I know it ended up on the fantasy flight holiday sale, which means to me that it wasn't overly successful, and I admit I wouldn't have picked it up were it not on the sale but boy am I glad I did.
My gaming group loves this game. It isn't a deep game, it is more casual. But there is some good strategy to it, there are fun bidding components with bluffing and the player interaction is at a great pace. You don't take your turn and wait one hour for your next turn…everyone takes their turn together. The only area that bogs down is moving the truck but it really is smooth once players know the movement rules.
The game has several phases to it.
1) Adjust market prices. Very simple mechanic but effective. Your gambles from the turn prior can pay off depending on how the dice rolls.
2) Draw cards and choose them. Players usually have to choose between movement points vs. bidding/auction cards. Very few cards provide lots of both. Every now and then, a player will get special perks such as ability to change the market price or free oil, etc. It is always great strategy as players pick what they need the most and you position yoursel for being best equipped to either:
A) Drill more oil
B) Sell more oil
3) Next up is the movement phase. This inovles balancing the movement of your truck and the train. (They share the movement points) The truck is used to find a drill site and to drill a well. The train is needed in order to transport the oil.
4) Next is the oil collection. You collect oil plumes from your sites and determine which market you want to store the oil. Some strategy here, not very deep but this is where you deduce what other players are going to do and how to best position yourself to make profit.
5) Auction off each of the three oil markets. Only one player gets to sell oil, will you be that player? Players can bluff and bid more points than they actually have in order to coax you into spending more bidding points. What fun this phase is!! Of course there are penalties if you call someone at their bluff and they can't produce the points.
6) Sell off any excess oil at rock bottom prices. I.E. you can only store two oil plumes in each market so if you were hoping to sell more but lost the auction, you sell the oil but at a horrible price.
Rinse and repeat until an oil baron's train progresses to the point where it arrives in the area. Then it is game over and whoever has the most money wins.
I really enjoy the bidding aspects of the game. There is a lot of bluffing and keeping track of the goals of other players. There is an exploratory part where you are moving around and finding drill sites. There is some deep thinking ahead required as you may have four derricks drilled, which means you will be generating a lot of oil in the upcoming turns, so you better have the capacity to transport it plus the auction points to sell it or otherwise all of your hard work will be lost!
The game is best played with 5 players. The more chaos the better. A two player game is fun, but I enjoyed the bidding aspects and the high risk/high reward components within this game.
And most importantly, I enjoyed the fact that you can play your cards right and still miss the mark. I know some strategists don't appreciate this, but I do. It feels so awesome when your hard work pays off…and it is mind numbing to see your hard work fail.
The areas I see people rate games are:
Replayability: Very high. No two games are the same
Strategy: High. There are deep games out there and this one is casual but the strategy is still there and there is enough to keep a person satisfied
Can kids play?: Yes, but they may not understand the subtlety of bluffing and playing the markets as well as the adults. But they can still win! My 7 and 9 year old boys play this game
Artwork/Pieces: Good. The oil derricks are great. Removing the oil plumes can be time consuming but they look realistic and it is cool.
Random luck factor: High. For some this is great, for others, they don't like random elements. There is a lot of luck to this game whether it being a die roll for the market price adjustments, or determining how much oil was in your wells. I frankly feel that thematically, luck should be a big factor in this game because drilling for oil has never been a science. Especially in that era, it was a very hit or miss/lucky line of business.
I feel blessed to have gotten this game at a great price. I am also disappointed that the reason it was a great price means it is likely not getting much love. It is a fantastic game and will be played for many more years to come.