How To Play: Pipeline – Setup, rule summary and strategy

This guide covers everything you need to dominate in Pipeline, from mastering resource management and effective Pipeline configurations to adopting savvy market strategies. It includes a comprehensive list of components, detailed gameplay rules, and concludes with encouragement to use these strategies to improve your game.


Welcome to our guide on conquering the board game Pipeline! If you’ve ever wondered how to turn those pesky pipes into a well-oiled machine (pun intended), you’re in the right spot. We’ll break down the game rules so even my grandma can understand, and dive into the best strategies for claiming victory. Ever dreamt of becoming the ultimate pipeline mogul? Keep reading, and you might just get there.

What’s in the box

  • 1 Game Board
  • 4 Player Boards
  • 8 Worker Meeples (2 in each of the four player colors)
  • 48 Oil Refineries (12 in each of the four player colors)
  • 4 Scoring Markers (1 in each player color)
  • 140 Pipes (in various colors and shapes)
  • 220 Oil Barrels (in 3 different colors)
  • 1 Round Marker
  • 4 Reference Cards
  • 84 Order Cards
  • 36 Machine Tiles
  • 36 Tank Tiles
  • 20 Upgrade Tiles
  • Starting Player Marker
  • Money Tokens (in various denominations)

How To Play Pipeline: Rules Summary

Gather around, folks! Let’s crack the code on how to play Pipeline, a game where your economic wits are put to the test. Here’s everything you need to get rolling, from setup to claiming your victory.


  1. Lay out the game board in the center of the table.
  2. Each player picks a color and gets the corresponding tanks, pipes, and money.
  3. Shuffle the contracts and deal three to each player.
  4. Place the oil markets, machines, and governments tiles on their designated spots.
  5. Randomly draw and place the initial pipelines on their game board sections.


  1. Players take turns doing one main action: buy pipes, buy and sell oil, or work on contracts.
  2. You can also upgrade your pipes, purchase machines, and hire experts during your turn.
  3. Moving through the year, manage your resources carefully to expand your pipeline network efficiently.
  4. Keep an eye on the market; the prices of oil change and can impact your strategy.
  5. Remember, making money is key, but you’ve got to invest wisely!


  1. The game ends after three years (rounds). Calculate your wealth including cash, the value of your oil, and any bonuses from contracts.
  2. The player with the highest wealth wins the game. In case of a tie, the player with the most valuable oil reserves takes the crown.

Special Rules & Conditions

  1. If you run out of money, you can take a loan, but be wary of the interest rates!
  2. You can’t undo actions, so think ahead and plan your moves carefully.
  3. Government pipes offer special abilities; use them to get ahead of your competitors.
  4. Experts provide unique benefits that can significantly impact your game strategy.

And there you have it! Playing Pipeline is all about balancing your ambitions with a keen eye on your resources and opponents. Grab your friends, set up the board, and let the oil empire building begin. Who knows, you might just become the next oil mogul!

Best Pipeline Strategies

Mastering Resource Management: The Key to Victory

Winning at board games often comes down to how well you manage your resources. It’s no different when you’re trying to conquer the world of strategic play. Let’s break down the critical strategies for ensuring your resources take you to the top.

1. Prioritize Your Investments

  1. Identify which resources will give you the most bang for your buck early on.
  2. Don’t spread yourself too thin; focus on a few key areas to boost your growth.

2. Monitor Your Opponents

  1. Keep an eye on what resources your rivals are gathering.
  2. Adjust your strategy to block their progress or outpace their growth.

3. Plan for the Long Haul

  1. Think ahead about the resources you’ll need in later stages of the game.
  2. Secure a steady supply chain early to avoid shortages when it matters most.

Mastering Pipeline Configurations: A Path to Victory

Winning at Pipeline isn’t just luck; it’s about crafting the perfect setup. Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of Pipeline configurations.

Start Strong: Early Game Setups

  1. Focus on building a versatile initial setup. Aim for pipes that offer flexibility.
  2. Expand your network gradually, keeping balance in mind. Don’t overspend early on.

Mid-Game Strategies: Expanding Your Empire

  1. Start specializing. Choose a type of oil and build pipelines that refine it efficiently.
  2. Watch the market. Adapt your strategy to the changing demands.

Late Game: Sealing the Deal

  1. Optimize your existing network. Replace inefficient sections.
  2. Block or disrupt your opponents’ strategies subtly by controlling key market resources.

The Winning Edge: Mastering Market Strategies in Board Games

Knowing how to navigate the market is key to any board game victory. It’s not just about what you buy; it’s about when and how you buy it. Let’s break down the top strategies.

Timing Your Purchases

  1. Buy low, sell high. Watch the market trends and strike at the right moment.
  2. Anticipate market shifts. Predict what resources or cards will become valuable and stock up early.

Controlling Supply and Demand

  1. Limit opponents’ access to resources by buying them out or using game mechanics to your advantage.
  2. Create shortages. Sometimes, holding onto a resource can be more beneficial than selling it immediately.

Strategic Trading

  1. Trade with purpose. Every trade should bring you closer to your win condition, not just immediate gain.
  2. Use information as a tool. Gauge what your opponents need and use that knowledge to your advantage in trades.

## Mastering the Flow: Concluding Thoughts on Dominating Pipeline

As we wrap up this strategy guide, remember, Pipeline isn’t just a game about building pipes; it’s a complex dance of strategy, foresight, and risk management. The tips we’ve covered, from optimizing your initial Pipeline configurations to executing cunning market strategies, are just the start. Real mastery comes from playing, learning from your mistakes, and, yes, sometimes watching your well-laid plans get flushed away by an unexpected move. So gather your friends, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to dive back into the game. The world of Pipeline awaits your newfound expertise, and who knows? With enough practice, you might just pipe your way to becoming an undisputed champion.

Want to know what we think of Pipeline? Read our detailed review of Pipeline here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.