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Subject: Oregon: How the West was Won: A Review rss

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Kristen McCarty
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During the 1800s, the American west enticed many a settler and adventurer. The opportunity for land and riches had many leaving their homes, packing up the Conestoga Wagon and heading into the wild frontier. The journey west was difficult and dangerous, for many the reward was worth the risk.

Oregon starts as players have reached their new homes and look out over the potential the land holds. They will build new buildings and put down their roots in this new land. Will they be successful or with the wilds prove to rough? Your journey is done, but in "Oregon" the adventure has just begun.

Components / Set-up


One thing I associated with the Hans im Gluck games I own is quality. Oregon is no exception to the rule; the meeples, cards, tokens and even the artwork on the back of the board shows that this is a company that cares about the products they release.



The board is divided into a grid and shows a map of what Oregon may have looked like in 1846 with lakes, forests, rocky hills, and railroad tracks. The columns and rows of the grid each have a symbol that corresponds with the 50 landscape cards. You have wagon, buffalo, settler, eagle, and campfire.

The cards are very small but I like the linen finish. These cards are shuffled and three are dealt to each player. The rest are placed face-down next to the game board.

There are 21 building cards, 3 each of the post office, harbor, church, coal pit, gold mine, warehouse, and train station. These should be shuffled and each player is given one. The rest are placed face-down next to the board. There are also 28 building tiles for each of the different types of buildings. These are sorted by building type and placed in 7 stacks, face-up, next to the board.

There are 60 farmer meeples in each of the four player colors. Each player takes their 15. One is placed on the 0 space of the scoring track.



The gold and coal tiles are double-sided with coal or gold on one side. The coal has either a value 1, 2, or 3 on the back and the gold has either a value 3, 4 or 5 on the back. These are shuffled in their respective tiles and placed next to the board.

Each player than takes one of the extra turn token and a joker token and places them active side up in front of them.

There are seven start tiles, one for each building type. These are shuffled and each player draws one and places it face up in front of them. The rest of the start tiles are placed back in the box.



The First Game Round

Players choose a starting player and the place their start tile on any space that matches the background color of the tile. Then the others place their tiles. Play goes in clockwise order.



Playing the Game

On a player's turn, he does the following in order:

1. Play Cards: the player plays 2 cards from his hand. They can place a farmer or a building on an empty space.

2. Score: next, players will score the building or farmer if possible

3. Use Extra Turn: if a player's extra turn token is active they may use it.

4. Draw Cards: finally, the player draws cards to return his hand size to 4

1. Play Cards

On a player's turn, they play 2 cards. Then they places a farmer or takes one building tile and places it with the appropriate background color.



Place Farmer

When you play two landscape cards, you must place a farmer. The symbols are the same symbols on the top and left side of the board. The two cards represent a row and column. The player chooses the the column and the row. The area on the game board represented by the crossing of the row and column is where the player may place their farmer. Each will have six spaces and the farmer may be placed on any empty space there.

The player places their farmer then put the used cards face-up in the discard piles.

Place a Building

When the player plays 1 landscape card and 1 building card they may place 1 building tile. As with the farmer, the landscape card determines the row or column the building can be placed. The picture on the board will match the card. The building card shows which building they play. After placing the tile, the put their used cards into the discard piles.



These rules must be followed:

- The player may only choose a building which is still available.
- The player must always place the building tile on an empty space with the suitable background color.
- The player may only place a harbor adjacent (diagonally or orthogonally) to a water space

The Joker Token
: if the player's joker token is active it can be used instead of playing 1 landscape card when placing either a farmer or building. Once used, the joker token is turned to the inactive side.

2. Score

Depending on whether the player placed a farmer or a building he scores as follows:

Farmer scoring


If the player placed a farmer the player earns points, coal tiles, or gold tiles for all the buildings adjacent to the farmer (orthogonal or diagonal). The can also use their joker or extra turn markers.

For placing the farmer adjacent to a building the player earns:

- Post Office: the player earns 3 points
- Harbor: the player earns 4 points
- Church: the player earns 1 point for each farmer (all colors) adjacent to the church (max 8 points, min. 1 point)
- Coal Mine: the player earns 1 coal tile
- Gold Mine: the player earns 1 gold tile
- Warehouse: the player earns 1 point and may activate his joker token
- Train Station: the player earns 1 point and may activate his extra turn token

The player immediately records points by moving his scoring marker on the scoring track. The player takes the gold tiles and coal tiles, they may look at then secretly and put them in their play area.


Group Scoring

When a player creates a new group of 3 farmers they earn 5 points. The farmers need to be connected either horizontally or vertically. If the scored groups later expand, no extra points are scored. Also, if a player places a farmer and it connects one or more groups, one or more of which had already scored, they don't get extra points.



