Quick Look: Peak Oil Profiteer
Designers: Heiko Günther & Tobias Gohrbandt
Publisher: 2Tomatoes Games
Year Published: 2021
When I see anything with a Gusher or the word OIL in the gaming world, it brings me back to the days of my youth when the mighty Commodore 64 was THE gaming system of choice for growing geeky gamers like myself. EPYX’s release of OIL Barons was the floppy disk of choice at the time to install. LOAD “*”,8,1 and we were off. The Game Peak Oil designed by Tobias Gohrbandt and Heiko Gunther and published by 2Tomatoes Games was my first comeback tour around enjoying a themed game focused on drilling for the BLACK GOLD while managing card play, corruption countering, and dice rolling. No 30 minute load time for it either. It sets up quickly and we were rolling our tankers out for delivery in no time. In the latest extension of the theme, Peak Oil Profiteer provides a variation on the strategies found in the original game Peak Oil. It is not an expansion but a continuation of the system that bases play around factions, criminal behavior, conspiracies, and on this board regional domination of the oil commodity.
As a gamer who often times gets way to excited over the smallest bedazzled pawn piece when the light hits it just right on the gaming table, Peak Oil Profiteer does not reflect its own acronym on the game table. (POP) It stays true to the original game design and look with simple text, geometry, and play pieces that you would have found in the great early era of the 80’s. I would expect oil rig printed markers, AK shaped tokens, and tanker ships you could happily display in a showcase. But that would most certainly drive up the pricing. What it lacks in look and game delivers in quick round play activity that has obviously been play tested to perfection.
The game is based around three factions and your choice of 1 to 5 corporations that utilize board control throughout by manipulating the use of politics, the might of military, and the always present religious zealots to shift the power and flow of oil and money to be made. Each represent a leadership position in the text of the game play and are the focus of the blackmail mechanic used successfully in the original game.
Play continues as the corruption meter climbs its way to 100% based on event cards drawn randomly from the contingency deck. The deck sets the state for each round with specific actions eliminated or accelerated for the players. Once again the player represents the corporation that willingly or unwillingly must operate under ever changing conditions.
Play in the round begins with each corporation laying down one of 5 actions they wish to take during their turn phase and all simultaneously reveal their activity. This often provides an element of fun confusion that forces you to reevaluate your plan and troop placement as you seek to control the oil rigs, weapon depots and ports of call. Action one: Networking or better stated Blackmailing. Maximize your control over the board with placing leader tokens in areas of interest. Action two: Sell weapons. Yes, the art of territory control at the end of a barrel continues to play a part in board control. This has a Risk like feel as troop movement is done by a single die that corresponds to the direction they move on the board. Invading other faction’s areas become more of luck than strategy with this mechanic. Action three: Drilling rights. This occurs based on what troops occupy one of the six regions for oil on the board. Action four: Sell oil. The routes to one of three ports must be cleared of opposition and the level of the faction at the time of sale will determine your payday so the strength or control of your relationships with each faction is key to determining your payout. Action five: Contingency. This action provides the favor of the game as you take possession of these cards throughout game play which provide advantages to a player and helps to strategize how you conduct your “Business” within the game.
One last mechanic that is consistent and helps drive home the feel of competitive play is the exchange of money with other players based on THEIR leadership, troop-controlled territories, and faction relations. Having to give your Ginzel of a little brother an extra 5 spot because his military influence dominates the port you need to sell your oil STINGS awfully bad. The game ends after the corruption meter reaches 100% and all players count their fortune to see who has accumulated the most cash for the “Texas Tea”.
Peak Oil Profiteer is a game that requires many skill sets that makes a strategist take notice and a beginner to the hobby curl up in a fetal position…UNLESS their day jobs are in the oil business or have a fetish for cartel finances. This is definitely a game for those who focus more on min/maxing strategy than the casual party play titles now taking up a large section of shelf space of many stores. Make sure you understand the basic elements and give yourself a few rounds of redos on your turn to get the ebb and flow of this babe. Lubrication of the brain cogs is a requirement.
Well – the first thing you know ol’Bogue ain’t a millionaire, my kid who played with me said lets move away from here….easy son – Texas is as close as we need to be in the oil fields. No need to load up your truck and move, just check it out on Kickstarter or visit their site for a way to start drilling down on this one for yourself Roughneck!