Michelle Hanley- “How to Play Oregon Trail”

While one sister buys beer and the other uses the restroom, peruse the game selection at your local microbrewery.  Peggy, the sister in the restroom, wants Clue because of her weird savant-like skill (she swears her one loss was a fluke).  Choose Oregon Trail.  Flash back to playing the computer version on your Apple Macintosh with the aforementioned sisters, various cousins, and friends.  Take it to a table.

Open the box.  The game contains two types of cards:  Trail Cards (rocks, flowers, vile diseases) and Supply Cards (water, compass, medicine).  There are also six dice, arrow shaped cardboard pieces that represent bullets, and one of those plastic stands that’s supposed to hold a cartoon person but, this being a place where people drink and play games, the cardboard figure is missing.  Use the plastic stand as the player.

When Peggy asks what you’re supposed to do with the cards, hand her the instructions.  Take them back when she tells you that she doesn’t “do” instructions.  Shuffle the Trail Cards separately from the Supply Cards.

Begin to place the Trail Cards face down in a six-by-six grid.  Thank Erin for your beer when she finds the table.  Hand her additional Trail Cards to place on top of the ones that are already in the grid.  Dare her to place her cards faster than you place yours, then laugh when she gets her “competitive” face. 

Choose four Supply Cards and place them face up on the table.

The three of you are on the same team.  In order to win, at least one of you must survive until you earn 600 pounds of meat.  Ignore Peggy when she complains about being on the same team.  The nonstop Clue-winning is turning her into a monster.

Hand each player a die.  Agree that individual dice would have prevented any number of arguments back in the day.  Explain that the player begins on a card in the middle of the grid.  For each number a person rolls, they can perform a single task like moving the player one card over or flipping an adjacent card–

Fine.  Just start.

Roll a two.  Move the player over one; flip over a card that shows “Rocks”.

Laugh when it’s Erin’s turn and she flips over “Dysentery”.  Assure her that she won’t die unless someone else flips over another dysentery card.  Read the card again and realize that water can cure dysentery and one of your Supply Cards is water.

Consult with Peggy.  Decide that it’ll be okay if Erin fake dies because two people eat less than three, and there’s only so much room for food in a wagon.  Ignore Erin when she says, “That’s not a thing in this game” and also when she says, “You guys suck”.  Remind her that there’s a chance she might not die even though everyone always died of dysentery in the original computer version.

When Peggy also gets dysentery, use the “Water” Supply Card to save her.  Try to convince Erin that it was only strategy and she really should buy you another beer.

On your next turn, flip over a “Bison” card.  Refer back to the instructions.  Realize that you forgot to hand out bullets at the beginning.  Do that now.

Thank Erin for the fresh beer she places in front of you.

In order to shoot, you and Peggy must each give up a bullet.  You must also roll ones or twos in order to win the meat.Discuss the odds of winning the game when you need 600 pounds of meat and each person gets seven bullets and everyone has to roll a certain number and give up bullets each time you try.  Decide that it’s okay to take Erin’s allotment of bullets since she’s dead.  Grip your beer so Erin doesn’t take it back.

Roll the dice.  When you roll a one and Peggy rolls a two, take the “Bison” card off its stack and place it in front of you.  Announce, “Only five hundred pounds to go!”

Flip over another card.  Drown.

Convince Peggy that it’ll be really boring if she is the only one left playing (also because she can’t be good at this game too, but don’t say that out loud).  Pack the game up and return it to the shelf.  Realize that there’s another Oregon Trail and you played the add-on and that’s why it was really hard and the rules were weird.  Don’t mention that to your sisters when you return with Clue.