Game Review: The Oregon Trail

Date: 
Sat, 2017/09/23
By: 
Joshua Ferm
A brutal story that ends in misery and despair, the Oregon Trail consumed many innocent travelers and has been turned into a popular meme. Known well for its 1971 computer game, The Oregon Trail captured all of the fun acts from the real Trail in the 1800s. Dying of dysentery, snake bites, breaking a wagon axle, and many more circumstances are presented in this game. Now that the nostalgic twenty-first century has come around, Pressman has decided to make a card game based on the iconic computer game. The Oregon Trail Card Game involves all of the fun concerning dying of dysentery and creates a fun competition out of it. When starting, players can write a name of their choice on a dry erase board (I myself chose Bartholomew). Players then are able to draw Supply Cards and Trail Cards and make their way from Independence, Missouri to Willamette Valley, Oregon… If they are able to survive the Trail… Supply cards consist of spare wagon parts, clean water, bullets, food, clothes, oxen, and medicine. While following the trail, a Calamity Card may be revealed posing a challenge to the player. Most of the time these calamities can be remedied by a Supply Card, but some will have the player immediately die of dysentery or snake bite. The wagon party must carry on as they must lay fifty cards (in ten stacks of five cards each) to reach Willamette Valley by crossing streams, visiting forts and towns to gain supplies, or finding more calamities along the way. When a player dies, they are able to take the dry erase board and flip it to the backside where there are gravestones and write an epitaph regarding their character. Some of the most humorous in my group were, “Heather - Died of measles. She didn’t see them, but they spotted her,” and, as the last person, “Bartholomew - Died alone.” This game is extremely difficult to win (in reference to the computer game as many of the memes made from it cite its winning screen as being nearly impossible to obtain), though my friends and I made it to eight piles of five cards before I died. Overall, this game deserves a nine out of ten for its magnificent gameplay and design, but lack of clarity in the instructions.