I’ve gone on record before as loving the Oregon Trail computer game. I spent many happy hours of my childhood trying to cross that trail, and like many other kids my age would groan in pain reading the words, “You’ve died of dysentery.” When I heard there was an Oregon Trail card game I knew I HAD to get it. My sister-in-law got a copy of it, and I was all set to play it with her when I got rabbited away by my brother to film a video for his youtube channel (Sean Chandler Talks About). That meant I did not get to have fun playing the Oregon Trail card game then. You can bet I was a happy happy Ticia when I got the Oregon Trail card game for Christmas and knew it was going to become an important part of our gameschooling stash and will play prominently in US history lessons sometime in the future.
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The premise of the Oregon Trail card game
This is totally a rip off of the classic Oregon Trail video game (Not the super fancy Oregon Trail game you can get now). Instead of starting off choosing your supplies and profession, your supplies are determined by the number of players in the game. After you’ve passed through a certain number of trail cards you hit the halfway point, and the final number of trails cards means you’ve arrived at Willamette Valley.
How the Oregon Trail card game works
First off, after you’ve bought this Oregon Trail card game, buy a giant bag of super large rubber bands. These are a life-saver when you have a large number of card games (huh, I need to make a landing page for card games), and store them in a messy jumble in a giant box.
The cards are divided into three types: calamity, trail, and supply. At the start and finish of it all cards for the location. There’s also a dry erase board with blanks for the party members (by the by, when playing as a kid, did anyone else take great joy in putting names in of people you know, and laugh as you told them how they died in the game?).
At the start of each game, you get a hand of 5 trail cards and supply cards (depending on how many players there are). On your turn, you either play a trail card or a supply card. If you play a trail card, you draw a new trail card to replace the one you played.
If the trail card you played says “Press spacebar to continue,” you have to draw a calamity card. Unless it says otherwise, the card only affects the player drawing it, and the other players have an entire round to decide if they are going to play supply cards to counteract the terrible effects of the calamity card. If you’ve broken your wagon or have no oxen, then you have to fix that before more trail cards can be played.
This is where players might die if they die you flip over the player name card and write their tombstone. This cracked all of us up.
Side note, I really want this Jurassic Trail shirt. I think it’s kinda funny.
These are your supply cards. You HAVE to play them strategically because there are only a few places to get more cards. While occasionally the calamity cards give you good results, mostly it costs you resources.
This was the hardest part of the game, figuring out when you want to play these resources, and it was surprisingly heart-rending when you didn’t have the supplies.
It took us several tries to successfully make it to Oregon and the Willamette Valley.
Final Verdict on the Oregon Trail card game?
I LOVE it! It’s a fast cooperative game you can play in 30 minutes or less. It’s also hard, and you can’t predict the right way to play. There’s no obvious answer, and you can make all of the right moves, and not survive. This is like the real Oregon Trail, so it makes a great example for the kids to learn about the difficulties of the Oregon Trail.