This is a review of the party game GiftTRAP. I received a complimentary review copy and am way past due in posting my review. Julie, Jacob, Matthew, and I sat down to play this and had quite a good time.
The components for the game are first-rate - right up there with the best party games I've seen lately (Liebrary, Wits and Wagers for example). The game comes in a gift box with a nicely designed packing approach on the inside where the board provides some structure for storage. The player bits come in individual mesh gift baggies. The cards are solid, full color, and the text is high contrast and easy to read. This is a nice package and you won't be disappointed with the physical design.
GiftTRAP is a game about knowing your fellow gamers and their preferences, a common mechanic also seen in games like Apples to Apples and Attribute. Each round consists of a number of possible gifts being put on display equal to the number of players plus one. The players in turn places markers on the gifts that indicate what the player would like vs. not like, with a few shades of gray in between. They also indicate what gift they think each other player would most want to receive. Players score points on a giving track and a receiving track based on how well they give to others and how well others give to them.
The scoring and tracking mechanics are my only complaint. It was confusing to everyone how to track points on both scales given the reflexive nature of give/receive. I'm sure we'd become pros at it after a while, but I can't help but think it would be an obstacle to casual gamers. This is similar to my complaint about Wits & Wagers: the game itself is a blast, but the scoring and winner determination almost seem to be an afterthought. Still, it is a party game and the journey is more important than the final destination.
The game is light and fun and leads to interesting conversations, even in our intimate family setting. I think it would work well as an icebreaker as long as folks aren't too wrapped up in winning. The game is at its best when you've got one gift that is perfect for multiple individuals, and others that aren't good for anyone. How do you decide? How will you explain it after the results are revealed? The banter and laughter that result from these dilemmas are what the game is all about.