Acquire Review

Acquire 3M game in play

A game that's been in my collection for a while, but that I'm just now getting around to playing and reviewing is Acquire (in all honesty, my version is the original 1962 version from 3M, not the latest reprint by Avalon Hill that I have linked to).

In Acquire, each player is taking on the role of a hotel mogul, and the goal of the game is to earn the most money. In order to do this, each player will be both buying stock and developing hotel chains. On each turn, a player will start with 6 tiles that represent potential hotels. They will choose one of these tiles to place on its appropriate position on the board (a grid that is labeled 1-A through 12-I). This placement can cause several things to occur: a hotel chain may be founded, two hotel chains may merge, thus causing a buyout of the stock of the smaller chain, or a single hotel may be placed in isolation. After placing their tile, the player will then have the option of buying up to 3 stocks of any of the hotel chains that have been founded. Once one of the hotel chains has grown large enough, or several of the chains have grown to sufficient size, then the game is over, all the players sell their remaining shares of stock, and the person with the most money is the winner.

Acquire has some very interesting features. First, the drawing and placement of tiles works pretty well. It gives the players strategic options as to where to place each turn, but still forces them to make the best of what is available to them. This keeps the game from becoming too redundant, as the game will be different each time simply based on where people are able to found hotel chains and when they are able to merge them together.  This aspect of the game is one of the main strategic pieces while playing Acquire.

Next, the buying and selling of stock works well. Each player is able to buy whichever stocks they want (and can afford) each turn, but only up to a maximum of 3. This helps prevent a player that has had a windfall of money from being able to buy all of the shares of one or more of the chains and helps maintain competitive balance. Also, the selling of stock - specifically the fact that there is a majority and minority shareholder bonus - encourages the players to have certain stocks that they invest more heavily in. Once a player begins investing in a chain, it is also important to figure out when to try to grow the chain and when to try to have it bought out by a bigger chain (thus freeing up some money or giving you more of the bigger chain's stock for a cheaper rate).

There were a couple of drawbacks that I saw to Acquire. First, Acquire is a game in which you can be defeated well before the game is over. In some games you always feel like there is a chance (however remote) that you will be able to come from behind if things go well, but Acquire is not like that. In one of the games we played, in fact, one of the players (yes, through poor strategy) had rendered himself irrelevant within the first few turns with nothing that he was able to do but place tiles - he had no way of buying or selling any tiles to generate any more money. I prefer games in which you always have a chance of coming back, or in which several of the players that are doing poorly have a chance of joining forces to come back against a player that is running away with the game.

Another problem that I see with Acquire is that there are some fatal mistakes that players can make. Specifically, if a player runs out of money for more than a couple of turns, this often means that he will lose. It seems like in the game the emphasis is more on selling stock than it is on growing a hotel chain to be larger, and I would have preferred that there was more of a balance which would allow both strategies to be feasible alternatives.

Overall, I give Acquire a 7.5/10. It is a good game that I will continue to play occasionally, but it is not something that I will play on a regular basis. If you are interested in playing stock based games, I would recommend trying Chicago Express before playing this game, but if you run across a copy fairly inexpensively or have a friend that has a copy of the game, it is definitely worth trying out.

Some other games that you might also want to check out are Monopoly Deal, Innovation (a card game) and Bootleggers.

1 comment:

  1. When you consider that this game was one of the first strategy games ever made and kicked off the movement... it's an awesome game to still be talking about it 50 years later!