Building Scoring (all players may score)


If the player placed a building, all players with farmers adjacent to the building the building earns points, coal tiles, or gold tiles, depending on the building placed. In addition, they may also be allowed to activate their extra turn tokens or joker tokens.

- Post Office: the player earns 3 points for each of his farmers next to the building

- Harbor: the player earns 4 points for each of his farmers next to the building

- Church: the player earns 1 point for each farmer (all colors) adjacent to the church

- Coal Mine: the player earns 1 coal tile for each of his farmers next to the building

- Gold Mine: the player earns 1 gold tile for each of his farmers next to the building

- Ware House: the player earns 1 point for each of his farmers next to the building and may activate his joker token

- Train Station: the player earns 1 point for each of his farmers next to the building and may activate his extra turn token



3. Use Extra Turn

If active, the player may choose to use their extra turn.



4. Draw Cards

At the end of their turn, the player restores his hand to 4 cards as follows.

- The player may choose freely to draw from the landscape and building card decks.
- However, he must always choose such that he has after drawing at least 1 building card and at least 1 landscape card.

If the player draws a building card, or if a player has a building card in his hand for which all building tile have been used, he may discard the useless building card a draw another.



One the player has returned his hand to 4 cards, his turn ends and play passes to the player on his left.

Game End


The game ends when either of the following occur:

When a player places his last farmer on the board
Depending on the number of players:
- 2 Players: as soon as 2 kinds of building tiles are exhausted
- 3 Players: as soon as 3 kinds of building tiles are exhausted, or
- 4 players: as soon as 4 kinds of building tiles are exhausted

The round is played to the end, such that each player has played the same number of turns. The player to the right of the starting layer always has the last turn.



Now, players turn total their gold and coal tiles and adds the number to the scoring track. The player with the most points wins.

If there is a tie \, the player withe the most farmers on the board wins. If there is still a tie, they "rejoice in their shared victory."


My Thoughts


Oregon was one of the first hobby games we purchased and playing it feels like putting on your favorite pair of sneakers or hooded sweatshirt. It's not a game you play everyday, but it's a comfortable fit and an old friend you go back to time and time again.

Oregon's rules are simple - place a farmer or a building depending on your cards, score points if possible and draw back up to four cards - but the strategy is much deeper. Using your joker and extra turn tokens, careful hand management, and adept placement of your farmers will be your measure of victory.



In Oregon you earn victory points for placement of both your farmers and buildings. This adds a bit of a twist not found in similar games. Once placed, the worker or building will not move for the rest of the game, but they can keep earning points for both you and your fellow players. Even if it earns no points when first added, a building or farmer can start earning in later turns.

The locations of the buildings and farmers are also a crucial aspect of strategy. Since groupings of three farmers of the same color earn bonus points, awareness of where you and your opponents are placing the farmers is key. Don't miss out on an opportunity, but be sure to block if you can. Study the board for the best location to place a building to maximize your points.

Points earned from the buildings are also interesting. Some buildings earn a player very few points, such as the train station but at the same time enable the player to get back their extra turn marker. The Harbor, for example, earns a player 4 points but can be difficult to place, and can't earn points on all sides; since it must be near water. The hidden scoring from the coal and gold mines keeps players guessing in a close game and gives hope to players who may be behind on the score track but have a lot of tokens.



Some players may be turned off by the lack of theme in Oregon. But the mechanics are solid and they do correlate well with what little theme is in the game. Luck is a factor in the game and pure strategists may be annoyed when they aren't getting the exact combinations of cards they want.

Don't be afraid to throw away cards you don't want for one turn. That mine doing nothing in the corner this turn can actually turn out to be the difference in winning or losing at the end of the game. Plus careful use of you cards in combination of your joker can help you get the combination you want, even if it takes a turn or two.



The quality of the components are amazing. Even the box is great. I love the outline drawings on the insert. I wish the box was smaller since there is a lot of empty space. Unfortunately the board wouldn't fit if it was. The artwork on both sides of the board is beautiful. The back is the same picture found on the box, just in sepia tones. The gird and artwork on the front offers players a variety of choices for placing farmers and buildings. I don't believe the game as ever looked the same at the end even when you are limited by where you can place particular buildings. Careful study of the game board shows a lot of flexibility for building and farmer placement that may not be evident at first glance.

It's a quick game to set-up and play, which means it's great for a week night gaming session, or when you want something light or even a little heavier. The rules are simple enough but the strategy deep enough to appeal to a variety of gamers and a great addition to many a collection.



