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Review: GiftTRAP



GiftTRAP: "The Hilarious Gift-Exchange Challenge" 

 The Spin:   “Play and discover the real you!”; “Do you know your friends and their dreams?”;

“Thinking you know people is all you need to play”; Imagine the gifts you’d exchange for real”

 The Intro:  The Nerdbloggers crew loves itself some deep, strategic board games.  When it is just the core guys and gals gathered around a table, we can usually be found playing something meaty and brain burning.  Often though, we game with “non-gamers,” and that means pulling out the dreaded party game.  Actually, scratch that “dreaded” part.  Mainstream party games are often crap (Scene-it, Cranium, Battle of the Sexes—I’m looking at you guys), though there are some good, popular party games (Balderdash, Taboo, Apples to Apples) released by the big companies.  Even better,  hobby game companies have managed to really expand the number of party  games that can be enjoyed by gamers and non-gamers alike.  In heavy rotation in our group are Wits and Wagers, Say Anything, Dixit, Telestrations and, recently, GiftTRAP.

The GameGiftTrap is a simple game about gift-giving.  The board is a three-by-three grid with spots for up to nine gifts.  The game comes with more than 400 gifts split into four color-categories according to cost.  Each player gets a small gift bag that contains his necessary pieces (9 tokens that represent each spot on the board, a opened-gift marker , a unopened-gift marker, and four tokens of different values with which to pick gifts). 

One player begins by choosing a expense-level and placing gifts on the grid (one more gift than the number of players).  Once the gifts are on the board, players now assign a gift to each player by giving them the token with that gift’s location printed on it.  These look like little Tic-Tac-Toe boards with a grid location marked on it.  These caused a bit of confusion with our younger players the first round, but things cleared up for them after the first go.  It should be pretty clear cut for older players. 

The "Give Tokens" look like a game unto themselves.

Then, each player places their four tokens onto the board.  These are valued as such (+3 for the gift the player would most like to receive, +2 for the next most desirable, +1 for final positive present, and -4 for the gift that the player would not want to receive). 

 Our well-worn "Get Tokens"


When all gifts have been given, the players, one at a time, flip over their tokens on the board and score the gifts they are given.  Every gift scores for both the gift-giver and the receiver and there are two separate scoring tracks on the board: one for points from giving gifts, one for points for having received gifts.

The game continues with new gifts each round until one player has reached the end of both the scoring and receiving track.    The typical game lasts between thirty-minutes and one hour, according to how often players are set back by bad gifts and how much kvetching is going on.

The Opened and Unopened Gift Tokens are brilliant.

My Take:  Like many (maybe all) party games, GiftTRAP is very dependent on the play group.  It works much better when the players know each other well and are making decision that are thoughtful, which allows the other players to try to predict choices and game the system to swing a win.  With players that don’t know each other well, the game breaks down and becomes too random.  It is still a decent experience with those groups since it allows players to get to know each other better, but I much prefer to play the game with close friends and family.  Additionally, the game plays very well with younger players and with mixed groups of kids and adults.

As for the components, the entire package is very attractive from the lace gift bags to the plastic opened and unopened gifts used as pawns.  This is definitely a game that gets noticed when it is being played which means it might be a good gateway game to break out at parties.

Score:  7.5 [Good]

[Editor's Note: Nerdbloggers was provided review materials for this game by GiftTRAP Enterprises.]

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