game a second look. If I did pick up the game it would have made its way into my long backlog of board games that I haven’t played yet. I wouldn’t have given much thought to the game due to the premise. If someone told you that there was a board game where the whole premise was to give people presents, most people would think that the game would be terrible. I would have thought that it was a cheesy children’s game teaching children how to do good things which would probably be extremely dull. The good thing is that I had actually heard of Gift Trap before I found it at the thrift store so I picked it up. I have to give Nick Kellet a lot of credit because he found a way to make the concept of gift giving into a good to great board game.
I have played a lot of different board games and I can’t think of another game that I have played that plays like Gift Trap. While the game takes some mechanics from other party games, it does a good job blending them together to create an interesting experience like nothing I have played before. The game plays like a lot of other games that test how well you know the other players but it just feels different since you might really know a person but that doesn’t guarantee that you know what present they would like. I can’t really explain why but Gift Trap is just a fun game that should appeal to most people. Unless you hate party games you should be able to find something in the game that will interest you.
Gift Trap’s greatest strength is that the game is just so easy to play. The instructions fit onto a couple small sheets of paper and can be read through in a couple minutes. The game probably takes 2-3 minutes to explain and after a round or two everyone should know what they are doing. Gift Trap is so simple to play that it should work perfectly as a party game since people who rarely if ever play board games should be able to pick up the game quickly and most likely enjoy the game. This game would work great as a way to find out more about your friends and family. The game might not work as well in situations where some players know all the other players better than other players do since these players will have a distinct advantage in the game.
The game also appears to be quite quick. With four players my group easily finished a game in 20-30 minutes but I also played the game with people that know each other well so that probably made the game move quite a bit quicker. Even with larger parties I would guess that the game wouldn’t take more than 60 minutes to play unless the participants really don’t know one another.
While people who don’t like strategy games probably won’t like it that much since there is not a lot of strategy to the game, I think the game is well designed. Players that know each other really well have a significant advantage in the game but the game has some strategy due to the fact that you can only give each gift once. In many of the rounds I knew one gift would be the preferred gift for several players. In these situations you need to figure out which player you think you could do a better job guessing their second most desired gift.
Other than having little strategy, the biggest problem with Gift Trap is the scoring system. The scoring system is not that complicated but it is harder to keep score than it should be. Since you have pieces on two different tracks you need to always make sure you are moving the right pawns at the right times. Our group regularly had to step back and figure out which pawn to move at any particular time. You basically have to assign one player to be responsible for each track or there is a good chance that you will sometime make a mistake with the scoring.
The scoring system itself is not that bad except when you don’t really know one of the players that well or one of the players is really hard to shop for and you know they don’t want any of the items. This becomes a problem because you end up having to just guess what items they would want. This wouldn’t be a big problem except that you are punished if you guess wrong. If you are playing the game with a lot of people you don’t really know this could lead to a problem where the game seems to never end. This is not a big problem though if you know the other players you are playing with. The game also needs to keep the negative points because if they weren’t in the game, players could purposely sabotage the game by picking gifts as items that they “want” that they know the other players would never give them. The negative points make it unlikely that anyone would try to game the system since all they are doing are hurting themselves.
Some other quick thoughts:
- Due to random draw you can encounter situations where you either would want most of the gifts or don’t really want any of them. If the players really know each other these rounds can get really interesting though.
- Being a geek, I kind of want to try out the geek edition of the game. Unfortunately the geek expansion pack only has 21 cards so it doesn’t add a lot to the game. I bet I would like a lot of the gifts in the expansion though.
- A lot of the cards seem to cater to specific people which is a little disappointing. If you have an adventurous person they are pretty easy to shop for since there is almost always a gift that will really appeal to them. The game also seems kind of weightist since the game includes quite a few cards about losing weight including a trip to fat camp.
- I think Gift Trap has the potential for quite a few variations. Two variations we tried that worked pretty well included just adding more cards to the board which made the game harder which was a good addition especially if you really know the other players. The other variation we tried was taking some cards from multiple different colors. While this leads to people usually not picking the yellow cards (the cheap gifts), it is interesting especially when the cheaper items are actually more interesting than the more expensive gifts.
While the concept behind the game might sound strange, Gift Trap is actually a really fun party game. I had quite a bit of fun with the game. Combined with the quick and easy to play nature of the game and I think Gift Trap is a great party game. If you don’t really like party games and only like games that require a lot of strategy, Gift Trap won’t be for you. If you are looking for a fun party game that plays well even with people who rarely play board games I think you will enjoy Gift Trap.