ByMichael Mitchell, writer at
Former Staff Writer for Now Loading. Currently tweeting things here:
Michael Mitchell

Do you remember your first bout of dysentery? Of course you do! It's a pretty unforgettable disease in an unforgettable game — oh, right, yes, I was talking about Hall of Famer Oregon Trail there.

In any case, it may have been been a while since you were able to experience the wonders/perils of traveling across the Oregon Trail with your friends and family. Thankfully, a Target-exclusive future bonding experience aims to bring that sense of wonder to an entirely new generation with the newly-released Oregon Trail tabletop game.

And don't worry, Jeff Pinsker, the president of Pressman Toys himself, assures us the card-game experience will be just as authentic as we all remember:

"We have done our best to build in all sorts of gruesome, 19th-century ways for you, your friends, and your family to die along the Trail."

How do you turn 'Oregon Trail' into a card game?

Turns out, there actually is a way to make a card game that can be as perilous as the original Oregon Trail. The basic premise is that you must place start and finish cards roughly three feet apart and use Trail cards to form the trail on which you will travel. Of course, several Trail cards have their own instructions, so creating the Trail isn't just as easy as lining up cards like a puzzle.

However, it's not as easy as connecting a single line of cards until you reach the end. Every five Trail cards must be stacked and used to create the trail from the beginning, connecting to the most recent stack of five (it makes perfect sense when you see it in action).

For this reason, you'll want to make sure the first card is an easy one to overcome, because it will become the new permanent addition to the Trail. As a result, layers will have to pick Oregon Trail cards that can actually attach to it on the next turn.

So the game is all about teamwork and making it through the Trail together?

Absolutely not! In the unforgettable words of Jeff Pinsker, "It may make sense to kill off some of your friends and family along the way." When exactly would you have to do this?

Turns out that in between creating the Trail, you may see instructions such as "Press Space Bar to continue" written on a Trail card. This is an indication that you actually need to draw a Calamity card.

Calamity cards are the perils of the trail. There's cholera, dead oxen, broken wheels, dysentery (of course), and many more! Calamities can be cured with the third type of cards, Supply cards. You don't always have to play a Supply card to remedy a Calamity, though: "There may be times when it's better to let a player die."

Thanks, Jeff.

However, there is actually a good reason for that.

Even if most of your party doesn't make it to the end — and subsequently becomes epithets on one of the game's hilarious tombstones — you all win the game if at least one person makes it to the end. At this point, you've crossed the Oregon Trail and the game is over!

But there's always darkness looming on the trail and Jeff once again reassures us what we're in for: "More than likely, the game will end when the last member of your party dies."

...So, who's in for a game?

Will you be adding the 'Oregon Trail' card game to your tabletop collection? More importantly, how terrifying was Jeff's unending enthusiasm for grim trail death?


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