Review: GiftTRAP – beggars can not be choosers

GiftTRAP - packaging

Do you like gifts? And what do you like the most? The feeling of mystery, that precedes their unwrapping, or joy in receiver‘s eyes, if you gave exactly, what he wanted? Sometimes it is not about the price (and sometimes it is), but simply to make others happy. But it’s not so simple: metalist will not be thrilled by tickets to the opera, little boy will not be pleased with a doll and your wife would certainly not welcome liposuction coupon.

Sometimes you think, that the gift will be received with joy, but you make a mistake. To really know even your closest friends is a tough deal. Do you think they know your values so much, to always choose a gift you want? It may seem simple to you, but in fact it is not entirely true. This is reality, which is brought by board game to your living room.

The idea came from ‘s head and game first appeared in Europe under production of company . The pictures and graphics are work of . That was all in 2006. Since then, family of GiftTRAPs was expanded by geeky version and lightweight lite one, with smaller dimensions. In , this game won special prize of German Spiel des Jahres. It is time for us to discover this game for wider audience.

GiftTRAP - game is ready

The authors did not leave anything to chance. The game is hidden in refined and really good box, that has a lid covering it only by a few centimeters. So it looks at first glance like a real gift. Only without the wrapping. Even such a little thing can make the new owner happy. And what about when you start to unpack it. But it should be noted, that the box is really quite a tom-cat, not only in size (approx. 15x15x15 cm cube), but also on the weight.

At the beginning, you will be welcomed by unconventionally packed game board. It is in fact folded into thirds and creates shape of an inverted U. It is in this form tucked away in a box, with its feet first. This creates a sort of natural protection for all content, that is deeper underneath.

Inside the bottom of cube, you will find things, you will never expect with a board game. Eight tightened bags of various elegant colors. Actually, at first sight you might think, that this is some kind of fashion accessory more than a game.

GiftTRAP - game is ready

Your impression would be hardly encouraged by the colors, because they are represented with purple, orange, light blue, and even pink. Everyone here comes into his own. Just a pity, that there are two green shades, which are remotely similar, and it’s a bit confusing. Therefore, you usually choose the second green only in situation, when you play in the highest number possible.

Each bag has the same content only in different color. Everything is nicely bound with a bow at the top, you need to pull it to get inside. And there you will find .. four round tokens with numbers from -4 to +3 and verbal descriptions, as well as nine square tiles. Their surface is divided by four lines (two horizontal and two vertical) into a checkered board with nine fields. And only one of these field has always assigned a number from one to nine. The numbering proceeds from left to right and top to bottom, of course, as you go further on the checkered board.

There are also three big square tiles for a possible variant of the game, and then the two plastic pawns, which will be moved around the board. First of them is a wrapped present and a second figure is box, that has lost its mystery and is already opened.

GiftTRAP - game is ready

All eight sacks are sitting firmly in the cradle, but they lay far from the bottom. Yet, something is missing. A thing, without which he could not play GiftTRAP even in dreams. This mystery is hidden under sacks. Four decks of cards nicely divided in plastic liner are all the way at the bottom of the box. Cards are divided by color into four groups matching a certain price range for a gift. Its image is captured on them. Each card has two descriptions – one in German and other in English, making whole box a bilingual edition.

At the beginning of the game, you simply put board into the middle among all participants and each player chooses a color of the bag. He then takes the entire contents of it for himself. The board contains two routes – one GIVE and one GET. You place your figure of wrapped package to a GIVE scale and the second GET scoring route gets your unwrapped gift. In addition to the game board, you prepare all four shuffled decks of cards and the game can begin! Actually one more thing regarding tokens with numbers: each player removes tokens exceeding number of players by more than one (in four player game numbers six and up).

Each round, all players have another birthday and are trying to make others happy with the right gift. But the choice is limited. You buy at the last minute, and most shops have already closed. So you have to choose from thing, which are currently available.

GiftTRAP - game in progress

That’s, why at the beginning of each dowering rounds, players must determine draw pile, from which will they uncover some presents. Then simply take some top cards from it and put it on the board. They start with place one on board and uncover one card more, than there is players participating in the game.

Now is coming a hard decision for all players. They need to take their numbered tokens with each number related to one of gifts available and distribute them secretly to others. Players seek to choose the most suitable gift from offer. Simply select gift, that according to your best knowledge would thlat player like the best. Each player must get exactly one tile of each color, facing down its number side. Neither the receiver, nor other players could see, what did you actually gave. Why? Because now is his turn to select, what he really wants.

Once all of the available tokens are distributed (that is, you have only one gift token left), second phase begins. This time, each of participants will take their round tokens and marks three gifts from the offer. He chooses the ones, that he likes and one, which would he not want to receive under any circumstances. Note that still no one knows, who gave what to who, so you can not influence the outcome. You must feel it and know others. It depends only on players, if they choose gifts according to reality or not. According to our own experience, honesty is source of much more fun.

GiftTRAP - game in progress

Here is very important to note, that you really can start this phase, after each player has distributed his gifts. Other way, they can be influenced by things, you select on the board with your tokens!

Finally, it is time to unwrap your packages. Gradually, one after the other, player turn tokens given to him by opponents. Then also reveals his wanted gifts. Three acceptable gifts are marked with three levels of liking – OK, Good and Great. Fourth token contains text „No way“. And marks present, which want you the least from the offer.

Points are awarded always in pairs. Therefore, if someone guessed your taste correctly, he get as many points, as are on your token assigned to this gift (1 for OK, 2 for good, 3 for good). Or gets four subtracted, if he chose your unwanted gift. But at the same time, you get these points as donee too. Only each of these two players moves his pawn on other scale – you move unpacked gift on GET track, while others, who gave you gifts, move wrapped box pawn on GIVE route.

GiftTRAP - cards

So all evaluate their gifts and figurines move forward, but backwards too. Goal is not only to give good gifts, but also to be a good receiver. Both victory point tracks count. Now first of players, who arrives at middle destination, that is the end of the semicircle, with both his pawns, wins the game.

GiftTRAP is game, that works with its theme incredibly close. Perhaps you could hardly imagine someone creating a game about giving gifts before reading this review. And in addition, that the game could really work and be fun. We were innocent in the same way. Well, look, there’s GiftTRAP to keep us all out of our error.

This game is perfect party entertainment, but also a perfect family fun. In addition to fun, you can even get a tip for a gift for your loved ones. True, some gifts are a little off real financial options and others are just for alternative people, but often there is something interesting tip. More than once around the dial, they will also raise intersting discussion and you know something new about your friends. And the less regular gifts are hard to choose from.

GiftTRAP - cards

But when we mentioned family genre, we meant it basically as a requirement. This game falls into the family and among friends category. It’s hard to play it just anywhere in anonymous playroom with some passersby. You can have a good time in case you know your rivals at least a little.

The advantage however is, that it is sufficient only one of players speaks English. Images are eloquent and its nothing easier, then read and explain every picture to all players and you can have fun this way even with children. Elegant and without barriers. Believe us, that you want to make as many people you know as possible to try this game. Maybe it just to impress them, because this board game is unique. And especially, you would like to point out, how much you know about them.

During the game, the players are learning about each other. Assuming they choose really truly and always choose those items, which they really prefer. Sometimes selection is really difficult. What would you give to someone – talking deer head or wind turbine?

GiftTRAP - cards

But the most amazing is the entire game system. Actually it does not matter, how deep you know other players (besides partners), but how well you can evaluate suitability of each of gifts for everyone. Offer is random and cards double-sided, so variability is incredible. For balanced and better option is recommended to keep only a single price category in play during one round.

