How to Play Mouse Trap

By James Holloway
Mouse trap

In Mouse Trap, players race their mice around the board, gradually building up a complicated multi-part trap. Once the trap is complete, players try to use it to capture their opponents' mice; the last player with a mouse remaining is the winner. A game of Mouse Trap requires two to four players.

Setting Up

Before starting the game, unfold the game board. Take the pieces of the mouse trap and place them within easy reach, but resist the temptation to start putting them together. Punch out the cheese tokens and put them nearby. Each player chooses a mouse and places it on the board's "Start" space. Choose a player to go first using whatever method you prefer; this player will take the die and make the first move.

Moving the Mice

Starting with the chosen player, each player rolls the die and moves her mouse a number of spaces equal to the result. The player then follows the instructions written in the final space of her move. The most common type of space is the build space, which has a set of numbers on it. The numbers represent the number of players in the game -- if the build space says "2,3," for example, the player may add a piece to the trap if there are two or three players in the game. If there are four, however, nothing happens. Once the player has added a new piece to the trap, she takes a piece of cheese from the pile and her turn ends.

Special Squares

Other squares on the board have their own rules. In most cases, these are self-explanatory; instructions include "move ahead four spaces" or "take two pieces of cheese." One region of the board, the Loop, is a little more complicated. Once mice enter the Loop -- the area surrounded by a dashed line -- they don't leave it again. Instead, they go around the Loop over and over until someone wins the game.

Last Mouse Standing

Once in the Loop, mice can use the mouse trap to eliminate their opponents. If a mouse finds itself on the Crank space while an opponent is on the Cheese Wheel, the player may activate the mouse trap. If the trap succeeds, the mouse trapped by it is removed and the activating player receives all of the defeated player's cheese. If the trap fails, the mouse on the Cheese Wheel immediately moves to the Safe space. If there are no mice on the Cheese Wheel, a player on the Crank may pay one piece of cheese to roll the die and move an opponent's piece that many spaces. The player on the Crank may do this more than once a turn to drag targets toward the Cheese Wheel. The game ends when all but one of the mice have been trapped.

About the Author

Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.