Oregon

From:  Rio Grande Games

Reviewed by:  Ron McClung

Oregon is a new Board Game from Rio Grande Games.

Where the American Frontier meets Euro-style board gaming, Oregon is a strategy game where players place tokens and figures in an attempt to maximize their point potential.  I have been told that this game is similar to Carcassonne by the same company.  I have not played Carcassonne yet, so I am not sure, but on the outset, the game has a strong Euro-feel so I would not be surprised if there are similarities.

From the front cover:
“The way the West was won …”

The game board is an abstract representation of old west Oregon.  It is divided out in a grid and several terrain types are depicted.- water, forest, and mountains.  There are also rail lines on the map.  The grid has symbols along the left and top side that match up with symbols on the terrain cards.  These are settler, wagon, campfire, bison and eagle.  Each grid block is also divided up into six squares.

There is also a points track along the edge of the board where players track their points (obviously).  The goal is to accumulate the most points before either of the two game-ending conditions are met, which are:

  • A player runs out of farmers
  • Depending on the number of players, when a certain number of buildings are exhausted.

You gain points by completing groups of 3 or more farmers on the board grid or placing buildings. Just how you do this is the heart of the game.  Through the use of cards and the board grid, you allocate farmers and buildings.  The building tiles in this game are post office, harbor, church, coal pit, gold mine, warehouse, and train station.

Game setup starts with laying out the building, gold and coal tiles.  The gold and coal are shuffled and placed face down with their values hidden.  The buildings are sorted by type stacked.  Each player gets a set of farmers, 3 landscape cards, and 1 building card.  The rest of each of the decks are shuffled and set in the playing area as the two draw piles.  On the first round, the players randomly pick a Starting Tile, which is a special tile that gives them their starting settlement and location.  Each player, starting with the first, places the Starting Tile on a place on the board that matches the background of the Starting Tile.

From the back cover :
“We write of the year 1846.  Gunslingers, lawmen, pioneers and whole families left their homes in the east and mid-west to try their luck in the West.”

The players’ turn sequence goes as follows:

  • Play 2 cards – You must play two cards – either 2 landscape cards to place one farmer or one landscape and one building card to place one building. When placing buildings, there are certain criteria that one must abide by, including terrain requirements, etc.
  • Score – Based on the previous action, there may be scoring opportunities for players.  Groups of farmers give the individual player points.  Buildings give points to the placing player as well as to the players that are adjacent, based on the type of building.
  • Use Extra Turn – If the player so chooses, he my use his extra turn token.  This allows the player to Play 2 cards and Score one extra time.  Once completed, his Extra Turn token is flipped to inactive.  This can be flipped back if he places a farmer near a train station.
  • Draw Cards – Draw up to 4 cards.

The heart of the game is placement of farmers and buildings through the use of cards and the board grid.  When and where you place is key. You score points by placing farmers in groups or near buildings. Each type of building provides different benefits and points opportunities.  For example, a post office provides 3 points for each farmer adjacent to it.  Gold mine earns the player one gold for each farmer adjacent to it. The key thing to remember in scoring is that you gain the points once when placing the farmer.  Once placed, the scoring for that farmer and that group is done.  If the player places a fourth farmer in a group of three he already scored, he does not get more points from that grouping.

One other aspect not discussed thus far is the Joker Token.  It can be used in the place of a Landscape card at any time.  Once used, the Joker Token is flipped over to inactive status.  It can be re-activated if the player places a farmer near a warehouse tile.

In conclusion, this is an abstract game with the trappings of a settlement game.  The grid, cards, and mechanics could be pretty much anything – from space colonization to settling a fantasy world.  They just simply chose Oregon and the Old West.  It is a challenging abstract strategy game with interesting mechanics and quirks.  It is a very Euro-style game and rewards puzzle-solving and your ability to maximize your point potential.  You have to have a keen eye for where the points are and have to be lucky on the card draw.  It is a well-made game overall, with card board tiles and wooden farmer figures of the quality you would expect from Rio Grande.  I would highly recommend this to any Euro-game fan.

For more details on Rio Grande Games and their new Board Game “Oregon” check them out at their website http://www.riograndegames.com, and at all of your local game stores.

Oregon

From: Rio Grande Games, Hans Im Gluck

Type of Game: Board Game

Game Design by: Henrik Berg, Ase Berg

Art by: Franz Vohwinkel

Number of Pages: 6 page foldout rulebook

Game Components Included:

 

  • 1 game board
  • 60 farmers in 4 colors
  • 50 landscape cards
  • 21 building cards
  • 28 building tiles
  • 7 start tiles
  • 4 extra turn tokens
  • 4 joker tokens
  • 21 coal tiles
  • 21 gold tiles
  • 1 rules booklet

 

Retail Price: $ 39.95 (US)

Number of Players: 2 – 4

Player Ages: 8 and up

Play Time: 45 Minutes

Website: www.riograndegames.com

Reviewed by: Ron McClung