- For ages 5 and up (publisher suggests 6+)
- For 2 players
- Approximately 5 minutes to complete
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Pattern/Color Matching
- Strategy & Tactics
- Risk vs. Reward
- Visuospatial Skills
- Bluffing and Misdirection
- Area Control
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Gamer Geek rejected!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
The classic game of Dots and Boxes returns to the gaming arena with a new look, but with all its old tricks. Speed is not the key to victory here. A player must be patient, sneaky, and most of all, fully aware that their opponent is always trying to bait them. The game might sound complicated and intense, but it comes across as light and casual. Where the real battle is taking place is in the player’s minds as they attempt to mentally outmaneuver their opponent and claim victory one carefully placed piece at a time.
Trappex, by Maranda Enterprises, is comprised of 1 wooden game board that is divided into 25 raised squares, 60 Wall pieces that fit into the slots between the raised squares, and 25 Marker discs (blue on one side, red on the other). All the game pieces are made of solid wood, making the product durable and visually appealing. Another quality product by Maranda.
Game Set Up and Play
To set up the game, simply place the game board in the middle of the playing area and put the Wall pieces and the Marker discs into two separate piles by the players. Decide which player will go first and have them select one of the two colors found on the Marker discs to represent their captured spaces on the game board.
On a player’s turn, they will take one of the Wall pieces and place it on the game board by inserting it into the slots (referred to as “channels” in the rules) between the raised squares. The Wall piece must be adjacent to a square’s side. Once placed, it’s the other player’s turn to take a Wall piece and place it on the game board. Walls can be placed in any open slot.
Each player is attempting to enclose a square with four Wall pieces. If they do enclose a square, also referred to as “trapping”, they take one of the Marker discs and (using the side with the color they selected) place it on top of the square. They then place another Wall piece. If they can again enclose another square, they repeat the process of placing a Marker disc and placing another Wall piece. In this way, a player can chain a number of enclosed squares. Note that a player is never required to enclose a square, but they must always play a Wall piece on their turn and after completing every enclosed square.
Ending the Game
The game ends as soon as the last Wall piece is placed on the game board. The players now count the number of Marker discs that show their selected color, representing how many squares they “trapped”. The player with the most trapped squares wins the game.
To learn more about Trappex, see the game’s official web page.
Essentially, Trappex is the latest release in a long line of games built around the Dots And Boxes game mechanism, wherein players attempt to surround a space and claim it. I played this game as a child with my two younger brothers when my family went on long summer car trips. The concept is very simple, and the game play is even simpler. The real challenge comes into play (if you’ll excuse the pun) towards the end of the game as the player’s jockey for position to claim the most points. This is a game of patience and subtle control, of both the player’s own moves and their opponent’s. For little geeks, this game should be fairly simple, but the deeper meta game that is played between the two opponents will be difficult for them to grasp at first. For the Parent and Gamer Geeks, this is sure to be a trip down memory lane and will bring about much nostalgic reminiscing. Will it challenge and please them? I believe so, but the game play itself might be a bit too “been there/done that” for the Gamer Geeks.
Teaching the game doesn’t take long, but I highly suggest the teacher take some time to really go into some of the more detailed strategy and tactics of the game with Child Geeks prior to playing it. The gut reaction for anyone not familiar with the game play is to close boxes as quickly as possible. This is a mistake. I expounded on the importance of timing and controlling the board as best I could to my 8 and 5-year-old. Trappex is a thinking game that is a puzzle to solve in reverse. For my puzzle-loving 5-year-old, this really perked him up and he smiled really big. My 8-year-old was skeptical, stating that the game was too simple to be that hard to win.
To which, I smiled.
And so, having instructed my little geeks on how to play the game, some tips and tricks, and a lot of stories of how their uncles and their father played the game in the back of the family station wagon, we were ready to play our first game. I asked who would like to challenge me first, and we began while the other little geek looked on. But before we placed one piece or got comfortable, I asked them their thoughts on the game so far.
“I don’t see what the big deal is, Dad. I just have to make sure not to close the boxes too soon.” ~ Liam (age 8)
“I really like it is a puzzle, like you said, Daddy.” ~ Nyhus (age 5)
We are ready to begin. I can only hope that my little geeks see the game for what it is soon enough to correct their assumptions that victory is an easy thing to obtain against a more skilled opponent. Will my test groups enjoy the challenge of outwitting each other in a game of subtle positioning or will the endgame result in a lackluster experience of simple piece placement? Let’s play and find out!
Trappex proved to be a delight for my little geeks, but not at first. The first couple of plays were full of disappointment and frustration. As I predicted, the little geeks rushed through the game, and as a result, failed to see how I was building the walls and baiting them to place theirs to complete seemingly easy squares. After I won 3 games in a row, they were ready to throw the board (and bits) across the room. After calming them down, having a snack, and playing with actions figures for a bit, we came back to the game. This time, they both slowed down, took their time, and made much better moves. Against me, they never won, but against each other, they traded victories back and forth with each win being a close one. I was greatly impressed how both of them adapted to the necessary pace and focus needed to play the game competitively. Once they started to play the game in this manner, they really started to enjoy themselves. My 8-year-old was the stronger of the two players, but only by a couple of wins. My 5-year-old loves puzzles and is naturally gifted when it comes to the visuospatial geek skill. Overall, I’d say he was the stronger player, as I watched how he bated his older brother and started to see chains of boxes he could complete. As a result, we can comfortably suggest this game is playable with Child Geeks as young as 5-years-old.
Parent Geeks also had a wonderful time with this game and really enjoyed playing it with their family. With their own peer group, though, not so much. The 2-player game of strategic wall placement and square trapping failed to keep two adults entertained for long. The non-gamers really enjoyed it, though, and were happy to play with anyone who was free. Ultimately, the nostalgia factor was the winning blow for the Parent Geeks as they played the game with their family and reminisced about the many hours they had spent playing the pen-and-paper version. They all agreed the table top version was a vast improvement.
Gamer Geeks felt much like the Parent Geeks in regards to the level of nostalgia and lack of interest of playing it with their peer group. That is not to say they didn’t have fun with it, however, and they all agreed it was an excellent updated version of the pen-and-paper game. It was not, however, enough of a game to persuade the Gamer Geeks to approve it. They all agreed it was a solid game, well executed, and of high quality, but was just not up to snuff to intrigue the Gamer Geek elites.
Gamer Geeks, Trappex was found to be a game that was entertaining but not of interest. The 2-player game play, the tried and true strategy and tactics for Dots and Boxes, and the quick play time were all given high marks. What was not was the lack of originality. The game quickly became old and the Gamer Geeks were eager to move on to another game that would allow for more players. And on that note, all the Gamer Geeks agreed this game would be given their approval if the game could play with 4-players. Not teams, mind you, but four individual players all competing at the same time.
Parent Geeks, this game was approved by your peer group and was found to be a great success on the family gaming table. As already noted, it plays fast, is challenging, and is playable by a wide age range. What the Parent Geeks liked the most was the game’s presentation, durability, and ease of play. The depth of which a player must delve into the game’s strategy and tactics is based on the player’s opponent who might or might not challenge them significantly enough to warrant a furrowed brow. Regardless of the game’s level of intensity, all walked away from the table with a smile and ready to play the game again.
Child Geeks, this game appealed to your peer group the most and was played over and over and over again. The Child Geeks sought out, challenged, and even beat the Parent Geeks in some of their games. The game is perhaps the most fun with your own peer group and this is an easy game to teach to a friend and set up, making it perfect for quick plays. The only negative the Child Geeks had about the game was the occasional Wall piece placement by a Parent or a Gamer Geek that was blatantly sneaky.
I disagree with my fellow Gamer Geeks on this one and give this game my approval from a Gamer Geek perspective. The level of strategy and tactics one needs to use is based on your opponent, which means I was either challenged by my peers or entertained by my little geeks. In both cases, I was having a good time. Nostalgia factor aside, the simple game play still requires a lot of thinking if you want to play competitively, but not nearly to the level of focus I use when I play the more complex games or am in an intense office meeting. This made the game very casual for me, but still took enough of my attention to keep me engaged. I think it does it’s job just fine and is worth my attention whenever my family wants to challenge me to a quick game.
If you have played the classic game of Dots and Boxes or are just looking for a light, but engaging strategy game for two players, sit down to a game of Trappex. We bet it will capture your interest.
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.