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Gave My First Grade


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69 out of 76 gamers thought this was helpful

(Disclaimer: This review was first posted on BoardGameGeek’s website)

Acquire is a long-standing, respected, and highly regarded board game that has seen its share of re-printings and re-publishings. This 90-minute game plays from 2 to 6 players. I was fortunate enough to find an almost complete and basically unplayed box at a charity thrift store; it is the 1966 3M bookshelf version. This gem was designed by Sid Sackson and is an economic game of mergers, stock purchases, acquisitions, and payouts. My partner and I embarked upon the hotel business one weekend and have since played it another time, too!

The components are old-fashioned plastic and simple cardstock; while not gorgeous by any stretch of the imagination, they are functional and sturdy. The stock certificate cards are not shuffled and if handled carefully should stay in good shape. I might be tempted to create my own stock certificates and perhaps sleeve them if I find the original ones to begin to deteriorate. The board is grooved and works really well to hold the tiles and withstand jostling and table movement. The rules are printed on the inside cover of the box top, are adequately produced, and very easy to follow. We followed the rules for 2-players where the “Bank” competes for shareholder bonuses after a merger and at the end of the game.

Looking over the board and your hand of six (6) tiles quickly gets very interesting. Should I start a new corporation? Should I add tiles to an existing corporation or buy stock first while it is cheaper? Should I merge 2 or more corporations now or after acquiring more stock? Lots of fun and thinky challenges are presented in this game. I must say I didn’t overthink too much on this first play as it was a learning game. I enjoyed making things happen and seeing how the money would fall. I was the only one who triggered mergers the entire game. My partner seemed to focus on diversifying and increasing his stock portfolios.

The game offers the option of playing with secret or open information. We played with open information as we were learning and did not want the added burden of guessing how much the other person had (or worse, keeping a mental track of their money and stocks). I think it is great that it allows this option; I do feel that in any game with equally good players that this “memory” element detracts from the fun as the person who better tracks what everyone else is doing will have an advantage. Personally, I don’t think this game needs anything to make it more interesting or fun.

We also liked being able to turn in our unplayable tiles at the end of our turn. This happened more frequently as the board filled up. I also enjoyed the risk-taking of spending all my money to buy stock and playing against the bank for shareholder bonuses. The challenges, risks, wins, and failures were all exciting, engaging, and fun!!

With seven corporations to keep track of, you are always busy planning and predicting your future plays and turns. As the board fills up, you can begin to predict when to best end the game and get the final payouts. I also want to add that this medium-weight game is complex and a bit brain-burning, but has such simple and elegant rules and gameplay that it is very easy to understand and play well from the first!!

The winning conditions are simple: the person with the most money at the end of the game wins! The end game is triggered by 2 different conditions: 1) A corporation with 41 or more tiles on the board, or 2) All existing corporations are safe (i.e., have 11 tiles or more). This alone does not end the game; each player has the option to call the end of the game on his/her turn once one of the two conditions have been met. Of course, I called the game end on my turn because I wanted to have the ability to purchase as much stock as possible before the final payouts. Again, the bank competed against us in the final shareholder bonus payouts, but we both had a good amount of stock and beat the bank each time!! We sold our stocks back at the current price and totaled up our cash to determine the winner.

I would venture to say that this game has staying power because of the randomness of the tile draws and the competition against the “bank” (in a 2-player game). It plays 2 to 6 and I could see a really tight and more challenging game with more players as it would require you to think on your feet and make almost every decision count. The luck and risk-taking factors tie in to the stock market theme perfectly!

Well the paper money is beginning to crinkle after just one play and I could see it become annoying with more plays. I am almost tempted to go pencil and paper, but I will probably invest in poker chips which take up less space. Also, the “Information Card” is tiny and not too easy to read. I already made my own larger and more colorful “Information Card” on MS Excel. The printing on the tiles is not always perfectly centered and the tiles, while very functional, are pretty ugly. :yuk: I may be tempted to “pimp” out the corporation tiles in some way. However, I must emphasize that the game is so enjoyable and good that you forget about how unattractive it is altogether. It does NOT detract from the fun and enjoyment at all!!

Well, the competition against the bank is a bit difficult, especially when the bank might draw 12 stocks against you. I believe that with more than 2 players you have a better indication of whether a merger will benefit you with a bonus or not. A couple of times the bank won bonuses that were devastating, because we had invested heavily in that corporation’s stock. I do think a house rule is in order here, especially when both players have purchased all or almost all the stock in a corporation. How can the bank win with 12 stocks if I have 10 and my opponent has 12? There are only 25 stocks per corporation, so in reality there are only 3 stocks left for that corporation. I think the bank should not play if the number of stocks left for a corporation are less than what the two players have individually. I might try that out if my partner agrees with me.

The beginning of the game before the board starts filling up and corporations are formed is a teensy bit boring and tedious, but changes quickly enough.

We were really blown away by Acquire and I was totally and pleasantly shocked by the game. It is engaging, challenging, elegant and easy to learn and play, brain-burning, and fun!! I rated it a solid 10, only my second one thus far!!

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