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Subject: Acquire - A Mini Review rss

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All of my reviews aim to offer a brief overview that allows people to get a good feel for what the game may offer them. I feel that other reviews can be sought if detailed game mechanics is what you are after.

In Acquire each player is a budding corporate executive and the aim is to buy and sell shares in a variety of corporations. Of course the trick is knowing when to buy and sell and the game is in a constant state of change as any turn can result in a corporation growing larger or being swallowed up in a hostile merger. Intrigued? Well you should be.

The game revolves entirely around a 12 x 12 grid, which represents the corporate precinct of a city. Each grid square is identified with a number (1-12) and a letter (A-I). Each of these squares then has a matching tile (grey), which is also identified with the same code. All 144 of these tiles are turned face down to hide their identity and form a pool. The game begins with each player taking $6,000 as their starting capital and 6 tiles from the pool. On a player’s turn they must place 1 of their tiles to the board – of course the tile can only go on its matching space. The placement of each tile represents the formation of a company but on their own a single company is nothing special. If a player could only place a tile in isolation then their turn is over and they draw a new tile to maintain their 6 tile hand (tiles should be hidden from opponent’s ala Scrabble).

But if a player can place a tile to connect two or more (only in a vertical or horizontal fashion) then a major corporation has been formed. The player can choose 1 of 7 coloured buildings (corporations) and place it onto 1 of the grey tiles. This corporation is now listed on the stock market and this means that players can buy shares (stocks) in this corporation on their turn. The value of each stock varies in the game but the bigger a corporation, the more expensive its shares will be.

But the real fun is in the mergers. If playing a tile connects 2 corporations together then a hostile takeover occurs. Quite simply the larger corporation will acquire the smaller one removing it from the game. It is now that the shares become important. The player who owns the most shares (in the now defunct corporation) is dubbed the majority shareholder and a reference card indicates how much money they receive as a bonus payout. The player with the 2nd highest number of shares becomes the minority shareholder and receives a smaller, but still substantial payout. Remaining players with shares get no payout but all players can then sell, trade or keep their shares in case the corporation re-emerges later.

So the strategy reveals itself. Build corporations but try to acquire shares in those you think will be acquired, as it is these that will result in payouts. Players are always jostling to be majority or minority shareholders but this can be an expensive business. If a player puts too many eggs in the one basket they may get blindsided by other players placing tiles to make their corporation bigger and unable to be acquired, leaving them with worthless shares.

The Final Word

Acquire is one of those rare games to stand the test of time and still go on selling to families and game players alike (did I see a thread recently discussing iconic games). The key is a simple rule set (3-flip booklet) that allows for intricate game play, plenty of player options and a small dose of luck that keeps all of the players on their guard. I do recommend playing with 4+ people as this helps to keep the play balanced and unpredictable. Buy Acquire and Monopoly will be a distant memory.
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