Artwork for the board game, The Oilman

Obscure Board Game The Oilman Finds A New Reserve

December 30, 2021

By: Tyler Chancey

 
 

The world of tabletop gaming has its share of obscure titles lost to time. Either the games go out of print, interest dies down, or the current rights holders have no interest in keeping the product in circulation. But sometimes, a bit of scrutiny and knowing the right people can keep such board games. This is the case with a small obscure board game, The Oilman.

The Oilman was a board game developed and published in Alberta, Canada. As the name suggests, it's a board game about becoming a successful oil baron. But the original game has been out of print for over 15 years, with secondhand copies selling for hundreds of dollars. According to a report by the Calgary Herald, businessman Sanford Greve found this out for himself when he lost his copy of the game and tried looking for a replacement. Rather than being dejected at such a development, he and business partner Stephan Fertig contacted the original publisher, Cardium Games. Ultimately, Greve and Fertig purchased the rights to The Oilman

 

And since the summer of 2019, The Oilman has been reprinted with hundreds of new copies being produced and distributed from the Drayton Valley area. When asked how the process went, Greve commented, "Next thing we knew we were in the board game business,” Greve said with a laugh. “We modernized it a bit, gave it a new look... We have great big, ugly injection molds to make all the parts. It’s an interesting world.” Greve then continued to mention how The Oilman has continued to sell not just in Canada but in other countries like Austria and the United States.

Businessmen Greve and Fertig sitting around a new copy of The Oilman
Greve and Ferthig sitting around a copy of The Oilman. Image Credit: SUPPLIED

Greves even briefly mentioned the possibility of expanding The Oilman's appeal with additional forms of promotion. "The thing we’ve really been gaining on this year is we started to customize the maps for companies. Companies can get their logo put right on the maps and on the package, and they can use it as promotional items and prize, so a lot of oil companies have been buying them.” As for whether or not this means getting actual oil and fuel companies to lend their likenesses to the game isn't exactly clear but it wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility.

 
 

While this isn't the first time that a certain board game has gotten a second wind, the fact that The Oilman has gone from a local curiosity to something more hobbyists are discovering is a testament to Greves and Fertig's determination and insistence.