What better and more accurate way to predict who will win the Mavs-Rockets playoff series than with Oregon Trail? I certainly can't think of any. If you're unaware, I've actually done this before with the Mavericks starting five, but I'm adjusting things slightly to make this a super-scientific prediction machine.
Here, we're pitting the Mavericks' and Rockets' starting fives against each other, seeing which one makes it to Oregon in the best shape. Some rules for the competition:
1. Food Restrictions. I will buy the maximum amount of food to begin the game (2,000 pounds). After that, I can only get more food through hunting or trade.
2. I will not stop to rest. Over the course of this trip, members of both teams will get sick, tired, and break bones. A good way to counter these things is to rest. We won't do that.
3. Steady Pace. You can alter how fast your oxen go, with settings of "steady," "strenuous," and "grueling." To ensure that our oxen don't get worn out, we'll only travel at a "steady" pace. That sounds like it is taking the easy way out, but it also makes the game last longer, allowing for more things like cholera and snake bites.
4. We will not pay to ferry across any rivers. A little caulk and some prayers will be good enough for us.
5. Each team must go to every Fort. It would be simple to give the Mavs an advantage by taking the shorter route, while sending Houston the long way. I promise not to do that. There are six forts between Independence and Oregon City, and each team has to go to each fort.
At the end of the game it gives you stats based on how well you fared, including a points total. Whoever has the highest amount of points at the end wins. I have intentionally not looked at how they score things, so I can't alter anything in Dallas' favor.
In order to keep this from being a 5,000 word post, we'll simply check in with each team at each town they come across. Each team will begin with: 3 yoke of oxen, 2,000 pounds of food, 10 sets of clothing, 50 boxes of ammunition (20 rounds per box), 2 spare wagon wheels, 2 spare axles, 2 spare wagon tongues. Each team will be able to purchase anything needed except food one time, up to the starting amount. After that, it's barter system only. Also, they're both set up as bankers from Boston, and they're both leaving on March 1.
ALRIGHT LET'S DO THIS. (SIDENOTE: I simulated both starting 5 teams simultaneously, just so you know)
Mavs Starting 5
Rockets Starting 5
First Checkpoint: Fort Kearney
Mavs Update: The Mavs reached Fort Kearney a little worse for wear. Fording the Kansas River was not a problem, but the Big Blue River proved to be too difficult. Nobody died, but six pairs of clothes were lost and both wagon tongues sank to the bottom of the river. If you're counting, yes, that means one Maverick is currently naked. We'll leave it up to you to determine who *cough*chandlerparsons*cough*. Two trips down a wrong trail cost Dallas a total of 7 days, a blizzard cost them another day, and a thief stole another pair of clothes, so now we're down to three pairs of pants for five guys. We've gone ahead purchased more pants.
Rockets Update: Houston's trip started off rather poorly. The suffered: a broken wagon tongue, a broken wagon axle, their wagon tipped over in the Kansas River, and an ox died. However, running across an abandoned wagon with three spare parts boosted morale. Eventually, they made it to Fort Kearney, where they reupped on spare parts and oxen.
Second Checkpoint: Fort Laramie
Mavs Update: On the way here, Chandler Parsons got dysentery, and an oxen got hurt. Parsons recovered nicely though, and the Mavs made it to Fort Laramie without much trouble. Food is not an issue yet, and everyone seems to be getting along just fine.
Rockets Update: Harden came down with cholera on the way to Laramie, but he rounded back into shape by the time Houston reached Chimney Rock. Another ox died, but because we already replaced the first ox, we can't buy any more the rest of the way. Also, another wagon tongue broke, along with an axle. Wagon problems are real, y'all.
Third Checkpoint: Fort Bridger
Mavs Update: It is now May 25, 1848. One ox died almost immediately after leaving Laramie, but other than that, Dallas had absolutely zero problems making it to this point. But now food is starting to get a little low. Instead of lowering rations, we'll just hunt out on the road.
Rockets Update: It is now June 9, 1848. Harden, just recovered from cholera, was bitten by a snake. Donatas and Dwight got measles. They lost five days on the wrong trail, and then two more on another wrong trail, and a thief stole 35 bullets. But the worst thing in the world was none of those things.
Okay, maybe this is worse?
Since the Rockets had already purchased an ox, they couldn't buy another one due to the rule above. However, after 18 days of trying to barter for an ox, I realized it was going to be impossible. I wasn't about to travel 1 mile per day as the Houston Rockets, so I broke the rule, and purchased a full new set of oxen. Think of it as Harden getting all those foul calls. You're mad about it, but what can you do.
