Ase & Henrik Berg


No. of Players:
2 - 4




Oregon - the name of this western state somehow awakens a feeling of pioneer spirit and of vast areas of grasslands. And indeed, upon opening the gamebox of this new game published by HANS IM GLÜCK the players find a nice gameboard featuring a gridwork of grasslands, forests, mountains and railroads where they may send their Farmers and raise new Buildings.

At the beginning of the game, each player receives a stockpile of 15 Farmers, and furthermore a hand of three Landscape cards and one Building cards which are drawn from random decks. Also, each player receives a Bonus-Turn marker and a Joker marker which he may use during the course of the game. During the game, the players will try to collect victory points by placing their Farmers adjacent to Buildings (or vice versa by placing Buildings adjacent to their Farmers). The placement of new Farmers or Buildings will be determined by the Landscape cards, and each of the five different kinds of Landscape cards is assigned a row and a column featuring several spaces on the gameboard.

Thus, the main phase of a player's turn is the playing of cards from his hand, and in this phase the active player may chose to play either one Landscape and one Building card or two Landscape cards. When playing a Landscape and a Building Card, the player checks the row or the column on the gameboard which corresponds to his Landscape card for a fitting space where he might build the Building from the Building card. Seven different kinds of Buildings exist, and whereas the Coach Station, the Church and the Harbour need to be built on grasslands (with the harbour adjacent to a lake), the Coal Mine and the Silver Mine are built on mountain spaces, the Train Stations on railroads and the Stores on woodland spaces. Each section in a row or column features six spaces on which Buildings or Farmers may be placed, and although these spaces show different kinds of terrain (grasslands, woods, mountains, lakes and railroads), the game starts with ample spaces where a player may place a Building. (At this point, let me point out that terrains and Landscape cards are not identical. The Landscape cards just show symbols corresponding to the rows and columns on the gameboard - they do not feature any of the types of terrains!)

The choice of possible spaces is much more restricted when the player decides to play two Landscape cards in order to place a Farmer. Here the player is not bound to place the Farmer at a space with a specific type of terrain, but instead the player has to cross reference both Landscape cards he played so that the Farmer only may be placed on one of the six spaces at one of the two crossing points on the corresponding rows and columns.

Also, both types of placement have in common that Buildings or Farmers only may be placed at spaces which are empty. And naturally lakes are excluded as well). Thus, the gameboard gets more and more crowded during the course of the game, and the players' choice where to place new Buildings or Farmers gets more and more restricted.

The placement of a Building or a Farmer usually also triggers a scoring. Scoring depend on Buildings and Farmers being adjacent to each other, so that a Farmer placed next to a Building will score victory points for the player who has placed the Farmer whereas a Building placed next to one or more Farmers will score victory points for the owner of each adjacent Farmer. The amount of victory points awarded depends on the type of the Building:

  • A Farmer standing adjacent to a Coach Station scores 3 victory points.
  • The positioning next to a Harbour is worth 4 victory points.
  • Coal Mine and Gold Mine allow the owner(s) of a Farmer to draw a corresponding Mine token. The value of these tokens will only be revealed at the end of the game.
  • Next to a Shop a Farmer only has a value of 1 victory point, but the player also is allowed to re-activate his Joker marker if he should have used it on a previous turn.
  • Likewise, a Farmer next to a Train Station only scores 1 victory point, but now the owner(s) of the Farmer may re-fresh a possibly used Bonus-Turn marker.
  • A very high value finally may be scored by positioning a Farmer next to a Church, since here the victory points will be determined by counting all Farmers on spaces adjacent to the Church.

As indicated, scorings may be triggered by placing either a Building or a Farmer, depending on the kind of action the player has chosen. During his turn, a player also may use his Joker marker instead of a Landscape card, and furthermore the players also have the Bonus-Turn marker the use of which allows them to play two consecutive turns. A player then ends his turn by drawing cards from both the Building and the Landscape decks to re-fill his hand to the maximum of four cards, and then the next player will take his turn.

The game ends if either a player has used his last Framer or if two or more types of Buildings have run out of stock (depending on the number of players). The player then will reveal their Gold and Coal markers, add these to their victory points scored during the game and the player with the highest total of victory points will have won.

Let's first face the facts: the general playing mechanism of placing tokens on a gameboard by a system of cross-referencing a horizontal and a vertical axis definately is not new. As a matter of fact, the method of referenced placement used in Oregon reminds me a bit of placement mechanisms used in Origo by Wolfgang Kramer or in his even older title Captain Future. Likewise, the scoring mechanism with the reward of victory points depending on the type of building and the number of adjacent playing figures is no absolute novelty either, since games like the recent Baumeister von Arkadia also used variants of this mechanism.

However, although these facts might hint that Oregon is missing an ingenious spark, the rules have been assembled in a way which offers a very smooth and unrestricted gameplay. The provisions for the placement of Buildings and Farmers correspond extraordinary well with the general topic of populating the state of Oregon, and the different scorings and rules connected with each type of Buildings merge extremely well with the main rules for placement. What is more, it is in particular the small extra rules for Buildings like the drawing of secret markers through Mines or the refreshing of a Bonus-Turn marker from a Train Station which add additional spice to the game, and - although the late revealing of Mine markers adds a bit of uncertainty - this rule serves well to keep the players' tension up right till the end of the game.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2007 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany