OBJECTIVE OF THE OREGON TRAIL: The objective of The Oregon Trail is to have at least one member of the party survive the trek all the way to Willamette Valley, Oregon.  

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 to 4 Players 

MATERIALS: 1 Die, 1 Laminated Wagon Party Roster, 1 Erasable Marker, 26 Supply Cards, 32 Calamity Cards, 58 Trail Cards, and Instructions 

TYPE OF GAME: Tile Placement Board Game 

AUDIENCE: Ages 13 and Up 


The Oregon Trail is a collaborative game that simulates the terribly long trek along the Oregon Trail in the year 1847. Being part of a wagon party is hard work, and not all of you will make it to the final destination. If you can make it alive, then you get to reap all of the benefits of the hard work you have put in on this travel. 


To begin setup, you will choose the players in your wagon party. These names will be written on the roster, but make sure that you use the erasable marker provided with the game, or else you may not be able to use it again. The start and finish cards are then placed about three feet apart on the table or the floor. All of the cards are divided into three piles, the supply cards, the trail cards, and the calamity cards, then each deck should be shuffled separately.  

Five trail cards are dealt to each player. Each player should look at their trail cards, ensuring that they keep them hidden from any of the other players. The rest will create a draw pile for the rest of the game. All of the calamity cards are placed beside the draw pile. Supply cards are dealt out to the players, with the number depending on how many players there are.  

Once each of the players have looked at their own supply cards, they will place them in front of them, face down. They may look at them at any point throughout the game, but they should place them back on the table once they have finished. Any remaining supply cards will create the shop, where players may purchase supplies throughout the game. The youngest player will be the first shopkeeper, and the first player to die will take their place. The game is then ready to begin. 


Whoever was born closest to Oregon will become the first player, and they will connect a trail card to the start card. Once the player places the trail card, the gameplay will pass to the left around the group. During their turn, the players may choose to connect the trail or play a trail card. Any of the trail cards are able to connect a town, a fort, a start card, or a finish card. When using a trail card to connect, the player is able to rotate the card to use either side.  

If the players have a card that is able to connect to the trail, then they have to play it. The only exception is when the player is choosing to play a supply card instead. If a player is playing a trail card that tells them to press the spacebar, then the player will draw a calamity card, ensuring that they follow the directions on the card. Some of the calamity cards found in the game affect only one player, but some of them effect every player in the game.  

Trail cards cannot be played if the wagon breaks or if the oxen perish, and the players have to fix the situation before they are able to progress any further on the trail. Once a player chooses to play a supply card, then their turn comes to an end. No other cards are drawn or played. If there are no more trail cards found in the draw pile, then four cards from the bottom of each stack are shuffled to create a new draw pile. The game will continue in this manner until it comes to an end.  


The game comes to an end when one player reaches the Valley through the completion of the last set of cards, reaching the Finish card. If this occurs, then all of the players win the game. If each of the players perishes, then the game comes to an end, and everyone loses. The most likely outcome is for all of the players to perish before they make it to the promised land.  

Ellie Phillips
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