Type: Tile Placement / Area Control

Time to play: 40 – 60 minutes (Teaching: 5 – 10 minutes)

Best played with: 2-6 Player (Best with 4)

Time to take to the market – mergers and acquisitions of hotel chains! Acquire brings this to life in an incredibly simple but compelling game that has been around since 1964. This game takes the mechanics of laying tiles on a board (that kind of looks like excel) and builds it in to a set of tough choices, and a tense final reveal.

Everything in this game is built off the choice to lay down one of your 6 tiles on the board and those tiles can only go in the space that they say! So you have six spots to place on the board and that could mean the expansion of your hotel, the merger of two hotels or perhaps absolutely nothing! When to play each move is key!

There are seven hotel chains in the game and each can be founded multiple times. During the game as a player puts together two tiles that were unconnected, they found a hotel. At the start, there are no shareholders when you found the hotel but players may keep their shares and hence you won’t start with control. There are three different types of hotels – budget, affordable and luxury. The value of each one differs, but also the cost of the shares differ – so this choice will be based off the cash you have or the potential to sell this chain.

The second key step in this game is mergers – when a tile would connect two hotels, the bigger one buys the smaller. There’s no cost to players here, but players get a bonus for being majority or second largest. After that, they can also sell out the shares. The shares are valued based on the size of the hotel at the point of the merger – you could also roll into the other hotel’s shares.

Mergers are really interesting in this game because you want to build out your hotel to get more value, you want to get more shares to get a larger pay out, but you must keep the hotel smaller than the one it will merge with in order to get the payout from it. This is tense, because you build towards that merger and try to make it happen in order to recycle you earnings.

If you end up the larger hotel, or if your hotel becomes too big to merge in, then you may struggle to recycle your money throughout the early game. If you can’t recycle it’s hard to buy shares. At some point though, you need to switch from being part of the payout, to being part of the small number of hotels that will make it to the end of the game. Realistically after two mergers, a hotel will be too big to be taken out. Watch out – you will need to buy the shares before it becomes too expensive or those shares run out.

The last key mechanic is buying those shares. Watch out for controlling stakes, other players rolling over their shares, or indeed the shares of a company running out. It’s tough to get this right as you start to play, and the way your friends play is key!

So this game brings together simple mechanics, limited choices and a need to watch what others are doing to create a game that has stood the test of time. It doesn’t take long to play and it takes no time to teach. If I was recommending a game then I think this would always be a strong contender.

However, I always try to be balanced and there’s a couple of things to say about this. Luck does play a part, you can only choose to merger hotels if you have one of the right tiles. If you do, timing is tricky because other players may also have tiles that make this work. If you don’t, there is nothing you can do about it – and that’s just tough luck. There’s enough instances that luck doesn’t feel too bad in this game, but leaders can breakaway in the mid-game and so luck in the early game can matter.

The other thing, and it’s almost a trivial thing to complain about but… the look of it! As I said earlier, it looks like excel. That’s a good thing in my view, but it’s also put people off. They think it looks dull and there’s a lot of grey and black – this can put off people you are trying to show it to.

Otherwise, though, this is a fun game where you can build an exciting finish to the game – take all the money you have and stand up. Players put down the money in blocks of 10 until they can no longer put down cash. That player is out, and the rest keep going. Last player standing (had the most cash) is the winner!

Last notes;

  • If you like a mix of social deduction, push your luck and strategy – this game has it all
  • If you find that a turn where you have to pass is the end of the world – be warned, it happens quite a bit
  • If you win, try and get some new people round the table and take this to six players (watch out for downtime though!)