The Oregon Trail Game: Journey To Willamette Valley Review
The Oregon Trail Game: Journey To Willamette Valley (Pressman Games)
Game Type: Survival
Number of Players: 2-4
Mechanics: Tile Building / Resource Management
Introduction/Overview: The Oregon Trail has never been easy. Just ask 8-year old Chris who lost the original game numerous times on the elementary school’s Apple IIe many years ago. There have also been a couple of card-based Oregon Trail games produced by Pressman Games, The Oregon Trail and The Oregon Trail: Hunt For Food. Both of these games live up to the namesake as well, and are known for being brutally difficult to complete.
Gameplay: Tiles are drawn like in Carcassonne to develop the trail along the way. Roads do not necessarily need to connect, but provides a movement bonus if they do, allowing the players to work together if they wish.
The object is to get all four of your family members to the end of the Oregon Trail and maintain their health status as much as possible.
There also is the classic “hunt for food” as a component of this game. Players need to remember to feed their family at the end of each turn. While you only start out with two rounds of food, it becomes apparent that finding food by either purchasing or hunting becomes a necessity early on in the game. However, this might be the only component of the game I have an issue with as it essentially all luck-based by guessing the correct number that is on a card. You can increase your chances by purchasing a shotgun to cover two numbers, which makes increasing the size of your wagon crucial to carry more pistols or shotguns. I get this random chance was to increase the difficulty of the game, but even still it feels cheap when you do not hit the correct number and have to try again (or don’t get food and ultimately lose health.)
Rulebook: The full-color rule book of Oregon Trail: Journey to Willamette Valley isn’t very long. Although it is short and to the point, there were a few questions that I had about a few of the rules that I had to reference the web. There also is a handy weblink in the rulebook to point you to a how to play video on the publisher’s website.
Theme: I’m a sucker for anything Oregon Trail. The theme brings back memories of me trying to ace the computer game. The theme is true to the game as well, survival is hard on the Oregon Trail.
Set-Up/Takedown: This only takes minutes. Cards and trail tiles are shuffled, and player boards are distributed and configured. I was able to set up a game for the first time with looking at the manual in about 10 minutes.
Components: The tiles and money tokens feel like Carcassonne tiles and are very well made. The card stock on the playing cards is very nice. Item cubes are all made of wood and are similar to other games of this caliber. The board is very colorful and seems durable to last many play-throughs.
Final Thoughts: Overall this is a much better outing than the two card-based predecessors. Being that this is a Target exclusive, this one might be a little trickier to find. I am really impressed by Pressman in the quality of the components and the overall presentation of the game. This game is enjoyable to play, especially working with players to build a trail that will make life easier when traveling to Willamette Valley. While I love the tile-building portion, my only complaint is with the hunting portion of the game. Because it is so critical each turn to feed your family, this really needed to be more of a combination of skill and luck, rather that just pure luck.
Oregon Trail: Journey to Willamette Valley is a solid release from Pressman and should definitely be checked out by those who are fans of survival type games and those who are fans of the Oregon Trail property.