I picked this up on a whim more than a year ago and finally played it this weekend. Online reviews were right! My friends and I were not impressed. A collaborative game could be a lot of fun, trying to weather harsh conditions and ration resources until the bitter end, but this sadly was not it.
Gameplay consisted of taking turns laying down trail cards and doing whatever the card said (grab a calamity card, roll dice to see if you crossed a river successfully, or nothing at all.) Calamity cards had diseases that could be fixed by resources or… Dysentery! Snake bite! (Instant deaths). Make 10 stacks of 5 cards with at least one living member of the wagon and you will have made it to Williamette, Oregon!
The game is collaborative since you help cure each other’s diseases but for some reason, you can’t share what resources you have (“we’re in the same wagon together. How could we not see what other people have?”) I suppose this is to make the game arbitrarily harder, but we just decided to buck this rule and show each other our resource cards. Not sharing what trail cards made sense, so others didn’t know what was coming (not that you could really plan, since replenishing came only when you had no other trail paths that fit.)
So, overall, simple and not engaging, but it had a smidge of the Oregon Trail charm. See our tombstones (written with erasable marker, which was a fun touch)!
I saw this in Target once and sent a pic to @tim, as we both had, hmmm, memories of the computer game! They are probably fond.
Okay, here’s my weird admission: I’ve been secretly studying/obsessing over the Donner Party. We drove up to Tahoe to visit snow on new years, and when I checked where we went on the map I realized we were miles from Lake Donner…
I will share what I’ve learned some day, because the events around, leading up to, during, and afterward are so weird, in only the way frontier California can provide.
A side affect is I’ve been studying the history of beating a path across America, and it seem ripe for gaming material!
Now I want to play it, and see how we could improve it! I love the idea of deck building and collab, so we should hack together such a game.
Ooh, Donner Party, I remember being captivated by that as a kid (who wasn’t, I guess)? Would definitely be interested in hearing what you learned.
This just reminded me of the Gold Rush simulation my class did back in 4th grade. One of my best elementary school experiences (or rather, one of the few I remember? Other than taking care of the class pet over school breaks and neopets account sharing drama.)
in fourth grade, every child in public school in california builds an adobe mission out of kits from michael’s, with the same little dusty trees. i remember the curves and arches and adobe coloring so starkly. fancier kits include bells you attach with a toothpick. some have three bells in three little arches.