Oil - The Great Adventure

Published by Merit.


Number of Players

Oil can be played by two to six persons; a seventh person may act as banker.

Object of the Game

1. To find sources of oil worth exploiting by means of prospecting and drilling test wells.

2. To obtain oil from the wells and transport it to refineries in Europe and Australia.


In the absence of a banker, appoint one of the players to take care of the bank and another to make markings on the board. Otherwise a banker can be given both these duties.

Each player receives starting capital consisting of notes to the value of £300,000 and oil wells. The wells are represented by concession cards; the players draw lots to determine who gets cards 13 to 18. The others are not used at this stage. Place a derrick in the zero column, next to the number of each well on the marking board, to mark the wells which are in operation at the outset. Shuffle the remaining concession cards and lay them face down on the board square marked "Concessions".

Shuffle OIL NEWS cards and MEMO cards separately and lay them face down on the appropriate game board squares.

Split the 36 bills of lading into five piles, one for each oil shipping port (Mina al Ahmadi, Tripoli, Umm Said, Bandar Mashur and Port of Spain).

Shuffle each pile and place it face down (that is, with name of port on the top) nearest to the player who is taking care of the bank. The bank is also the depository of the Refinery and Shipping Company share blocks and the insurance policies.

The four tankers are held in safe-keeping by the score-board marker. Place a derrick alongside "1" in the column headed "FREIGHT QUOTATION"

The chief piece used in play is the tanker-lorry. Each player gets one lorry and places it on the game board square marked "START".

The Game in Play

The greater part of the game is played on the squares along the edges of the gameboard. The tanker-lorries are moved along these squares in a clockwise direction. Every turn entitles you to a throw of the die which tells you how many squares you can move your lorry. Special Rules apply to the different squares as follows:


Take the top card from the MEMO pile and follow its instructions. Unless you are ordered to keep the card, return it - face down! - to the bottom of the pile. You must take a card when you reach any of the squares marked MEMO. The instructions apply to you personally.

Oil News

The same rules apply as for MEMO cards, except that the instructions on OIL NEWS cards are to be observed by all players.

Dril a Test Well

If you wish, and if you can afford to do so, you may drill a test well. To proceed, move your tanker lorry away from the game board and place it on the starting square at the top of the Test Drilling drawn on the score-board and pay the stipulated cost of £50,000. When your next turn comes round, move the lorry down as many sections as shown by your die throw. The drilling process may incur additional expense for you, and if your luck is out you may not strike oil at all.

If you strike oil-producing rock, you receive a concession card (the one at the top of the pile) and move your lorry back to "Start" on the game board. Place a derrick on the zero column on the score-board to mark the well you have now acquired. If you have to abandon drilling because there is no oil, all you do is move your lorry back to "Start" on the game board.


As soon as you reach or pass one of these squares, mark one week's production for ALL your wells. With regard to Kuwait wells, numbered 1 to 9, this normally means moving the derrick one hole; Iraq wells, 10 to 14, two holes; and Qatar, Iran and Trinidad wells, one hole.

Take a Holiday

If you reach this square, you have to stop and leave for Europe by air. This means that on your next turn, and on all succeeding turns until you reach the square marked "END OF HOLIDAY", you can move your tanker- lorry only one stop at a time along the air route which cuts across the map from top to bottom. Your holiday trip ends immediately after a PRODUCTION square, but you are not permitted to make a production marking.


This square represents the modern technical equipment used in oil- prospecting. When you reach it you may move onto the next but one square to start drilling. The cost is reduced from £50,000 to £15,000, but if you either do not wish or cannot afford to invest this sum you may waive your right to drill. In that case you remain at HELICOPTER until your next turn comes around.

Off to London for a Conference

Landing on this square means that you have received orders to attend a conference at Head Office; when your next turn comes around, take the airline to England. In so doing you only move one step. When your next turn comes around you emerge on the upper edge of the game board.


Three of the game board corners are marked EXCHANGE. Your arrival at any of them entitles you to buy shares in Refineries and/or a Shipping Company. The dividends they pay are announced in the OIL NEWS cards.

Off to Kwinana for Inspection

From this square proceed on your nest turn to Kwinana (one step), after which you return to the square two steps below on the right side of the game board.

Oil Transports

In due course your well-head supplies of oil will accumulate and start moving by pipeline down to the ports for shipment to the refineries of Europe and Australia. The procedure is as follows:

If you own one or more wells in Kuwait (1-9), for example, you are in a position to charter tankers ranging from 9,000 to 27,000 tons (the figures refer to cargo capacity). But since you do not know the size of a ship in advance, you cannot charter any ship until your oil production amounts to 27,000 tons (either from one well or from several combined). In Iran you need 9,000 tons; Lebanon 18,000 and Trinidad 9,000.

