Review – Acquire

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Designer Sid Sackson

Artist Eric Hibbeler

Publisher Renegade Game Studios

Category Tile Laying, Economic

Length 90 minutes

Release Date 1964 (New version in 2023)

Player Count 2-6

Acquire is a tried-and-true classic from the late, great Sid Sackson. Widely considered the blueprint of the euro-style games that would follow, this strategic game of big business has been entertaining audiences for more than half a century. Let’s see how it holds up today!

Review

I am honestly intimidated by the thought of reviewing Acquire. Doing so feels like reviewing a Beatles album—what can I say that hasn’t already been said? Acquire is one of the most famous games ever made. It’s the most popular game from the designer who many, including myself, consider to be the greatest of all time. Simply put, Acquire is legendary.

In this game, players build hotel chains by placing tiles on a grid of squares. As tiles are added, the businesses grow, expand, and eventually merge with one another. At the start of the game, everyone draws a hand of tiles and receives their starting money. Then, the board is seeded with 1 tile per player. Each tile corresponds to a specific space on the board, such as 1A, 5F, etc.

The goal of the game is to earn the most money. On a player’s turn, they begin by placing a tile on the board. There are several possible scenarios:

  1. The tile is by itself, with nothing adjacent to it. In this case, the player has built an independent building, not yet associated with any company.
  2. The tile is adjacent to an unassociated tile. When this happens, a hotel chain is established. The player places a headquarters piece onto the newly-connected tiles and takes a share card in that company’s color.
  3. The tile expands an existing hotel chain.
  4. The tile joins two chains together. When this happens, a merger takes place and the larger company takes over the smaller one. The headquarters of the smaller company is removed, and players count up their shares in that color. The players with the most, second most, and third most shares earn a bonus according to the size of the company. All players with shares must then decide what to do with them. They can either keep them in hopes that the acquired company will come back around later, sell them for their current value, or trade them 2-for-1 for shares in the larger company.
The placement of tile 11D joins the red and orange companies. Orange is the larger of the two, so it takes over red.

Once a chain grows to 11 or more tiles, it is considered “safe” and can no longer be acquired (though it can continue to expand and acquire other companies).

After a player has placed and resolved their tile, they can purchase up to 3 shares of active hotel chains, each for their current share price. Lastly, the player draws a new tile to their hand.

The game continues in this manner until a player announces on their turn that either:

  1. All active hotel chains are safe, or
  2. A single chain has reached a size of 41 or more tiles

A player is not obligated to announce a game-end condition, but as soon as someone does, the game ends at the conclusion of their turn. At that time, bonuses are given for all active chains, all shares are sold, and the player with the most money wins!


Often, when reviewing older games, we look at them as products of their time. A game like Careers, for instance, might have been fun and innovative in its day, but it hardly stacks up against modern designs like Azul or 7 Wonders.

Acquire is one of those rare “old games” that doesn’t feel dated—a testament to how far ahead of its time it was. This game is strategic and cutthroat, but at the same time simple and elegant. It’s historically important as the prototypical euro, but it’s also just a great game, even by today’s standards.

This new Renegade version is, to date, the best-looking Acquire. It is most similar to the 1999 edition, but with better artwork and cooler headquarters buildings. While the last few versions of this game were slipshod and bland, this new one is the definitive edition, a lovingly-made product worthy of this game’s history.

Amid the constant tidal wave of new games coming out these days, I often wonder how many of them will still be relevant in 10/20/50 years. There is a reason Acquire has stood the test of time, and continues to gain new fans. It is a quintessential classic by a master designer. If you have never played it, definitely give it a try.

A review copy was provided by Renegade Game Studios.

The Bottom Line

Acquire is a quintessential classic by a master designer. Even beyond its historical significance, it stands as a timeless economic game, the blueprint for the entire eurogame movement.

 

7.5

Author: Stephen Hall

A bard pretending to be a cleric. Possibly a Cylon, too. I was there when they dug up the "E.T." cartridges.