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Speed Review: Trapwords

We are lucky enough to have a fairly large gaming group. In many ways it is a good thing – we have introduced more and more people to the world of gaming over the years, we have a larger variety of players, and we have great gatherings – however, it can sometimes be difficult to find games for a larger player count.

Word games are a genre of game that we are collating more and more of. Within that collection we have recently acquired Trapwords – a word game with a slight difference.

So, today we are going to look at conducting a Speed Review of Trapwords to explore it in more detail.

“”What is a Speed Review?”” I hear you ask.

Well, dear reader, a Speed Review is where we aim to write a review of a game faster than it takes to play.

On the side of Trapwords it says the game takes 30-45 minutes to play. This gives us a fair amount of time, although we will aim for the lower end of that scale. Let’s begin.

What is Trapwords?

Trapwords is a semi-cooperative word game, designed by Jan Březina, Martin Hrabálek, and Michal Požárek and published by CGE in which you must guide your team towards guessing a word you are given by describing it without using words chosen as “traps” by the opposition.

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The Trapwords board.

How is Trapwords played?

Trapwords is a team game for 4 to 8 players with a few semantic components (said he using D&D lingo) that make it feel more RPG-esque than just a simple word game.

In the middle of the table five rooms are laid out. These range in difficulty, with curses placed on a couple of the rooms for good measure. A villain (or big bad) is chosen at random and placed in the final room. Finally, teams get a standee each to move through the rooms.

The first team to complete all the rooms wins.

Each round, the teams will receive a snazzy little folder and a card. The card has a series of words in it, and the folder has a space cut out. Each turn the folder reveals one of the words on the card.

The team will then come up with a series of words (the length of which is dependent on the difficulty of the room) which they think the opponent will say if they were to describe the word. Once each team has chosen their “trap” words (it may be five words, as an example) then they pass the card/nifty folder over to the opposing team.

What this means is that if the word is “tooth” as an example, and the room is difficulty 5 (displayed on the tiles laid out at the start of the game) then you might choose the words:

  • Cavity
  • Molar
  • Enamel
  • Fairy
  • Comb

One member of your team looks at the card the opponents hand over, and a timer flips. They then get around 30 seconds to describe the word to their team. If they say any of the “trap words” the opponents wrote down then they lose that round and cannot move forward.

If you don’t say any trap words and your team get the word correct then you get to progress to the next room.

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As mentioned earlier, some of the rooms have curses on them, and these affect how the clues or descriptions are given. The curses are somewhat meta and say things like (and I paraphrase) – when you give clues to your team you can’t use words that begin with “S”, or you must give all your clues in one breath. You get the idea.

When you reach the boss then each boss has their own curse to make the game more unique.

That is the main concept of the game.

What is it like playing Trapwords?

Trapwords is an interesting game for a few reasons and one where the opinion of the game split our regular group. On one side of things, it is a fairly standard word game, and the thing that makes it different is the curses. The curses are, in their own way, brilliant and are worth holding up as the pinnacle reason Trapwords is worth playing. They add an aspect that is almost like a forfeit or a meta moment in which players are truly challenged outside of trying to describe a word.

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The thing that really split the party with Trapwords though is the theme. The theme is the traditional dungeon setting; however, it doesn’t hugely influence the game itself. As such, and this isn’t necessarily a criticism, the theme feels a bit option compared to other games. It is fun, but it doesn’t really impact how the game plays.

That being said, I think Trapwords does a few things that word games traditionally don’t do. Firstly, the concept of laying traps for your opponent. This actually flips the traditional word game model on its head a little bit, as it forces the clue giver and the clue receiver to think well outside of the box. Secondly, it is more about not saying things than diving right in with a description. This adds an additional level of difficulty to the game, but it is one that is welcome.

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One of the big comparsions we made, as a group, is Trapwords vs Decrypto. Both are good games, and Decrypto is a game we break out regularly as a group. For me; however, Trapwords just edged Decrypto out. This is because Trapwords has an extra dynamic of curses and traps that Decrypto doesn’t have, and I think those are a truly brilliant idea. That being said, there are those in our gaming group who would argue against that point.

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Would we recommend Trapwords?

Whether we would recommend Trapwords comes down to a couple of criteria, but namely it gets reduced down to one question – what do you want out of your word games?

Okay, so that’s a broad question, but it is asked for good reason. If, with your word games, you like the challenge of guessing the words then something else may be more to your fancy like Werewords or Decrypto. Trapwords is a more outwardly challenging game than that – the challenge isn’t just in the word giving but also in the delivery of the clues for those words. If that sounds more up your street then it may very well be worth a try.

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