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The Oregon Trail Card Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Oregon trail! Bring friends! rss

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Michael Ptak
United States
Livermore
California
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Bought the game earlier today because my girlfriend and her siblings liked the idea behind Oregon trail. When I heard about it I wondered if it would boil down to random draws of who ends up with Dysentary, and chuckle about it. I wanted to find a game in the box instead of a, "Draw, you die!" experience. Fortunately there is a game here. Unfortunately, you are still just as likely to die.

In essence Oregon trail is a resource hand-management game of supply cards held by the players vs calamity cards the players suffer, the pacing of the latter is decided by the trail cards. Mechanically gameplay is simple, though I feel the wording of the cards and the structure of the rulebook is confusing for corner cases.

For instance for a persistent effect like broken axel, how would a player respond to it if he failed the check but had no spare part? Does the next player also roll a die to attempt to fix it without a spare? My lady had an interpretation she needed to walk me through, and we played that the initial role determines if the card goes away on it's own or if it now needs a spare part to be resolved. Even so with no example things can get bogged down in corner cases.

This game doesn't play nice to it's players, the calamity cards are dangerous. While many of them have timers that can be succeeded by the party playing enough supply cards, there are FOUR cards in the calamity deck that will instantly kill a player if they draw that card. There is also no way to avert these cards apart from not being the player to draw them, and you have no way of forseeing them.

This mechanic might kill the game for many people since it takes away from strategy, and this game doesn't seem to be a fast-playing one where death means sitting out for around two minutes while everyone else finishes up (like Love Letter or Exploding kittens). I can see players scaling by removing these instant-kills (Snakebite and Dysentary in case anyone is curious), to give them more of a chance and less rude surprise.

Otherwise, the game is light. I can see why it could be pegged as a party game, because it's likely you have more than four players engaged in this nostalgia-fest for the computer game (Max is 6), and even if Dysentary and Snakebite claim lives, you can still fight to get two people through to Oregon. But instead of being nearly transparent like Superfight with almost no mechanics, Oregon Trail has at least a semblance of strategy to make it a satisfying co-op experience for players of lighter, softer games.
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