Reviewed by Selwyn Ward

WILDCATTERS (Capstone Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 120 minutes; $69.99)


Designed by Rolf Sagel and André Spil and published by Capstone Games, Wildcatters is a recent second edition of a game that was first published by RASS Games in 2013. The new edition incorporates some new components and some refinements to the rules.

As the name suggests, Wildcatters is a game about the oil industry. Players represent global oil conglomerates who are exploring for oil, refining it and delivering it to market. During the course of the game players have to develop their own infrastructure – building drilling rigs, pump jacks (no – we’d never heard of these before either), refineries, oil tankers and railways, so this is a game predicated on what economists refer to as vertical integration. Although Wildcatters is not a worker placement game, workers are used as a key resource as are the shares players own in their own and each other’s oil companies.

Wildcatters plays with 2 to 4 players and a game is run over 7 or 8 rounds, depending on the number of players. It is a fairly heavy euro game because players need to put together a lot of different pieces to get a productive “engine”. Having placed out oil rigs across some or all of the continents, players need actually to build pump jacks to recover the oil they’ve “discovered”. Having produced oil, players have to use their own or pay shares to use each other’s trains to get their oil to a port. They then need to deliver it to a refinery which could be in the same or a different continent. In the latter case, the oil will require onward transport on a tanker ship. Again, this may be the player’s own or a player may choose to pay shares to load the oil onto another player’s tanker. In some circumstances, this may allow them to take the captaincy (in effect, the helm) and choose which port the tanker will sail to. Finally, key decisions have to be taken over the optimal time to “empty” refineries and whether to exchange delivered oil for shares or leave them in situ to contribute to the important end-of-game area control scoring for that continent.

All of this inevitably means there is a lot going on and a lot for players to take in, but the clear rules and player aids make the whole thing manageable.

Many of the actions available to players are expensive in terms of the workers that need to be used, and an interesting mechanic in this game is the option for players to piggyback on each other’s actions (taking the same action for a greatly reduced cost). This can lead to a degree of brinkmanship with players deliberately foregoing a desirable action in the hope that they can benefit from a rival taking the action they want. Throughout the game, players are able to make use of each other’s infrastructure at the cost of paying the opponent with shares of the borrower’s company.

Because there are so many stages to go through, it can be difficult for players to see exactly how their actions are going to translate to end-game victory points. That’ll especially be the case on your first couple of plays of this game. Despite this, Wildcatters is an unfailingly engrossing game where players quickly get wrapped up in the theme. With players piggybacking actions and using each other’s infrastructure, Wildcatters is a game with a high degree of player interaction but, unusually for such games, this isn’t, in the main, a “take that” game. The principal exception is that players can deliberately try to get opponents to run down their share capital in order to force them to take loans from the bank. These cost nearly double to repay and can heavily penalize players if they remain unpaid at the end of the game.

Don’t be put off by the drab and seemingly irrelevantly illustrated box. Open it up and you’ll find inside that this second edition of Wildcatters is beautifully produced with attractive wooden components and a visually appealing world map playing board. You can see the components shown off in 360º with the shorter version of this review on Board’s Eye View (https://www.boardseyeview.net/single-post/2018/03/19/Wildcatters).

It feels slightly odd that the game uses a mix of cards and tokens to represent the workers and shares – we were puzzled why they didn’t just supply 5x or 4x cards rather than the comparatively  incongruous coin-like tokens to represent 5 workers and 4 shares. Another small gripe was that the tiny wooden oil barrels are fiddly and, being barrel shaped (or, to be accurate, cylindrical) they do have an annoying tendency to roll about. It’s also unfortunate that the green and blue player colours can be hard to distinguish in certain lighting. These are all small gripes, however, for what is a very strong game that rewards the time it takes to learn and the two hours or so that it takes to play. – – – – Selwyn Ward

Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.

Have a comment?

Other Spring 2018 GA Report Articles


Reviewed by Herb Levy ALTIPLANO (dlp Games/Renegade Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 60-120 minutes; $65) The highlands of the Andes between Bolivia and Peru and the goods to be grown, harvested ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy CHARIOTS OF ROME (Victory Point Games, 2 to 8 players, ages 14 and up, 60-120 minutes; $45) One of the great segments in movie history is the chariot racing scene from ...
Read More
Reviewed by Selwyn Ward CIVILIZATION (Gibsons Games, 2 to 7, ages 12 and up, 4 to 8 hours; about £46) If you mention the game Civilization to most people, they immediately think of Sid Meier ...
Read More
Reviewed by Chris Wray DECRYPTO (Iello Games, 3 to 8 players, ages 12 and up, 15-45 minutes; $19.99) Decrypto made a prototype debut at the Gathering of Friends 2017, where it quickly became popular, earning ...
Read More
THE THRILL OF VICTORY AND THE JOY OF DEFEAT Decades ago, the ABC television network had a sports show called The Wide World of Sports. Each week, the highs and lows of sports teams and ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy IQUAZU (HABA, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 50 minutes; $49.99) Peace and prosperity are things that people the world over have wanted. So it is with the Inox ...
Read More
Reviewed by James Davis LISBOA (Eagle-Gryphon Games, 1 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 120 minutes; $99.99) The great Lisbon earthquake occurred on Saturday, the 1st of November at approximately 9:40 AM in the ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy MICHAEL STROGOFF (Devir, 1 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 60 minutes; $34.99) Jules Verne is one of the authors who lives on in his work. Nearly everyone has heard ...
Read More
Reviewed by Joe Huber NUSFJORD (Lookout Games/Mayfair Games, 1 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 20-100 minutes, $70) Once upon a time, Uwe Rosenberg was known as one of the greatest card game game ...
Read More
Reviewed by Kevin Whitmore POWERSHIPS (Cwali Games, 2 to 7 players, ages 10 and up, 30 minutes; 32€ plus shipping) Powerships is a 2018 release from Cwali Games, the private label of game designer Corné ...
Read More
Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser PULSAR 2849 (Czech Games Edition, 2 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 120 minutes; $59.95) Set in the future at the advent of an energy boom, Pulsar 2849 casts ...
Read More
Reviewed by Chris Kovac THIS WAR OF MINE (Awaken Realms, 1 to 6 players, ages 18 and up, 45-120 minutes; $69.99) This War of Mine is a one to six player cooperative game of survival ...
Read More
Reviewed by Pevans TULIP BUBBLE (Moaideas Game Design, 3 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 45-60 minutes; $40) I understand that there is some debate whether the early 17th-century tulip mania in the Dutch ...
Read More
Reviewed by Selwyn Ward WILDCATTERS (Capstone Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 120 minutes; $69.99) Designed by Rolf Sagel and André Spil and published by Capstone Games, Wildcatters is a recent second ...
Read More

Facebook Feed

2 weeks ago

Gamers Alliance
Wishing a happy (96th!) birthday to Angela Lansbury, star of stage, screen and, of course, television as she solves lots and lots of mysteries in the classic series.... ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook