Wildcatters is a game about logistics during the early days of the oil industry. This antiquated term referred to a businessman drilling oil in an unproven territory. To reflect the venture, players in this game must balance constructing oil fields and converting them to pumpjacks with building refineries for processing oil barrels and managing a network of trains and tankers. To gain the most victory points, players must have the most petrol shipped in different sectors of the world.
The game starts during set-up as players seed their initial structures over the world map with a random hand of cards. The set-up process ensures a unique map each game and strategies to be constantly re-evaluated. It is also pleasing to craft a map with other players.
Wildcatters is played over 7 rounds (for a 4-player game). In each turn, only one area of the world becomes active. This system leads to a continent having continuous activity or be forgotten. A developed area is full of opportunity and tightly contested. But a desolate area may put off some players since their plans during set-up plans had no payoff. This inequality slightly reflects the theme of risk in doing business. I understand that this adds variability to the experience but may become an issue to others.
Wildcatter's turn structure seems rigid but its "follow" mechanisms create engaging affairs each round. With minimal costs, players can participate in construction and transport. At the later stages of the game, your logistics network of trains and tankers allow you to take important scoring actions during another player's turn.
A negative aspect in Wildcatters is the auction phase for its eponymous pieces. It feels tacked on for the sake of an additional scoring mechanism and head-to-head interaction. Overextending your currency will not win games even if you focus on collecting wildcatters. Its bonus as an extra barrel of oil is fleeting and not as efficient as creating actual pumpjacks in a later round.