Trouble Game Review

The Basics:

  • Ages 3 and Up
  • For 2 to 4 players
  • 15-30 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • None


  • Father Geek rejected!
  • Child Geek approved!


Trouble is a roll-and-move game with players racing to complete a circuit with each of their four pawns. The centerpiece of the board is the Pop-o-Matic, a depressible plastic bubble containing a six-sided die; around this is the circuit, consisting of peg-holes into which the pawns fit snugly. Each player has his own start and finish spaces located at his corner of the board.

On their turn, a player “rolls the die” and moves a pawn around the circuit. A 6 is required to move a pawn out of “home” into the circuit proper, and entitles the player to roll again. When a pawn is moved into the space occupied by another pawn (belonging to another player), the latter is “captured” and sent back home. All moves must use the full value of the die, meaning that movement into the “finish” zone requires that the exact number be rolled.

Final Word

This game is a hit with my children, who were overjoyed when our nanny purchased it for them. (I did not visit any retribution on the nanny, by the way.) From my perspective, it fails on many counts. The Pop-o-Matic has its advantages – novelty value, no cocked rolls, die cannot be lost (not sure if that’s really an advantage!) – but its repetitive click, click, click becomes real old real fast.

The game itself has no meat; it is not worth deciding on the “best” move. Player interaction, usually a quality to be desired, is an unfortunate aspect of this game, merely inflicting misery on other players (with a high potential for one player being singled out) and prolonging the drudgery overall. The requirement for particular die roll results (especially 6’s) also makes this game overstay its welcome and also tends to leave one player especially disadvantaged.

In case it’s not already clear, I don’t like this game! And I’ve only played it once as an adult (I may have played it a couple of times when I was a child). I am resigned to having to play this again in order to keep my children happy: such are the sacrifices we make as parents!

Believe it or not, they are the ones enjoying it!

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About Meng

Board Game Fanatic, and Father of Two, Meng is an Australian who became hooked on board games at high school, with such classics as Talisman and Diplomacy. Years later, he rekindled his interest while living in the United States, both immersing himself in the local gaming scene and also taking advantage of mail-order to expand his collection to some 300 items. After returning to Australia in 2008, and with little time left after work, study and travel, the majority of his gaming nowadays is with his two young children. Hoping one day in the distant future to teach them to play a rollicking game of Die Macher, in the meantime he provides more age-appropriate fare and tries to discuss some life lessons along the way. Meng goes by the handle meng on Board Game Geek.

8 Responses to Trouble Game Review

  1. Cyrus says:

    Agreed on all counts. On a sidenote, does anyone care to guess why there is a dog in the bubble? I always found that… troubling.

    (See what I did there?)

  2. Brian says:

    Ok – gotta come clean. I remember liking to play this game with my family when I was a kid. I don’t know why. I think it was that click, click noise that would drive my parents nuts. Odd… Ironic. I’m glad I don’t own it now.

  3. Meng says:

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure I liked this one as a child too.

  4. Cyrus says:

    I can one-up the “awesome” and nostalgic value here. My oldest has the Star Wars version of the Trouble game. Still has the same “pop-click” sound when you push the bubble, but with the added bonus of R2-D2 beep-beep-beeping!

  5. Meng says:

    What a fantastic “bonus”.

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