Fourth Checkpoint: Fort Hall
Mavs Update: It is now June 20, 1848. Monta caught a fever for a quick minute, but healed nicely. Rajon went hunting for food and shot a bear. I like playoff Rondo.
After hunting and reaching Soda Springs. Dallas continued on. Dirk caught a fever, and the Mavs lost four more days on another wrong trail (seriously, someone else take the map), but eventually they made it to Fort Hall, where they replaced the ox that died.
Rockets Update: It is now July 19, 1848. The problem with staying so long to try and barter for oxen is that now Houston is incredibly low on food, and they find themselves about a month behind Dallas. Jason Terry, betrayer of wildlife, decided to go out and shoot five deer and three bears, leaving most of it to rot. However, Houston made it to to Fort Hall with minimal incidents. They'll have to hunt for food from here on out though.
Fifth Checkpoint: Fort Boise
Mavs Update: It is now July 19, 1848. Dallas came across an abandoned wagon with three sets of clothes, upping their total beyond the original starting point. It was a major win for the Mavs. But then, this happened.
It was the first of two broken arms he would suffer on this leg of the journey. Speaking of legs, about 14 miles down the road, this happened.
STOP LETTING MONTA OUT OF THE WAGON. Also, Dallas is now below 100 pounds of food. It'll be time to hunt again soon.
Rockets Update: It is now August 26, 1848. The Rockets are terrible hunters. Food rations have gotten lower, down to meager, in order to preserve what little food they are getting. Because of less food intake, and general lack of hygienic practices, the Rockets have suffered a major loss.
That's right. James Harden is dead. Rumor is, his last words were, "but I was fouled..." However, due to a successful hunt, and one less member of their entourage, we were able to bump their food rations back up to filling.
Sixth Checkpoint: Fort Walla Walla
Mavs Update: It is now August 22, 1848. Things have gone horribly wrong for Dallas between Boise and Walla Walla. First, Chandler became exhausted. Then, Tyson and Dirk both got typhoid, they had to stop every few days to hunt for food because they're completely out, and Monta got measles. Fortunately, no one died.
Rockets Update: It is now September 26, 1848 The hunting isn't going well for Houston, still. We lowered rations to try and keep from having to stop so often, but even meager rationing wasn't cutting it. Bare bones helped with having to stop, but not with morale. Fortunately, the trip is almost over.
Seventh Checkpoint: The Dalles
Mavs Update: Hunting in this area is hard, because pine trees litter the screen. It takes about four attempts to shoot anything. Dirk vents his frustration.
Two bears and a deer is a little over 400 pounds, but Dirk can only carry 100 back. It was worth it. However, to keep from losing more days hunting, rations have been switched to bare bones. The Mavs get lost again, but they find a wagon with more clothing and bullets. Hooray. Now it's time to ford the Columbia River to get to Oregon City.
Rockets Update: Dwight got bit by a snake. I told him not to pee by those bushes but he didn't listen. Whatever. Also, Donatas broke a leg. Oh and you thought hunting was bad before. These guys can't shoot through these trees for anything. Hunger abounds. Good thing the only thing between us and Oregon City is the Columbia River...
Eighth Checkpoint: Floating the Columbia River
Mavs Update: OH NO.
DOUBLE OH NO
TRIPLE OH NO
QUADRUPLE OH NO
I swear to you, none of that was intentional. I got trapped trying to maneuver around a rock and wound up hitting it. When it reset, it set me on a path to the shore, but it started so close that the game didn't respond to me hitting the arrow key, running me into the shore. After it reset again, the same thing happened in the opposite direction, slamming me into another rock. When I finally corrected, I was on the wrong side of the river with the landing area coming up. A mad attempt to cut across the river resulted in the final rock.
Rockets Update: I knew we shouldn't have let JET steer.
This was the only incident on the river, but it was a costly incident none the less. This must be why Dwight missed 41 games and Motiejunas is out for the playoffs.
Final Checkpoint: Oregon City
Mavs Update: It is now September 9, 1848. Everyone except Rondo died in the Columbia River. Things are not looking good. Here are the Mavs final stats.
Rockets Update: It is now October 18, 1848. The remaining Rockets, Jason and Trevor, remember their fallen teammates by running into people and throwing their arms in the air and trying to convince the witnesses that the other ones started it. Here are Houston's final stats:
Winner: Dallas Mavericks
Despite having fewer survivors, less food, less spare parts, and less clothing, Dallas received more points, thanks to the amount of cash they had when they made it to Oregon City .
TAKE THAT HOUSTON!!!!! MAVS WIN.