King Oil is a unique game. The board has holes in which players drill for oil. But nobody knows how deep (expensive) the wells are—or if they’ll hit oil at all. The deeper the oil well, the more costly it is–you can go bankrupt if you’re not careful. But if you don’t take a risk, you’ll fall behind your opponents.
Three layers of hidden plates with holes in unknown locations are under the game board. These plates are rotated randomly at the start of each game.
A player uses the oil rig game piece, which determines how deep the holes are and how much they had to pay to drill a well (and sometimes you pay top dollar for a dry well which produces nothing).
Wikipedia has a decent entry on King Oil.
I used to play this game at my grandparent’s house in New Orleans and had thought little about it until my parents found a copy on eBay and we played it the Christmas before last.
The game is rare, so finding a set runs close to $70 on eBay with shipping. However, Kris found just the board and no game pieces for $30. We figured we could 3D print the other pieces. So that’s what we did.
I delegated that job to Eli. He created the pieces in Tinkercad. Here’s a shed, pipeline, oil derrick, and cap for dry or fire-damaged wells.
The most difficult piece to design was the rig, which determines the drilling depth. This is Eli’s Mark IV prototype which works well.
And then we printed them out on our Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer.
If you’re interested in this game, it’s been out of print, but you can still find it on eBay.
Here are the rules:
As I am writing this post, I realize King Oil is comparable to real-life risk-taking to a certain degree. I reflected on some risky decisions that Kris and I are considering (real-life decisions, not drilling a well in a game!). This game in many ways parallels life and the unknowns presented to us. If we don’t take risks, we’ll certainly lose out on prospering. If we do take risks, we’ll sometimes fail. There is certainly a wise position between recklessly exposing everything to peril vs not taking any risk at all.
He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.
In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.King Solomon, Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 ESV