more Tulsa Oil

November 18, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments
Every time I play Tulsa Oil it’s a little bit different.

I played again last night, and it was a much tighter, much more cutthroat game.  We both did everything we could to limit the growth of active wells, and we were both quite successful:  at the end of the game, he had two chains of three and I had just one.   Neither of us had a chain of four, even though there were eight shared wells!

The new way of handling wells (with a limited number of personal wells per player) really deepens the game.  It went from a game I kind of felt I had my head around (though I often lost) to a game that feels much larger in scope.  Deciding whether or not to share a newly discovered well is never easy to do.

I think his overall strategy was better than mine (he encircled my pieces in the middle of the board and as a result had a lot of influence along the edges), but I was able to cut off five of his pieces toward the end of the game to even it up.  It was a very close game, decided by just one point.

I learned a couple of things.

First, cutting off or isolating your opponent’s properties is (as I suspected) a key secondary strategy, important when games are close.

Second, while you often have to choose between trying to find wells and playing for tactical advantage, sometimes you can try to do both:  certain squares offer a definite positional advantage and at least the possibility of an active well.  If there’s a well there, great — and if there isn’t, then you’ve still played in a way that’s strategically sound.

And finally, you really run out of options when you run out of wells — every time you find a well, you have to share it with your opponent.  Toward the end of the game, when I had just one or two personal wells remaining, I found myself avoiding properties with possible wells, preferring to play in areas I knew to be “safe.”  I didn’t want to have to either (a) use one of my remaining personal wells or (b) waste a turn to share one, especially since I was at that point in the game having to play defense.

After thinking about it a bit more, the game that Tulsa Oil most reminds me of is Go with a reduced board.  Of course Go has no luck whatsoever, but Tulsa Oil has surprisingly little.  What luck it does have can usually either be mitigated (if it’s bad luck) or capitalized on (if it’s good luck) with a little planning and forethought.

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