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Donner Party
Donner Party
by Blacksburg Tactical Research Center (2017)
Player Count
2 to 5

Player Ages
10+

Playing Time
30 minutes to 1 hour
Categories
  • American West
  • Environmental
  • Educational
  • Designers
  • Greg Porter
  • Mechanisms
  • Auction/Bidding
  • Cooperative Play
  • Press Your Luck
  • Artists
  • Alexander Chepelev
  • Family
  • Crowdfunding: Kickstarter
  • Admin: Unreleased Games
  • Theme: Cannibals / Cannibalism
  • Rating: 7.11/10 from 19 users

    Description

    In 1846, the Donner Party got snowbound in the High Sierras. Only half survived the winter. Who will you eat to be one of them?

    Each player has a family of settlers (color coded), and a few hirelings or settlers outside that family. While individually named, all of these actually represent several people (you are not playing all 81 settlers).

    You get points for each settler you have alive at the end of the game, with bonus points for healthy settlers, oldest settler, youngest settler and an intact family. Things you do in the game cause you to accumulate "Shame", which are cards with random values that you draw but do not look at, and whoever has the highest Shame at the end of the game loses, regardless of their score.

    Play proceeds in rounds, moving through a chronologically stacked Forage deck that represents the winter of 1846. Each round a player has a personal forage step, and then there is a group forage step. In the latter, players bid to acquire extra food and the bid is how much Shame they are willing to draw to get that food. The number of group forage cards available in a turn is always less than the number of players, so someone gets left out every time. Additionally one of the group forage cards is dealt face-down, so you do not know what it is. Ties in bidding are broken by the party leader, a role which rotates around the table. Players who do not get a forage card in the group step get to draw an Action card instead.

    Then, everyone feeds their settlers, with weakened settlers costing less food than healthy ones. But weakened ones also do not forage as well. Losses from hunger have to follow a few simple rules, like none of your settlers can starve to death until all of them are weakened.

    In addition to forage, there are action cards that players can acquire through the foraging process. These are the nasty things like murder and grave robbing and such. These can be played at any time and generally give you food, but unlike Forage cards, have an inherent Shame cost to play them.

    This process continues until either the Forage deck empties or the "final rescue" card is drawn during March 1847. Since some cards are randomly removed from each game before play, you never know exactly when the game will end or what the weather will be and thus cannot plan for it.

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