So does GiftTRAP has some problems? Actually, there is one we thought of. Although the game is designed for up to eight people, already in six is gameplay rather slow. Evaluation round just takes an extremely long time, especially if you want to see, who got and wanted what. Until everybody presents their gifts, their wishes and move pawns on the board, a lot of time passes by and you may find, that the game drags a bit. But being in the right group or if you are strengthen a little with alcoholic beverage, you will hardly perceive such problem. But otherwise, we recommend playing with less than seven.

And then there’s expansion cards. They did not really fit in here, and in fact we did not use them too ofthen. The game is fun and full of possibilities without them. And what is their purpose? You can them double your points or vice versa make someone score zero for some cards. But there is a feeling, that the dirty tricks do not belong into this type of games. They really do not enhance feeling from the game.

GiftTRAP - figures

We can imagine a better graphical processing of individual cards, although it would be significantly more challenging. Photographs act rather incongruously, although their illustrative function is fulfilled perfectly. But they simply do not work as elegantly as the rest of the game and its flawless design. But maybe it can be just our personal impression. We will gladly see your opinions on that.

Besides those small glitches, this game is absolutely superb and dazzling entertainment for all ages. It brings fun, that you would never dreamt of. Giving gifts as part of game? That’s great. So open your arms and get ready to be gushed with packages and bows. The first and by far the best of these presents has one word written on the lid: GiftTRAP!

DesignerNick Kellet
ArtistScott E. Davis
PublisherArclight Games, Ferti, GiftTRAP Enterprises, Heidelberger Spieleverlag, Kaissa Chess & Games,, Lifestyle Boardgames Ltd, Morapiaf, Stein-Thompson Games, Swan Panasia Co., Ltd.
Year Published2006
# of Players3 - 8
User Suggested # of Players Best with 8 players
Recommended with 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 players
(38 voters)
Playing Time60
Mfg Suggested Ages8 and up
User Suggested Ages8 and up
(13 voters)
Language DependenceSome necessary text - easily memorized or small crib sheet
(18 voters)
CategoryHumor, Party Game
MechanicSimultaneous Action Selection, Voting
ExpansionGiftTRAP Geek Edition
FamilyContainers: Cubes, Game: GiftTRAP
Primary NameGift Trap
Alternate NamesGift Trap: California edition, GiftTrap, ギフトトラップ, 送禮高手

Infos courtesy of More Infos.

Review: GiftTRAP – beggars can not be choosers
Final word
GiftTRAP offers you loads of gifts into your hands and pockets. Everyone of them is wrapped carefully and you have to unwrap it or hand them out. And you will really enjoy it, because both these actions are real fun in this board game! Players have choice of several random gifts each rounds and they must choose the most appropriate for each collegue at the table. In second phase of the round, you must choose gifts you would prefer without knowing, what have your rivals prepared for you. And if you successfully cross with offer, you will be rewarded, but so will be the giver. So you collect points on two fronts – not only for giving the right presents, but also for receiving them and for the fact, that other players know you well. And here is the first glitch. GiftTRAP cannot easily be played with strangers. You have to have at least some guess about what they like, so you can actually guess their taste. On the contrary, the very positive thing is you get to know your opponents well and game itself might even help you choose some real gifts for them in the future. You can find also a little redundant action cards in the package. We have not found their dirty tricks as an added value. And also graphical side of gift cards is not, what we expected. But we have a really great time with every match, if there was not too players involved. Game starts being slow as number of participants rises. But everything is forgotten, when you play the game, with its wonderful processing of sacks and figures. GiftTRAP is a obligation for each family and group of friends, which like to give or receive presents. And who doesn't?
Reader Rating0 Votes
packaged as a gift
beatiful processing, including sacks for tiles
you give and also receive
so much cards, you won't get tired of it
clever mechanic
action cards can be used to enhance
občas opravdu těžké volby menšího zla
excellent fun even with kids
might help you to choose a real gift
angličtina na kartách vůbec nevadí
photographic images on cards
sometimes odd gifts
not suitable to play with strangers
more players make turns quite long
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