The game is set in 1848 and you are leading a covered wagon attempting to make it from Independence, Missouri to Wilamette Valley, Oregon along the Oregon trail. This game was pretty much a staple in elementary schools in the late eighties to early nineties. More info on the classic video game here.
The card game has a similar theme but is stripped down from the video game. There are ‘trail cards’, ‘supply cards’, and ‘calamity cards’. The game starts with a fixed set of supply cards, which turn out to be a scarce resource. As you play trail cards you are frequently instructed to pick up a calamity card. It always seems like something is going wrong on the trail! Usually someone is getting sick, the wagon is breaking down, people are starving, or your oxen are dying. Supply cards are used to remedy the situation.
Overall the family gives this game two thumbs up! The kids are going crazy over it. They love researching the various diseases that pop up in the game, like measles, cholera, etc. We use this as an opportune time to teach them about the benefits of vaccines. 🙂
One aspect that I really like about the game is that everyone is on the same team. You are all working together to make it to Oregon. If anyone on the team makes it there then everyone wins. The strategy is light enough that an 8 year old can play it, even though the box says 12+.
For downsides, the game could probably use a little additional strategy. There are no forks in the road. Also, it seems like forts and towns are few and far between.
If you have kids and enjoyed playing the video game as a kid then I highly recommend you pick up this card game. It’s a great way to spend an hour with them and offers plenty of opportunities to teach them about how easy we have it in the modern world.
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