Oil Exploration Games
Tom Anderson
United States
Waxahachie
Texas
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No annoying Jed Clampett tune lyrics, no wargames based in the Middle East, no Bush-era politics, and no stock trading where one of the companies just happens to have "oil" in it's name -- just games truly based on oil exploration and production.

I thought it was time to provide a new Geeklist with this subject. The one from 2004 by skelebone (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/3570) is getting dated and wasn't limited to my criteria.

The one from 2006 by Champion Eternal (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/14564) started getting silly by including Pit and Popeye. I am an oil exploration geologist as a profession, so I admit I'm picky, but I wanted a Geeklist of games that at least tried to simulate the exploration and production functions, plus of course the economics, as there has to be sales of oil to make it all work.

Some definitions: The oil industry is broadly divided into "Upstream" and "Downstream", where Upstream includes Exploration and Production, and Downstream includes Refining, Transportation, and Marketing. So my Geeklist is limited to Upstream only -- no pipelines, supertankers, or gas (petrol) stations, unless the Upstream functions are also included. A classic case is McMulti, which has refineries and gas stations, but it also has drilling derricks and oil pumps.

In the Upstream oil business we refer to the "Oilfield Life Cycle":
Reconnaissance -
Prospect Generation -
Discovery -
Reservoir Delineation -
Facilities -
Primary Production -
Enhanced Recovery -
Acquire/Divest

The first three are in the "Exploration" phase, the next two are "Development", and the last three are lumped as "Production". A good oil exploration game should include most of these, and absolutely must have drilling/discovery. With that background in place, let's proceed to my narrow criteria for a game to be included on this Geeklist:

1. MUST HAVE: drilling (usually by including one or more derrick bits)
2. Should have: leasing and production
3. Will NOT include:
- primarily economic (acquire properties, produce oil, buy/sell crude, ONLY)
- stock trading (company with "oil" in its name only)
- Monopoly-like roll-and-move (only)
- wargames (based in Middle East or other OPEC hot spot)
- downstream only (pipelines, tankers, refineries, gas stations)
- other types of oil, not petroleum (such as olive oil)
- any other not listed above where oil is only remotely related to the theme

I have applied these criteria using "rejection codes" to all the games listed on the two previous Geeklists mentioned above to exclude those by name that don't fit, IMO. Any interested BGG user that is geeky enough to want to see this, just send me a PM and I'll email back an attached XLS spreadsheet with all the gory details. That spreadsheet also lists (on a second sheet) for the included games below, numerous comments and classifications by map type, mechanics, and game bits.

A note on Monopoly clones -- several games that made my list use the familiar around-the-perimeter track of properties and a roll-and-move mechanic, but they also have an interior "map" with drilling locations (or a separate added board) and a mechanic to drill and discover oil deposits. Games that are simply Monopoly with the properties being oil-related, but no drilling, didn’t make the list.

One criteria I've used to define these games is map type, with these categories: abstract (grid); made-up (fictitious country, island, or continent); United States (or portions thereof); world (or portions of world or continents); and North Sea region.

The list below is roughly listed in my ranking order, of how they best fit the goal of exploration simulation, starting with the top two BGG-ranked games. First, a disclaimer -- I've only played these top two, and tried to categorize the rest based on BGG descriptions, images, forums, reviews, and files posted. I haven't actually played any of the rest, at this time. So let's get started.

Note: feel free to add to this list if you find something I missed, but please respect the criteria I have listed. Thanks.
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1. Board Game: Giganten added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 21:38:33
2. Board Game: Crude: The Oil Game added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 21:44:21
3. Board Game: North Sea Oil added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 21:47:48
4. Board Game: Game of Oil added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 21:59:31
5. Board Game: Gushers 'n Dusters added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:02:21
6. Board Game: Confusion Flats: an Exploration Game added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:03:51
7. Board Game: The Denbury Resources Oil Game added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:04:53
8. Board Game: International Oilman Game added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:05:45
9. Board Game: Gusher added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:06:19
10. Board Game: King Oil added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:07:55
11. Board Game: Oil Power added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:08:55
12. Board Game: Exploration: The Seismic Game of Oil and Gas added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:10:48
13. Board Game: Oil: The Great Adventure added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:13:28
14. Board Game: Wildcatter added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:15:11
15. Board Game: North Sea added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:16:19
16. Board Game: Oil Barons added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:17:05
17. Board Game: Oil: The Slickest Game In Town added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:19:39
18. Board Game: Total Depth added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:22:36
19. Board Game: La Conquête du Pétrole added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:24:12
20. Board Game: Oil Well added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:25:55
21. Board Game: Oil Tycoon added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:28:08
22. Board Game: Offshore Oil Strike added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:30:35
23. Board Game: Petróleo added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:31:20
24. Board Game: Jogo do Petróleo added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:31:54
25. Board Game: Oil Barons added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:33:18
26. Board Game: Oil Rush added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:34:03
27. Board Game: Oil Drills added by tcanderson71 on 2009-04-28 22:36:08
28. Board Game: Petropolis added by John Weber on 2009-04-28 23:10:27
29. Board Game: Schwarzes Gold added by tcanderson71 on 2009-09-10 16:10:08
30. Board Game: i9n added by heli on 2010-09-18 12:33:56
31. Board Game: Ghawar added by heli on 2010-09-24 16:02:22
32. Board Game: Oil Quest: The Game of Energy and Excitement added by heli on 2011-11-29 11:13:43
33. Board Game: Brent Crude added by David Ells on 2013-06-23 03:45:08
34. Board Game: Petróleo S.A. added by David Ells on 2013-06-23 03:45:53
35. Board Game: Wildcatters added by tcanderson71 on 2013-12-22 20:16:34
36. Board Game: Black Gold added by ChrisHandy on 2014-01-12 00:36:31
37. Board Game: Oilfield added by pacornic on 2014-09-25 14:23:52
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