Posted Thursday, 30-Jul-2015
Some games become popular because they play well or have an interesting theme. Some gain fame because the pieces are just so cool. Crude: The Oil Game, also published under the title of McMulti, is a game that has it all.
When a game is known for its plastic playing pieces, that usually means it’s a combat game. Great care has gone into sculpting the monsters you’ll fight in Castle Ravenloft and the ships you’ll raid in Black Fleet. But economic games usually make do with wooden counters and simple meeples.
Crude is different. A game of big business and economic expansion, it’s also full of delightful plastic models, the sort of toys that can bring a board to life. With its pumping plants, drilling rigs and little round barrels, Crude brings the oil industry into the palm of your hand.
Fun as it would be to just line up all this plastic in a tiny diorama, Crude is about much more than that.
You play as CEOs turning oil companies into vast multi-national corporations. The first to make their business worth $750 million is the winner, but that takes thought and planning.
Like a real oil company, you set up facilities to extract, refine and sell the oil. You speculate by buying and selling oil both at home and abroad. You try to squeeze every last cent of profit from people’s thirst for fuel.
But also like a real oil company, you are at the mercy of the markets. Price fluctuations and unexpected news can damage your profits. You have to think strategically to stay ahead of the economy, and that’s where the fun and the challenge lies.
Originally released in the 1970s, Crude came out of an era when fluctuating oil prices were big news. It’s a theme that remains appealingly relevant to this day.
Between oil spills, price shifts and war in the Middle East, oil has seldom been out of the headlines over recent decades. Even the market manipulations that feature in Crude have made the news, back when Enron executives were exporting electricity across state boundaries and then arranging plant failures to make a quick buck. A game like Crude feels as relevant today as it did forty years ago.
Other games have played with similar themes, most notably Power Grid. But only Crude: The Oil Game brings you the joy of big energy and tiny plastic toys in a single box.
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