I’ve changed the tagline of this blog in acknowledgement of the fact that I have been drawn away from WoW in recent times. Doesn’t mean I’ve given up entirely on it — in fact, I fully intend to start leveling a holy priest to the cap this week. I promised I would, so should at least make the effort. But in the meantime, I’ve been drawn into a couple of browser-based self-limiting games that are mindless fun and also run out of time often enough that I can effectively do my errands and chores in between playing. One of these happens to be Facebook-based Oregon Trail.
Ah, Oregon Trail. This was one of my earliest video game obsessions, dating back to computer lab in elementary school. Yes, the good ol’ days of Apple IIEs and floppy disks that were actually floppy. And hunting buffalo with that old game was actually HARD! So great was my fondness for this game that I ordered the fancified 5th edition for my PC not so long ago. A really nice version, btw, that I keep on meaning to play again when I get around to digging up the disks from wherever they ended up after our big move last year.
Anyways, all this is to say that I got really excited when news of a Facebook-based version of OT came around. I’ve been playing it for 2 weeks now and am currently at level 79, aiming to clear out all the achievements. I’ve also taken a few notes, both for my own sake and for anybody else who might be interested in getting in on some wacky bear-shootin’, river fordin’, oxen drivin’ fun.
Deep Thoughts on Oregon Trail
1. There’s no such thing as too much bacon. No, really, you think it’s just something the Food Network is trying to pimp, but it’s true. You’re only allowed to buy one stack (3 pieces) in Oregon City and the only ever time I’ve run into it is with the rare traveling saleswoman, but it’s got the best stam and energy bonus (+50). It seems that the main thing that always limits a smooth game is running out of stam, so the more backups you have for that, the better. Plus, you get an It’s Bacon achievement for eating a lot of it. Mmmm, BLT squirrelburger.
2. Besides stocking up on bacon while in OC, I always find it useful to take a portion of Chicken Soup. It gives you a nice health buff which counteracts the health loss you’ll get from spending most of the time running your party on grueling speed (no other settings exist, imho). Since you buy it at the end of your last trip and use it right at the beginning of the next one (it lasts for 48 hours), it doesn’t really take up any bag space, either. This, combined with a shot of sarsparilla (for the speed buff), gives you a nice set of bonus stats from the beginning.
3. If anybody but you gets sick on the trail, let them take the hit. More often than not they’ll recover and stay alive anyway. If not, that’s one more death for your Malpractice achievement. Hey, you need to kill 250 people for the top tier, so might as well kill early and kill often. The only exception I make to this is that I keep one stack of cure-most Stomach Tonic and one stack of health-restorative Tea around for when either I or Tommi get sick — I prefer when we’re the only two that limp into Oregon at the end of each round. I’m obligated to keep him alive because his computer is right next to mine and he gets upset when he looks over my shoulder and sees I’m letting him walk around with a cracked skull 😉
4. Before you go into the general store to buy your supplies for the start of a round, make sure you have farmer chosen as a profession. That way, you only pay $20/stack for your rations when you’re initially stocking up your wagon. You’ll probably want to fill rations to the brim anyway, so that’s a bit of coin saved. Then you can go back outside and change to the profession you plan on using for that trip, if it’s not farmer. After doing a run as each profession (for the achievement), I usually run as a banker to get extra cash for buying all the achievement items.
5. I typically will purchase rations at general stores up until 1/4 into the trip, which is a little over 2 full wagonloads. That’s because up until then, hunting for food really isn’t worth the time and energy. Early hunting grounds only have squirrels, and it takes a damn lot of squirrels (they weigh 5 lb each) to put any sort of dent in your 200 lb food budget. I’ve only ever managed to get 75 lb or so. This is compared to later in the trail, when you can kill 2 100 lb bears/buffalo and leave the hunting ground in 5 seconds flat. Save yourself the aggravation and just buy the food, unless you have rodent hatred issues to work out. The leftover energy you save can be used to search your surroundings, and more than likely you’ll end up finding goodies that will even out your costs anyway.
6. Traveling Peddler women are usually worth stopping for and spending the 1 Trail Note to check out their special goods. Not only can you restock your drug stash for cheap from them (they usually sell for the same price as Independence), but they will have quest items, specialist equipment, better buff/boost items, and the more expensive trade goods. Always buy out their Jewelry if you can — that has one of the highest resale values once you reach OC.
7. Crossing rivers. General rule of thumb — if it’s 1-2 feet deep, ford it. If it’s 3-4 feet deep, float it. If it’s 3-4 feet deep and there’s an option to pay coins for a ferry, take it. Don’t waste Trail Notes on a ferry, however. I rarely have had any problems crossing rivers. However, I also bought a Prairie Schooner pretty early on, which has some of the highest extra boosts for river crossings. Leftover paranoia from the countless waterborne traumas I had playing this game as a kid, I guess.
8. When you’re nearly at the end of a level or about to refill your stamina with a boost item, always remember to check your energy level first. If you’ve got enough left to do an extra task, be sure to use them up so you don’t waste it when it’s topped off. You never know when those extra 15 points might yield extra stam or cash.
…more to come, I’m sure, as I start taking on the tougher trails (I’m especially looking forward the the level 80 GC-OC “Death March”).