When we arrived in a remote village, we were among the first. The were Indians everywhere and buffalo were looking at us with some curious glimpse in their eyes. We have conquered new territories for our race and the white man. We have expanded at the expense of weaker. There were seven fires burning at night around the village for safety reasons and in every patrol, there sat three men. Risk of hostile Indian attacks still hung in the air.
It required many lives, but eventually our village grew into a city. And then railroad came to us. The men, who were building it were tough, had stubble on their face and had menacing stares. Above their heads birds were flying – where builders go, there is always an easy prey.
And you are with us now, looking at this landscape of populated Wild West. Your family has of fourteen members. You must watch the growing buildings and decide, where you send your kin for labor. It should be the building, which will you get the most money for the family fund.
This world is opened to us in a board game Oregon from Hans im Glück. Game was first published back in 2007 and created by Henrik Berg and Åse Berg
And what can Oregon actually offer you in its Wild West environment? The box is covered with dull and faded colors, that create an illustrations of a family arriving to a new city for a new life. You will easily overlook this box in a store, because of washed-out colors.
Inside, you will get a folded game board with a map of the city. You muset punch out chips of gold and coal from cardboard sheets and also square tokens. Most of these tokens are wearing a picture of some building, while the remaining eight are slightly larger in size. They are meant for players as a joker or a bonus round token.
In addition to these tokens, game includes also a package of fifty cards of landscapes, twenty-one buildings cards (three from each of the seven type) and a pile of sixty wooden farmers with hats on their heads.
This means, that everyone gets their fifteen – all available in one color. One of them must go to point zero in the scoring paths winding around the plan. Players also get three random cards from a shuffled landscape deck and one building from the shuffled buildings deck.
Every player puts in front of himself joker and bonus round chip, both face up. Player will draw one starting chip from the shuffled building tokens with a red background. They put building on the game board in playing order, in which the game will run, thus creating an initial settlements of this area.
In addition to the game board, you have to divide supply of building into seven piles by type (each containing four pieces). You spread coal and gold chips on the table with their numbers down. This is the place, from which the players will draw their rewards for mining.
This game is now ready. But before we proceed into description of a match, lets have a look at the game plan. The entire board consists of fifteen squares in length and ten in height, which are grouped into 25 rectangles by six. Each of them has their fixed coordinates. You will find a symbol on the side of the board, that indicates the coordinates – bison, birds, fire, wheelcar and silhouettes of people. These coordinates will have great importance in the game.
Players alternate in moves, while having a choice of two options. Either put a new building on the game board or populate some part with one of his characters. For this, he usually needs both types of cards, which he got at the beginning of the game. When he wants to place one of his pawns, he must play two cards from the hand, both with the landscape icon. The combination of these two symbols determine coordinates on the board, where he could place it. Coordinates indicate six boxes on one side of the plan and six on the other, because the symbols are the same for row and column and the player himself can choose, which card represents column and which one is row.
Player pawn can be built on any of the six box, but it has to be empty – not occupied by another character or building. The farmer figure also cannot stand on water. For laying of these wooden pieces, player can gain instant points. If any of the eight fields around the figure has building on it, then player gets victory points for each neighborhood building (points are different and are written on building tiles).
If it is a gold or coal mine, player can choose one of coal or gold chips instead for each mine, in whose neighbourhood the pawn stands. The lower side of the chip contains victory points, which will player get for it at the end of the game.
The opposite option you have, is the opportunity to put a building on plan card and extend the city. To do this, you must play one card with symbol of the designated country determining the column, where building will be located. The second card will represent type of the building itself.
Restrictions for raising the buildings are the same, as with sending farmers – there must be no earlier piece there. At the same time, new buildings must be built on the site corresponding to its background – mine only in the mountains, port near the water and railway station on the tracks.
