Oil Exploration Games
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":
Prospect Generation -
Reservoir Delineation -
Primary Production -
Enhanced Recovery -
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.
- [+] Dice rolls