Number of Players: 2 to 4

Grade Levels: Middle School and Up

Length: 45 Minutes

Investment: Medium
Return: Medium

NYS Standards:

MST Standard 3: Students will understand the concepts and become proficient with the skills of mathematics…
MST Standard 4: Students will use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design, as appropriate, to pose questions, seek answers, and develop solutions.

AASL Standards:

1.1.2: Use prior/background knowledge as context for new learning
2.1.2 Organize knowledge so that it is useful
4.1.5 Connect ideas to own interests and previous knowledge and experience

Cowboys, gold mines, general stores and train stations, HEE HAW! When I bought Rio Grande’s Oregon, I was hoping I might have a game that introduces and reinforces some of the flavor of the westward expansion, little did I know that what I was getting was a math game… and a good one at that.

In Oregon, players are trying to build and lay claim to the newly discovered territory. They get points by having their little cowboy meeples next to building and mines. Players score points for themselves alone when they place the meeples. When buildings and mines are placed, any previously laid meeple surrounding the newly laid building, regardless of who they belong to, scores point. Got that? 😛

Ready for the math? Meeples and features are played by using a cleaver modification of the Cartesian coordinate system. Featured across the top and side of the board are symbols marking the rows and columns.

Meeples are put on the board by playing two cards with symbols. The meeple can be played in either of the two corresponding grid spaces, since the symbols are repeated on both the x and the y axis. For example you could play in the fire/eagle section or the eagle/fire section. Buildings require only one symbol card and can be played anywhere along the matching row or column. Oh, did I mention that buildings have to match their corresponding terrain type?

Soon, the board starts to fill, as players try to to maneuver place buildings and meeples to score. Each building type has scoring rules and I found this to be the biggest hurdle to learning and teaching the game. The group I played with had to reference back to the rules several times to figure out how scoring works if you are placing a building versus placing a meeple. A quick search of the Geek found us a scoring guide that should help.

Overall, Oregon is a strong game and a good selection in the hard to fill math slot. If you enjoy the tile play of Carcasonne and are looking for a new challenge, then Oregon is a rewarding next step.