Pros: I'll have to get back to you on that...
Cons: Someone thought it was a good idea...
I've always loved board games; the only one that stands out in my mind as disliking as a child was Mousetrap. I managed to hold off my eldest on bringing this game home until she pulled out all the stops, including "I'll use my own money." At that point I really had no choice but to throw up my hands in defeat and let her spend $16 on a game I knew I would hate playing with her.
Mousetrap is recommended for children ages 6 and up, but from a mechanics and strategy (or lack there of) perspective, Mousetrap is similar to Chutes and Ladders. You roll the single die, move around the board and follow instructions on the space. Although reading makes it easier, once children have a played a few times they will know what to do on the handful of different types of spaces. As the mouse tokens move around players collect pieces of cheese and build the mouse trap. Once the contraption is complete players try to trap their opponent's mouse. The last mouse left on the board is the winner.
How Much Do I Hate Mousetrap? Let ME Count the Ways
1) Games that require a lot of setup before you play rarely come highly recommended from me. The fact that building the trap is part of game play doesn't matter to me. There are more than 20 plastic pieces that need to be slipped into the game board and snapped onto each other. And then of course you have to take it all apart to put it away.
2) I take exception to the 6 and up recommended playing age. Any child who can count can play the game, but it takes a child much older than 6 to successfully assemble the mouse trap and have it work. I am much older than 6 and have a degree in mechanical engineering, yet I mumble naughty words under my breath every time I try to set up the pieces. Cheap parts and stacked tolerances means the pieces simply do not fit together as they should.
3) I have about a 20 minute play limit for mindless move around the board type games, of which Mousetrap is one. We have yet to complete a game in less than an hour. Before we are done no one actually wants to be playing anymore, but neither of my daughters are willing to stop without there being a winner.
4) Once we get to the point in the game where we are actually trying to catch the mice with the trap, we have about a 20% success rate with the contraption actually working as designed. So after someone finally lands on the correct space and spends some time trying to get other mice onto the cheese the trap only falls down 1 time out of every 5 attempts. That is too much frustration at the end of a long game. Then of course the accusations fly that the trap was set up wrong on purpose.
5) Of course when we aren't turning the handle the trap seems to go off very easily. It doesn't take more than a gentle nudge to set the trap off. To eliminate this, anything on the trap that is loose we simply leave off until someone lands on the single space that lets them turn the handle. Since at the end of the game all of the mice are congregated at one corner of the board, someone is always reaching over or around the mousetrap to reach their token and unintentionally setting off the trap.
6) With many games you can make do if you lose a piece. In most games, any old hunk of plastic can be used as a token. Losing one or two cards from Uno or Memory doesn't matter much. Lose a single piece from Mousetrap and you can't play the game. Unfortunately, with so many pieces to keep track of and a 2 year old on the loose it isn't unusual to have to suspend a game while we search for a missing piece of the contraption. This of course adds to the already interminable length of game play.
7) Part of game play allows you to move other player's tokens to get them onto the trap space. For that reason, I do agree with the age recommendation. Again, at the end of a very long game my 4 year old does not deal well with her big sister moving her mouse to try and trap it. We have also eliminated the "take cheese from another player" rule. All cheese is distributed from the common pile, if that is empty you don't get any more cheese.
8) This is just a stupid game. I thought so when I was seven and the neighbors got it for Christmas and my opinion has not improved at all as an adult. This is one of those games that borders on pointless and I can't understand how it lasted from my childhood until now.
I have come to the conclusion that Mousetrap continues to survive after all these years because it is a payback present. Be careful the next time you give a toddler a really loud musical instrument as a gift as your child may receive Mousetrap in return!