What’s the phrase, the early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. I have no clue who makes these quotes, but it feels fitting for an older game which has captured sales for capturing mice. I recall seeing the old Mousetrap board game adverts in the 1990’s with the old cartoony drawings and left agape by how much was going on on one board, it looked crazy!

Created by Harvey Kramer in 1963. It was originally envisioned as a toy and later had a board and toy added to it, so the game was very simple at first, just moving pieces about the board avoiding traps. Later on in the 1970’s, the game was redesigned by game designer Sid Sackson, who added more elements to improve interactivity. Now players could collect cheese and move their opponents into the trap space. This was released in 1984 by Milton Bradley, and is considered the most memorable version of the game.

I’ll be reviewing one of the older Mousetrap game versions in the 90’s, as well as it’s setup and rules. I personally found the older games box style more appealing than the newer ones, because the older one’s showcased more of the actual traps and what you got.

First glances would tell this is a bit of fun mouse free-roaming, with the rules outside of building traps easy. Creativity stems all around the board and is a well-thought-out concept. The mice and cheese theme add to the feel of play. It sometimes makes me want to watch Tom and Jerry. You’ll certainly find a different meaning to setting up a board game with this one.

Buy Mousetrap

What Do You Get?

  • Gameboard
  • 4 plastic mice
  • 2 metal marbles
  • 25 mousetrap building parts and accessories
  • Rubber bands
  • 52 cheese pieces
  • 1 die

How Do You Set It Up?

This description is better implemented whilst actually going through the game’s instructions, so don’t worry if you feel lost by this setup:

  1. Player turns crank (A) which rotates gears (B) causing lever (C) to move and push stop sign against shoe (D).
  2. Shoe tips bucket holding metal marble (E). Marble rolls down rickety stairs (F) and into rain gutter (G), which leads it to the helping hand rod (H).
  3. This causes other metal marble (I) to fall from top of helping hand rod through thing-a-ma-jig (J) and bathtub (K), to land on diving board (L).
  4. Weight of metal marble catapults’ diver (M) through the air and into washtub (N), causing cage (O) to fall from top of post (P) and trap unsuspecting mouse.


  1. Place the board on a flat surface. Remove all trap parts and pieces from their bags and place them next to the board. Discard the plastic bags, and punch out the waste cardboard from the slots and holes in the board. Then discard the waste.
  2. Carefully punch out the cheese pieces from the board sheet and place them in a pile next to the board. Then discard the waste.
  3. Each player chooses a mouse and places it on the board start space.

How Do You Play?

Object of the game:

Players take turns building the mousetrap as they move around the board. Then they use the mouse trap to try to capture opponents’ mice. Be the last uncaptured mouse on the board to win.

  1. Pick a player to go first, play proceeds to the left.
  2. On your turn roll the die and move your mouse across the board. Follow any instructions on the space you have landed on. Two or more mice can be on the same space at the same time.
  3. As your mouse moves around the board, you will collect cheese pieces from the cheese pile and from your opponent’s pile. You can use cheese pieces later in the game to help you spring your trap on your opponent’s mice.
  4. Types of spaces on the board include build spaces, go back and move ahead spaces, take cheese space, lose cheese spaces, dog bone space, the loop, cheese wheel space, turn crank space and safe space.
  5. You may build one part of the mousetrap when you land on a build space. Mouse trap parts must be assembled in numerical order. Build the mousetrap by placing each numbered part in its proper position following the building plan (above).
  6. Immediately after placing a part of the mousetrap on the board, take one cheese piece from the pile. Your turn is then over.
  7. Whenever you land on a build space that’s located on the loop section of the game path, you add two parts to the mouse trap and take two cheese pieces from the cheese pile. Your turn is then over. Once the mousetrap is complete, you do nothing when you land on a build space.
  8. Once the mousetrap is complete, use it to try to capture your opponent’s mice. When your end turns by landing on the turn crank space, and there’s an opposing mouse on the cheese wheel space, turn the crank slowly clockwise.
  9. If the trap operates correctly the mouse will be captured and is out of the game, and the captured player gives their cheese to you. If the trap fails, the escaped mouse moves to the safe space. Any number of mice on the cheese wheel can be captured.
  10. 1If you end your turn on the turn crank space and there is no opposing mouse on the cheese wheel mouse, you can move an opponent’s mouse on the space by returning a cheese piece to the pile, selecting the mouse you wish to move, and rolling the die to move them the indicated number of spaces. You can continuously do this as long as you have cheese.
  11. When an opponent’s mouse is on the safe space, you cannot try to move that mouse onto the cheese wheel space. If a player fails to capture a mouse, they must reset their trap.

Pros Of The Game

  • Brings out mechanical ability
  • Fun setting and triggering traps
  • Good for kids learning motor skills and trying something challenging
  • Nice family game for bonding

Cons Of The Game

  • Little replay-ability
  • Many people prefer older version to newer version
  • Can be a little complicated at first, sometimes may need help from someone’s who’s played it before
  • Sometimes needs a lot of adjusting just to make things work

Should You Get Mousetrap?

Nothing quite like going back to the older games, and the Mousetrap board game was one on my list since I started this site. You’d think it when you first saw the adverts, and it relatively stays true now, it can be a little complicated, at first, but you pick it up after a couple of plays. Whilst others find it a challenge to put it together can spend a large amount of time figuring it out. This is where an expert would be handy.

It’s better to have an older interpreter for the rules when playing with younger kids, they could get bored easy if everyone is trying to work things out. I think you can guess how this could help kids learn and test their skills. This game would definitely be worth it if you find they have motor coordination and they like to build. This is a fun game to play but doesn’t lend to much repeat play if you have older kids. Nor can kids too young play since there are many small parts. It is for ages six and up, which sounds about right.

