The Oregon Trail Board Game Overview (2023)


Nothing quite like Facebook to make us feel really clueless sometimes. The other day was one of those times. A friend posted about how her son had recently learned about the Donner family and their ill-fated trek from Independence, Missouri to California in May 1846. My friend engaged her son in conversation about it and he explained that they had frozen to death in the mountains. The teacher had opted to leave out the fact that they had engaged in cannibalism as a means of survival. If you’ve ever played The Oregon Trail card game or computer game, you’re well familiar with the difficulties in succeeding. “You have died of dysentery” is a well-known phrase in pop culture, attributable to that retro computer game.

Yet here I sat, familiar with the game (of course) and The Oregon Trail (the real one), yet unfamiliar with the story of the Donner family. Before you chastise me for not knowing such an infamous piece of history, I’ve never been shy in sharing my distaste for the subject of history in school. Side note: it’s a pretty morbid story so perhaps I subconsciously chose NOT to remember it. This whole ordeal will certainly make me look at games such as Gold West and Expedition: Famous Explorers in a whole new light. And if I feel like recreating the westward journey (sans the gory details), I’ll play The Oregon Trail board game from Pressman Toy.

The Oregon Trail Board Game Overview (1)

Developed by our friend, Daryl Andrews, The Oregon Trail: Journey to Willamette Valley expands on the concepts of The Oregon Trail card games. The goal of the game is to complete the difficult journey with as much money as possible to begin your new life. You’ll earn money along the way by gathering supplies, picking up hitchhikers and keeping your family healthy. Funerals will dip into your resources so you’ll want to keep your family alive… even if you’re tired of them after the long journey. To set up the game, place the Willamette Valley board in the center of the table with supplies, hitchhikers and coins placed in community piles next to the board. Shuffle the separate decks of cards and trail tiles and create draw piles next to the board. Finally, have everyone select a colored wagon and places it in Independence, Missouri to prepare for the adventure.

(Video) The Oregon Trail: Journey to Willamette Valley - How To Play

The Oregon Trail Board Game Overview (2)

You’ll have your own wagon which is represented by the player mat matching the wagon you placed on the board. On the wagon, you’ll transport a driver, family members, meat, money and various supplies. The amount of people and supplies you can carry is contingent on the size of your wagon. The hunting targets on the bottom of the player mat will be used during your search for food during your journey. Good luck with that.

The Oregon Trail Board Game Overview (3)

The Oregon Trail: Journey to Willamette Valley takes place over multiple rounds until either someone makes it to their destination or everyone runs out of trail tiles. You’ll get one turn per round but each turn consists of several steps. At the start of your turn, you’ll discover the trail by placing at least one of your trail tokens next to an existing space on the board. Next, unless you’re in the safety of a fort (or haven’t started your journey from Missouri yet) you’ll draw a calamity card… because what is a game about The Oregon Trail without some type of mishap to deal with? From there, you may take up to three actions that include moving, hunting, buying supplies, selling supplies or picking up hitchhikers. In addition, there are a number of free actions including crossing a river, trading, avoiding a Calamity, discarding supplies and using medicine to heal your sick people.While at a fort, you can purchase an extension to make your wagon larger or an additional ox to allow you to discover more land each turn. You’re also able to purchase any supplies or pick up any hitchhikers that are still available in the fort. Towns allow you to purchase smaller supplies and sell any excess you might want.

The Oregon Trail Board Game Overview (4)

(Video) The Oregon Trail Game: Journey to Willamette Valley Review - with Tom Vasel

Moving across the vast wilderness is painstakingly slow with each square costing a movement action. Of course, if you’re able to locate a road, you may follow it for as long as you like using the same action. If you happen across a river, you must decide if you’ll chance the crossing to continue your trek on this turn or end your turn and safely cross the river. You’ll begin your next turn on the other side of the river. Risking the river involves rolling a die. If you’ve rolled the river number or higher, you cross without incident. However, if you roll a number lower than the value indicated on the river tile then your family members are drowning and you’ll need to deal damage equal to the difference between the river level and the number you rolled.

The Oregon Trail Board Game Overview (5)

And we know that this journey isn’t quick so you’ll likely encounter winter along the way. Any time you enter a white winter tile, you”ll need winter clothes. If you don’t have them available in your wagon, each family member will take one point of damage and any hitchhikers will die immediately.

As an action, if your wagon is on a tile with a tree, you can opt to hunt. After all, your family needs to eat! Another player draws the top hunting card from the deck and keeps it secret from you. Simultaneously, you’ll use your pistol and place it on a number on your wagon mat. If you have a rifle, you’ll place it on a target in between two numbers. Any numbers with pistols indicate where you are aiming while the numbers on either side of the rifle are where you’ve aimed. Once you’ve done this, your opponent reveals whether you’ve hit your target. If not, then you missed!

