This week I had a sneak peek at a new Kickstarter game called Peak Oil. The premise is simple: oil is running out and you have been tasked to find a way to find a future that can cope without this resource.
You use the last drops of oil from Fields around the world to gather the resources that allow you to invest in various oil replacement technologies. When I asked Jordi from 2Tomatoes Games where the idea came from for this he had this to say:
"We met the designers in Essen 2015; originally we had contacted them for another game. When they saw that we were interested in games that have contemporary themes, they showed us Peak Oil and it was love at first sight. The game revolves around a short/middle term crisis that is going to have a profound impact on our everyday lives…and is also about how some people are going to try and profit from it”.
Peak Oil set-up
The set up when written down (see below) is very long winded when in fact it is just a case of setting up the resources, tokens, player markers and a few decks of cards. There is a place for everything on or just around the board and the set up does not take to long at all.
- Randomly distribute the large round Refinery chips with a random side up on the three Refineries.
- Randomly distribute the small round Risk chips with a random side up on the Risk spots.
- Shuffle the Oil Field cards and reveal one per player: for each card revealed, place two black Barrels on that region. Return those Oil Field cards face down to the bottom of the deck. Then reveal three new Oil Field cards and place them face up into the open display close to the Develop Action Spot. Place the face down Oil Field deck close by.
- Shuffle the Start-up cards. Reveal three and place them face up into the open display close to the Invest Action Spot. Place the face down Start-Up deck close by.
- Each player picks the HQ card they like best.
- Shuffle the Private Portfolio cards face down and deal one to each player.
- Allocate some area close to the board as the general reserve.
- Each player places two Agents of their colour in their HQ and the remaining two in the general reserve.
- Each player places one black Barrel in their HQ.
- Place the five Security chips in the general reserve.
- Put a number of red, yellow and black Barrels corresponding to your player count into the bag.
- Separate the consultant cards into three stacks by level: shuffle and reveal Consultant cards face up into the open display in the quantities corresponding to your player count, using the table above, also found on the board.
- Separate the PR Crisis cards into three stacks by level. Shuffle each of these stacks face down and place them close to the board. For a more challenging game, each player draws one card from the level 1 stack and keeps it face down.
- Return all left-over components to the box, they will not be need in this game.
Actions & turn order
This game is quite in depth so rather than me explain badly what you must do, I asked Jordi to explain what the players can and will do on their turns:
“Players take turns clockwise. On each turn, there are 3 steps:
- MANDATORY: Reassign an Agent or take action in one of the Action Spots
- MANDATORY: Reassign an Agent
- OPTIONAL: Pay 2 Barrels to reassign an Agent
Reassign an agent: To reassign, take one Agent from your HQ and move it to any Action Spot, or take one Agent from any Action Spot and move it to your HQ or to any other Action Spot.
Take Action: You can only take action in an action spots if you have agent(s) on that action spot, placed there on previous turn(s). Then:
- If you have more Agents on an Action Spot than any other single player, you may take an action there: you may use both options of that Action Spot in any order you like.
- If you are tied for majority with one or more other players on an Action Spot, you may still take an action there, but first have to pull one Barrel from the bag and resolve its effect (this can cause 1 or more PR Crisis, which are bad for you!). Then, pick one of the options of that Action Spot and use it.
- If you neither have the majority, nor are tied for majority, you may not take an action on that Action Spot.
- After taking an action on any Action Spot, return all your Agents from that Action Spot to your HQ.
And what are the Action Spots and actions you can take?
- Action Spot Expand: You can either Recruit more Agents or Dispatch them to other Action Spots
- Action Spot Develop: You can either Drill for oil, or Whitewash your public image (getting rid of PR Crisis that affect you)
- Action Spot Invest: You can either buy Start-up companies, or invest on the oil replacement Technologies
- Action Spot Grey Ops: You can either hire a Consultant (they’re more akin to mercenaries…) or Divert the resources from the global black market into the oil replacement technologies.
- Action Spot Regions: Once you’ve drilled for oil, you may Ship that oil to the refinery centres, effectively turning it into money! (but take care, because there is trouble on the road…)
Overview & Thoughts
To me, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, this game feels a bit like Pandemic in set up. Even the map looks like Pandemic. That’s great as I love that game and its simple yet effective art style. The theme didn’t really interest me at first, what do I know about oil, but once I got into talking about the game it was clear to see that it’s not a serious ‘our oil is running out and we must make people aware kinda theme’ and then when I looked at the mechanics I really enjoyed the feel of it.
The rule book I had a look through had plenty of humour and considering it’s quite long and in depth it didn’t feel over bearing. The advanced rules add replay value and I can see this game making it to the table many times before getting old. The art while basic is well done and does fit the theme.
I look forward to seeing this game on Kickstarter when it launches tomorrow (April 5) and will be following it very closely. 2Tomatoes Games have high hopes for this campaign with lots planed and the year and a half it took to get to this stage I believe they will do very well.