Treasures & Traps (T&T henceforth) is a filler-type card game where you attempt to collect one each of three treasure types. It is complete with die-rolling and “take that,” and like others of its ilk, it purports to offer a varied gameplay experience while playing quickly. These claims can often fall short in the face of actual play, but is that still the case here, or does it defy expectations and rise above its brethren?
Rules; or, How does this light card game differentiate itself from other games?
I guess the elephant in the room here is Munchkin and the similarities between it and T&T. Truth be told, I've never played Munchkin. “Good for you!” or “You're one of the lucky ones!” I hear some of you out there saying. I've seen countless comments on this site heaping scorn upon what some seem to feel is the scourge of all gamers past, present, and future. I happened upon T&T very early in my foray into modern boardgaming, so Munchkin never served as one of my gateways.
Some of the criticisms of Munchkin as I understand them could potentially be applied to T&T, however. Because the goal of the game is to possess all three types of treasure, there is high incentive for other players to attempt to eliminate, steal, or otherwise divest you of any treasure you get on the board. The game not only allows this activity, but actively encourages it. The cards that affect treasures outnumber (okay, I haven't counted, but it feels this way) the treasures themselves. The take that is strong with T&T.
Die-rolling is a critical element of T&T as well. Every card that you play requires a roll of a D6. If you fail the roll, you don't get the card or its effects. Some cards are “free,” with target numbers that cannot be failed without negative modifiers. These are the exception rather than the rule. Many cards can give you positive modifiers to the various types of rolls, reducing the randomness of the die roll, but these cards must be brought into play first, requiring a (you guessed it) die roll. Like any game relying on dice, this can result in a series of bad, frustrating plays, or an unlikely victory.
Appearance; or, How shiny are those treasures, how pointy are those traps anyway?
As the game claims, every card is unique. The stats may be similar (identical in a couple cases, perhaps), but the name, and more importantly the art, are unique. The art style is a very cartoony fantasy by C. Aaron Kreader, who is also the game's designer. It's humorous in many cases, quite in keeping with the overall light feel of the game. The important information on the cards is clear and easily readable, and the colors (when appropriate) are distinct, and assist in distinguishing the different types of cards.
Gameplay; or, Is it actually fun to gain treasures for yourself while trapping your opponents?
The answer to this question is going to rely very much on your expectations and mindset going in. There's enough variety of cards to make you consider different options on each of your turns, but even the best decision can be rendered moot by a bad die roll. You can get close to winning, only to have the other players pile on you. I don't think anyone would approach this card game with the notion that it's going to provide a deep, involving experience. What it does, it does well, and that always provides for an enjoyable game.
Conclusion; or, Why should you buy this game?
It's cheap, so what have you got to lose?
In all seriousness though, you should buy this game if you want a good value. You should buy this game if you want something that's a bit off the beaten path of other filler games like Love Letter or Munchkin. You should buy this game if you can appreciate the simple but whimsical art style.
You should not buy this game if you plan on playing it with more than three people, because the “beat on the leader” factor can get high and lead to it dragging out longer than it should. You should not buy this game if you want more than a filler. You should not buy this game if you are easily frustrated by bad die rolls.
This is a very fun (and funny) game and it is a "deeper" game than it can seem at first glance. Not Magic the Gathering level of deep, but fairly deep for a quick playing easy to learn game.
Also, some games do end quickly with a single player just lucking out and getting the exact cards (and die rolls) necessary for winning early on, but that isn't even most games.
Most games in my experience are like a tug of war game with victory seeming assured on the next card play but then a bad die roll or another player playing a card on you can snatch victory away - sometimes just temporarily, sometimes for good.
Great little game - probably my most favorite "filler" game.