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Encyclopedia > Acquire

Acquire is an abstract board game of investing in hotel chains. It was designed by the renowned game inventor Sid Sackson in the 1960s, and is currently owned by Avalon Hill. It is well-suited to family play because the rules are simple, no one gets eliminated, and each game takes only about 75 minutes. On the other hand, it also attracts hard core gamers because there are many opportunities for skilled players to gain an advantage over less-skilled players. The random drawing of tiles keeps the game fresh for everyone and gives weaker players an opportunity to triumph, but does not prevent stronger players from winning most of the time. A board game is any game played with a premarked surface, with counters or pieces that are moved across the board. ... A hotel is an establishment that provides lodging, usually on a short-term basis. ... Sid Sackson (1920–November 6, 2002) was a significant American board game designer. ... The 1960s, or The Sixties, in its most obvious sense refers to the decade between 1960 and 1969, but the expression has taken on a wider meaning over the past twenty years. ... Avalon Hill was a game company that specialized in war or strategic board games. ...



  • The game board, a rectangular array with room for one tile per location, as in Scrabble. The twelve columns are labeled 1 to 12, and the nine rows labeled from A to I.
  • 108 wooden tiles ( later versions having plastic ), one for each space of the board. Each tile has its location such as 7A or 1H printed on one side; that is the only location in which the tile may be played. Each tile represents a hotel, and adjacent tiles represent hotel chains.
  • Six racks in which the players hold the tiles they have drawn.
  • Seven markers for hotel chains: two indicating relatively cheap chains, two indicating relatively expensive chains, and three indicating medium cost chains.
  • Twenty-five shares of stock for each of the seven hotel chains.
  • A supply of play money.

Scrabble board in play. ...


From three to six may play comfortably. It is possible to play with two, but not very interesting. Standard tournament games are played with four.

The game starts with six tiles picked randomly and placed in their locations. This doubles as a convenient way to determine which player goes first: each player draws one of the tiles for the initial setup, and the player with the lowest-numbered tile goes first.

Each player begins the game with $6000 in cash and six tiles picked at random for their starting racks. On each turn of the game, the player whose turn it is

  1. must play one tile
  2. must deal with the merger or founding of a new company if one results
  3. may buy stock
  4. must draw one tile

Whenever a player places a tile horizontally or vertically adjacent to a tile which is not already part of a hotel chain, that player has the option of founding a new hotel chain, unless all seven hotel chains are already in play. The player may choose to found any chain not already in play, and receives one share of stock in the new chain at no charge.

Each player may, after playing a tile on his turn, purchase up to three shares of stock in existing hotel chains. Only the player whose turn it is may buy stock.

When a new tile is placed adjacent to an existing hotel chain, the chain becomes larger and its stock increases in value and price. When a new tile is placed adjacent to tiles from two or more different chains, those chains merge into a single hotel chain, with the largest chain taking over. If there is a tie for the largest chain, the player placing the merging tile chooses which of those will take over.

When a hotel chain is merged out of existence, the players with the most and second-most shares receive cash bonuses. Then each player decides what to do with their shares in the now-defunct chain. They may:

  1. Trade them in for cash at face value
  2. Trade them in at a ratio of two to one for shares of the chain that took over
  3. Keep the shares in the hopes that the hotel chain will be founded again later.

Hotel chains with eleven or more tiles are deemed too big to be merged out. A tile which would connect two chains of eleven or more is unplayable, and may be placed face-down in its location at any time in exchange for a fresh tile. The game ends when one hotel chain reaches forty-one tiles, or when all chains are too large to merge. At the end of the game, all hotel chains pay bonuses to the largest shareholders as if they were being merged out, and all shares of stock are cashed in for face value. The richest player wins.


Cash flow is the critical element of strategy. On one hand there is pressure to buy stock in order to become the largest shareholder and receive a bonus, but on the other hand holding only stock and no cash prevents one from buying into lucrative new chains as they are founded. The winner is often not the majority stockholder in the hotel chain which acquires all the others, but the player who contrives to have several of his small chains acquired while holding a majority. In finance, cash flow refers to the amounts of cash being received and spent by a business during a defined period of time, sometimes tied to a specific project. ... A strategy is a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. ...

The mergers of hotel chains are the critical junctures of the game because those are the only times cash comes to the players. Stock can't be traded or sold except during a merger. On the other hand, some games (and some players) will be more cash rich than others, which decreases the importance of holding cash and increases the importance of holding stock. At such times it may be wiser to hold onto stock or to trade it in two for one.

The cash flow of a game is greatly affected by the number of players involved. All players can sell during a merger, but only the player whose turn it is can buy stock, so five- or six-player games have relatively many opportunities to sell, whereas three- player games have relatively many opportunities to buy. Experts consider the four-player game the best for creating critical cash flow decisions.

Whenever cash is plentiful, which tends to happen towards the middle of the game, but will happen at different times for different players, and sooner or later depending on the relative number of mergers, it becomes more important to think about the shareholder bonuses when the game ends. One must consider that all twenty-five shares in each company will probably be bought before the players run out of cash.

At the crux between the game-end bonuses and the short-term need for cash is the decision whether to increase the size of a chain by playing next to it, or to withhold adjacent tiles. If your chain doesn't grow, your shares don't increase in value, and you could conceivably be forced to cash out at exactly the price you bought in at. On the other hand, if you play all the adjacent tiles you have, you will not be able to create mergers when you need them; the timing will be in someone else's hands.


  • Some players play with all information (except the tiles held by players) open at all times, while others play that the cash and stock holdings of players are kept secret. The official rules do not clearly prefer either variant.
  • There is also a variant of the game in which play is simultaneous, instead of players taking turns. For each phase of a turn, the players prepare their moves and then announce them when everyone is ready. If players try to make moves that conflict with each other (such as two people trying to buy stock in the same chain when only one share is available), they must bid cash to decide the outcome. This variant tends to be faster-paced and less predictable than the standard rules.
  • One variant is to begin play with all tiles, except the ones the players have on hand, placed out on the board in their proper places, but placed upside down. The player then picks freely any one of these tiles at the end of his turn. This decreases the element of luck in game play.

External link

  • Acquire information at boardgamegeek.com

  Results from FactBites:
Acquire (303 words)
Acquire is a game of hotel investment and development.
Acquire was the first of the "business simulation" games released as part of the 3M bookshelf series and is probably the best known.
As a business simulation it is quite abstract but as a game it works very well, with the players having to carefully decide how to manage their stocks and investments and how to play their tiles so as to maximize the worth of their holdings.
Windopaene's World - Game Reviews - Acquire (1055 words)
In Acquire you are building hotel chains, buying stock in the companies that run them, and trying to merge chains to increase the value of your holdings.
Acquire consists of a 9 x 12 square board, and each square has a corresponding tile, marked with the grid coordinates of the board square.
This is an endless argument about whether it is better to play Acquire with each player's shares being open, and available for others to count, or closed, where each player's shares are hidden, and only those with card-counting skills will know what everyone has.
  More results at FactBites »



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