Pressman: The Oregon Trail – ReviewAugust 9, 2016
|Number of Players||2 – 6|
|Play Time||45 minutes|
|Initial Review Date||8/7/16|
|Official Video||How to Play|
This game is a historical journey back to the 1980s. In the 80’s there were a number of “edutainment” games. These games were an attempt to blend video games with education. Oregon trail was an attempt to teach history through video games. This is a card game version of that 80’s video game. The artwork of the card game has been done in the same style as the original video game. Unlike the video game, you play this one with your friends, working together and get at least one of your group to Oregon.
You start by separating the cards into their respective piles (trail, supply and calamity cards) and shuffling those piles. Each player is dealt five trail cards and a number of supply cards based on the number of players. The remaining supply cards form a market. To create the market the remaining supply cards are sorted into face-up piles based on their card type.
You then take the Start and finish cards and place them 3 feet apart (which is 9 card lengths).
Now the first player starts.
On your turn, you must do one of the following
- Play a trail card: In order to play a trail card, it must connect with the existing path when placed evenly against the previous trail card. You may rotate the card to make this connection if needed.
- Draw a trail card: you can only draw a trail card if you can not currently play any of the trail cards you have.
- Play a supply card: Supply cards are played on calamity cards in order to resolve them. Unresolved calamity cards often result in one or more player’s deaths.
Trail cards when played often come in one of five types.
- Fort: This card allows you to collect two supply cards.
- Town: This card allows you to collect one supply card or remove a single calamity card.
- Empty: These are one of the best kinds of trail cards, you progress without any event.
- River: These cards will require you to roll a die in order to progress. A failed die roll will sometimes result in a supply card being lost or the entire group being killed, depending on the river card.
- Calamity: These cards look like the empty trail cards, except they make you draw a calamity card.
Once you play a trail card, you follow the instructions (if any) and then your turn ends. This means that when you draw a calamity the next player will have to deal with it, not you.
When 5 trail cards have been placed, they are then collected and stacked. This means that you will have to play a total of 25 trail cards in order to travel from the start to the finish.
This game not only pulls on nostalgia but it seems built on it as well. Unfortunately, this means that certain aspects of the game loom large (like dying of disease and failing to ford the river. While some of the parts of the game that were actually educational have been lost.
In the original game, the primary focus of the game was proper trip planning. You made decisions about what to stock up on. There were also several forks which you were presented with which were often a choice of (longer safer path or shorter more dangerous path). You even controlled the speed at which you traveled which impacted how often your wagon broke down. If you planned properly and made smart decisions most of your group if not all of them would arrive safely. You would sometimes lose someone to the RNG but that was typical of 80’s style video games in general.
Sadly, this card game is a badly watered down version of the original.Trip planning has been thrown completely out the window since your supplies are randomly given to you and the few fort and town cards that are in the game (2 of each) mean that at best these cards just help you deal with whatever problems you’ve encountered, making them completely reactionary. Often, the only decision you’ll be making is if you want to deal with another river crossing or another calamity both of which are terrible options. Of course, that’s in the early game, in the late game you probably won’t have any choices at all, it will just be whatever the next playable trail card is.
It’s worth playing for nostalgia and the theme might be appealing to history buffs, but I think after a few play-throughs you’ll be wishing it had more depth to it. If you want an inexpensive nostalgic card game, this is probably worth picking up and you’ll feel that you’ve gotten your money’s worth after a few plays. Otherwise, I would recommend staying away from this game.