Acquire may be the oldest of the ‘modern’ board games to appear here on the Guru. Designed in 1964 by Sid Sackson, it is a relatively simple game of stock manipulation. Tiles are placed on a 12 x 11 grid, representing real estate. As soon as two tiles are touching, they become one of seven ‘hotel chains’, and players may begin to purchase shares in them. Whenever two such chains join, the smaller chain is merged into the larger and didsappears; shareholders in the smaller chain get a payout if they are one of the majority shareholders, and can then reinvest their shares or hold on to them in case the smaller chain is resurrected later.
So essentially, to win you want to be the player with the most (or second-most) shares in each chain when they get merged. Everyone is trying to remember how many shares each player has, and everyone is speculating on what the next takeover might be. Although there’s no negotiation per se, games with stocks and shares tend to tap in to a similar sort of group-think – if someone starts buying shares in a particular chain, others will quickly follow suit.
One play of Acquire and it’s easy to see why this classic has stuck around – it’s elegant and simple to learn, but tense and strategic to play. There are many versions from over the years, some of them with very perfunctory visual design which will probably be a turn-off to younger players; but for interested teens and adults Acquire deserves a place in every games cupboard.
There's a fair amount of scuppering to be done - merging chains at an (in)opportune moment can really shaft the share-holders, whilst lining your own pockets. It's a veritable lesson in corporate shenanigans.
Play a tile, buy some shares, pick a new tile from the bag. It's fairly swift, though can slow down at critical moments, and during payouts from mergers - this will create a moment of disinterest if you're not one of the participants.
Trying to remember who has how many shares in a given chain is all part of the fun. Payouts can get complicated, but there's a handy chart to show what sized chain pays out what, and if you designate a banker to hand out the money it should be straightforward enough.
When you're in the mood for pared-down shares shenanigans Acquire is an excellent option to have at your desposal.