Slovak flag...proud 7/8 Slovak, 1/8 Polish
I’ve been playing games my whole life, but it was mostly Connect Four and Life until I was introduced to Settlers in Jan. 2006, Carcassonne in July 2006, and found BGG in Nov. 2006. From there… well, you know the story. I enjoy mostly Euros—games that have strategy but also simple rules—although I will play other games. This is technically a session report but also includes a rules review and some review-type information. It’s a three-for-one.
Friday night I had several of the regulars over from our Indy gaming group and then a new BGGer from Muncie. And, I discovered, I need to somehow acquire a new table! Anyone have an extra card table on hand? We made do with my big kitchen table and then my coffee table in the living room; there were six people present.
Oregon is the fifth of the Essen 2007 releases I’ve played: I’ve also played Agricola, Felix and the Cat in the Sack, Kingsburg, and Hamburgum. Oregon, however, is the only game of those that I own (bought recently on Tanga), so I was anxious to give it a go.
Oregon doesn’t have too many rules, so that helps. This was the first game where I had read the rules and attempted to teach it (mostly by reading/explaining sections of the rules… not the best way, I know, but as I’m more visual, I can’t understand things just by reading them), but Shawn and Andrew were good sports.
Basically, everyone holds cards in their hands, which they then play two of at a time to either place a farmer (or, as the guys called them, cowboys) building on the grid depending on which cards they play: the “areas” on the board are fire, wagon, people, eagle, and buffalo. Based on how many farmers are present and what type of building is placed, the players earn points. If they build a coal or gold mine, they get coal/gold chips which are not added to their score until the end of the game. The game ends when someone has either exhausted their supply of farmers or three types of buildings.
In our game, Andrew took an early lead, and it was obvious to me that he was going to win; I could tell her understood the strategy of the game. I was able to get two groups of three+ farmers (which got me five points for each) and temporarily block Shawn from doing so. Each of us had about one “community” of our own color meeple, but there was a bit of sharing going on; someone would build a gold mine and the next turn a small village would pop up. In that way, the game’s theme worked quite well.
Now that I’ve played the game, I’d be more careful with farmer placement; for example, placing them near the edge of the areas so it’s easier to connect groups of farmers. I don’t remember the exact scores, but Andrew was about five points ahead of me and I five points ahead of Shawn. Andrew said that of the three new games he learned that night (Oregon, Saint Petersburg, and Leonardo da Vinci), he probably liked Oregon the best.
Some have said that this game reminds them of Carcassonne, but it didn’t for me at all. Yes, there are tiles. Yes, there are farmers. Yes, you put the farmers down to score points—but never on the tiles. And the tiles aren’t used in the same way, so it’s very different.
On the whole, the game’s theme fit in some ways but not others. What, for example, do the different areas stand for? And why can you only build in those particular areas? I could see if the cards held “deeds” or something like that, but pictures of people and animals certainly don’t add much. The game board is nice, the colors work together well, but stand out enough so that it’s not boring.
I liked the game because there was just enough interaction; not a lot of direct confrontation, but some “hey, I was going to build there!” or blocking and sharing buildings; you’re never guaranteed a particular square on the grid. The cards were annoying at times, and it was hard to plan ahead very far because one never knows what cards they’ll get; we did work through the landscape pile twice, though, so knew we’d get a second chance at some areas. It seems to be mostly about scoring the most points with what you have in your hand: making do with what you have.
This game is lighter because of the cards—they provide more luck in the game, but there’s still a lot you can do with them. I look forward to playing this game again. I think my family will like it and I’ll introduce new gamers to it fairly frequently since the rules aren’t too complicated.
Nice review/session report! I have been sitting on the fence about this one for a while as it looks like a great general game (similar to Carc, Oasis, etc.) but I am not sure if it is different enough to hold sway in the long run.
I am also surprised that its ratings haven't moved it up higher than it is now that it is available through Rio Grande (I think!).
Keep the reports coming, I am interested to see how it holds out over time. Thanks!