Pipeline is an incredibly confident debut game from designer Ryan Courtney. Taking on the role of private oil companies, players will attempt to buy and refine oil in the most efficient manner. This, of course, means buying crude oil cheap and refining it through a maze of your own pipelines.
The gameplay is quite deep. Every game the valuations (end game scoring) are different every game, meaning what works one game will not work so well the next. If you don’t aim to fulfil at least one of these, you could be in trouble come end game scoring.
Oil is not the only thing you’ll need. Pipelines are important too. They come in three colours; each refining oil barrels of the same colour. Amazingly each of the 130+ tiles are unique, which presents you with an interesting spacial puzzle. Each oil colour will require different lengths of pipe to be refined from each stage to the next (crude - low grade - mid grade - high grade). Do you build big in one colour so you can refine a barrel all the way from crude to high grade, or multiple pipelines that can refine multiple barrels at once?
Then there are machines to consider. Normally you must manually run your pipelines through worker placement but with machines you can run them at the end of your turn for a cost. Speaking of worker placement, this is the primary way you will select your actions, but unlike other worker placement games you don’t block spaces and you can use the same action multiple times. This really highlights what Pipeline is all about - efficiency. Thanks to the baked in variety of tiles and goals this really does challenge you to think differently each game, yet despite this the game can fly by as turns are often quick and punchy.
If you are looking for your next thingy game, then Pipeline is a fantastic proposition.
Player Count: 2-4
Time: 60-120 Minutes