The Oregon Trail Board Game Overview (6)

(Video) Oregon Trail Instructional Video

After you’ve taken your three available actions, you’ll end your turn by drawing a new market price card if you made any sales. You’ll also resolve your calamity card and feed your family. If you are unable to feed them, they’ll each lose one point of health.At any point where a family member drops below one health, they die and their tombstone marker is left in the space where it occurred.

The Oregon Trail Board Game Overview (7)

When tiles run out or someone reaches Willamette Valley, the round finishes so everyone has received the same number of turns. At that point, you’ll lose money based on how far from Willamette Valley your family members were buried. Of course, you’ll earn money for each hitchhiker transported safely to the valley and additional money for the health of your family members and driver. If you didn’t quite make it there, you’ll subtract $100 for each column you are away from the final destination. The person with the most money will be deemed the most prepared for prosperity in the new land.

While our daughters like the cooperative aspect of the Oregon Trail card games, I personally liked the diversity of The Oregon Trail board game. You can play a fairly low key game (as low key as it can get when people drop like flies from dysentery) or you can make decisions based on making life difficult for your opponents. If you are a fan of the original video game, you’ll likely enjoy seeing it come to life on your game table. Copies are available at oron Amazon. See what else Pressman Toy is rolling out by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

When was the last time you played The Oregon Trail video game?

(Video) How to play The Oregon Trail Game: journey to Willamette Valley & Review

Tags: board games, Goliath, Pressman


What is the easiest way to beat the Oregon Trail? ›

Players shouldn't go at a faster pace than Strenuous, and never more than 5-6 days in a row. Once health has dropped to Fair, players should stop and rest until it's back up to Steady at least. Just like when traveling in real life, the characters shouldn't die of exhaustion.

How do you complete the Oregon Trail? ›

If you just want to complete it:
  1. Pick the banker.
  2. Buy as many oxen as the game allows and as much food as you can carry.
  3. Get 10 boxes of bullets. ...
  4. Get at least 2 of every spare part.
  5. Always pay for the ferry or the guide if it's an option.
  6. If you can make it to the Dalles by early November, take the toll road.

Is it possible to win the Oregon Trail card game? ›

If at least one player is still alive and reaches Willamette Valley, all of the players win the game. The players have been able to play 50 cards and have won the game.

How long does it take to play Oregon Trail board game? ›

Once you know the game the time to play can be between 40-50 minutes. This is not a heavy game, but would fall somewhere in a medium lightweight range.

Is there an end to the trail game? ›

There is no destination. The walking never ends. Building up a community with other players sounds potentially interesting, but everything is locked from the start, including the ability to establish a bank, open an explorers' guild for finding gold from walking, and even the ability to chat with fellow residents.

What is the best occupation in the Oregon Trail game? ›

The farmer is by far the best choice for a high score. Try a run through the game with banker, first, to get the hang of it. It may seem tough, and doing well as a farmer might seem impossible.
There are three difficulty settings:
  • Banker ($1600)
  • Carpenter ($800, 2x points)
  • Farmer ($400, 3x points)

Is the Oregon Trail game hard? ›

But this simple game, first published in 1971 and now living on in internet archives, is easily the most realistic take on what Westward expansion actually looked like. Much like The Oregon Trail, it was brutal, difficult, and often deadly.

How does Oregon Trail game end? ›

The game ends when the party reaches Willamette Valley by either the Columbia River or toll road, or when all five members of the party have died due to illness or injury.

What is the highest score ever on Oregon Trail? ›

8. The current record-score on the game is 53,350. A player's score on the game was determined by many things: how your party fared, the supplies you had at the end of the game, and how much money you were able to hold on to. You know you want to try and beat it.

What is the best month to leave in Oregon Trail game? ›

It was critical for travelers to leave in April or May if they hoped to reach Oregon before the winter snows began. Leaving in late spring also ensured there'd be ample grass along the way to feed livestock.

How many pounds of food should I buy in Oregon Trail game? ›

The recommended weight limit for the wagons was 2,000 pounds. Just the food for one family could weigh from 1,300 to 1,800 pounds leaving very little room anything else.

Do you draw a trail card every turn in Oregon Trail? ›

Then you essentially lose a turn to draw a card. So the rule is at the end of your turn, if you have less than 5 trail cards, draw until you have 5.
The Oregon Trail Card Game.
# Starting Players# supply cards stating for each playerTotal # Supply cards in play at start
2 players9 supply cards18
4 more rows
1 Oct 2016

What grade is The Oregon Trail taught? ›

The original game was designed to teach 8th grade schoolchildren about the realities of 19th-century pioneer life on the Oregon Trail. The player assumes the role of a wagon leader guiding a party of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon's Willamette Valley via a covered wagon in 1848.