Quick Stats:

Designers: Henrik Berg, Åse Berg
Artist: Franz Vohwinkel
Players: 2-4
Publishers: Hans im Glück Verlags-GmbH, Lautapelit.fi,Rio Grande Games
Time: 45 minutes
Ages: 10 and up
Mechanics: Tile Placement, Area Control / Area Influence

Photo Credits: from www.boardgamegeek.com: Carl Anderson (carl67lp), Ted Alspach (toulouse)(2), Rik Van Horn (Rokkr) (2), Gary James (garyjames), Robert Zurfluh (Noaceyet), Raiko Puust (binraix), Gary James (garyjames), Rik Van Horn (Rokkr)(2), Bruce Murphy (thepackrat), ♪ Isaäc Bickërstaff ♫ (Verkisto), Bruce Murphy(thepackrat), James Fehr (fehrmeister), Bruce Murphy (thepackrat), Olav F. (olavf)

Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures with us!


Check out more of my reviews here: A Game Built for Two (and sometimes more) Game Reviews
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Jonathan Harrison
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I love this game. My wife and I have been playing it quite a bit lately. It occupies a one-of-a-kind niche in my collection. Very much worth the buy.
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Liam
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Great review!

One of my lover and I's 'our' games.
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Andy Andersen
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In our top 10. Great game and great review.

Thanks.
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Ron
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Interesting ... I bought it, played it once, thought of it as "meh, well, yeah, another typical Euro" and put it on the shelf.

After reading your review and the comments of you guys above (all of you three are on my Geekbuddy list), I think I should bring that game out again!
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Ed G.
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This one is a big hit with my wife, also. She really enjoys it, and for some reason I win a game only occasionally, which probably increases her enjoyment!
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Jonathan Harrison
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PzVIE wrote:
Interesting ... I bought it, played it once, thought of it as "meh, well, yeah, another typical Euro" and put it on the shelf.

After reading your review and the comments of you guys above (all of you three are on my Geekbuddy list), I think I should bring that game out again!

It took until my third play for this to click with me: 1 online, 1 in person, then on my third play I "got" it. Wait until someone tries to run the meeples out on you and you realize you've been building buildings.

There's more to this game than I thought at first, or second, glance.
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Roger Howell
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Excellent review, love the pics. This is one of our favorite games as well.
 
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Tom Flatt
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Thanks for the great review! Looks like this one has moved to the top of the "Next Buy" list!
 
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Kim Williams
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I'm always amused by the fact that a game where all the meeples are called farmers never actually has you do any farming!

I really like the idea of this game, but in practice I find I don't enjoy the process of systematically thinking through the different co-ordinate options presented by my hand of cards e.g "right, I could place a farmer on the buffalo wagon square, or the wagon buffalo square, or the buffalo person square, or the wagon person square......." then by this point I get fed up with trying to force my brain to think systematically and end up staring at the board looking for inspiration..... only to realize that looking at the board won't help me know where I could place, and have to start the systematic approach again.

This is the only game where I end up thinking longer on my go than my husband does on his! Apparently he always adopts a systematic approach to thinking through game options, whereas in every other game I can adopt a more intuitive approach.
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Kristen McCarty
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Thanks everyone and I hope you are enjoying the reviews. Oregon definitely isn't for everyone and I agree that it may take a few tries before it really catches shows its true colors. It's a fun game with more depth than you first realize and a great couples game!
 
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Tomello Visello
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xcrun55 wrote:
It's a fun game with more depth than you first realize and a great couples game!
I have come to agree with assessments elsewhere that find fault with 2-player activity. The board may be too large to encourage the interaction that otherwise takes place with more players. As is, it's easy to go to separate areas and not bother to compete within another's settlements.

 
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Tomello Visello
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PzVIE wrote:
Interesting ... I bought it, played it once, thought of it as "meh, well, yeah, another typical Euro" and put it on the shelf.
I think of it as somewhat mild, but I am attracted to the activty of trying to piggyback or leverage on a previously played settlement - of my own placement or someone eles's.

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Tim Synge
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TVis wrote:
I have come to agree with assessments elsewhere that find fault with 2-player activity. The board may be too large to encourage the interaction that otherwise takes place with more players. As is, it's easy to go to separate areas and not bother to compete within another's settlements.



Competition isn't a pre-requisite for a successful couples' game!
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Tomello Visello
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Tim Synge wrote:
TVis wrote:
I have come to agree with assessments elsewhere that find fault with 2-player activity. The board may be too large to encourage the interaction that otherwise takes place with more players. As is, it's easy to go to separate areas and not bother to compete within another's settlements.



Competition isn't a pre-requisite for a successful couples' game!

{Shrug}. Failure to have competition doesn't automatically make it a successful one, either.

 
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Leonard Koh
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Hi! Its the year 2017 now. I found a copy of Oregon but its priced quite high because of its OOP status. Would you still buy it today?
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