As soon as you reach this quantity, you should charter a tanker if there is one available. If there is one, remove the top bill of lading from the pile of cards pertaining to the port of Mina al Ahmadi. As is noted on the concession cards, this is the port of exit for the Burgan wells (Kuwait). Now place one of the tankers in the black circle marked on the Persian Gulf (representing the ports of Mina al Ahmadi, Bandar Mashur and Umm Said). (For wells in other areas the appropriate ports of exit are used, of course).

Bills of Lading

These tell you where to transport the oil, how much you are to transport, how much you must pay, and how much you will be paid for the oil at the port of destination.

When placing a tanker in a black circle, mark the reduction of your supplies by moving one (or more) derricks as many steps back as will equal your cargo. To know where your ships are going when you have several on the high seas at the same time, attach a tab signal in the ships colour to the bill of lading. In addition, you pay freight according to the prevailing rates. These are given in the OIL NEWS cards (London Panel Board) and are marked on the score-board.

You will be acting wisely if you insure your cargo. The premium is stated on the policy which you get from the bank.

Now you are all set to leave port.

Keep an eye on the increase in your oil stores and try to charter a ship as soon as you can. The port of exit for each oil-field is given on the concession card. Remember: do not charter until you have enough oil to fill the biggest tanker arriving at your port of exit. Consult the concession card!

The Tanker Sails

You made the preparations for transport when your turn came to throw the dice, but before you actually threw. The time has now come to make your throw.

First move your tanker-lorry as you usually do and follow the instructions on any MEMO or OIL NEWS card you may hold. The move your ship the correct number of stages along the shortest route to port of destination.

When your next turn comes round move both the tanker-lorry and the tanker as many squares or stages as shown by the dice throw. Always remember to move the lorry first.

At Journey's End

When the tanker reaches it port of destination, unload the cargo and receive payment for it from the bank at the prevailing rate of exchange. This is quoted in relation to different freight rates listed on the bill of lading.

The price which affects you is that in force on the day of your arrival at port of destination. You should be prepared for prices changes taking effect while your cargo is in transit.

After you sell the cargo, return the insurance policy and bill of lading. The latter is placed to one side and removed from the game. The Tanker is then free for chartering afresh.

Chartering Several Tankers

A player is permitted to charter several tankers at the same time, provided of course that tankers are available.

Termination of Play

The game ends when all the bills of lading are used up or at a time previously agreed upon by the players, say after one hour.

Towards the end of the game, when only a few bills of lading are left, oil stores will accumulate in the different areas. In fact, they may even be filled to overflowing if ships are not available in one area or another. As soon as your stores are filled, stop marking your production.

The Winner

The player who has amassed the biggest fortune in oil wells, stores, shares and cash is declared the winner. Oil-well values are stated on the concession cards; the value of stores is assessed at £7,000 for every 1,000 tons of oil.

Playing Hints

The game is as realistic as we have been able to make it. For example, the production capacities at different wells are approximately the quantities which are actually being obtained from these wells. All the names are authentic.

In addition, the freight charges and oil prices, though rounded off for the sake of convenience, largely conform to actual figures. All essential data in the game are based on facts, though some license has been taken for the purposes of the game. During the course of play you will soon discover that there is even more leeway for realism and variety. You can carry on a number of transactions which are not mentioned in the rules (so as not to make them more complicated than necessary). We give you here just a few examples:-

Example 1

One of you fellow players may be on the verge of ruin after receiving orders to make a substantial payment beyond the cash he has in hand. However, he may hold several blocks of shares. If you are in a solvent position, you may offer to buy shares from him at a price you agree upon. You will be doing a good piece of business and lending a helping hand at the same time. The other fellow will naturally have to take a loss on his shares, but he is spared the loss of a well, which is far harder to bear for most players, especially in the early stages of a game.

Example 2

You have 18,000 tons of oil stores at Burgan; you need 27,000 tons in order to charter a tanker. One of the players may have a surplus of oil stores, there is nothing to prevent him selling it to you, providing it is in the same area. You buy 9,000 tons at the best price you can get by bargaining, which gives you enough oil to charter a tanker.

The game provides many more outlets for private initiative during the course of play. After a while you will find that enterprising moves and a "nose for business" afford you additional opportunities, and reduce the element of luck to a minimum.

Distributed by the Sumo Rules Bank.

The Game Cabinet - editor@gamecabinet.com - Ken Tidwell