Whenever I see this game on my shelf, I get a disturbing visual of Quark’s big head from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I then picture him playing Tongo with a bunch of other Ferengi…a game that deals with buying, selling, acquiring, and other things you’d normally see on the Wall Street floor. Don’t ask me why…I haven’t had my coffee yet this morning.
*Note: While the box says that the game is for three to six players, I don’t see why a two player variant couldn’t exist…if one doesn’t already. I’m fairly confident that two players with an imagination who are not concerned about following the rulebook to the letter could make do. I also came across the older Avalon Hill version’s rulebook and there is a section for special rules for two players…so feel free to experiment.
Acquire plays a bit differently than the other games I’ve played. The closest comparison I could possibly make to what I’ve already reviewed is Airlines Europe. In both games, you’re buying stock and whoever has more of certain stocks / colors often reaps the biggest reward when payouts occur. More on that in a minute.
Version & Components
The version of Acquire I purchased is the latest print of the game, by Wizards of the Coast.
I need to get this pet peeve of mine out of the way before I begin. The player tile trays are made of fairly cheap cardboard that you have to punch out and bend to make the pieces assemble. In other words, I had a fun time trying to assemble the player tile trays. In most games I’ve purchased, tile trays came assembled and were of much better quality.
Some people may not mind the extra work and the game is fairly cheaper than your average Euro-style board game, but c’mon…would it have hurt profits that much to just make the components a little better? Also, the player reference tables were part of the manual itself that I had to cut / tear out. For OCD people like me, the manual just doesn’t look right now that pages look torn out of it. I don’t see why they couldn’t have printed reference sheets separate of the manual.
Previous versions of the game were much nicer looking and of better quality, so much in fact that other reviewers recommend trying to find those older printed versions as opposed to this one. I don’t mind average to poor production values if the price is right, but this is just pushing it.
It’s very possible that I’m just nitpicking. You’ll have to be the judge. Rant done.
The game board is made of up of squares that form a grid, going from 1A in the upper left hand corner all the way to 12I in the lower right hand corner. To the left of the grid are the available corporations that players can form and to the right is the same reference chart you’ll find in the cutouts in the back of the manual.
In Acquire, turns are fairly simple. Players place a tile, players buy up to three stocks, and finally players pick up a new tile from the supply. Tiles correspond to the squares / grid on the board…for example…you’d place the 1A tile if you had it onto the 1A square on the board / grid.
When a player places a tile next to an existing tile sitting by itself, that player gets to form a corporation. It doesn’t become their’s mind you, but they do get a free stock card for establishing it. That player can choose any of the available corporations…though some grow differently than others. Some corporations are cheap to buy stocks for early on but don’t pay out as much when they grow in size while others are expensive to buy stocks for early on but payout is big in the endgame.
Players continue placing tiles, forming / growing corporations, and buying stock cards until a tile is placed that causes two corporations to bump heads. This is the real meat and potatoes of the game. A few things happen when this occurs.
1) The larger corporation acquires or “eats up” the smaller one. If the purple corporation for example had six tiles and green had three tiles, purple would acquire green. The exception to the rule is if both corporations are eleven tiles are higher in size. Corporations with eleven tiles or more are considered “safe.”
2) The player who owns the most stock cards in the company that was acquired gains the one time majority shareholder bonus. The amount varies depending on how big the corporation actually is. The player who owns the second most stock cards of the company that was acquired receives the one time minority shareholder bonus. Sorry, but there isn’t a prize here for third place, unless there is a tie for second place.
3) Players who own stock in the company that was acquired have a choice to make.
– They can sell their stock for cash now, the amount depending on how big the corporation is.
– They can trade that stock on a 2 to 1 basis for stock of the company that acquired it.
– They can keep their stock, hoping the corporation will form again down the line.
The acquired company marker gets put back to its place on the side of the board and can be formed again later on.
At the end of the game, shareholder bonuses are given out to the companies that are on the board and their stocks are traded in for cash. The winner is the player with the most money after that is all said and done.
All three kids joined me to form a four player game. Explaining the rules wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was concerned that the whole buying stocks and acquiring would overwhelm the eleven year old, but ironically he ended up winning the game. He randomly bought stock so that he’d try to have more than everyone else, which ended up working out to his advantage unbeknownst to him.
I focused on buying stocks for two corporations in the middle of the board and would have made a lot of money had one acquired the other…but they ended up becoming “safe” and I didn’t have much money left to buy stocks in other corporations that could still be acquired. I received a nice bonus at the end of the game for all the stock I had, but my son used the money he earned from his acquisitions to buy even more stock than what I had bought up cheaply in the beginning of the game…so he ended up getting the majority shareholder bonus anyway. He earned so much from a particular acquisition that he just started buying out ALL of the stock cards of particular colors until there were none left.
It seems to pay to have money throughout the game and not to focus on one or two corporations, unless you are sure they will pay out. I was tempted to offer him a later bed time if he’d slip me ten grand, but I thought better of it. The game took us about two hours to play…keep in mind, there was a learning curve and three kids of varying ages involved.
Overall, I really enjoyed the game. Acquire is simple enough to learn but deep enough that players can form strategies in order to outdo the other. The random tile placement throughout the game by players keeps the replayability high. I quickly forgot about the quality of the player tile trays when I started playing out scenarios in my head on how certain corporations might play out on the board.
The kids were actively working out aloud which corporations they planned to grow and were constantly comparing how many stock cards they had of certain colors. They were often on the edge of their seats when a merger occured…anxious to see how it would play out. The older ones took it a step further and bought out stock in the growing corporations, recognizing how much money they could make when it grows even bigger. The younger one just bought what he could afford and random chance worked in his favor. They all stated that they enjoyed playing the game.
I personally recommend Acquire if you enjoy games with a financial theme to them, in this case, stocks and money. I recommend that players have a calculator handy, especially for the endgame. The poor production values (when compared to versions previous to it) might turn some people off, but I’d recommend putting that aside in your mind to enjoy the game for what it really is.
Final Verdict: 6/10