Some would argue the difficulty of setting it up is good for kids to learn perseverance and the rewarding feeling of achieving something challenging. Plus the effort can leave some good bonding. Kids can also learn a lesson in cause and effect, and the consequences of small actions, something rare in board games and is still, although lesser nowadays, held onto throughout the years. It is these kinds of aspects and inspired thought processes that has made Mousetrap stand out and become a classic.

Being a nice family game and a good laugh, Mousetrap is for 2-4 players, which would be difficult to extend to five when spreading out the traps to build. You’ll find the game is at its best when players have different levels of mechanical ability. The functional assembly of the traps and the possibility of malfunctions can add a layer of excitement.

The complex mechanisms developed from the initial drawings of game designer Rube Goldberg has amused people for years. The action of one part leads to the next and forms a chain reaction, at least for the original version, as follows:

  1. Player turns crank which turns gears.
  2. Gears push against lever.
  3. Lever cause shoe to kick bucket holding metal ball.
  4. Bucket tips and ball is sent down set of stairs through gutter.
  5. Ball reaches bottom where helping hand sits.
  6. Once ball hits hand, large marble is dislodged, passes through bath tub, and lands on diving board.
  7. Board sends diver flying into large bath tub.
  8. This causes cage to drop down onto trap square, trapping any mice beneath it.

There’s a query as to why maybe the board could not be plastic like the pieces instead of the game to help it last longer, and sometimes there is too much adjusting of pieces to make it work. Considering that the pieces are all there and work ok, if you treat it gently it should last for years.

I think a large factor to focus on when considering this game is the different versions that were made over the years, as they seem to really make a world of difference. Many people are seeking to find the old vintage version, saying with newer versions you don’t build the trap as you play, and that there are too many pieces now. There’s also been complaints about damaged pieces and bulkier ball bearings that don’t work as well.

There’s a consensus, especially with older fans of the game, that things actually worked with the old version, and pieces were made of thick sturdy plastic. Whereas with the newer version parts need to fit together crisply to make the whole game work. One bent, damaged, or badly made piece and the game will fail on you.

One person found the “thingamajig” snapped onto a post that was bent instead of straight, making the second marble not fall properly. Some families are even being imaginative with any missing pieces using glue, metal, drilling holes, and whatever else to find a workaround to make it work. Certainly, another level of mechanics showing off there!

Of course this is not the case with everyone, plenty get on fine with the newer games and have just as much fun. Plenty of people can go either way and enjoy any version, whilst others feel the older game was better, had better parts, showed more mechanical skill, and lasted longer.

I personally prefer the old version, it felt more challenging and worthwhile. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I can certainly relate wanting that nostalgia. Maybe if the latest version was the first it’d stand more of a chance since there would be nothing to compare it to. I find it interesting to have a toilet instead of a bath now, might be due to popular demand!

The uniqueness to the game makes it a standout to adults’ memories for when they played it as kids, and still today has become a family night favourite for many. Just looking at it you’re tempted to set a trap off and watch it go! The whole course with the obstacles and flowing of bits and bobs is mental and an enjoyment to watch. With any version it can take some adjustments to get the pieces right, it depends on what you’re getting but there can be issues with pieces, which isn’t surprising considering how many there are. It can be a downer if the trap fails to perform properly so tweaking may be required. Well done if you got them working with little anguish.

Though harder to get the older version, the amount of challenge you get lessens with the newer game, this is up to you. The game in any version won’t entertain too long, and it’s not one of the more chilled games, it’s one if you want to get into the meats and bones of it and feel the tension of whether the trap is going to work and capture mice. It can be fidgety to get things working and sometimes tricky to work out, yet a good time with the kids and gives them a good chance to show some skill whilst learning persistence and some light mechanics ability.

I’d say this is best for families with younger kids, maybe preteens, otherwise maybe just for a few plays the odd occasion. I think the older version is better than the newer, but either have the same concept of gameplay, just how much of it you want can vary. A great fun game that oozes memorable content. It’s definitely a well-known game that earns a space in your cupboard, just perhaps not for regular gameplay, particularly with adults, the entertainment will stay alive if spread out. But if you do play regularly, good luck hunting down those Jerry’s!

Thanks for reading. What do you think of Mousetrap? Any memories? Do you have a preference between newer and older versions? Are you good at setting up the traps? Feel free to comment and let know!

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Scott Board Game Reviews

6 Replies

  1. I loved this game when I was younger – I had no idea they were still making it. If I remember correctly it sometimes took more time setting up than playing 🙂 Although the set up showed me I like building things and I loved that part. The set up as well as the play can be really fun.

    1. Feels like games like Mousetrap will continuously be sold, probably in different versions. It does feel like the building takes longer, but very satisfactory when it all comes together when playing. The building can be just as fun as playing it though if you enjoy it!

  2. Love this game this is one of my favorite games of all time. This brought back so many memories

  3. Games of this kind are very useful for kids for several reasons:

    1. They teach them a social skill like how to interact with others and getting along with them.

    2. They also teach them to exercise their minds and solving problems

    3. They teach them to have fun doing things besides the video games on their tablets.

    There are many more advantages, of course, these are just a few of them. Parents should encourage their young kids to spend more time playing these kinds of games instead of video games all the time.

    Thanks for the nice post

    1. I agree! The level of learning, interaction and involvement whilst having fun makes this game a lot more advantageous for kids than some other games. A nice break from video games to play something like this with the family would be very good for them. Thanks!

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