Can you play Oregon Trail with 2 people? ›

(Although the box says you can play with two, that got boring real quick when I tried it.) The goal of The Oregon Trail Card Game is to have at least one person at the table survive through 50 trail cards, at which point your wagon train arrives at Willamette, Oregon. If one person makes it, everyone at the table wins.

What is the fastest time to beat Oregon Trail? ›

Fastest known times on Oregon Pacific Crest Trail
  • Emily Halnon: 7 days, 19 hours, 23 minutes (Aug. 9, 2020)
  • Lindsey Ulrich: 9 days, 13 hours, 39 minutes (Aug. 5, 2020)
  • Danielle Snyder: 9 days, 15 hours, 8 minutes (Aug. 31, 2019)
24 Aug 2020

What game has no ending? ›

The most famous open-ended sandbox game of all time, Minecraft has no ending.

What game has the most endings ever? ›

15 Games With The Most Possible Endings, Depending On How You Play
  • 7/15 Tekken Tag Tournament 2 – 52.
  • 6/15 BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend – 62.
  • 5/15 Time Travelers – 71.
  • 4/15 Princess Maker 2 – 74.
  • 3/15 428: Shibuya Scramble – 85.
  • 2/15 Star Ocean: The Second Story – 87.
  • 1/15 Star Ocean: Second Evolution – 100.
25 Feb 2021

What is the point of the game the trail? ›

The Trail: Frontier Challenge takes on the mantle of walking simulator and runs with it. Throughout the game you spend your time walking along the trail, scavenging, hunting and trading as you go along making enough money to keep the journey going.

How many oxen should you buy Oregon Trail? ›

Purchase 100 food, 1 each of the wagon parts, 5 clothes, 5 boxes of bullets, and 14 oxen.

What was the most common disease on The Oregon Trail game? ›

While cholera was the most widely feared disease among the overlanders, tens of thousands of people emigrated to Oregon and California over the course of a generation, and they brought along virtually every disease and chronic medical condition known to science short of leprosy and the Black Death.

Why did pioneers use oxen instead of horses? ›

Horses were used by some emigrants, but mules and oxen were better suited, since they had greater endurance and were less likely to be stolen.

Is the Oregon Trail game of for kids? ›

The game is simple and was created to teach school children about the life of a 19th century pioneer on the Oregon Trail. You get to play the role of a wagon leader and guide your group of chosen settlers from Independence, Missouri, to the Willamette Valley in Oregon while traveling along the Oregon Trail in 1848.

How long does it take to win Oregon Trail? ›

How long does it take to beat The Oregon Trail (WP)? The estimated time to complete all 20 The Oregon Trail (WP) achievements is 5-6 hours. This estimate is based on the median completion time from 77 TrueAchievements members that have completed the game.

Why was Oregon Trail so hard? ›

Most of the pioneers walked the entire way across the Oregon Trail, often barefoot. Their wagons were too heavy for horses to pull so they used strong oxen or cattle. The going was slow and rough. Sometimes, groups of wagons traveled together.

What happens when you run out of trail cards in Oregon Trail? ›

When players run out of Trail Cards, they pick five more from the Draw Pile.

What were the odds of surviving the Oregon Trail? ›

Nearly one in ten who set off on the Oregon Trail did not survive. The two biggest causes of death were disease and accidents.

How many miles do you travel in the Oregon Trail game? ›

The 2000+ mile journey is divided into approximately 16 segments (depending upon the exact route you take). Each segment connects two important landmarks – such as river crossings, forts, geologic formations, and other noteworthy points.

What was the biggest killer of pioneers along the Oregon Trail? ›

Shootings, drownings, being crushed by wagon wheels, and injuries from handling domestic animals were the common killers on the trail. Wagon accidents were the most prevalent.

How many estimated people died on the Oregon Trail? ›

Combined with accidents, drowning at dangerous river crossings, and other illnesses, at least 20,000 people died along the Oregon Trail. Most trailside graves are unknown, as burials were quick and the wagon trains moved on.

How accurate is the Oregon Trail game? ›

So as it turns out, the Oregon Trail is a shockingly accurate depiction of westward expansion in the 1800's. That being said, everything referenced in this article is coming from the 2021 game which I sat down and played for three hours in preparation to write this.

How many miles a day did they average on the Oregon Trail? ›

Average distance covered in a day was usually fifteen miles, but on a good day twenty could be traveled. 7:30 am: Men ride ahead on horses with shovels to clear out a path, if needed.

How did they keep meat from spoiling on the Oregon Trail? ›

Brine was saltwater that was traditionally "strong enough to float an egg." Preserved in this way, homesteaders could keep meats for weeks and months at a time. However, like the other staple of pioneer diet, salt pork, "salted down" meat had to be laboriously rinsed, scrubbed, and soaked before consumption.

