Review : Acquire – High Adventure in High Finance

TABLETOP GAME REVIEW:

HIGH ADVENTURE IN HIGH FINANCE
A Review of ACQUIRE

Written by FarmerLenny on October 26, 2011 at I Slay The Dragon

When I first came to Illinois, I moved into a house where I had three roommates. The roommates bonded over several shared experiences—the change-jar meals at Outback Steakhouse, watching Boston Legal, the near losses of the Indianapolis Colts—but none as much as the game Acquire.

I hadn’t played Acquire before moving to Illinois (despite its age—it was first printed in 1962—and its many iterations), but it soon became one of my favorite board games. We played often, and while I seldom won, it is a fun game to lose, one of the marks of a good game.

How It Plays

Acquire can be played with two to six players. It comes with a game board (a 9×12 grid, each space bearing a number and letter, 1A through 12I) and tiles corresponding to each space, seven chain markers (representing publicly traded corporations), twenty-five shares of stock for each of the seven chains, paper money, and reference cards for each player (to chart the price of stocks). The goal of the game is to end the game with the most money. The way to earn money is through the clever buying and selling of stocks.

Each player has a “hand” of six tiles that correspond to spaces on the board. Each space represents a single business. When two spaces connect orthogonally, the single businesses become one of seven corporate chains (the player who plays the connecting tile chooses which). The hotel chain values come in three tiers: two at the bottom (Zeta and Sackson), three in the middle (America, Hydra, Fusion), and two at the top (Phoenix and Quantum). Low value means a cheap buy-in, but it also normally means a lesser payout. An expensive chain means a more difficult investment, but generally greater gains.

A turn consists of four parts: playing a tile, resolving the tile, buying stocks, drawing a new tile. Resolving a tile can mean one of several things: if the tile is played adjacent to an isolated tile, the tiles become a corporate chain. If the tile is placed connecting to an already formed corporation, the corporation grows (stock is more expensive to buy and more lucrative to sell). If the tile connects two chains on the board, a merger occurs (I’ll tackle this on its own later). If the tile isn’t connected to anything, there is no effect.

After the tile has been resolved, the player may buy at most three shares of stock in any corporation on the board, even if he didn’t start that company. (There is no exclusive ownership in Acquire; every corporation is publicly traded.) The ultimate goal of the game is to have the most money; the shorter-term goal is to balance your portfolio, having the most shares of stock in as many companies as possible, both in corporations that will be swallowed by larger corporations and in those larger corporations (which pay off in the endgame but not as the game progresses). Buying stocks is the crux of the game.

Stock and corporation values are determined by how many tiles connect to form the corporation. Each tile added to a company generally adds $100 to the price of stock . So, for example, one share of Sackson (bottom tier) is worth $200 when there are only two tiles in the chain. But if there are three, the price jumps to $300. Two tiles in Hydra (middle tier) means stock is valued at $300; with three tiles, $400. Two tiles in Quantum (top tier) starts the value at $400; three tiles = $500. And so on. The trick is to buy low and sell high. But remember: there are only twenty-five of each stock in the game, so you may not have a choice when to buy in order to secure the favored stockholder positions.

(… snipped … to read the full article visit ISlayTheDragon …)

What do I like about Acquire? Well, first of all, it’s a math game in many respects, and I love math games. (Show me the money!) I like that winners and losers are hard to guess until the very end—a player who has several small holdings in frequently merging companies may have more money showing during the game, but the players who have their assets tied up in the high-rolling corporate monoliths should not be discounted. I like that there is give-and-take in the game, that there has to be a balance between companies that are profitable during the game and companies that are profitable in the end game. I like the aspect of most things being public—all the corporations are equally accessible to the players, and players can publicly count the remaining stocks of any corporation at any time—but there also being a private element …

To read the rest of the article, visit ISlayTheDragon

Overall Rating : 9 out of 10

Summary

Pros:

  • High tension level
  • Good balance of strategy and luck
  • A mathy game, if you like math
  • Engaging
  • Calculated risks are exciting and fun

Cons:

  • Steep learning curve
  • Players stuck with their holdings are essentially eliminated
  • Latest version of the game has lower- pieces