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Oregon Trail Card Game | Rules & How to Play?

You might have heard of the famous video game Oregon Trail. Well, this is the card game version of it, and it has the same goal! Can you and the rest of your party make it to Oregon? You’ll have to brave storms, sicknesses, attacks, and much more.

What is The Oregon Trail Card Game?

The Oregon Trail text-based video game was created in 1971 and was (and still is) very popular! The card game carries the same objective but is played a little differently. Can you and your party make it all the way from Missouri to the Willamette Valley in Oregon?

While it might not be the most obvious choice, the Oregon Trail makes a great two-player card game! But it can be played with up to six people, making it a fun and frantic adventure perfect for your next game night.

Players are tasked with taking trail cards, and to complete the journey to Oregon, your party will have to successfully deal 50 cards. Now, while this might sound simple enough on paper, anyone who has ever played a video game will know the journey to Oregon will be difficult.

Trail cards can connect on the middle, left, or right of the card, and cards must connect when they are placed down. Together, these cards will form the titular trail you’ll need to cross to make it to Oregon.

But journeying to Oregon will require more than just navigating the trail; you will also need to deal with the various calamities. These come in many forms; you might need to cross a river, or a rattlesnake might attack you.

Calamities can be dealt with in several ways sometimes, you can use a supply card, or you might have luck on your side and be able to deal with it on your own. However, it’s just as likely that one of your parties will die!

But this isn’t all bad; to win in the Oregon Trail card game, only one person needs to make it to the end. So, while it might seem heartless to save your supply cards when you could save a player, it might be the best course of action to ensure your own survival further down the trail.

So, that is a brief overview of how the Oregon Trail card game works. But there is still plenty more to learn in the rules guide. But before we examine those rules, let’s take a quick look at what is included in the game.

What You’ll Need To Play?

What You'll Need To Play

To play the Oregon Trail card game, you’ll, of course, need a card set. This is where things might get a little difficult because there have been a few different games with the name Oregon Trail. So, we recommend getting your copy of the Oregon Trail card game online.

The game often comes with an expansion set called Hunt For Food. This adds a new food element to the game, we don’t recommend using this for your first few games, but it can make a fun addition later on.

We’ll outline all the cards you’ll find included in the box below so you can see how they all work. Seeing all these cards might seem a little intimidating at first glance, but this game is easier to play than it might first appear.

Start/ Finish Cards

These mark the beginning and end of the infamous Oregon Trail and should be set far apart from each other so you can build the trail between them.

Supply Cards

Supply cards come in many forms and are used to remedy various calamities. Some cards may only solve a singular specific calamity, or they might be able to remedy multiple different ones. You can also use your supply cards to rescue/ save other players.

Trail Cards

These are the cards that build the trail. They must be played each turn and connect properly with the previous trail card. This is easy to accomplish; simply match up the trail paths on the cards like you would with a jigsaw puzzle.

Town/ Fort Cards

These are valuable cards that can be played alongside a trail card. They allow the player to either solve an existing calamity or draw another supply card from the deck and add it to their hand.

Calamity Cards

Calamity cards come in numerous forms and cause all kinds of problems. These are what make the journey across the trail so deadly, and they may even kill players in some cases. 

Rules And Gameplay

Rules and Gameplay

The Aim of The Game

The aim of the Oregon Trail card game is to make it across the trail! This might sound simple enough, but it won’t be an easy journey. While all players are part of the same party/ team, your main goal should be to ensure your survival, so if that means you have to be a bit selfish at times, so be it.

The Set-Up

Before you can get down to the game, some setup work is required. First, write the names of the players down on the roster card. Players can use their own names or take the RPG game approach and come up with characters and aliases to use.

Have one player separate supply, trail, and calamity cards and shuffle all three decks. The dealer should deal with five trail cards to each player and some supply cards. The number of supply cards will vary depending on the number of players. Use the list below to see how many should be dealt.

  • 3 Supply Cards – 6 Players
  • 4 Supply Cards – 5 Players
  • 5 Supply Cards – 2 – 4 Players

The calamity cards aren’t dealt and should remain in the center. The remaining supply cards should be separated into categories like food, medicine, materials, etc., and left in their own table section. These will make up the supply shop for later on in the game.

Playing Oregon Trail

First, place the start and finish cards on the table/ playing surface and decide who will go first. You can decide this however you want, but either way, one your turn, you must play one of your trail cards, or once the trail has been started, play a supplies card.

The trail is built in a series of five cards, and once one lot of five is played, you can build over the trail with a new row of cards. Remember to complete the journey; you must play a total of 50 cards.

Certain trail cards will say “Press Spacebar to Continue” on them. You must draw a calamity card and follow its instructions if you play one of these cards. Calamities come in many forms; some may be fast acting while others act over time.

You might be able to solve a calamity situation with a supply card, or you might require a combination of supply cards to do it. Certain calamities may prevent you from proceeding until they are solved as well.

Once you are out of trail cards, you can trade with other players for them by swapping two supply cards for one trail card. You can also draw another trail card from the deck on your turn, but there is no guarantee the card will fit on the trail.

Players can play town/ fort cards on top of their trail cards, which may allow certain perks and benefits. For example, some of these cards may allow you to buy supply cards from the shop. The game is over when at least one player makes it to the end or when everyone dies!

The Oregon Trail – A Classic Game Re-Imagined!

The Oregon Trail card game is sure to be great fun for anyone looking for a challenging and fun adventure. It’s a great strategy game where everyone works together but is also out for themselves.

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