Can you stack items in Oregon Trail? ›

# of storage spaces it takes up

They can only be used once and cannot stack.

How much money does the farmer get on Oregon Trail? ›

When you first start out in Oregon Trail, you're given a choice between three starting characters: Banker ($1600 in starting cash) Carpenter ($800 in starting cash) Farmer ($400 in starting cash)

Can you cash out Oregon Trail card? ›

Oregon Trail Cards work more like bank debit cards where the card is used to withdraw cash from a bank account. A single card can give someone access to benefits from multiple programs.

When should I caulk the wagon in Oregon Trail? ›

Fording rivers deeper than 3 feet deep is not recommended and has a high chance to go wrong. Caulking your wagon when rivers are over 3 feet is recommended. There is still a chance that something can go wrong when doing this, but this strategy has the highest chance of success.

Can I use my Oregon Trail card in another state? ›

You can use your EBT card anywhere within the United States and U.S. territories that sells eligible food items.

Why was The Oregon Trail so popular game? ›

The Oregon Trail and the Apple II mark a key milestone in history. It was the first simulation game — or game, period — for millions of first-time computer users. It was an interface for starting to understand the machines and simulators that now govern nearly every aspect of life.

Why was Oregon Trail so popular? ›

The Oregon Trail has attracted such interest because it is the central feature of one of the largest mass migrations of people in American history. Between 1840 and 1860, from 300,000 to 400,000 travelers used the 2,000-mile overland route to reach Willamette Valley, Puget Sound, Utah, and California destinations.

Does I 84 follow The Oregon Trail? ›

A. The 400,000 people who rode wagon trains west along the Oregon Trail were very considerate of modern history buffs: They conveniently rolled their wagons through Idaho into Oregon alongside Interstate 84. That's the trail I know most about, and it's an easy one to find and follow.

How many supply cards do you get in Oregon Trail? ›

Each player is dealt five Trail Cards. Because there are four players, each player is dealt five Supply Cards.

Is the Oregon Trail hard game? ›

But this simple game, first published in 1971 and now living on in internet archives, is easily the most realistic take on what Westward expansion actually looked like. Much like The Oregon Trail, it was brutal, difficult, and often deadly.

How do you speed up the trail game? ›

-While changing your character's movement speed, you can see a bar on the left. Sliding your finger up makes the bar go up, meaning higher speed, AND higher stamina consumption.

What was the easiest part of the Oregon Trail? ›

The Platte River and North Platte River Valley, however, became an easy roadway for wagons, with its nearly flat plain sloping easily up and heading almost due west.

What was the main cause of death on the Oregon Trail? ›

Emigrants feared death from a variety of causes along the trail: lack of food or water; Indian attacks; accidents or rattlesnake bites were a few. But the number one killer, by a wide margin, was disease. The most dangerous diseases were those spread by poor sanitary conditions and personal contact.

What are 3 famous stops along the Oregon Trail? ›

Some of the best known included Blue Mound in Kansas; Courthouse and Jail rocks, Chimney Rock, and Scotts Bluff in Nebraska; Laramie Peak, Independence Rock, Devil's Gate, Split Rock, the Wind River Range, and Twin Buttes (near the South Pass) in Wyoming; Three Buttes (near Fort Hall) in Idaho; and Flagstaff Hill and, ...

How many people died along the Oregon Trail? ›

How many people died on the Oregon Trail? At least 20,000 people died on the trail, according to the Bureau of Land Management. Causes included illnesses such as cholera and environment-related accidents like drownings at river crossings.

What grade is the Oregon Trail taught? ›

The original game was designed to teach 8th grade schoolchildren about the realities of 19th-century pioneer life on the Oregon Trail. The player assumes the role of a wagon leader guiding a party of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon's Willamette Valley via a covered wagon in 1848.

Why are my hearts red in the trail? ›

- Hearts will turn Red if the game detects that your current Stamina can't reach the next camp site. - This is normal and it doesn't drain your Stamina that much, just eat some Food until it turns Green again.

How do I increase my trail stamina? ›

Running and walking are two great workouts that are easy to do almost anywhere and can build your endurance. If you aren't an experienced runner, start with a run/walk program to ease into things. Aim for two runs per week to start, and when you have more time on the weekends, try including a few long walks.

How do you get trail favors? ›

Favours are the premium currency in the game "The Trail" which can be gained from the daily reward or buying them. They resemble a golden horse shoe.


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3. The Oregon Trail Game: Journey to Willamette Valley from Pressman
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5. The Oregon Trail Game: Journey to Willamette Valley — game overview at Gen Con 2018
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