Scoring works pretty the same way like in the first case. Players will receive points (or tokens) for all adjacent pieces to a newly built building. Value equals to number written on the building, that is being erected on this site. This means, also your opponents might get points, when you lay building next to their farmer.
At the end of his turn, player draws cards back to four cards. Deck from which he draws it depends only on players themselves. Only one rule applies – player must have at least one of each type of card (building and landscape).
The game ends, when either one of the players pawn supply gets empty or several types of buildings runs out. The exact number of buildings needed to end the game is determined by the number of players – in just two players you have to empty two columns, with three its three columns and so on. Now it is time to reveal points of gathered chips of coal and gold and add it to your score. Player, whose piece is farthest on the scoring track, is the winner.
Oregon is an interesting strategy game from the Wild West environment, that offers a pretty simple game system. You should not be afraid to introduce the game to beginners. Players are putting their wooden pieces on the game board and surround them with buildings.
One of our testers noticed similarity to Carcassonne (review in Czech), which is only really distant (putting pieces and pawns on the board), but much more similar is the target group of both games. Unfortunately, Oregon suffers from its little-known name and small extend, because we are convinced, that it is pretty much better than Carcassonne.
But the very playing card with coordinates from your hand provides a great strategic element. You always have to choose from several places, even in the case of buildings places in columns. Each combination for pawn has two locations with six places and you always have some options to follow your strategy. You do not need to worry, that the game was too much accidental. With four cards in hand, you always have some pretty good turns to choose from. And when not, you can always ruin opponent plans or start a new area of your pawns.
It often happens, that you prepare a great possibility for yourself, but your opponent steals it, before you get your chance to use it. Especially in multiplayer happens such a thing rather often, so it pays well to use the bonus chips and joker action. The first one allows you to play whole hand of four cards (play two coordinates – one building and one farmer). Joker itself replaces one card, so you have to have only three good cards at your disposal then (or one during regular turn). After its use, you have to turn the tokens to their back side. You can turn it back only with help of buildings.
Largest influence on the game have mines and monasteries, which gives players the highest profit. While the number of monasteries count all adjacent farmers, mines provide secret income. This mystery is important part of the game, because it can completely reverse the development of the match. Even players, who are lagging behind in the scoring scale, may have their hopes for victory until the end.
But we did not mention one more way to earn points already in the game while describing the rules. If you complete a group of at least three your farmers with your turn, you immediately gain five points. With fourteen farmers at your disposal, you can therefore receive up to twenty points, if you place your pieces really smart.
Oregon offers a lot of really interesting possibilities. Everything still depends on the cards, that will come to your hand. You must be able to work with, wheter is better or worse selection. It is important to use not only the options you prepare for yourself, but also steal something from your rivals.
This interaction is magic of Oregon and also his treachery. Mainly because with more players in a game, you have hardly any chance of playing the combination and complete it during your next turn. Hungry opponents will quickly steal it from you. In two players the situation is different – now lot depends on, whether the opponent has the necessary cards and the chance is rather low with only four cards in his hand.
Processing of the game is simple and gorgeous graphics does not happen. But somehow it does not matter extremely, maybe it is just a shame, that port building token does not have any water on it at all. It can not be so so easily distinguishable at first glance. But this, as well as previously mentioned colors, are only minor flaws.
Overall, Oregon is a nice strategy game for families and beginners. It does not offer any complicated rules, just putting wooden pieces and cardboard building tokens on the game board. You must utilize cards, that restrict your choices. There is a lot of strategy options and with several routes to victory points, as well as an opportunity to get points for your opponents efforts. If you are looking for beginners game or light strategy, and you also like the Wild West theme, then Oregon is definitely worth looking at.
+ strategická hra pro začátečníky
+ souřadnicový systém
+ body za pokládání figurek i budov
+ napínavé do poslední chvíle
+ zajímavé strategie
- všemu vévodí vybledlé barvy
- méně konfliktů při méně hráčích
- ve více hráčích není možné strategicky propojovat více tahů